Operational Readiness and Resilience

The Human Factors and Operational Readiness group at the Appleton Institute has a focus on safety and performance in the workplace, to support and optimise the well-being, safety, and productivity of individuals, industries and communities.

We provide practical solutions to our partners, based on scientific evidence. Our program of work conducts leading-edge research to understand the relationship between people and technologies, tools, environments, and systems, and practically translating these to have real-world benefits and impact.

Utilising innovative research methods in both the laboratory and the field, we aim to improve our understanding of the factors that impact operational readiness, and through effective translation of research into practice, develop evidence-based, usable strategies for workers, their families and their communities.

We have a specific interest in the interactions of sleep, work, health and safety, and the behavioural impact of these on ways of working across various sectors. In close partnership with industry and community groups, our program of work considers short, mid and long-term physical and psychological health, as well as social, occupational and domestic impacts of nonstandard patterns of work.

We also have a key interest in developing a broader understanding of how decisions are made, and skills and knowledge are applied by individuals and within teams in highly safety-critical complex systems and environments.

Professor Sally Ferguson

Director, Appleton Institutelook
08 8378 4508

Sally's research has focussed on circadian rhythms and how they are influenced by the environment, particularly light. Basic research projects supported by the NHMRC and ARC have focused on the relationship between the temperature system and sleep, and the effects of naps on performance. Sally has also conducted a number of government and industry-driven research and consultancy projects. The majority of these have investigated the effects of hours of work (specifically shiftwork patterns) on sleep and performance, and methods for reducing the fatigue-related risk associated with shiftwork.

Associate Professor Matthew Thomas 

Deputy Direction, Appleton Institute 
08 8378 4526

Matthew has a background in Human Factors, having completed his PhD in the area of training system design in 2000. His research interests focus on human error, non-technical skills, and the design of error-tolerant systems. He has an established consultancy and publication record in these areas and is currently involved in a range of projects with industry partners in aviation, healthcare, and rail. He has been developing innovative approaches to simulation-based training and assessment and specialises in the area of Non-Technical Skill development and Threat and Error Management. He has taught in the area of Safety Science and Human Factors in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Associate Professor Anjum Naweed

Associate Professor - Human Factors
08 8378 4520

Anjum is an Associate Professor and Certified Professional Ergonomist at the Appleton Institute for Behavioural Science at CQUniversity. Anjum's current research interests include complex decision-making and knowledge representation in skilled work, transportation human factors, accident analysis and prevention, story-telling and narrative, creative and cultural applications of simulation, serious games & gaming concepts, and rail safety science. More generally, Anjum is interested in understanding the relationship between people and technologies, tools, environments, and systems, and practically translating this across the safety critical domains.

Associate Professor Chris Bearman 

Associate Professor - Cognitive Psychology
08 8378 4514

Chris Bearman is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Psychology, a Lead Researcher in the Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC and a Volunteer Fire Fighter in the South Australian Country Fire Service. His research consists of industry-focused studies in the areas of occupational health and safety, human factors and applied cognitive psychology. Chris works closely with industry partners and government organisations around the world to produce research that has both a strong theoretical underpinning and a robust application to industry. Some highlights of his research are working with small commercial aviation operators to determine pressures that lead to sub-optimal flight-related decisions, identifying high risk tasks and mitigating strategies in the volunteer incident commander role, helping rail operators to develop an evidence-based approach to evaluating new technology, identifying reasons why breakdowns in coordination occur during large-scale bushfires and working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on projects that sought to redesign the US airspace system. Chris is currently leading a project funded through the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC on team management, decision making and organisational learning. Chris also supervises a number of PhD, Masters & Honours students in the Safety Science and Human Factors areas.

Dr Danielle Every 

Senior Lecturer - Positive Psychology
08 8378 4521

Danielle is a social psychologist in the areas of social change, social inclusion and social justice. She specialises 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. Her work has been published internationally in journals such as the Journal of Refugee Studies, Nations and Nationalism, Discourse and Society, and in edited books, including Language Discourse and Social Psychology, published by Palgrave MacMillan.

Currently, Danielle holds a grant from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on the decisions of asylum seekers to come to Australia. She has been co-chief investigator on completed grants from: Safe Work South Australia on occupational health and safety for migrant workers in aged care; the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on the social impacts of immigration; and the University of South Australia on employment in Sudanese communities. In 2008/9 she held a grant from Gambling Research Australia on gambling in CALD communities. In 2008, she co-held three grants to research anti-racism, everyday multiculturalism and intercultural interaction in city spaces.

Professor Trudy Dwyer

Deputy Dean Research 
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Sciences
07 4923 2180

Professor Trudy Dwyer is the Deputy Dean Research and research academic in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences and Fellow of the Australian College of Critical Care Nurses (FACCCN). Based in Rockhampton, her program of research is Safety and Quality in Healthcare; with a focus on recognising and responding to the deteriorating person, evaluating hospital avoidance initiatives in acute and aged care settings, workforce and nursing education. Her track record demonstrates strong clinical partnerships, responding to local research needs and a diversity of research skills and knowledge translation strategies. Professor Dwyer has over $4 million in competitive research funds, extensive journal publications (h-index 18 Scopus, 26 Google Scholar), seven texts and six book chapters. She is principal author of five books in the Student Survival Guide series published by Pearson Education, one has sold over 75,000 copies.

Dr Charlotte Gupta

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
08 8378 4528

Charlotte is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Appleton Institute. Her research focuses on optimising the performance and safety of shiftworkers by targeting on-shift behaviours such as eating. Her research interests include, shiftwork, cognitive performance, driving safety, nutrition, physical activity, and worker health and safety.

Charlotte completed her undergraduate honours degree in Psychology at the University of South Australia in 2015, and then began her PhD at the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the University of South Australia in 2016. Charlotte's PhD work focussed on altering 24 hour eating patterns for shiftworkers to improve safety on shift, and she found that a snack during the nightshift is optimal for best performance.

Charlotte has experience with undergraduate teaching in Psychology, conducting laboratory research, and conducting field research with shiftworkers to look at the impact of shifts on meal timing.

Dr Helen Keen-Dyer

Senior Lecturer and Development Lead (Emergency Services)
07 3295 1151

Dr Keen-Dyer is a Senior Lecturer and Development Lead in Emergency Services whose professional interests span a range of areas related to the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching with a particular focus on adult and vocational education in the Fire and Emergency Services (FES) and Disaster Management (DM) contexts.

Helen is also keenly interested in workplace-based learning, curriculum development and instructional design.

Dr Jessica Paterson

Senior Lecturer - Psychology
08 8378 4519

Jess works with a range of different populations looking at the relationship between sleep and mental health, but she is particularly interested in the relationship between sleep history, trauma, and psychopathology. She specialises in mixed-methods research and data collection in field environments.

Jess completed an Honours degree in Psychology in 2006 and a PhD in Psychology in 2010, both at the Centre for Sleep Research at UniSA, with part of her PhD being completed at the Laboratory of Human Chronobiology at Cornell University in New York.

After competing her PhD, Jess commenced a fellowship with the Rail CRC investigating fatigue and workload in Australian rail safety workers. In 2012, she moved to CQUniversity and took up a teaching and research appointment at the Appleton Institute. Jess currently work in this position as a Senior Lecturer, lecturing in the area of adult psychopathology and conducting research concerning sleep, fatigue, and mental health

Mr Kevin Perry

Senior Lecturer, Investigation Specialist, Accident Investigation
08 8378 4545

Kevin is a Senior Lecturer in Accident Investigation. Kevin joined CQU in 2015 to assist in the Transport and Safety Sciences department focusing on accident investigation. His previous role was with the South Australian OHS regulator, SafeWork SA. Kevins role as Team Leader in the Investigation Team enables him to pass on many years of investigative skills to students in both undergraduate and postgraduate streams.

He has interests in introducing the latest technologies used in accident investigation. These include 3D scanning, use of drones, photogrammetry and virtual reality.

Dr Amy Reynolds

Lecturer - Psychology and Public Health
08 8378 4511

Amy is a lecturer in Psychology and Public Health, and Emergency and Disaster Management. Based at the Appleton Institute at CQUniversity Australia's Adelaide Campus, Amy's research interests include:

  • Shift work, sleep and health
  • Microbiota changes with insufficient sleep
  • Broader sleep health awareness for the general public
  • Developing education and awareness of the impact of shift work on health
  • Psychological preparedness for natural disaster.

Amy's PhD was conferred in February 2015, and was entitled 'The Impact of Insufficient Sleep on Healthy Functioning in Men'. She focussed on the effects on insufficient sleep and shift work on men's health, with a particular emphasis on the metabolic consequences of poor sleep. Her PhD work involved sleep laboratory manipulation of sleep duration, and working on the large community-dwelling cohort study MAILES: Men, Androgens, Inflammation, Lifestyle, Environment and Stress based in Adelaide.

Amy's current interests are the role of intestinal microbiota on health, and how shift work (particularly sleep loss, circadian misalignment) alters profiles in the gut. She is particularly passionate about applied research and translating findings from the laboratory into real-world changes for shift workers and other members of society who experience insufficient sleep. This has driven her interest in working with Emergency Services personnel to ensure best outcomes for workers and society as a whole.

Amy has worked at the University of Western Australia on the WA pregnancy cohort study (RAINE), and during her time in WA secured industry funding within the mining sector looking at fatigue interventions for FIFO workers.

Dr Gabrielle Rigney

Lecturer - Psychology
08 8378 4565

Gabby is a lecturer in psychology, based at the Appleton Institute in Adelaide. Her research interests are in paediatric sleep, and the development and evaluation of eHealth and mHealth interventions.

Gabby completed her PhD evaluating a school-based sleep education program in pre-adolescents at the end of 2015. She then moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada to undertake a post-doctoral fellowship at Dalhousie University. During her two years at Dalhousie University, Gabby worked on the development and modification of eHealth programs for parents of children with insomnia, working with a large team of paediatric sleep specialists across Canada.

Since commencing her role at CQUniversity in January 2018, Gabby has been working on developing mHealth interventions for adolescent and shift-work populations.

Dr Madeline Sprajcer

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Madeline Sprajcer is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Appleton Institute for Behavioural Sciences in Adelaide, Australia. Madeline completed an honours degree in psychology at Flinders University in 2012 and was awarded her PhD in 2019 from Central Queensland University. Her PhD investigated the impact of on-call work on sleep and cognitive performance. Her research interests include the use of in-vehicle fatigue detection technologies, non-standard work hours (particularly on-call work), performance, and safety. She also has experience in fatigue management consulting in a variety of industries, including healthcare, mining, utilities, and rail.

Professor Carolyn Unsworth

Professor - Occupational Therapy
03 9616 0504

Professor Carolyn Unsworth received her BAppSci(OccTher) (Bachelor of Occupational Therapy) (1989) and PhD (1994) from La Trobe University Australia and is a registered occupational therapist in the USA (OTR) since (1994).

Professor Unsworth is an internationally respected researcher and educator, having provided undergraduate and post-graduate seminars, lectures and courses in Australia, USA, UK, Sweden and Singapore in her specialty areas of community transport mobility and driving, cognitive and perceptual problems following acquired brain damage, and evidence-based practice. Carolyn is currently Professor of Occupational Therapy at Central Queensland University and holds Adjunct Professorial appointments at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Jönköping University, Sweden, and Curtin University in Perth, Australia. She also held the position of Visiting Professor at London South Bank University for the term 2010- 2011.

Carolyn has authored over 120 journal articles and book chapters as well as developing two published assessments. She has presented over 100 conference papers and keynote presentations internationally. Carolyn currently serves on the editorial boards of the British Journal of Occupational Therapy and Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy and was on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy for eight years. She has served as guest editor for Special Issues on Community Mobility for the Australian Occupational Therapy Journal (2012) and the British Journal of Occupational Therapy (2015).

Carolyn's research interests focus on the occupation of community transport mobility. This includes her work on driver assessment and rehabilitation, and scooter and powered wheelchair use and access on public transport. Carolyn also researches and publishes in the related fields of clinical reasoning and decision making, outcomes measurement research, rehabilitation following acquired brain injury and evidence-based practice. Her research has included the development of two published assessments. The first was published by LaTrobe University in 2004 (with further editions in 2007 and 2014) and is a global outcome measure called the AusTOMs-OT (Australian Therapy Outcome Measures for Occupational Therapy), which is used internationally and has been translated into Swedish and Arabic. The second assessment was published by the American Occupational Therapy Association in 2011 and is a standardised off-road assessment that occupational therapy driver assessors can use with clients called the OT-DORA (Occupational therapy - Driver Off-Road Assessment).

Dr Grace Vincent

Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow
08 8378 4518

Dr Grace Vincent is currently a Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Appleton Institute for Behavioural Sciences in Adelaide, Australia. Her research interests include sleep, physical activity, exercise, sport, and worker health and safety. Grace completed her Honours degree in Exercise Science and Physiology in 2010 at the University of Auckland, and a PhD at Deakin University in 2015. Her PhD research explored the interplay between firefighters' sleep, physical activity, and physical task performance during multi-day wildfire suppression. Grace has experience conducting both laboratory and longitudinal field studies, in collaboration with a variety of industry partners in fire and emergency services, telecommunications, and healthcare. Grace has worked as a researcher at CQUniversity, Washington State University, Monash University, Deakin University, and the University of Auckland.

Dr Sarah Wanner

Senior Lecturer - Aviation Accident Investigation
08 8378 4553

Sarah has over 15 years of experience at universities in Australia and overseas at senior academic levels in various academic disciplines including Sociology, Political Science and International Development.

She has over a decade in the aviation industry working for a major Australian aviation company and airline as an Air Safety Investigator, Aviation Auditor and Human Factors Specialist.

Sarah focuses on teaching in the areas of accident models and accident analysis, and the various investigation frameworks that characterise the transport domains of aviation, rail, road and industry.

Her primary research fields are in the field of accident investigation and the implementation of safer operations in General Aviation, and also the impact of aviation operations on environmental sustainability.

Specialties: Safety Science, Accident Forensics, Air Safety Investigation, Aviation Auditing, Aviation Human Factors Training and Development, Environmental Sustainability in Transport Operations.