L to R: Leonie Rutherford, Katya Johanson,  Andrew Singleton.

L to R: Elizabeth Bullen, Lisa Waller, Margaret Merga & Michelle McRae.

We are a team of academic researchers, passionate about making sure that Australian teenagers have access to reading material that interests and challenges their learning and sense of identity.

We bring different disciplinary backgrounds to this research, including research into children’s and young adult media and literature, education and arts and cultural policy. Our  wide-ranging experience is designed to ensure that the research is useful to stakeholders working in a range of sectors, including education, media and telecommunications, libraries and the cultural sector.

Most members of our team are based at Deakin University (Victoria, Australia), and we are joined by an expert member from Murdoch University (Western Australia). We are:

Dr Leonie Rutherford (Project Leader)

Leonie Rutherford (PhD, ANU) is an expert in media studies with a special focus on young people. She currently leads the Teenagers Reading and Digital Practices Research Group in the Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University. She has previously researched media practices of children and youth, television studies, multiplatform production, audience research, media policy, and, as an investigator on Australian Research Council grant projects, on influences of media on children’s digital literacy, health, and educational outcomes.

Dr Rutherford says this of her current research: ‘I’ve always been interested in questions of access, and the many barriers to (and enablers of) young people’s participation in media cultures. The Teen Reading in the Digital Era project is exciting because it allows us for the first time to see how different Australian teenagers are, and how their various geographical and social contexts impact on their reading and other aspects of their everyday lives.’

A/P Katya Johanson

A/P Andrew Singleton

Andrew Singleton (PhD, Monash) is a sociologist in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at Deakin University, Australia. Andrew has a particular interest in surveys methods and quantitative data analysis. His research interests include contemporary teenagers, youth religion, religious change, personal belief and alternative religions.

AsPro Singleton has published extensively in these areas both nationally and internationally. He is author of Religion, Culture and Society: A Global Approach (SAGE 2014) and co-author (with Michael Mason and Ruth Webber) of The Spirit of Generation Y: Young People’s Spirituality in a Changing Australia (Garrett Publishing 2007), a book about the first national study of youth religion and spirituality in Australia.

Dr Elizabeth Bullen

Dr Margaret Merga

Margaret Merga (PhD, Edith Cowan) is a lecturer and researcher at Murdoch University in WA. She is keenly interested in the social influences on literacy acquisition and the position of reading and books in the contemporary world. Her research findings in literacy have led to a broader understanding of the role that teachers and parents can play in supporting children, teenagers and adults to become life-long readers.

Dr Merga has been involved in a range of literacy projects, including the West Australian Study in Adolescent Book Reading (2012), the International Study of Avid Book Readers (2015), For the Love of Reading: Exploring Barriers to Allowing Time for Reading Aloud (2016), and the Western Australian Study in Children’s Book Reading (2016), in addition to her current work with her dynamic colleagues at Deakin.

Dr Lisa Waller

Lisa Waller (PhD, Canberra) is the Head of Academic Group (Communication) in the School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University. Since entering academia in 2007 she has published widely in Media and Communication studies. Her research is concerned with how the media shapes society, from Indigenous Affairs policy, to its roles in regional and rural identity formation, the administration of justice and people’s everyday practices, including reading for leisure.

Dr Waller is a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and Australian and New Zealand Communication Association. She was a journalist on newspapers, including The Australian, and The Australian Financial Review before entering academic life. Two books are forthcoming: Hess, K & Waller, L (2017) Local Journalism in a Digtal Age (Palgrave Macmillan) and McCallum, K & Waller, L (2017) The Interplay of News Media and Indigenous Policy in Australia (Intellect)

Michelle McRae

Michelle McRae is a doctoral candidate in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University. She is researching textual strategies that promote deep reading in adolescents. Michelle is an English teacher and writer with a particular interest in literacy. She has authored two text books, English- Writing for Everyday Purposes (2011) and English Book 1 (2012).

Teen Reading in the Digital Era opens up a wealth of information about young people’s engagement in reading and their reading choices. Michelle is particularly interested in this as she explores the cognitive effects of reading and the influence that the choice of reading material may have on this.

Our Research Assistant is Ilona Urquhart.