Dr Dwan Vilcins

Environmental Scientist

Child Health Research Centre
Faculty of Medicine

Overview

Dwan is an environmental epidemiologist, with a particular interest in children's environmental health. Her current research explores the following:

  • Environmentally persistent free radicals, air pollution, and children's lung outcomes
  • Maternal exposure to green space, ambient temperature and air pollution and the association with neonatal and child outcomes
  • The knowledge of GPs and naturopaths on environmental health issues for preconception care
  • Exposures to phthalates and allergic disease

Dwan has a background in public health and nutrition. She is a founder and co-host of the R Peer Group at UQ/QIMR

Research Interests

  • Environmental exposures and child health
    Understanding the links between exposure to environmental hazards—such as air pollution, endocrine disrupting chemicals and environmentally persistent free radicals— and the health of children.
  • Green space
    The role green space plays in the health and development of children

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Master of Public Health, The University of Queensland

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • Previous work has shown that extreme temperatures are associated with increased risk of emergency department visits (EDV) in Queensland. Children have a unique physiology that makes them vulnerable to environmental hazards, and this study seeks to understand how the combination of extreme temperatures and ambient air pollution affect the risk of all-cause and cause-specific EDVs by children. This project will use routine data collections of EDV and environmental monitoring data, and will suit a honours student with an interest in environmental health and epidemiology.

  • Air pollution exposure has been associated with a range of deleterious health effects in children, including negative respiratory effects. This project seeks to understand whether ambient air pollution is associated with an increased risk of severe lower respiratory tract infections in childhood. This project uses data from the Barwon Infant Study, a longitudinal birth cohort in Geelong, Victoria, and would suit a student interested in environmental health or epidemiology. It is suitable for masters disseration students with good statistical analysis skills.

  • Urban green space is perhaps the best example of an environmental factor that may act as a public health good. Research has identified health benefits associated with green space, such as improvement in mental wellbeing, reduction in cortisol, an increase in physical activity, improved neighbourhood cohesion, and exposure to beneficial microbiota. Green space may play a role in ameliorating hazardous environmental exposures, such as air pollution and temperature extremes. Much of the work on green space is in its infancy, and more knowledge is needed on potential mechanisms and specific effects in children.

    This PhD project will use data from a longitudinal cohort of Australian children and explore the association between green space near the residence and nature contact activities with a range of child health outcomes such as physical health, neurodevelopment, and mental wellbeing. Causal mediation analysis will be performed to better test and understand the potential underlying mechanisms that could influence health after nature exposure.

    This project would suit a PhD student with skills in statistics, epidemiology and/or public health. Experience with data analysis is desired.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • Previous work has shown that extreme temperatures are associated with increased risk of emergency department visits (EDV) in Queensland. Children have a unique physiology that makes them vulnerable to environmental hazards, and this study seeks to understand how the combination of extreme temperatures and ambient air pollution affect the risk of all-cause and cause-specific EDVs by children. This project will use routine data collections of EDV and environmental monitoring data, and will suit a honours student with an interest in environmental health and epidemiology.

  • Air pollution exposure has been associated with a range of deleterious health effects in children, including negative respiratory effects. This project seeks to understand whether ambient air pollution is associated with an increased risk of severe lower respiratory tract infections in childhood. This project uses data from the Barwon Infant Study, a longitudinal birth cohort in Geelong, Victoria, and would suit a student interested in environmental health or epidemiology. It is suitable for masters disseration students with good statistical analysis skills.

  • Urban green space is perhaps the best example of an environmental factor that may act as a public health good. Research has identified health benefits associated with green space, such as improvement in mental wellbeing, reduction in cortisol, an increase in physical activity, improved neighbourhood cohesion, and exposure to beneficial microbiota. Green space may play a role in ameliorating hazardous environmental exposures, such as air pollution and temperature extremes. Much of the work on green space is in its infancy, and more knowledge is needed on potential mechanisms and specific effects in children.

    This PhD project will use data from a longitudinal cohort of Australian children and explore the association between green space near the residence and nature contact activities with a range of child health outcomes such as physical health, neurodevelopment, and mental wellbeing. Causal mediation analysis will be performed to better test and understand the potential underlying mechanisms that could influence health after nature exposure.

    This project would suit a PhD student with skills in statistics, epidemiology and/or public health. Experience with data analysis is desired.

  • Due to current funding and immigration restrictions we are only able to accept domestic students.

    Exposure to environmental factors in early life has been associated with poorer respiratory health for children. Air pollutants can negatively affect respiratory health, and there is increasing evidence that environmental chemicals may also have deleterious effects on child health.

    This project aims to use existing data to explore the association of indoor and ambient air pollutants at home with children’s lung function in longitudinal cohort studies of Australian children, and to examine the role of modifying/mediating factors. Air quality and environmental chemicals present in the home environment, as assessed in surveys, will be examined for association with lung function, wheeze and allergic disease.

    This project would suit a Honours or Masters student. Some knowledge of statistics is essential.

  • The use of prescribed burns as a hazard reduction tool in Australian bushfire management means that households living close to forests and national parks are exposed to periodic bushfire smoke in their homes. This project seeks to understand the following: the level of particulates in homes and ambient air as a result of prescribed burns; whether exposure is influenced by house characteristics; and the composition of particles present as a result of prescribed burning. This project involves fieldwork to install air quality monitors and collect samples of household dust and particulate matter, and would suit an honours student with an interest in environmental health.