Bacteria and viruses get a lot of bad press, but not all microbes are harmful. In fact, we need some of them to keep us alive and healthy. As a psychologist, Dr Caitlin Cowan is interested in how these microbes (known as our “microbiome”) might also influence our mental health. She studies the microbiome of young children, and hopes to answer important questions like whether certain microbes can increase risk for mental health problems, and whether microbes can change our mood or our behaviour, either in good or bad ways? Ultimately, this will help us work out if and how we can use the microbiome to protect and support young people’s mental health, putting them on the right track for a happy, healthy life.
Caitlin completed her PhD and Master of Clinical Psychology at UNSW in 2017. Following this, she undertook a prestigious Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowship at the APC Microbiome Ireland, one of the leading microbiome research centres in the world. She is currently an NHMRC Investigator Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney.