Dr Karen Villanueva

Dr Karen Villanueva currently holds a joint appointment across the Healthy Liveable Cities Group at the RMIT Centre for Urban Research, and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

Her research interests are focused on how urban neighbourhoods 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), and early childhood development (ECD).


She is currently Project Coordinator of The Kids in Communities Study (KiCS), which aims to investigate modifiable community-level factors influencing ECD. The project is funded by the Australian Research Council and a range of government and non-government State and Federal organisations. A mixed methods approach to better understanding community-level influences on ECD was undertaken in 25 local communities in areas of advantage and disadvantage across five states and territories in Australia. The project is currently in analysis phase, and is an ongoing cross-disciplinary international collaboration of experts from Australia and Canada in the areas of ECD, health services research, urban planning, and government policy.

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