Profile

Professor Karen Thorpe

Professor Karen Thorpe is a developmental scientist who works closely with government and non-government agencies to improve the lives of children and families. She has an international track-record in studies of the impact of early life experience on children’s ongoing life course, applying her expertise in large-scale longitudinal and observational studies to deliver policy and practice actions across the fields of health and education. As Co-Leader of the Longitudinal Family Study, Karen will help deliver broad understanding of Australian families’ engagement with digital technology. She hopes her work will optimise children’s life chances through access to learning opportunities and grow our next generation of researchers to sustain ongoing research impact on the lives of Australian families.

Reflecting her vision for research excellence and impact, Karen has published more than 270 research outputs including more than 180 journal articles, books and book chapters, 30 reports for government and non-government agencies and a diverse range of professional development and parenting resources. Karen chairs the Australian Reference Council for Early Education and sits on a range of scientific advisory boards (e.g The Smith Family; Gap Early Education Taskforce). She has been invited to present her work in national and international forums, including at Parliament House, Canberra. She is cited in key policy documents of the OECD and WHO.  In 2013 and again in 2019, Karen was named among Australia’s 100 Women of Influence by the Australian Financial Review and in 2020 was an Advance Global Awards finalist recognising her international impact in education.

Earliest digital memory
Mid ’70s – touring the computer my father had installed into his business to automate governance and finance! A whole room was built to house it. Back in the day the bigger the better. My dad was an innovator – I wanted to be like him.



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

The Centre recognises that the examples we set in diversity and inclusion will support young children to respect and celebrate differences in all people. We embed diversity, inclusivity and equality into all aspects of the Centre’s activities and welcome all people regardless of race, ethnicity, social background, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and national origin.