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We welcome high-performing students who share our research interests.  Contact us at our BetterStart email if you are interested in studying with us.

Ms Mumtaz Begum
PhD Candidate

Mumtaz Begum commenced her PhD studies in July 2016.  She has Masters Degrees in Health Science (University of Tokyo, Japan) and Food and Nutrition Sciences (University of Peshawar, Pakistan). In the last 6 years, she has been teaching Food and Nutrition at the University of Peshawar. Her Master's research at the School of International Health, University of Tokyo, was on the intestinal permeability and growth faltering of 6-24-month-old children in the Chitral district of Pakistan. During her PhD studies, Mumtaz will study the epidemiology of Type 1 Diabetes using the Early Childhood Data Project data, which involves children born in South Australia from 1991 to 2016.  Her supervisors are Assoc Prof Lisa Smithers, Dr Catherine Chittleborough and Dr Rhiannon Pilkington.

Mr Engida Yisma Derbie
PhD Candidate

Engida Yisma Derbie, received his undergraduate degree from Madda Walabu University and his Master of Science degree from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. He worked for the School of Allied Health Sciences at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and prior to joining Addis Ababa University, he worked at Samara University (Ethiopia) as a lecturer. Engida is currently a PhD student at The University of Adelaide, where he is being supervised by Prof Ben Mol, Prof John Lynch and Assoc Prof Lisa Smithers. Engida's research aims to investigate the impact of obstetrical interventions during delivery on children’s later health and neurodevelopment.

Mr Pedro Henrique Ribeiro Santiago
PhD Candidate

Pedro has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina) and a Master's degree in Public Health (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina). In his Master's research, Pedro investigated the feasibility of mindfulness-based interventions in Brazil national health system. Pedro commenced his PhD studies in April 2017 at The University of Adelaide under the supervision of Prof Lisa Jamieson, Assoc Prof Lisa Smithers and Assoc Prof Rachel Roberts. The PhD project investigates the cross-cultural validity of psychosocial measures using data from an oral health intervention involving Aboriginal families. Pedro's main focus of research interest is the evaluation of programs aimed at promoting health and subjective wellbeing, as well as interventions and policies capable of reducing health inequities inside communities and health systems.

Mr Davi Manzini Macedo
PhD Candidate

Davi has a background in Psychology and is a PhD Candidate at the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH, The University of Adelaide). His Master's research was undertaken at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and involved analysing child maltreatment in Brazil.  Currently, Davi’s PhD project involves understanding the relationship between racial identity, racial attitudes, mental and general health among Australian Aboriginal children. His main interests are in Developmental Psychology, and Social Experimental Psychology and its contributions to health improvement on a population level. Davi is supervised by Prof Lisa Jamieson, Prof Marco Peres and Assoc Prof Lisa Smithers.


Dr Razlyn Rahim
PhD Candidate

Razlyn completed her undergraduate studies in medicine at The University of Adelaide in 2005, and then undertook an MPH with Flinders University in 2010 and then advanced training in public health medicine with the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine. She attained her fellowship in 2015.

In addition to various clinical positions in Adelaide, Brisbane and Singapore, Razlyn has worked in various fields including Aboriginal health, communicable disease control, health promotion and refugee and asylum seeker health. Razlyn's areas of interests include health inequality and disadvantage particularly in ethnic minority groups. Her PhD topic will be examining the education attainment and healthcare experience in children of a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) background who have had contact with Child Protection Services. Her supervisors are Prof John Lynch, Dr Rhiannon Pilkington and Prof Katina D'Onise.


Ms Cherise Fletcher
PhD Candidate

Cherise has a Bachelor of Biotechnology with Honours from Flinders University, where she researched assays for detecting contributors to respiratory disease. Previously at University of Adelaide, Cherise worked on peri-conceptional nutrition in sheep and its effects on placental development. She earnt a Bachelor of Midwifery (Pre-registration) from Flinders University and has worked as a Midwife in the ACT, NSW and SA, and as a Student Midwife in Denmark. Cherise commenced as PhD student at The University of Adelaide in September 2018 under Assoc Prof Lisa Smithers, Dr Elizabeth Hoon and Dr Angela Gialamas. Her PhD research topic is on how to decrease smoking rates in pregnant women, focusing on Northern Adelaide.


Dr Gabriella Lincoln
MBiostats Student

Gabriella has a background in vaccine research, both in academia and industry. She holds a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of London, and a four-year postgraduate specialisation in Bacteriology and Virology from the University of Messina, Italy. She has held positions in R&D management and clinical trials management in Italy, UK and Australia. Between 2014 and 2017, she was the program manager for a NHMRC-funded post-marketing clinical trial on vaccine safety surveillance in collaboration with the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS). In 2015, she commenced a Master of Biostatistics at The University of Adelaide. Gabriella’s dissertation will examine emulation of clinical trial methods for the prediction of out-of-home care status in children at school entry age, based on child protection and perinatal data. She is being supervised by Dr Murthy Mittinty, Dr Rhiannon Pilkington and Prof John Lynch.


Ms Mi Du
PhD Student

Mi finished her bachelor and master in dentistry at Shandong University in China. In 2017, Mi commenced her PhD at The University of Adelaide, focusing on the methodology and application of prediction modelling in oral health epidemiology. She is also interested in data mining and machine learning techniques in health and medical science. Her thesis is going to (i) summarize the prediction modelling approaches in medicine and its application in dentistry and oral health, (ii) predict the survival of oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer in the US, and (iii) predict dental-related hospitalisation among children in South Australia. Mi is being supervised by Dr Murthy Mittinty, Prof John Lynch, and Dr Dandara Haag.


Ms Anna Kalamkarian
Hons Student

Anna joined the BetterStart group in January 2019. She has a Bachelor of Health Science from The University of Adelaide, majoring in reproductive health and nutrition. Anna’s thesis will explore health professionals’ perspectives on smoking cessation strategies during pregnancy. She is being supervised by Assoc Prof Lisa Smithers, Dr Cathy Chittleborough and Dr Elizabeth Hoon.

Ms Alexandra Procter
PhD Candidate

Alex completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences (Advanced) research project with the BetterStart group, focussing on hospitalisations among South Australian children. In 2018, she worked with child protection data as a part-time research associate with Dr Rhiannon Pilkington and Dr Angela Gialamas. In March 2019, she will be starting her PhD on vulnerable children and how being born into a family on welfare affects those children’s life chances and will be supervised by Dr Catherine Chittleborough, Dr Rhiannon Pilkington and Prof John Lynch. She has been awarded a prestigious Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship to undertake her postgraduate research (for more information, please see our 'News and Events' entry for 27 February 2019).

Photo source:  Westpac Future Leaders Scholarships announcement, February 2019

Our graduates

Dr Shiau Yun Chong

Dr Shiau Yun Chong formally completed her PhD in the School of Public Health in August 2016. Shiau had previously been awarded a scholarship to undertake a PhD and top-up funding from the Fraser Mustard Centre. Shiau's project examined the influence of child temperament and parenting on children's later cognition, school attainment and adiposity outcomes using population-based data from the UK and Australia. Shiau was supervised by Assoc Prof Lisa Smithers, Dr Cathy Chittleborough, Dr Tess Gregory, Professor John Lynch and Dr Murthy Mittinty.

Dr Amelia Maika

Dr Amelia Maika qualified for a PhD from the School of Public Health in July 2016. Amelia's PhD research investigated the effect of family socioeconomic position, maternal mental health and parenting on Indonesian children's cognitive and behavioural outcomes. Amelia was supervised by Professor John Lynch, Dr Murthy Mittinty and Associate Professor Sally Brinkman.

Ms Amanda Reyes Veliz

Amanda completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Advanced) at The University of Adelaide in 2017. She majored in epidemiology and human reproduction.  Amanda undertook her third year research project regarding the influence of newborn morbidity on child development, with the BetterStart group, under the supervision of Dr Murthy Mittinty, Associate Professor Lisa Smithers and Professor John Lynch.

Dr Fernanda Ewerling

Fernanda is an economist (Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil) with a strong interest in social disparities in health. She did a MSc in Epidemiology, with the Postgraduate Program in Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, which she completed in 2014. Fernanda was then accepted as a PhD student in the same program but working on health inequalities as part of the team of the International Center for Equity in Health (Brazil). She was a visiting student at The University of Adelaide and worked with the BetterStart group. Her thesis was supervised by Professor Aluisio Barros (Brazil) and Professor John Lynch, and estimated the effect of empowerment of mothers on the early development of their children in African countries.

Mr Yi Wang
MPH Student

Yi Wang completed a degree in preventive medicine in China. In 2016, he commenced a Master of Public Health at The University of Adelaide. Yi completed an MPH dissertation in which he studied vaccine-preventable diseases, using data from South Australia. Yi was supervised by Professor John Lynch, Associate Professor Lisa Smithers and Dr Catherine Chittleborough.

Dr Anna Roesler

Anna began her PhD at the University of Adelaide in 2013. Prior to this she graduated with a Bachelor in Nutrition and Dietetics (Exercise Science) with Honours. She has worked in nutrition in Australia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Thailand. Anna has received prestigious awards, including a Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Award and an Endeavour Postgraduate Award for her studies.  Her PhD was entitled  “Development and sustainability of interventions to improve child nutrition: A case-study of ethnic minority communities in northern Thailand”.  Anna was supervised by Professor Vivienne Moore and Associate Professor Lisa Smithers.


Ms Shae Pryke
MPH Student

Shae holds a Bachelor degree in Health Science (The University of Adelaide) which she completed in 2015, with a major in Indigenous Health and Health Promotion. She commenced a Master of Public Health at The University of Adelaide in 2016. Shae undertook a dissertation in which she studied how the frequency of antenatal care visits varies according to sociodemographic factors, using data from South Australia. Shae was supervised by Dr Catherine Chittleborough and Dr Clare Hume.

Ms Laura Gough
MCouns&PsychTh Student

Laura holds a Bachelor Degree in Social Work from the University of South Australia. Laura has been working as a practitioner in the field of child protection for over 6 years, with a primary focus in high risk infants. In 2015, she commenced a Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy at The University of Adelaide. Laura’s dissertation examined child protection outcomes among children who are notified before birth (unborn child concerns), compared to children who are notified within their first year of life. Laura was supervised by Dr Rhiannon Pilkington, Dr Catherine Chittleborough and Dr Alexandra Bloch-Atefi.


Ms Kelsey Clifton
MPH Student

Kelsey graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Biochemistry. She commenced a Master of Public Health at The University of Adelaide in 2017. Kelsey's dissertation examined if being identified as developmentally delayed by age 3 predicts developmental vulnerability at school entry, using South Australian data. Kelsey was supervised by Dr Angela Gialamas and Dr Helena Schuch.

BetterStart Research Group

Level 9, Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences Building
Corner of North Terrace and George Street
Adelaide SA 5000


T: +61 8 8313 2160

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