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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 Health and Development project data, which involves children born in South Australia from 1999 to 2013.

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 supervised by Professor Ben Mol, Professor John Lynch and Associate Professor Lisa Smithers. Engida's research aims to investigate the impact of obstetrical interventions during delivery on children’s later health and neurodevelopment.

Ms Fernanda Ewerling
PhD Candidate

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 is currently a visiting student at the University of Adelaide and is also working with the BetterStart group. Her thesis is being supervised by Professor Aluisio Barros (Brazil) and Professor John Lynch, and aims to estimate the effect of the mother’s empowerment on the early development of the child in African countries.

Ms Anna Roesler
PhD Candidate

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 had worked in nutrition in Australia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Thailand. The aim of Anna's PhD is to understand nutrition practices among Thailand Indigenous communities in order to help decrease the high rates of malnutrition seen among infants and young children living in the area. Anna has received prestigious awards, including, a Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Award and an Endeavour our Postgraduate Award for her studies.

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 in April 2017 his PhD studies at the University of Adelaide under the supervision of Professor Lisa Jamieson, Associate Professor Lisa Smithers and Associate Professor 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, University of Adelaide). His Master Degree 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, Social Experimental Psychology and its contributions to health improvement on a population level. Davi is supervised by Prof Lisa Jamieson, Professor Marco Peres and Associate Professor Lisa Smithers.

Ms Alexandra Procter
Honours Candidate

Alexandra completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences (Advanced) research project with the BetterStart research group and is undertaking her Honours project in 2017 under the supervision of Dr Rhiannon Pilkington and Dr Catherine Chittleborough. Alex's project will focus on the development of a child specific definition of potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPH) in South Australian children.

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 is undertaking a MPH dissertation in which he will study vaccine preventable diseases, using data from South Australia.  Yi is supervised by Professor John Lynch, Associate Professor Lisa Smithers and Dr Catherine Chittleborough.

Ms Amanda Reyes Veliz
BHlthSc(Adv) Student

Amanda is completing a Bachelor of health Sciences (Advanced) at the University of Adelaide. She is majoring in epidemiology and human reproduction. Amanda is undertaking her 3rd year research project with the BetterStart group under the supervision of Dr Murthy Mittinty, Associate Professor Lisa Smithers and Professor John Lynch.

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 Associate Professor 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 Prof John Lynch, Dr Murthy Mittinty and Associate Professor Sally Brinkman.

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 0546

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