DR Karen Villanueva

DR Karen Villanueva


  • Urban built environment and child health



  • Dr Villanueva is an early career Research Fellow at the McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing, University of Melbourne, but also holds a fractional appointment at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. She completed her research training at The University of Western Australia (BHSc Hons 1A (2007), PhD (2012), Research Associate (2012)). Her research is focused on how urban built environments shape child health behaviours and outcomes. In particular, she is interested in locational and socio-environmental determinants of children’s independent mobility, activity spaces (areas they roam), development and mental health. She has sourced spatial data, conceptualised and developed built environment measures using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, linked spatial data to other sources, and applied spatial indices to health outcomes. Her collaborative work with linking spatial measures to hospital, survey, and mental health data is the first of its kind globally, thus informing data linkage methods internationally. Collaborations: Actively involved in five unique research projects and programs, including: Kids in Communities (KICS) project (ARC), Life Course Built Environment and Health Project (LCBEH, Healthway), TRavel Environment and Kids Project (TREK, NHMRC), Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) Program, and the Place Health and Liveability Program (PHL, VicHealth). As such, she collaborates with researchers in the United States (Yale University); Canada (University of Calgary); Western Australia: (UWA); and Victoria (Deakin University, UoM, Royal Childrens Hospital, and MCRI).



Selected publications


Education and training

  • PhD, The University of Western Australia 2012
  • BHSc(Hons), The University of Western Australia 2007