Lisa Mundy works as a research fellow at the Centre for Adolescent Health within the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. Prior to this Lisa completed a PhD in Developmental Psychology in the UK. Lisa is the project manager for the Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study – or the CATS study. This is a unique longitudinal study based in metropolitan Melbourne, Victoria, which follows over 1200 children annually from 8 years of age. CATS aims to improve our understanding of the many influences on the health and emotional adjustment of children as they approach their teens, with a particular focus on puberty, health and educational engagement.
In 2016 CATS is launching the fifth wave of data collection. In this wave, the students will be in grade 7, the first year of high school. The move from primary school to high school has been identified as one of the most significant transitions in the lives of young people. Whilst a period of apprehension is normal, many children struggle with the social, emotional, organisational and academic demands of the transition to high school. In contrast with the investment seen in the early years, the middle years have not seen system-wide approaches within education that prepare children for the transition to secondary school. CATS will examine the factors that predict a successful transition to high school. Having once considered training to be a teacher, Lisa has a particular interest in the interface between health and education, and providing children the opportunity to be as healthy and successful as possible.
In a busy role as project manager of a large study, the Invergowrie Post-Doctoral Fellowship has allowed Lisa to dedicate a percentage of her working time to the preparation of academic publications, grant applications and for career development. These are vital activities, not only for Lisa’s own professional development, but also for the project as a whole. In 2015, CATS was one of the first studies in the world to show that high levels of adrenal androgens (hormones that rise during the early phase of puberty) were associated with increased mental health symptoms and peer relationship and behavioural problems in boys.