Dr Olivia Whalen

Dr Olivia Whalen

Postdoctoral Research Associate

School of Psychological Sciences

Career Summary

Biography

I am a developmental cognitive neuroscience researcher who uses eye tracking and development assessments to understand early risk factors for atypical development in vulnerable groups of children. I completed my PhD in 2020 on the Breathing for Life Trial - Infant Development study, a multidisciplinary collaboration addressing the impact of asthma management during pregnancy on infant developmental outcomes. In my current postdoctoral role, I am completing the 2-year neurodevelopmental follow up of infants who were born during the 2019-2020 bushfires, and those born during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In my second postdoctoral role I am investigating driver licence acquisition in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and ways of making the licencing process more culturally appropriate and accessible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This project involves conducting the first theory-driven exploration of underlying beliefs and perspectives regarding licencing and safe road use for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We also wish to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ virtual reality (VR) technology requirements and expectations, to inform future studies where we will develop, deliver and evaluate a suite of virtual reality modules that are based on the Road User’s Handbook to deliver critical road safety information, laws and procedures in a way that is culturally and contextually appropriate and aligned with Indigenous learning strategies and explore culturally appropriate approaches for software design and evaluation. 


Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology - Science, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Psychology, University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education
  • Applied and developmental psychology
  • Clinical and health psychology

Languages

  • English (Mother)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
520302 Clinical psychology 25
520101 Child and adolescent development 25
520199 Applied and developmental psychology not elsewhere classified 50

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Postdoctoral Researcher University of Newcastle
School of Medicine and Public Health
Australia
Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Newcastle
School of Psychology
Australia
Casual Academic University of Newcastle
School of Psychological Sciences
Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (6 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2021 Mallise CA, Murphy VE, Karayanidis F, Armstrong H, Whalen OM, Woolard AJ, et al., 'Parenting stress in mothers with asthma during the postpartum period.', J Asthma, 1-13 (2021)
DOI 10.1080/02770903.2021.1993246
Co-authors Vanessa Murphy, Alison Lane, Frini Karayanidis, Peter Gibson, Linda E Campbell, Adam Collison
2021 Woolard A, Lane AE, Campbell LE, Whalen OM, Swaab L, Karayanidis F, et al., 'Infant and Child-Directed Speech Used with Infants and Children at Risk or Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Scoping Review', Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, (2021)

Infants diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (autism) have difficulty engaging in social communication and interactions with others and often experience language impairment. Th... [more]

Infants diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (autism) have difficulty engaging in social communication and interactions with others and often experience language impairment. The use of infant-directed speech (IDS), which is the speech register used when interacting with infants, is associated with infant language and socio-communicative development. The aim of this study was twofold; the first aim was to scope the literature to determine if evidence exists for differences between the IDS caregivers use to infants at high-risk or those later diagnosed with autism, and the IDS typically spoken to neurotypical infants. The second aim was to investigate if any IDS characteristics used by caregivers of high-risk or diagnosed infant populations predicted language development. Twenty-six studies were included and provided evidence that high-risk and later diagnosed infants are exposed to similar amounts of IDS as their neurotypical peers. There is evidence, however, that the IDS used with high-risk and later diagnosed infants may comprise shorter utterances, more action-directing content, fewer questions, more attention bids, and more follow-in commenting. There is also evidence that more attention bids and follow-in commenting used to infants at high risk or those later diagnosed with autism were associated with better language abilities longitudinally.

DOI 10.1007/s40489-021-00253-y
Co-authors Alison Lane, Daniel Barker, Alix Woolard Uon, Frini Karayanidis, Linda E Campbell, Vanessa Murphy
2021 Harvey SM, Murphy VE, Whalen OM, Gibson PG, Jensen ME, 'Breastfeeding and wheeze-related outcomes in high-risk infants: A systematic review and meta-analysis.', Am J Clin Nutr, 113 1609-1618 (2021)
DOI 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa442
Citations Scopus - 1
Co-authors Peter Gibson, Megan Jensen, Vanessa Murphy
2020 Mallise CA, Lane AE, Woolard AJ, Whalen OM, Murphy VE, Karayanidis F, Campbell LE, 'The temperament features associated with autism spectrum disorder in childhood: A systematic review', Research in Developmental Disabilities, 104 (2020) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.ridd.2020.103711
Co-authors Alix Woolard Uon, Linda E Campbell, Alison Lane, Vanessa Murphy, Frini Karayanidis
2020 Whalen OM, Campbell LE, Murphy VE, Lane AE, Gibson PG, Mattes J, et al., 'Observational study of mental health in asthmatic women during the prenatal and postnatal periods', Journal of Asthma, 57 829-841 (2020) [C1]

Objective: We aimed to examine the prevalence and severity of psychological distress of women with asthma in both the prenatal and postnatal periods, and to determine whether asth... [more]

Objective: We aimed to examine the prevalence and severity of psychological distress of women with asthma in both the prenatal and postnatal periods, and to determine whether asthmatic women with and without mental health problems differ in self-management, medications knowledge, and asthma symptoms. Methods: We assessed spirometry performance and asthma symptoms in 120 women (mean age 29.8 years) before 23 weeks gestation, as part of the Breathing for Life Trial (Trial ID: ACTRN12613000202763). Prenatal depression data was obtained from medical records. At 6 weeks postpartum, we assessed general health, self-reported asthma control, depression symptoms (with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) and adaptive functioning (with the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment scales). Results: Twenty percent of our sample reported having a current mental health diagnosis, 14% reported currently receiving mental health care, while 47% reported having received mental health care in the past (and may/may not have received a diagnosis). The sample scored high on the Aggressive Behavior, Avoidant Personality, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity scales. Poorer self-reported postnatal asthma control was strongly correlated with elevated somatic complaints, externalizing problems, antisocial personality problems, and greater withdrawal. Prenatal spirometry or asthma severity and control were largely not associated with measures of psychopathology. Conclusions: These findings indicate that pregnant women with asthma frequently report issues with psychopathology during the prenatal and postnatal periods, and that the subjective perception of asthma control may be more related to psychopathology than objective asthma measures. However, due to sample bias, these findings are likely to be understated.

DOI 10.1080/02770903.2019.1621888
Co-authors Linda E Campbell, Alix Woolard Uon, Adam Collison, Peter Gibson, Frini Karayanidis, Vanessa Murphy, Joerg Mattes, Alison Lane
2019 Whalen OM, Karayanidis F, Murphy VE, Lane AE, Mallise CA, Campbell LE, 'The effects of maternal asthma during pregnancy on child cognitive and behavioral development: A systematic review', Journal of Asthma, 56 130-141 (2019) [C1]

Objective: Maternal asthma during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of negative perinatal outcomes. However, little is known about the direct effects of maternal asthma o... [more]

Objective: Maternal asthma during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of negative perinatal outcomes. However, little is known about the direct effects of maternal asthma on infant cognitive development. We examined the evidence for an impact of maternal asthma during pregnancy on cognitive and behavioral development of the child. Data sources: We conducted a MEDLINE, PsychINFO, and manual search of the databases for all available studies until January 9th, 2018. Study Selections: Studies were deemed relevant if they included child cognitive and behavioral development as the outcome, with maternal asthma as the determinant of interest. Results: Ten articles matched selection criteria. Some studies report that maternal asthma is associated with increased risk for autism and intellectual disability in children. However, these effects are small and are often eliminated when controlling for confounding variables. Other studies have found no association. The only prospective study found that well-managed asthma during pregnancy was not associated with negative developmental outcomes in children. Conclusions: The evidence suggests that the relationship between maternal asthma during pregnancy and poor developmental and behavioral outcomes of children is weak. Children of mothers with well-managed asthma during pregnancy have similar developmental trajectories to those born to healthy mothers. Prospective, longitudinal studies are needed to confirm these conclusions. Optimal asthma management is important in pregnancy as it may have longer term benefits for the health of the offspring. As the rate of asthma increases in the population, the implications of maternal asthma on child development will be of greater importance.

DOI 10.1080/02770903.2018.1437174
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 3
Co-authors Frini Karayanidis, Vanessa Murphy, Linda E Campbell, Alison Lane
Show 3 more journal articles

Conference (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Whalen O, Karayanidis F, Lane A, Murphy V, Campbell L, 'The effectiveness of a joint attention eye tracking paradigm in measuring social cognition in the first year of life', Brisbane, Australia (2018)
Co-authors Alison Lane, Frini Karayanidis, Linda E Campbell, Vanessa Murphy
2017 Murphy V, Whalen O, Karayanidis F, Lane A, Campbell L, 'THE MENTAL HEALTH CHARACTERISTICS OF WOMEN WITH ASTHMA IN THE ANTENATAL AND POSTNATAL PERIOD', RESPIROLOGY (2017)
Co-authors Frini Karayanidis, Alison Lane, Linda E Campbell, Vanessa Murphy
2017 Whalen O, Lane A, Campbell L, Mallise C, Woolard A, Karayanidis F, 'The relationship between temperament, sensory processing and attentional control development in early infancy', Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2017)
Co-authors Alison Lane, Frini Karayanidis, Linda E Campbell, Alix Woolard Uon
2017 Whalen O, Karayanidis F, Mallise C, Woolard A, Lane A, Campbell L, 'The role of infant and maternal factors on the early development of infant cognition', Lancaster, UK (2017)
Co-authors Alix Woolard Uon, Frini Karayanidis, Linda E Campbell, Alison Lane
Show 1 more conference
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 2
Total funding $214,369

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20212 grants / $214,369

Linking virtual reality with road safety for Indigenous Australians$209,856

Funding body: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Funding body Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications
Project Team Doctor Olivia Whalen, Mrs Melissa Freire, Doctor Cassandra Gauld, Professor Kristen Pammer
Scheme Road Safety Innovation Fund
Role Lead
Funding Start 2021
Funding Finish 2023
GNo G2100408
Type Of Funding C1500 - Aust Competitive - Commonwealth Other
Category 1500
UON Y

Project consumables needed to examine genetic and inflammatory pathways from maternal asthma to infant autism$4,513

Funding body: Hunter Medical Research Institute

Funding body Hunter Medical Research Institute
Project Team Doctor Olivia Whalen
Scheme Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2021
Funding Finish 2021
GNo G2100205
Type Of Funding C3300 – Aust Philanthropy
Category 3300
UON Y
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Dr Olivia Whalen

Positions

Postdoctoral Research Associate
School of Medicine and Public Health, School of Psychology
School of Psychological Sciences
College of Engineering, Science and Environment

Postdoctoral Researcher
School of Medicine and Public Health, School of Psychology
School of Medicine and Public Health
College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing

Casual Academic
School of Medicine and Public Health, School of Psychology
School of Psychological Sciences
College of Engineering, Science and Environment

Contact Details

Email olivia.whalen@newcastle.edu.au
Phone 40420237
Link Twitter

Office

Room W.235
Building Behavioural Sciences (W)
Location W235

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