Member success

Digital Child researchers and students set a high standard of excellence across disciplines in 2021, demonstrated by the award recognition and grant success highlighted below.


Two members were named a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2021 Australia Day Honours: Advisory Committee member Megan Mitchell AM for significant service to children, human rights and wellbeing initiatives; and Associate Professor Lennie Barblett AM for her service to tertiary education and early childhood teaching.

Professor Susan Danby was named a 2021 Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (FASSA) for her lifetime of work dedicated to children, and in acknowledgement of her scholarly contributions to the fields of early childhood and digital technologies. Read more about Professor Danby’s award below.

Professor Caroline Barratt-Pugh and Associate Professor Lennie Barblett are members of an Edith Cowan University project team awarded Outstanding Engagement for Research Impact in the 2021 Engagement Australia Excellence Awards for developing a family literacy program in partnership with the State Library of Western Australia, cumulating in a digital text-based program called Kindytxt.

Dr Marnee Shay was a national recipient of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) award in the Leadership category.

Ros Sambell was awarded the Institute of Nutrition Research’s Capacity Building Award for her leadership on the National Nutrition Network – Early Childhood Education and Care.

Clara Rivera was awarded the Beth Southwell Award for most outstanding education research thesis, titled Extending on Our Understanding of Digital Play: Children Co-designing.

Our members were recognised for exceptional achievements by their institutions, including:



Professor Daniel Johnson leads a project awarded a $1.05 million National Health and Medical Research Council Ideas grant to explore problematic videogame play among young adults.

Dr Marnee Shay is a member of the project team awarded a $472,593 ARC Linkage grant for the project Sparking Imagination Education: Transforming inequality in schools; and is an ARC Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award Senior Research Fellow on a $750,000 ARC Discovery Indigenous grant to co-design Indigenous education policy in Queensland.

Professor Laura Schulz is a member of a team the University of Texas at Dallas, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences that received a three-year, $1.25 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop an online platform for research on cognitive development in children ages 3 to 6.



Professor Susan Danby named a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

Professor Susan Danby, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child, was appointed a 2021 Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (FASSA) for her lifetime of work dedicated to children.

Professor Danby joins 36 other social science experts in the 2021 round, and over 700 in total, who have been named Fellows for their outstanding contributions to social science research or practice in Australia.

Professor Danby was acknowledged for her scholarly contributions to the fields of early childhood and digital technologies. She is one of Australia’s leading experts in early years language and social interaction, childhood studies, and young children’s engagement with digital technologies.

Professor Danby said she was deeply grateful for the honour to be elected to the prestigious Fellowship.

“I’m honoured to join such an illustrious group of Fellows, many of whom I’ve been lucky to count as peers and mentors throughout my academic career of more than 30 years,” said Professor Danby.

“I’d like to give my thanks to QUT and to national and international colleagues and organisations in early childhood, education and research who have invested so much in building my knowledge and practice.”

Professor Danby said her career as an early childhood and primary school teacher sparked her curiosity and interest in how children learn, develop and engage with education.

“My first job was teaching a multi-age early years classroom in the regional Queensland town of Mt Perry, where I had the joy and privilege of setting the foundations for my students’ learning. This ignited my drive to learn and understand more.”

“As digital technologies started to become more pervasive, it became obvious that more exploration was needed to understand how children, families, educators, and health professionals engage with digital technologies across diverse settings, which could inform support for – and with – children during this exciting and challenging time of technology use.”

As Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child, Professor Danby leads a collective of national and international researchers and partners across education settings, government, business and the community to work towards the centre’s vision – ensuring young children are healthy, connected and educated in a rapidly changing digital age.

“I’m grateful to the Australian Research Council for supporting the establishment of the Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child to help address these opportunities and challenges.”

“I’m also immensely thankful to the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia for recognising a lifetime of work dedicated to children.”

The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child acknowledges the First Australian owners of the lands on where we gather and pay our respects to the Elders, lores, customs and creation spirits of this country.