Our collective worlds have changed in response to COVID-19, with our staff and students at OTARC now working from home, as I am sure are most of you, our readers. It has been an extraordinarily busy few weeks as we rush to re-prioritise our work so that we can be as efficient as possible during our changed circumstances. Our studies involve testing of very young children have been put on hold given the difficulty in maintaining interpersonal distance with these little ones. However, participant recruitment into our studies continues in preparation for when we return to work on campus to resume testing, whenever that will be…
Despite the rocky start to the year, we welcomed two new staff this year. Dr Katy Unwin commenced with us as a Postdoctoral Research Officer in February, working within our Early Identification and Diagnosis Research Program. She undertook her PhD at the Wales Autism Research Centre, with a key research focus on sensory issues in autism. Perrin Date has also joined us as our Research and Operations Co-ordinator from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Perrin was known to us as she volunteered at OTARC a few years ago, revealing her strong work ethic and dedication to the field.
I am delighted to share that Dr Darren Hedley has been awarded a Fellowship by Suicide Prevention Australia to research suicidal ideation and behaviour in autistic adolescents and adults. Darren has been working in the area of employment and mental health. His focus will now be extended to the risk and protective factors regarding suicide in autistic people with the hope of identifying targets for prevention and early intervention. In addition to this success, it was recently announced that one of our post doctoral fellows, Dr Ifrah Abdullahi, is one of ten young scientists chosen to represent Australia at the 70th Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting in Germany; unfortunately, like much else in these times of crisis, the meeting has now been postponed to 2021.