Adolescent mental health and improved ear health services the focus for 2024 CRF PhD Excellence Awards

Adolescent mental health and improved ear health services the focus for 2024 CRF PhD Excellence Awards

Yohannes Efa and Lisa Callahan are the Healthy Development Adelaide (HDA) and Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation (CRF) PhD Excellence Award winners for 2024.

CRF’s financial support of the PhD Excellence Awards and its partnership of 17 years with HDA helps to foster research excellence and career development in South Australia. This is the 13th cohort of the PhD Excellence Awards, with both winners to receive $5,000 per annum for 3 years to augment their scholarships.


Yohannes Efa is a PhD candidate within the Cancer Epidemiology and Population Health group in Allied Health and Human Performance at the University of South Australia.

Yohannes’s research project focusses on ‘The impact of lifestyle factors on mental health outcomes of adolescents’.

This project considers factors like diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviour, alcohol, and tobacco use, as well as household, family, and country-level factors during the investigation. The study utilizes the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS) data, which covers over 98 countries from various regions and socioeconomic backgrounds. This allows for cross-country comparisons and exploration of the influence of environmental factors. Ultimately, this research project will contribute to the existing knowledge on promoting healthy development during adolescence and the transition to adulthood.

This project is supervised by Dr Ming Li, Senior Research Fellow at the Cancer Epidemiology and Population Health Research group at the University of South Australia. Co-supervisors include Professor David Roder, Research Chair of Cancer Epidemiology and Population Health, University of South Australia and a Senior Principal Research Fellow at SAHMRI; and Professor Zumin Shi, Professor of Nutrition at Qatar University.

With this award, Yohanne hopes to add to the understanding of the impact of lifestyle and environmental factors on the mental health related outcomes in adolescents, in addition, and from the training opportunity to build up his career pathway by liaison with HDA members and industrial partners.


Lisa Callahan is a PhD candidate within the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University. Lisa’s PhD forms part of the NHMRC-funded ‘Pathways For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Hearing Health: The PATHWAY Project’.

Lisa’s research project focusses on ‘Health professionals, resource use and the detection of otitis media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’.

This research project aims to provide an understanding of the training and support needs, resource use and facilitators of program outcomes, as viewed by health professionals. This research will use Western and Indigenous research methodologies to achieve the study aims. There are potential applications of this research across allied health, nursing, medicine, public health, paediatrics and Indigenous health.

This project is supervised by A/Professor Jacqueline Stephens, an epidemiologist and co-supervised by A/Professor Eng Ooi an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist from Flinders University. An adjunct team of supervisors include Samantha Harkus, an Audiologist from the National Acoustic Laboratories; Patrick Sharpe, Executive Officer of Far West Community Partnerships, an Aboriginal-led organisation focussed on social change.

Lisa’s hope is that this research will contribute to improved ear health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and enhance support systems for health professionals involved in this space.

Congratulations Yohannes and Lisa! We look forward to hearing about your research progress and outcomes in these two critical areas of children’s health and welfare.


Healthy Development Adelaide is celebrating 20 Years in 2024.

Join us as we take a look back at the CRF HDA PhD Excellence Award Scholars, and where they are NOW.