David Coall Research Fellow, University of Western Australia BPsych 1994; BSc (Hons) 1999; PhD 2005
My interest in research began with my Honours year where I applied evolutionary theory to understanding the factors that influence a woman's reproductive development and timing. An Australian Postgraduate Award gave me the opportunity to extend this research during my PhD and examine factors throughout a woman’s life that influence the birth weight and placental weight of her children.
UWA and the School of Anatomy and Human Biology provided a unique opportunity to carry out my research. Nowhere else in Australia do you have the discipline-specific knowledge necessary to conduct this research, held by a group of academics keen to support unique interdisciplinary research.
At the start of 2006, I began a three-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Center for Cognitive and Decision Sciences in the Institute of Psychology at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Within a multi-disciplinary research group, I was able to use established evolutionary perspectives as a framework for investigating the influence that grandparents' investment of time and money has on the growth, development and mental health of their grandchildren. I have also begun to examine the potential reciprocal health benefits that grandparents receive (perceived and real) from giving this investment.
Living and working in central Europe, especially in a non-English speaking country, was a wonderful experience. Working in a substantially different system presented its challenges, but it also opens you up to some of the different ways that countries, universities, departments and research groups operate.
This year, I have brought my family all the way back to Perth and UWA as I begin a Research Fellowship in the Community, Culture and Mental Health Unit at the School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. This will give me the perfect opportunity to apply my research knowledge to the practical delivery and evaluation of mental health services.