Careers and Study

Drinking and alcohol issues and problems are entwined in Australian daily life. Our team currently work on a wide range of exciting projects, collaborating with a wide network of researchers both in Australia and around the world. We are a world class research institute that produces research that impacts policy and attracts attention globally. This research is often multi-disciplinary, as alcohol research is a neglected area of academia, we are often at the cutting edge in a range of areas.

We are always willing to talk to our students about assisting on research projects. Our strong research capabilities and capacity for research allow us to excel in both qualitative and quantitative research.

We are eager to work with Honours, Masters or PhD students interested in any topic related to alcohol consumption and harms, policy or drinking cultures. We can work with people working in a wide range of disciplines including:

  • Anthropology
  • Criminology
  • Economics
  • Epidemiology
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Sociology
  • Statistics

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Current PhD Projects

Low-risk drinkers: Who are they and what influences their drinking patterns?

Low-risk drinkers: Who are they and what influences their drinking patterns?

Janette Mugavin, supervised by Robin Room, Sarah MacLean & Sarah Callinan

From a cultural-political standpoint, low-risk drinking and abstinence have been offered up as national aspirations at different points in Australia’s history. However, in more recent times, greater emphasis has been placed on low-risk drinking. Despite this, adult low-risk drinkers have been largely overlooked in Australian alcohol survey research. Janette’s PhD project aims to investigate the factors associated with low-risk drinking and identify strategies and approaches low-risk drinkers use to manage their consumption levels. A key focus of this project is to better understand the role of alcohol in the lives of low-risk drinkers.

Teenagers are drinking less: An examination of the factors shaping recent developments in youth drinking cultures (qualitative component)

Teenagers are drinking less: An examination of the factors shaping recent developments in youth drinking cultures (qualitative component)

Gabriel Caluzzi, supervised by Amy Pennay, Michael Livingston & Sarah MacLean

This PhD project is part of a broader ARC-funded grant to try to understand the drivers behind the sharp declines in youth drinking in Australia since the early 2000s. Nowadays young Australians are drinking less than previous generations at the same age. A development mirrored in other countries. To better understand these trends, Gabriel Caluzzi’s PhD project has involved 50 interviews with young Victorian’s aged 16-19 in order to develop a nuanced understanding of the changing role of alcohol in young adults’ lives.

Alcohol consumption and the role of interpersonal and household influences within Australian households

Alcohol consumption and the role of interpersonal and household influences within Australian households

Geoffrey Leggat, supervised by Sarah Callinan, Michael Livingston & Sandra Kuntsche

An individual’s alcohol consumption is shaped by many factors. In particular, the drinking habits of others we are close to can have a large effect on our perceptions and ideas regarding alcohol. Given this, Geoffrey’s PhD project aims to identify and describe the influences within relationships and households contributing to changes in alcohol consumption. The role of relationship and household factors and events will be assessed to evaluate, not only the effect they have on an individual’s alcohol consumption, but also how they interact with the influence that is exerted by the alcohol  consumption of partners or family.

Teenagers are drinking less: An examination of the factors shaping recent developments in youth drinking cultures (quantitative component)

Teenagers are drinking less: An examination of the factors shaping recent developments in youth drinking cultures (quantitative component)

Rakhi Vashishtha, supervised by Michael Livingston, Amy Pennay & Paul Dietze

Rakhi’s PhD project is part of a broader ARC-funded grant to try to understand the drivers of recent declines in adolescent drinking in Australia. To do this, she is conducting a range of studies – a systematic review of existing analyses that have looked at this question globally, an exploration of trends in other risk and protective factors and a series of empirical analyses of existing survey data to test specific theories, including changes in parenting practices, changes in leisure time activities and major policy changes. The findings of this work will complement the qualitative work that Gabriel Caluzzi is conducting for his PhD and will provide critical new insights into this major generational shift in drinking practices.

Transdermal alcohol measurement technology validation

Transdermal alcohol measurement technology validation

Kelly van Egmond, supervised by Emmanuel Kuntsche, Cassandra Wright & Michael Livingston

Most alcohol research relies on self-reports and breath alcohol concentration, which has limitations in accuracy and participant burden. Transdermal alcohol monitors are devised to provide data on consumption with precision and no response burden. The aim of Kelly’s PhD project is to test the accuracy of measuring alcohol consumption using transdermal alcohol measurement devices. The project will consist of a systematic review and empirical studies testing the transdermal alcohol measurement technology against self-report and breath alcohol measurements, comparing across genders, ages, BMI, ethnicity, individual and family drinking history, drinking rate and consumed amount of food.

Attitude towards non-drinkers in Australia and the relationship to problematic alcohol use

Attitude towards non-drinkers in Australia and the relationship to problematic alcohol use

Christopher Cheers, supervised by Sarah Callinan & Amy Pennay

With more and more Australians choosing not to drink, Christopher’s PhD is the first study of its kind to examine attitudes towards non-drinkers in an Australian population. The studies which form his PhD aim to examine and define drinker’s attitudes towards non-drinkers in Australia, and create and validate a new measure of these attitudes in a large sample. He will also examine how these attitudes may relate to problematic alcohol consumption. As the negative appraisal of non-drinkers is suggested as a barrier to reducing alcohol consumption, it is proposed that an understanding of these attitudes may allow the development of health promotion strategies that aim to create a more supportive space for moderate drinking in our community.

The ‘drinking context’ in context: What role does the immediate environment play in young adults’ drinking behaviours and how to capture it with a smartphone application?

The ‘drinking context’ in context: What role does the immediate environment play in young adults’ drinking behaviours and how to capture it with a  smartphone application?

Florian Labhart, supervised by Emmanuel Kuntsche, Daniel Gatica-Perez & Rutger Engels

Florian’s PhD thesis explores different aspects of the development and implementation of research in alcohol use in the event using a smartphone application. This comprises (1) the development of the ‘Youth@Night’ app and the evaluation of users’ experience with this data collection tool, (2) the exploration of alcohol use behaviours and cognitions at the event level and prospectively using questionnaire data, (3) the investigation of the opportunity to replace participants’ self-reports of their behaviours and contexts by collecting media data, in terms of short videos of the immediate environment, (4) the implementation of a representative street-intercept recruitment technique using geo-located data generated on social networks apps to quantify the popularity of nightlife regions over an entire city.