Reflections on Exchange Opportunity

The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia and Emory University have established a research exchange program for PhD students that aims to strengthen research linkages and provide opportunities for PhD students from each university to extend and enhance their graduate research work. Brooke Reidy, a 6th year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program, recently completed her exchange at UQ. Below are her reflections on the exchange experience.

As part of my research exchange, I collaborated with Dr. Robyne Le Brocque and her colleague, Dr. Justin Kenardy, to conceptualize a research project at UQ that investigated the role of sleep in children’s psychosocial recovery following traumatic brain injury. Under mentorship of Dr. Le Brocque, I completed data analyses for this project and submitted an (accepted) abstract to present our findings at the annual meeting of the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology. I also made headway on a written manuscript summarizing our work that will hopefully result in a first author publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

My work at UQ was an exciting extension of research I have conducted at Emory, which is focused on the role of sleep in children’s emotional and physical health. At UQ, I had the opportunity to work with members of an international research team recognized as a world leader in pediatric trauma, and was able to utilize data from one of the largest prospective studies examining cognitive and psychosocial functioning in pediatric TBI to date. I was also able to tour and learn about other pediatric psychology research efforts currently taking place in the burn clinic and the pediatric intensive care unit at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. This provided me with a unique opportunity to learn about the impressive integration of psychological science in a hospital setting in Brisbane, and gain insight into differences in Australian vs. US models of psychosocial care in pediatric hospital settings. These experiences informed my perspective on clinical issues facing pediatric patients and their families, and motivated my interest in future research examining sleep as an influential factor in children’s emotional well-being and recovery from illness and/or injury.

During my time at UQ, I also had the opportunity to become integrated into the School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work (NMSW) at UQ, as Dr. LeBroque is a faculty member in this department. I was warmly welcomed by NMSW faculty and staff and thoroughly enjoyed conversations with faculty members about their academic work and research foci. I was inspired to be a part of another academic culture that was highly motivated to promote quality research opportunities and applied training experiences for its students. I was also very grateful for faculty encouragement to travel and learn more about Australian culture while abroad.

I loved my time in Australia and left feeling enthusiastic and motivated to pursue additional international research collaborations in the future.