Research Fellows


Zoe Aitken is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Health Equity (University of Melbourne) working on the social determinants of health for people with disabilities. She has been working at the University of Melbourne since 2011 to pursue her interest in social epidemiology and was awarded an NHMRC postgraduate scholarship in 2015 to better understand how socioeconomic factors influence the mental health of people with disabilities. She has a particular interest in the analysis of longitudinal studies to answer causal questions about the complex interplay between socio-economic disadvantage and health.

Dr Sean Byars is a research fellow at the University of Melbourne, working on large-scale data analyses for the social determinants of health for people with disabilities. He has worked at Yale University on the Framingham Heart Study and as a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow at the University of Copenhagen while working on the national Danish Health registries. His work has investigated developmental origins of health and disease and risk factors for common diseases occurring in later life in various worldwide populations, and has utilised a range of computational and biostatistical methods on large-scale administrative, clinical and genetic datasets.

Professor Shane Clifton is an an Honorary Associate at the Centre for Disability Research and Policy at the University of Sydney. He is also Professor of Theology and Ethics at Alphacrucis College in Sydney. Shane’s research is on the flourishing of people with disabilities, and brings together the fields of disability studies, virtue ethics, and spirituality. He lives with a spinal cord injury (C5 incomplete)  following an accident on a bicycle in 2010.

Dr George Disney  is a Research Fellow working on the social determinants of health for people with disabilities, based at the Centre for Health Equity, University of Melbourne. He has a background in demography and social statistics. George’s most recent work in New Zealand was focused on analysing socio-economic and ethnic inequalities in mortality and cancer. His research interests are in examining how socio-economic inequality in society affects population health and population statistics including their uncertainty.

Dr Nicola Fortune is Research Fellow at the Centre for Disability Research & Policy (University of Sydney), working on the development of a monitoring framework and indicators for reporting on the health of working-age adults with disabilities. Nicola has a strong background in disability and health data development and analysis, including the development and implementation of the WHO’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and International Classification of Health Interventions (ICHI). Disability research projects on which she has collaborated have included a review of evidence on cross-sector service coordination for people with high and complex needs, development of a tool for monitoring community-based disability-inclusive programs, and measurement of met and unmet demand for specialist support and mainstream services among people with disabilities. Nicola has recently completed a PhD on the developmental appraisal of a draft classification of public health interventions.

Celia Green is a Research Fellow working in the area of policy reform. Celia is also completing her PhD at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU where she is investigating how welfare state models influence the policy process. Celia’s research interests include public policy, social equity and public health. Celia has previously worked as a research associate for the University of New South Wales and Monash University on the provision of emergency financial aid, service provision in the public sector, gender equality strategies in public service agencies, and policies to achieve flexibility and autonomy for low paid service delivery workers. She has extensive experience in conducting qualitative and quantitative social science research incorporating literature reviews, stakeholder interviews and data analysis.

Dr Jerome Rachele is a Research Fellow working on the social determinants of health for people with disabilities, based at the Centre for Health Equity, University of Melbourne. His research centres around investigating causal relationships between environments and health using data from longitudinal studies, with a focus on inequalities. He is working towards creating a society where everyone gets a fair go at good health.

Dr Qingsheng Zhou is a Senior Research Fellow who also works at the National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH) at the University of Sydney.  Qingsheng has been undertaking research into people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds since 2013. Before that, Qingsheng was a Director of Evidence Base Development, with the NSW Family and Community Services (FACS), and was responsible for developing evidence through statistical analysis, research, and evaluation to support strategic reforms. He has extensive experience in statistical modelling aimed at assessing the feasibility and impacts of major policy initiatives.  While pursuing his PhD at the University of Sydney, Qingsheng was awarded a range of scholarships and grants for his research projects. He has lectured at the University of Sydney and Nanjing University (China) where he received his MSc and BSc qualifications.