Centre Staff

The NCSEHE is home to a diverse group of researchers, students and professional staff

Professor Sarah O'Shea

Director and Program Leader

Professor Sarah O’Shea has spent over 25 years working to effect change within the higher education sector through research focusing on the access and participation of students from identified equity groups. Her institutional- and nationally-funded research studies advance understanding of how underrepresented student cohorts enact success within university, navigate transition into this environment, manage competing identities and negotiate aspirations for self and others. This work is highly regarded for applying diverse conceptual and theoretical lenses incorporating theories of social class, identity work, gender studies and poverty. Sarah has published extensively in the field and has been awarded over A$3 million in grant funding since 2009; she is also an Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow, a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) and a Churchill Fellow. Sarah took up the role of Director, NCSEHE in 2020 after spending a decade working as a teaching/research academic at University of Wollongong.

Professor John Phillimore

Research Program Leader

Professor John Phillimore has been the Executive Director of the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy (JCIPP) at Curtin University since 2007. John has been NCSEHE Program Leader for Program 2 — Equity Policy and Research Program since the NCSEHE’s establishment at Curtin, where he oversees the Centre’s Research Grants Program. He is also the leader of the Curtin Future of Work Institute’s ‘Public Policy in a Digital Age’ research program. For the past 30 years, he has worked either as an academic or as a senior adviser in the Western Australian Government. He has conducted research and written on a wide array of public policy issues, including intergovernmental relations, higher education, public sector management, the Australian welfare state, regional policy, and Australian politics.

Dr Paul Koshy

Research Fellow

Paul Koshy is a Research Fellow in the NCSEHE. Paul manages the student equity data program, including the annual briefing note and the student equity data website. His current area of research focus is on education participation and geographic measures of socioeconomic status in higher education policy. His recent research work has included policy research into the use of equity performance ranking measures in higher education policy.

Dr Cathy Drane

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Cathy Drane is a Research Fellow in the NCSEHE. Previously, Cathy has worked on large-scale National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) projects across Australia. Cathy’s research interests include adolescent development and public health interventions. Cathy brings with her skills in project administration, research methods, and advanced statistical analysis.

Professor Sue Trinidad

Adjunct Fellow

Professor Sue Trinidad was the NCSEHE Director for seven years, prior to which she was Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin University from 2007-12. Her role included overseeing the academic programs and leading the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) for a large faculty with many Low SES, Indigenous and regional students. Professor Trinidad is an established scholar and researcher in the area of higher education and led the NCSEHE team on numerous research projects to build the evidence base in this important area of student equity in higher education in Australia.

Dr Lynette Vernon

Adjunct Fellow

Lynette Vernon holds a Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellowship (2020–22) at Edith Cowan University, after having worked at the NCSEHE for three years as a Research Fellow. Originally a high school science teacher, Lynette worked in schools across Australia for 20 years and completed her Graduate Diploma in Psychology online through Charles Sturt University. Her PhD thesis, completed at Murdoch University, examined the developmental implications for adolescent wellbeing, schooling and sleep quality when using technology at night. Lynette collaborated with colleagues at Murdoch and Griffith Universities to develop Australia's Biggest Smartphone Survey sponsored by the ABC. Global media highlighted Lynette's research and she was awarded a prize for the paper with the highest media impact, reaching an audience of over two million people in Australia alone. Lynette continues to collaborate with the NCSEHE, in particular using quantitative methodology with a focus on the regional transition to higher education.

Professor Sally Kift

Visiting Professorial Fellow

Sally Kift PFHEA has been Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at James Cook University (2012-2017) and is President of the Australian Learning and Teaching Fellows (ALTF). Prior to commencing at JCU in 2012, Sally was a Professor of Law at QUT, where she has served as Law Faculty Assistant Dean, Teaching & Learning (2001-2006) and QUT’s foundational Director, First Year Experience (2006-2007). Sally received a National Teaching Award (AAUT) in 2003 and in 2006 was awarded one of three inaugural Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Senior Fellowships. In 2007, Sally led a Project Team to the award of a further ALTC National Teaching Award for the Law Faculty’s Assessment and Feedback practices. In 2009, she was appointed an ALTC Discipline Scholar in Law. In 2017, she became a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Professor James Smith

Adjunct Professorial Fellow

James Smith is a Father Frank Flynn Fellow at Menzies School of Health Research, focusing on alcohol and other drugs harm minimisation. He was a 2017 NCSEHE Equity Fellow, hosted through Charles Darwin University (CDU), and was the Co-Lead of the Indigenous Leadership Research and Evaluation Network and Program Manager for the Whole of Community Engagement initiative at CDU. James has held senior strategic roles spanning health and education settings across the Northern Territory and South Australia.

Dr Cathy Stone

Adjunct Fellow

Dr Cathy Stone is an independent consultant and researcher in post-secondary student equity, retention and success. She has been a Conjoint Associate Professor in Social Work at the University of Newcastle, Australia since 2011 and was an inaugural 2016 NCSEHE Equity Fellow, developing national guidelines to improve student outcomes in online learning. Cathy’s research and publications focus particularly on the experiences of mature age, First-in-Family, regional and online students.

Mr Matt Brett

Adjunct Fellow

Matt Brett is Director of Academic Governance and Standards at Deakin University. He was a 2017 Equity Fellow and is now an Adjunct Fellow with the NCSEHE. Both Matt’s parents were Deaf giving him lifelong experience of disability and catalysing over two decades of commitment to equity in higher education. Notable achievements include an Australian Learning and Teaching Citation for outstanding contributions to student learning and co-authorship of NCSEHE’s The Best Chance For All.

Dr Nicole Crawford

2019/20 Equity Fellow

Dr Nicole Crawford is a lecturer in Pre-degree Programs at the University of Tasmania. She is a passionate educator and the recipient of several national research grants. She leads UTAS’s Social Inclusion CoP and is the facilitator of the National Association of Enabling Educators of Australia (NAEEA) Special Interest Group on Mental Health. Nicole’s research interests include enabling education; student and staff wellbeing; and equity and inclusion in Higher Education.

Dr Katelyn Barney

2019/20 Equity Fellow

Katelyn Barney is a Senior Lecturer in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit at The University of Queensland. Her research focuses on facilitating pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into and through higher education and collaborative research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who perform contemporary music. She has published across these areas, co-edited a number of Special Issues of journals, and also edited the books Collaborative Ethnomusicology: New Approaches to Music Research between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and Musical Islands: Exploring Connections between Music, Place and Research. She is also an Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow and Managing Editor of The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education.

Dr Andrea Simpson

2020 Equity Fellow

Dr Andrea Simpson is the Head of Discipline for the Audiology program within the School of Allied Health at La Trobe University. She has worked as a clinician in Indigenous communities in Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory, a project officer in higher education student equity and services, an academic and, more recently, course coordinator and team leader. Her research is focused on the interplay between education and health outcomes.

Dr Janine Delahunty

2020 Equity Fellow

Janine is a lecturer in Academic Development and Recognition, and project manager for various externally-funded research projects at the University of Wollongong. Her core interest is how the learning-teaching experience can be enhanced and the student experience improved, primarily through evidence-based resources and professional development to foster teaching and reflective practices. Her research has involved people from diverse backgrounds including First-in-Family, regional and Indigenous students, research degree students, and online educators and learners. Janine’s motivations stem from her own venture into university study as a mature age student, studying part-time for many years and doing the family-study-work balancing act. She has published across linguistic, higher education and academic development journals.

Mr David Eckstein

2020 Equity Fellow

David is a careers education consultant in the higher education sector. His Fellowship project analyses the provision of targeted careers support for students with disability in Australian universities, and will result in open-access tools and guidelines for all universities to use. He recently established Swinburne University’s AccessAbility Careers Hub — a specialist initiative for students with disability that received the 2019 National Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services best practice award. His interests include student notions of professional self, employability in the curriculum, industry partnerships that progress disability confidence, discrimination and harassment, alternative dispute resolution, and the use of narrative methods to help people develop and implement meaningful workforce participation plans.

Associate Professor Tim Pitman

2020 Equity Fellow

Tim Pitman is a Senior Research Fellow at Curtin University in the School of Education. He has worked in the Australian higher education sector since 1996 and his PhD in Education was completed at The University of Western Australia in 2012. His research focus is on higher education policy, with a particular focus on increasing the representation of disadvantaged students. He has researched and published widely on these and other topics. In 2020 he joins the NCSEHE as an Equity Fellow. His Fellowship will focus on how universities can best support people with disability, who come from regional, rural and remote Australia, in their higher education studies.

Ms Rebecca McKenzie

Administrative Officer

Rebecca has many years of administrative experience and more than 10 years' operational and project management experience in Western Australia’s Agriculture/Biosecurity public sector working on a nationally significant pest incursion project. Rebecca assists the Centre in various administrative and research-related activities including the Centre's valuable project work in areas such as Equity Scholarships, Fellowships and the Equity Performance Framework in Australian Higher Education project.

Ms Nina Thomas

Media and Communications Officer

Prior to her current position, Nina worked as Web Editor for 'Westerly' Magazine, based at the University of Western Australia, and as Brand and Marketing Manager for Challenger Veterinary Hospital, Western Australia. Alongside her role in media and communications, Nina is responsible for managing the production of the NCSEHE's print and online publications, as well as Centre website, events and special projects. She has a degree in Professional Writing and Publishing from Curtin University.

Ms Suzanne Richards

Graphic Designer

Suzanne is a Graphic Designer and assists with the production of digital and print publications, marketing and communication material. Suzanne is studying part-time towards a double major in Creative Advertising and Graphic Design, Illustration and Photography at Curtin University. Suzanne has worked previously as a freelancer in Digital Marketing and Graphic Design.

Mr Don Boyd

Doctoral Student

Don has extensive experience in school education with a focus on regional and remote delivery, in particular policy development associated with equity issues, distance education and the use of ICT to overcome geographic disadvantage. Don’s research interests include the use of technology as a means of building teacher and school leadership capacity in non-metropolitan locations, attracting and retaining quality teachers to country schools, and access and participation by regional and remote residents in higher education.

Mr Ian Cunninghame

Doctoral Student

Ian has been with the NCSEHE since 2015, assisting with reviewing Centre research reports and contributing to the Centre’s policy submissions. He is currently undertaking a doctoral project with the NCSEHE on social justice and social mobility in higher education policy. Ian has a Masters degree majoring in professional writing and publishing and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Internet Communications.