• Source: Scopus
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Personal profile


Sarah completed her PhD in 2015, and since then has held a post-doctoral research position at the University of Sydney and visiting post-doctoral position at Yale University. Currently she is a Lecturer at Macquarie University, and a member of the Centre for Emotional Health. Her research has significantly furthered the understanding of the neurocircuitry involved in oxytocin as a therapy for drug addiction, it has progressed the development of novel oxytocin compounds, and has probed the neural mechanisms common to drug addiction and depression. Most recently, Sarah has been investigating the link between early life stress and later-life vulnerability for drug addiction. Sarah’s clinical skills have enabled her to contribute to public health research in drug addiction in Australia, and she continues to use these skills in ongoing neuropsychological studies in children’s hospitals. Sarah has been invited to speak at international meetings, her research is highly cited and has been disseminated through nationally televised media and online magazines.

Research interests

I am interested in understanding the mechanisms by which oxytocin and oxytocin-like compounds work in the brain to reduce the rewarding effects and abuse potential of licit and illicit drugs. This is to investigate whether oxytocin could be used as a pharmacological treatment. 

I am also interested in how early life trauma can disrupt the oxytocin system and the impact this has on mental health and susceptibility for drug addiction later in life. Importantly, I want to identify those who are more vulnerable, or more resilient, to later-life mental illness following early life trauma, and characterise these two populations so that targeted treatment can be developed for those most vulnerable. 

Research student supervision

I supervise students in the following research areas:

  • Understanding the neural mechanisms of drug addiction
  • Examining the impact of early life stress on later-life vulnerability for mental illness (depression, anxiety, substance abuse)
  • Understanding the role of oxytocin as a treatment for drug addiction 

Research engagement

2016-2018: External Reviewer, National Health and Medical Research Council

2016: External Reviewer, Cerebral Palsy Alliance

2015 – present: Reviewer, PLOS One, Physiology and Behaviour, Behavioural Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroendocrinology, Addiction Biology, Neuropsychopharmacology

2019: Guest editor for special issue of Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behaviour

2019-present: Editor for the journal Neuroanatomy and Behaviour 

Community engagement

2020 - Article for The Lighthouse magazine written about my research (How the ‘love hormone’ could help abused kids beat drugs).

2017 - Published an article in the International Behavioural Neuroscience Society newsletter entitled ‘contemporary challenges for early career researchers in behavioural neuroscience’ 

2017 - Published an article on The Conversation entitled ‘how childhood trauma changes our hormones, and thus our mental health, into adulthood’

2017 - Interviewed on the 2SER radio station breakfast show about the lifelong impact of early life trauma and the involvement of oxytocin (23rd October 2017)

2015 - Interviewed for the program Catalyst, Oxytocin, ABC Channel


  • ANTH106: Drugs Across Cultures
  • PSY236: Biopsychology and Learning
  • PSY354: Clinical and Experimental Neuroscience
  • PSY461: Advanced Topics in Physiological Psychology
  • MEDI704: Decoding the Brain

Education/Academic qualification

M Clin Neuro/Ph.D., Macquarie University

… → 2015

B Psy(Hons Class 1), Macquarie University

… → 2010

External positions

Visiting Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University

17 Feb 201730 Jun 2017

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Sydney

1 Jul 201515 Jan 2017


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