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about us

We are a team of developmental researchers from the School of Psychology at the University of Wollongong who conduct research on infant cognition, parent-child interactions, and well-being in pregnancy and early parenting. We are a part of the Family, Learning and Interaction (FLINT) Research Theme based at Early Start.

At WILL, we are committed to fostering diversity and inclusivity in our pursuit of scientific discovery. Our values will be reflected within the composition of our members, in the families and communities we work with, and in the range of research we undertake. We encourage an environment of collaboration, open communication, trust, and respect, that will drive forward knowledge and understanding of family interactions and early child development.


Associate Professor Jane Herbert

Jane is the director of the Wollongong Infant Learning Lab, and the leader of the FLINT Research Theme at Early Start. She completed her PhD at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University and Delaware University, USA. She spent 12 years conducting infant research at Sheffield University, UK, before moving with her family to UOW. She has extensive experience conducting research with infants and parents and is particularly interested in the way in which cognition, communication, and physical development interact during the first year of life. Follow her on twitter @JaneSHerbert1


Annaleise Mitchell, Research Coordinator

Annaleise is a Research Coordinator who will be working closely with you and your little one in the Wollongong Infant Learning Lab to see how they are moving, exploring, talking and learning. Follow her on twitter @AnnaleiseSM

Josie McNamara, Clinical PhD student

Josie McNamara, Clinical PhD Student

Josie's research interests are focused on maternal wellbeing and attachment during pregnancy and the early postpartum period. Josie is undertaking a three-phase longitudinal study with a sample of pregnant women from the Illawarra to investigate the changes in mental health over the maternity continuum, in order to better understand the relationship between maternal wellbeing and the emerging relationship between mother and baby. This research seeks to inform screening, early identification and treatment procedures, to improve the overall quality of care available to women during pregnancy and early parenting. 

Meagan Baltoski, Clinical PhD Student

Meagan's research interests are maternal anxiety, parent-child interactions, and the development of early numeracy skill. She's been working with the wonderful families from the Illawarra Born longitudinal study, and will soon be conducting focus groups with caregivers to better understand how to support numeracy development in 3-4 year olds.

Cheryl's ID Photo.jpg

Cheryl Ho, PhD Student

Cheryl recently started her PhD, after completing her Honours project with us in 2018. Her PhD research is examining the development of cognitive abilities and interaction during infancy. Her first project involved examining a wonderful dataset on father-child book-reading in the home, that she collected with the families from the Illawarra Born longitudinal study. She is now looking at how parents' book-reading practices change as babies become increasingly mobile and verbal. Cheryl also helps run lab visits with our baby scientists.


Sophie Russell, Clinical PhD Student

Sophie's research is centered around parent-child interactions with a particular focus on middle childhood between the ages of 8 to 12 years. Working towards understanding the social and emotional development during this critical phase, Sophie's research involves parent-child pairs from the Wollongong community, as well as children referred to Northfields Psychology Clinic @ Early Start. The aim of this research is to create a more focused therapeutic intervention for children with anxiety and depression through understanding what is helpful within parent-child conversations. 


Alixandra Risi, Clinical PhD Student

Alixandra is currently completing her PhD research within the FLINT team, after completing her Honours project with us in 2018. Her research interests include parent-child interactions and attachment. Alixandra’s research focuses on the impact of parental military deployment on young children and the parent-child relationship. Her research will also examine whether Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an effective intervention for military families with young children experiencing attachment, behavioural, and emotional difficulties post-deployment.

Will, our lab mascot


Will is our Wollongong Infant Learning Lab (WILL) mascot. His favourite activities are moving, chatting, and playing with friends and family. He's looking forward to meeting you soon. 

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