Hear Our Stories

Dancing Boss of Your Sleep

BAPsych (Hons) MAPS MSocSc, PhD Head of Paediatric Sleep Research

CQUniversity Adelaide - The Appleton Institute

Phone: 08 8378 4513


Sarah is a clinical psychologist and Head of Paediatric Sleep Research at the CQUniversity Adelaide - The Appleton Institute, Director of the Paediatric Sleep Clinic and founding Director of the Australian Centre for Education in Sleep.

Dancing at the World Famous Moulin Rouge in Paris...

I started out in the workforce as a performer. First I was a ballet dancer and danced with the Australian Ballet, before moving to the UK and then France, dancing with the London Festival Ballet and Ballet Classique de Paris.

I moved into contemporary dance, and worked with several contemporary dance companies in Paris and New York, before moving into musical theatre, with singing contracts, modelling and even dancing at the world famous Moulin Rouge in Paris.

I brought back a Frenchman...

Twelve years later – well, a dancer's working life is short – age and a weary body led me to return to Australia. But, I brought back a Frenchman with me and we decided to start a family.

When our daughter was school-aged, I started studying at University, and after 9 years of full-time study I had studied Psychology and French, had a PhD and started to specialise in sleep research in children.

Does this mean I will get a holiday...?

The next 10 years kept me extremely busy - I set up a Paediatric Sleep Clinic to treat sleep problems in infants, children and adolescents. In 2014 this clinic is still going strong. It's successful, has a 4-month waiting list for patients, and we are now employing 2 other psychologists - does this mean I will get a holiday?

I started a Sleep Education Centre to promote sleep education in people of all ages - infants, parents, schools - you can find this on my website.

I worked as a researcher at Flinders University in chronic conditions, UniSA in sleep research and now at CQUniversity Adelaide as Director of Paediatric Sleep Research. I still work 3 days a week at the University, and 2 days at the clinic, with all the students being supervised for both, somewhere in the middle! I have written lots of papers, attended and spoken at lots of conferences, and even won a few awards.

Oh, and I also co-authored two books about sleep in young children - see: &

Working in the community and sharing the love...

I am fully a part of the Sleep Research Community, so I am also chair of the Indigenous Sleep Working Party of the ASA (Australasian Sleep Association), as well as Chair of the Sleep Guidelines Working Party, and the Paediatric and Psychology representative on the Education committee of the ASA.

Sarah supervises clinical and research students in psychology and teaches courses including PSYC20035 (Ethics & Professional Issues in Psychology)

Human Animal Psychologist-Photographer

BSc, PhD (University of South Australia)

Research Fellow in Human and Animal Psychology, Appleton Institute, Adelaide

Phone: 08 8378 4528


I can't remember exactly why I chose to study psychology, but I'm glad I did!

As a high school graduate wanting to go to university, I knew two things: I was curious about how the world worked, but I wasn't any good at the hard sciences like physics and chemistry. Psychology became an attractive option because it offered an English based, but scientific approach to understanding how people and animals interact with the world and each other.

I was captivated by the study of animal behaviour and cognition...

During my undergraduate degree, I wasn't entirely sure where psychology would take me, until I took a subject called 'Learning and comparative psychology' taught by animal behaviour expert, Dr. Carla Litchfield. During this course I was captivated by the study of animal behaviour and cognition. For my honours year when I had the opportunity to select a supervisor and project, I approached Carla who enthusiastically agreed to supervise me. A defining moment was visiting the Adelaide Zoo with Carla, and being asked what species I wanted to study. What an opportunity! Since that moment I have developed a healthy obsession with trying to understand the behaviour of non-human animals, particularly how they see and think about the world, as well as the relationship they have with us.

I've worked with Sealions, Gorillas, Dogs and Dingoes...

Since then I have had the opportunity to work with a number of different species, including sea lions, gorillas, dogs and dingoes. I have developed a particular interest in dingoes, Australia's wild dog, which was the subject of my PhD. Most of my research with dingoes involves putting them through their 'cognitive paces' by presenting them with a series of puzzles and problems that they need to solve (e.g. the detour task-see image). The main outcomes of having done this is the confirmation that dingoes are unique in terms of Australian animals and canids across the world, and that there are many differences between domestic dogs and their wild ancestors, the wolf.

My photography has made it to the cover of magazines like Australian Geographic...

Working with dingoes has been extremely rewarding, and lead to exciting opportunities, discoveries and experiences. I get to travel the world and interact with both wild and captive animals; I regularly give radio and television interviews on my research; I was the first to report tool use and response to the death of an infant in the canid species; I enjoy taking photographs of animals, some of which have appeared on the covers of magazines like Australian Geographic; I have become a director of the Australian Dingo Foundation; and I have just written a book with CSIRO publishing relating to the history, behaviour and conservation of the dingo.

Social Psychologist Girl Detective

B.Psych, PhD (University of Adelaide)

Research Fellow in Social Psychology, Appleton Institute, Adelaide

Phone: 08 8378 4521


Danielle is a social psychologist specialising in research on the language of advocacy and anti-racism, the social impacts of immigration, and work, education and health for refugees and asylum seekers.

Being a researcher was as close as I could get to being a girl detective...

When I was a kid, I read all the Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew books. Living in rural Queensland in the 70s and early 80s, Trixie and Nancy were the most interesting, independent, and adventurous female role models. They were the only people I 'knew' who were like me – I liked to write stories and make up games for my sister to play and find bugs and build dams and find out about new things. Now I'm a grown up (sometimes), I still love girl detectives. And I still love writing and reading and discovering new things. I started my psychology degree after friends told me I was a good listener.

My grandfather and great grandfather worked in the coal mines in Wales...

I grew up in a house with a long history of political action – When my great grandfather was seriously injured at work and lost his job he later became a member of the union and the Communist Party, as did my grandfather. After coming to Australia they were still heavily involved in worker's politics. My father talks about meeting Jack Mundy, the New South Wales unionist famous for the green bans against uranium in the 80s. He remembers sitting in the front of the car between him and my grandfather, with my grandfather's hands over his ears to block out all the swearing. When I started my PhD at Adelaide Uni I was lucky to meet other psychologists who wanted to use their education and skills to challenge social injustice and exclusion.

I started my doctorate during the time of the new laws against asylum seekers...

As the tide of public opinion turned even more strongly against asylum seekers and Hanson's far-right party was gaining traction, I wanted to know how we could challenge this tough political climate. I became particularly interested in how people in everyday situations like conversations with friends and family can be an integral part of challenging racism. I started to write papers on how this works, particularly with a view to more peaceful and productive dialogues between people that avoid insults and shaming.

Local children and children from the detention centre became friends...

This focus on social justice has since expanded to Indigenous housing and health, homelessness and disaster resilience, and education and employment for refugees. My favourite piece of research was a social impact assessment of the immigration detention facility in the Adelaide Hills. Talking to residents and asylum seekers there was incredibly challenging – how could we bring together such oppositional views? But over time we saw the community changing, especially as local children and those from the detention centre became friends. There was a ripple effect outward from the schools thanks to the efforts of the staff, the parents and the children, which spread throughout the school.

I try to give students the learning experience that I hoped for...

It's really important to me to take all these experiences into my teaching. My social psychology course is designed to be transformative and experiential. It's about developing critical thinking skills and self-awareness, working towards being inclusive practitioners and ethical researchers. Everything I do there is about opening our eyes to what is habitual and invisible and looking at ourselves and the world from a new perspective. I try to give students the learning experience I had hoped for when I was studying psychology.

One T Psychologist

B.Psych (Hons), PhD (UniSA)

Research Fellow - Appleton Institute

Phone: (08) 8378 4519


Jess completed her PhD in Psychology in 2010 investigating the consequences of sleep loss and shift work for mood regulation. Since then, she has conducted multiple research and consulting projects with the healthcare, transport and manufacturing industries. Jess is interested in the experience of fatigue, workplace culture and psychosocial wellbeing for health care workers and in the relationship between sleep and mental illness.

The women in my family have always had the dark gift of secret keeping...

From a young age, friends, acquaintances and even perfect strangers seemed to want to confide their deepest, darkest secrets in me. This made me curious about and gave me insight into, the differences between what you see on the surface of an individual and what lurks beneath. Getting paid to hear people's secrets seemed a natural step so I began a Psychology degree at UniSA.

It sounded completely awful and totally fascinating - like Big Brother...

At the beginning of studying Honours in Psychology, I attended a presentation of research projects that students could take part in for the research component of the year. One of the projects involved locking young adults in a windowless laboratory for ten days. Participants were kept awake for 66h and then given only 6h sleep per night for a week. It sounded completely awful and totally fascinating. It sounded like Big Brother. I was intrigued. I ran the study for my Honours year project and fell in love with sleep research. So, for beginning my career in sleep research, I owe equal thanks to Gretel Killeen and George Orwell I suppose.

I overcame my crippling fear of hospitals...

Doing my PhD was a weird and wonderful time in my life. I overcame my crippling fear of hospitals to investigate sleep loss for midwives and I spent a lot of time working in the light- and sound-controlled laboratory sleep depriving young adults. In my time off, I worked as a DJ in light- and sound-controlled nightclubs sleep depriving myself. I travelled around the world to talk about my research and I lived and worked in Sydney and Brooklyn, NYC. I eventually settled back in Adelaide to finish my thesis and look for a post-doctoral fellowship. I bought a little sausage dog and named him Hans van Doggy after an eminent sleep researcher in my field, Hans van Dongen. I was that committed to the nerd-life.

I'm particularly passionate about helping health care workers and young adults to manage fatigue...

As much as I enjoyed the lab-based part of my PhD, it was the fieldwork that I really loved. After the PhD, I received a fellowship to investigate fatigue in rail workers and extended this to other workgroups including miners, health care workers, and young adults in the workplace.

I still do research with all kinds of workers, and am particularly passionate about helping health care workers and young adults to manage fatigue at work, at home, and when driving. When I'm not teaching, researching or (still) working as a DJ, I'm either reading, running, trying to teach Hans to drive or obsessing over/shopping for Danish mid-century modern furniture.

Jess supervises research students and teaches courses including PSYC12012 (Physiological Psychology) and PSYC13017 (Abnormal Psychology).

B. Psych (Hons), PhD

Senior Lecturer - CQUniversity Adelaide, Appleton Institute for Behavioural Science

Phone: 08 8378 4536


Michele completed his PhD in Psychology in 2015 investigating the stressors that impact the sleep/wake behaviour of elite athletes. Since then, he has conducted multiple research and consulting projects related to sleep, sex, and sport. Michele is interested in optimising performance through sleep, recovery and sports psychology. Michele’s other interests are related to using sexual behaviours as a non-pharmaceutical alternative toward improving sleep.

Accept failure as part of the journey...

Throughout my life, I have failed at many things. From high school, pursuing a football career, through to just missing out on getting into Honours in Adelaide. During high school, I dedicated most of my time to training, and very little time to study - and as a result, my education suffered. Shortly after being offered my first professional football contract at the age of 16, I suffered a knee injury which required two surgeries within the space of six months. As a result, my contract was terminated and I was left to pick up the pieces. Following a ten-month rehabilitation period, I regained fitness and went on trial with three top division football clubs, with the third club sending me to a 6th division club to monitor my progress. The following year, I signed for a 5th division club, only to have my contracted terminated again after six months for no other reason than having too many players on the register ('in other words, not good enough').

I decided to move back home and start studying...

Having left school in year 12, I had to complete a Diploma of University Studies to gain entry. I completed the Diploma and was able to start my Bachelor of Psychology. I graduated from my Bachelor in 2008, only to miss out on gaining entry into Honours in Adelaide by 2%. Luckily, I was accepted into the University of the Sunshine Coast where I moved for a year. During my time on the Sunshine Coast, I worked extremely hard and graduated with 1st Class Honours. This hard work was rewarded as I was awarded an APA scholarship and was able to move back home to complete my PhD.

Sleep is one of my favourite pastimes...

As a kid, I used to sleep standing with my head on the kitchen table, so it only seemed natural that I research sleep. On a serious note, sleep impacts everything we do and can influence our mood, motivation, reactions to situations and how well we perform.

Football has taught me many lessons...

Football has taught me many lessons which I have always applied to other aspects of my life. It has enabled me to see parts of the world to which I may not have ever had the opportunity to see. It has brought great joy and happiness, and also, pain and suffering. But, without, there is no opportunity to grow and prosper. I have represented and captained South Australia at every age level including Seniors. I have also represented Australia on three tours including World Cup Qualifiers in Qatar, Asian Games, and for the Opening Ceremony for the FIFA Beach Soccer World cup in Tahiti. I am currently the Head Coach of the National Training Centre women's program for the Football Federation of South Australia and continue to play semi-professionally in the South Australian State League.

Michele currently supervises three PhD students, four honours students and teaches units including Applied Sports Psychology (PSYC13025) and Personality (PSYC12013).