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Dr Jennifer StGeorge

Dr Jennifer StGeorge
Research Program:
Research Topics:

Research Interests

  • Impact of father-child interaction on child development
  • Characteristics of father-child play, including
    • Playfulness
    • Stimulation, challenge, demandingness
    • Sensitivity
    • Dominance
    • Physicality
  • Pathways of paternal influence on child development, including
    • Physiological
    • Psychological
    • Behavioural 

Why did you get into research?

Being a researcher gives my daily work a raison d’etre; there is always something new being discovered, there is always something that needs inspired scientific analysis. In the field of fatherhood research, there is much more to understand about the nature, impact and pathways of paternal influence on children. The first 1000 days of a child’s life are so important, and we need to know how both parents can make a difference.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

One end-goal of my research would be to discover the physiological and neurological activity that occurs during stimulating and challenging play between father and child, including rough and tumble play, which children love so much. If we can understand how challenging play, and boisterous physical play, affect brain development and cognitive processes, perhaps we can enrich parent training for prevention of or and intervention for children’s behavioural disorders.


Dr Jennifer StGeorge was awarded her PhD in 2010, gaining a University and a national award for the thesis. From 2009 she was employed with the Fathers & Families Research Program in the Family Action Centre, School of Health Sciences at the University of Newcastle. In 2015, Dr StGeorge gained a position as Senior Lecturer in Family Studies, teaching into and convening the Master of Family Studies.

Dr Jennifer StGeorge has collaborated in numerous studies within the Fathers & Families Research Program, collaborating on project design, implementation and authorship on a range of projects centering on men and developmental parenting. She has contributed to the research output and expansion of this program in the last 6 years; the program has earned a total research revenue of more than $3,000,000 since 2001. In 2014, Dr StGeorge was awarded an Early Career Research grant and an Equity Research Fellowship for research focusing on the developmental parenting of fathers. She is now leader of the research stream on Father-Child Interaction that aims to identify and explain the extent and impact of fathers’ play on children (0-5 years); the lead project is the Australian Father-Child Play Research Project, which focuses on fathers’ play and children’s social and emotional development. She is also a collaborator in research projects within the Paternal Perinatal Depression Initiative.

Future Focus

My future research is firmly focused on identifying, explaining, extending and testing a range of factors and models representing fathers’ interactions with their children 0-5 years, and the influence of these factors on children’s development.

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Behavioural analysis
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Father-child interaction
  • Child (0-5years) development