Jenny Ziviani is the inaugural professor of children's allied health research with Queensland Children's Health Service and The University of Queensland, Australia. Her 30-year background as a clinician, academic and researcher has focused on the well-being of children at risk of a range of physical, developmental and psychosocial conditions, their families and the communities in which they live. As an active researcher, she has successfully managed large national and international competitive grants to a cumulative value in excess of AUS$7million, published over 200 internationally peer viewed articles, 32 book chapters, four books and presented over 210 conference papers.
In supporting the next generation of occupational therapy researchers she has successfully brought to completion 39 doctoral students. She has been awarded the Open Award for Research Excellence, and the Sylvia Docker Award for contribution to the profession by Occupational Therapy Australia.
Q AND A
Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Questioning; Creative; Collaborative
How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
Ensuring that you include those at the core of your research as informers and/or collaborators will mean that you are asking the 'right' questions and will result in findings that are meaningful. Irrespective of how well designed and rigorously executed research is it will never, however, make a difference unless the findings are communicated and applied within the real world. Don't just focus on research without considering a communication and implementation strategy. It is the latter that makes a real difference.
What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
The most meaningful research ideas and questions arise from allowing time for reading, reflecting but more importantly discussing and collaborating with other researchers from diverse fields. Sometime the most meaningful research arises out of the most unexpected collaborations. See research as a creative undertaking that can capture your interest and sustain you for the longer term. Try to enjoy the process and not just focus on the outcome, albeit that the latter should always be celebrated.
Beside your own areas of inquiry, what is one research priority that you believe is important for the future of occupational science and occupational therapy?
My research has always been with children and families but I am very aware that the world in which they live can offer climatic, sociodemographic, political and economic challenges for all of us. I think being aware of the context of our research endeavours means that we need to also offer our occupational perspective to global issues.
Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
I have been truly fortunate to be surrounded, by choice as much as accident, scholars who are highly competent, generous and caring. What I have learned and what I hope I pass on to others is the ability to be autonomy supportive. I have been supported to follow my ideas, not all of which have been successful but all of which have helped me grow.
Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
Connecting with nature renews and energizes me. Be it the seaside, mountains or just a river walk in the local neighbourhood, absorbing the richness of environmental sounds and smells always refreshes me. Most of the solutions to my research and professional problems usually appear at these times.
What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
Without doubt the most rewarding aspect has the calibre of the people with whom I have been privileged to work in my academic life. Anyone who is an academic will know that there are many challenges, personal and organisational, which can be very disheartening. Colleagues who are generous in spirit are really the fuel that sustains a long academic life. Being able to share my academic life with a wonderful supportive husband has been a real bonus as has having a son who can bring me back to earth with a sharp, witty one-liner.
Ashburner, J., Ziviani, J. & Rodger, S. (2010) Surviving in the Mainstream: Capacity of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to perform academically and regulate their emotions and behavior at school, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 4, 18-27 . doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2009.07.002
Miller, L., Ziviani, J., Ware, R. & Boyd, R. (2014) Mastery motivation in children with congenital hemiplegia: individual and environmental associations. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 56, 267-274. DOI: 10.1111/dmcn.12356
Pont, K., Ziviani, J., Wadley, D. & Abbott, R. (2011). The Model of Children's Active Travel (M-CAT): a conceptual framework for examing factors influencing children's active travel. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 58, 138-144. (published on line, doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1630.2010.00865.x)
Sakzewski, L., Ziviani, J., Abbott, D., MacDonell, R., Jackson, G. & Boyd, R. (Accepted 20/10/2010). Randomized trial of constraint-induced movement therapy and bimanual training on activity outcomes for children with congenital hemiplegia. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 53(4), 313-320. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2010.03859.x