Our Research Strengths

Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety

Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety academics are leading the way in workplace research. OHS academics are also part of the Centre for Resources Health and Safety where they are involved in multidisciplinary research that impact upon individuals, teams and organisational levels.

Areas of research focus include Return to work and Workplace Injury Management with a number of studies involving different industries and stakeholders underway. Injury prevention is also an area of expertise for our team.

Research is being conducted into identifying ways of improving the mental health and well-being in both mining and construction through /with substantial funding from Industry partners.  The physical demands of work and the impact on the individual worker is also an area of research with a current study investigating task rotation in coal mining.

The team also have research focus on environmental sustainability and assessment which include environmental hazards and their health affects, nano-toxicology, and toxicity of environmental factors on organisms at molecular and cellular levels in animals and humans.  This includes inflammatory and fibrotic effects of dust particles and the carcinogenic effects of airborne particles. Occupational hearing loss and occupational and environmental respiratory diseases are also areas of expertise of our researchers.

In addition, our team have expertise on research in advancing safety management, especially within the construction sector, with the integration of contemporary safety approaches, organizational safety culture,high-reliability and resilience engineering.

Family Studies

Family Studies is a national leader in fatherhood research, with a focus on fathers of young children and babies and supporting these fathers in their relationship with their partners. Current projects include SMS4Dads, which provides new fathers with information and connections to online services through their mobile phones, and the Father-Child Play Project, which examines the influence of fathers on child development. The other major area of research is Strong Families-Capable Communities. A significant SF-CC initiative in Muswellbrook involves collaboration with education, healthcare, housing, childcare, community services, indigenous services and criminal justice. The initiative will deploy an innovative prevention support system promoting health, wellbeing and educational opportunities in the Upper Hunter region.

The Family Action Centre’s research in these fields provides evidence for policy and service system innovations that better mobilise capabilities to improve individual, family and community outcomes.

Medical Radiation Sciences

Medical Radiation Sciences focuses on research into the use of both ionising and non-ionising radiation in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Academic staff and researchers from the discipline of Medical Radiation Science form the Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Research Group with research strengths in the following areas -

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI): This research aims to understand the physiologic changes that occur following traumatic brain injuries, and to promote translation of this knowledge into clinical practice.

Translation of Radiation Oncology Treatment from the Human Realm to the Veterinary Sphere: This involves collaborative research with international experts in equine opthalmology and multiple experts in radiation oncology and medical physics in oncology in order to translate radiation oncology treatments from the human realm to animals.

Health Effects of Occupational Radiation Exposure in Medical Radiaton Practioners: Occupational radiaton exposure to medical practitioners in Australia and the long term health effects from chronic low level ionising radiaton exposure are being investigated.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA): Populations at high risk of developing an AAA are being screened using ultrasound imaging to aid in early treatment and prolonged life expectancy.

Nutrition and Dietetics

Nutrition and Dietetics academic staff, conjoint staff and RHD students from the School of Health Sciences form a collaboration, NUEBaND (Newcastle University Evidence-Based Nutrition and Dietetics) that builds the research capacity of nutrition and dietetics. Key priority research areas are: 1. Food Frequency Questions (FFQ) and related data from the Australian Longitudinal Study for Women's Health (ALSWH), 2. Undertaking systematic reviews to contribute to the evidence base and 3. Obesity in women and children.

NUEBaND also works with ACEBaND (Australian Centre for Evidence Based Nutrition and Dietetics) which conducts systematic reviews of topical nutrition and dietetic issues and facilitates the translation of the best available evidence into nutrition practice. It is the only centre with an exclusive focus on nutrition internationally and students gain access to a support structure that facilitates development of a peer-reviewed protocol to critically appraise nutrition issues and publish findings broadly.

Oral Health Therapy

Oral Health is a national leader in aged care research, with a focus on preventive management of oral health for patients in residential aged care facilities. The Senior Smiles project facilitates and coordinates oral health practitioners working in residential aged care facilities, and is becoming nationally recognised as the benchmark for oral health care in RACFs.

Other research strengths include Indigenous Oral Health where the Smiles not Tears project is helping new mothers understand the importance of oral heath for their children and simulation learning in Oral Health where we lead the nation in developing innovative methodologies for simulation education.

Oral Health research in these fields is changing policy and models of health care delivery in the community and enhancing the student learning environment at UON.

Occupational Therapy

The breadth of Occupational Therapy practice is well reflected in the research being conducted by our staff.  Grounded in occupation and participation, we have investigations underway with children, adolescents and adults, examining the impact of a range of disorders as well as studies on collaboration in everyday practice.  This includes development in young infants whose mothers are being treated for asthma, developing insight into early sensory and motor signs of autism, examining neurophysiological aspects of atypical sensory processing in children, and endeavoring to subtype sensory processing disorders as a foundation for more focused intervention.  Sensory characteristics associated with adult mental health disorders is also under investigation, as is the nexus between physical and mental health and the role of lifestyle in promoting and maintaining health.  Developing a better understanding of issues relating to eating disorders, obesity, mental health and illness is underway to support occupational justice and participation.  Studies are also underway into strategies to improve the resilience of the mental health workforce, and in understanding the shaping of professional identity, looking at both students and professionals.  Additional information is exploring service delivery, considering strategies to enhance current practice and assist in strategy implementation through the use of team based care.


Podiatry has research expertise in a variety of areas including dimensional gait analysis, electromyography, plantar pressure analysis, musculoskeletal assessment and rehabilitation, and lower extremity vascular assessment.  Further areas include paediatric rheumatology, podopeadiatric gait analysis and Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Podiatric health.

Podiatry research focuses on number of aspects resulting from diabetes, both juvenile (T1DM) and type 2.  This includes 'the high risk foot' and investigation and accurate identification of the presence of arterial disease in people with diabetes.

Research also covers running injuries and night-time lower limb problems including lower limb muscle cramps.


Physiotherapy research strengths include the benefits and risks of manual therapy in the cervical spine and clinical reasoning in musculoskeletal practice.  Research expertise focuses on the mechanisms that define and modulate musculoskeletal pain in order to find new solutions for patients.  This includes research on treating chronic musculoskeletal pain using strategies to improve movement dysfunction and induce neuroplasticity.

Other areas of research include the clinical anatomy of the upper cervical spine and craniocervical stability testing diagnostics and diagnostic statistics.

Neurological research expertise covers the furthering of our understanding of brain dysfunction and emerging rehabilitation techniques. This includes using EEG and MRI techniques to study physiological effects of therapuetic inventions. Research focus is on electrical brain stimulation, particularly direct current stimulation (tDCS), and its potential applications in stroke rehabilitation.

Pulmonary rehabilitation and all aspects of cardiopulmonary practice are researched as well as clinical education, including clinical education strategies, educator and student teaching and learning on placement.