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About Rick van der Zwan

Rick van der Zwan BSc(Hons) PhD(USyd)
Associate Professor Rick van der Zwan obtained a BSc from the University of Sydney. His majors were in Psychology and Anatomy and he went on to achieve First Class Honours in Psychology. Then, under the supervision of Professor Peter Wenderoth, Rick completed his PhD. He worked on Binocular Rivalry, examining the neural mechanisms by which information from both eyes are integrated to give coherent perceptions, led to his winning a postdoctoral appointment with Professor Esther Peterhans in the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital in Zurich. There Rick worked on monkey models of visual cortical processing with Professor Peterhans and Dr Rudi Baumann.
In 1995 Rick was invited to take up a lectureship in the Department of Psychology at the University of Sydney. In 2001 he moved to James Cook University where he was campus coordinator and Head of Discipline on the Cairns campus. Rick moved to Southern Cross University (SCU) in 2003 to lead the development of the research programme of the Department of Psychology and has set up the University's first research labs in Coffs Harbour.
At SCU Rick and Dr Anna Brooks have developed strong and internationally recognised research and teaching programmes in cognitive neuroscience. They have active collaborations with Professor Olaf Blanke, Head of the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Brain-Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne of the Eccole and with Professor Karl Verfaillie of the Department of Experimental Psychology, Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. As a result of that work, and other programmes of research, Rick was invited, in 2005, to be a Priority Area Leader of the Australian Research Council sponsored Human Communication Science Network Perception and Action Priority Area. He and his team are currently investigating the neural mechanisms by which humans recognise the actions of others.
More recently, Dr Anna Brooks established a collaboration with Professor Jesse Purdy of Southwestern University. Rick, Anna, and Jesse, working with Paige Sinclair (CEO of the Pet Porpoise Pool, the Oceanarium at Coffs Harbour) have secured funding to develop an Aquatic Animal Behavioural Research project on-site at the Pet Porpoise Pool. That research project will see established a special facility for investigating the affect on behaviours of various aquatic species (fishes and cetaceans) of changes to environmental pressures. Planning is now underway for the facility and it is expected to be on-line as an operational research facility early in 2009.
In addition to that work his research group is working on aspects of mental health care in Local Area Health Services and on the efficacy of parenting programmes being implemented in Australia. In particular, and in collaboration with Professor Tom Phelan, Rick and Dr Anna Brooks successfully applied for a collaborative grant to evaluate 1-2-3 Magic as an implemented and as an independently directed parenting programme.


Present Associate Professor, Southern Cross University Health and Human Sciences


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Journal articles (41)