Researcher biographies

Chief Investigators


Associate Professor Maryanne Theobald is academic and senior research fellow in the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Maryanne is an interaction analyst whose research explores the hidden worlds of children’s lives in our increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse homes, schools and playgrounds. Maryanne uses video-ethnography and video-stimulated accounts to involve children as analysers of their own experiences, creating professional learning resources for Qld educators. Understanding social relationships and identifying effective communicative strategies between educators and children in their interactions in classrooms, when using digital technologies and in learning experiences, Maryanne’s research guides educators to create safe and supportive social environments for learning.


Professor Jo Lunn Brownlee is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Over the last decade Jo’s research has explored how teachers and children’s beliefs about knowledge and knowing are connected to teaching and learning respectively. A recent Australian Research (ARC) Discovery project investigated changes in children’s beliefs about knowledge with respect to moral reasoning over the early years of primary school. Her current ARC research explores teacher educators’ epistemic reflexivity in the context of supporting preservice teachers to teach diverse groups of children.


  Professor Susan Danby is a Professor in the Faculty of Education, School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education at QUT. She is the Director for the recently funded Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child, located at QUT and partnering with 5 Australian universities and a range industry, educational and philanthropic organisations. A major focus of her research investigates young children’s interactions, including in families and educational contexts, and in medical and health settings. Her recent work involves young children and their use of digital technologies.


Dr Amanda McFadden has previously been a senior lecturer in the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education at QUT and Course Coordinator for the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood). Amanda has extensive early childhood experience working in a range of early childhood contexts including long day care, family day care, and kindergarten programs. Amanda continues to research and publish in the field of early childhood and is particularly interested in leadership and teacher experiences. Amanda has worked at C & K and Lady Gowrie Qld as the Research and Evaluation Lead. Amanda has an interest in supporting educators to research their own practice, within their own contexts, on projects that are important to them, as well as to implement evidence based approaches to pedagogy and practice.


Kathleen Smeaton has worked in higher education for over a decade in various roles including information researcher, educator and librarian. Kathleen is interested how the ways we interact with information shape our experiences and circumstances. Her previous research has looked at the role of information in the lives of low socio-economic communities. Kathleen is an advocate for open information and the ways Open Access, Open Data and Open Education can impact individuals and institutions. Kathleen currently works at the University of Queensland Library as the Associate Director Data, Digital Learning and Publishing.


Research Assistants


Cathy Nielson first trained in research methodology as an undergraduate Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) student. Since graduating in 2017 with first class honours and registering as a teacher Cathy has undertaken supply work in the early years of primary schools and kindergartens. As a senior research assistant across a number of projects, Cathy supports all administrative aspects, assists with data collection and analysis, contributes early childhood perspectives and project manages the day to day tasks.



Shelley Radanovic is an experienced research assistant, tutor in the Faculty of Education, and art teacher. Shelley has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Graduate Diploma of Early Years, and recently completed a Masters of Education (research), Children’s perspectives on creativity and its role in their lives.