Meet the 2022 AJEC Research Symposium Keynote speakers! 

Keynote Speakers

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

Professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a Professor of Psychology at Temple University and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, US, was declared a ‘scientific entrepreneur’ by the American Association of Psychology. Kathy has written more than 250 publications and 16 books, including Einstein Never Used Flashcards, which won the Book for a Better Life Award in 2003, and Becoming Brilliant (2016), which reached the New York Times bestsellers list in education. She has won awards from every psychological and educational society for her basic science and translational work designed to bridge basic science and educational impact.

Kathy served as President of the International Congress for Infant Studies and is on the Governing Board of the Society for Research in Child Development. As a founding member of the Latin American School for Educational and Cognitive Neuroscience, she spearheaded a global network of scientists devoted to educational science. She also co-founded the global Learning Science Exchange Fellowship that brings together scientists, journalists, policy-makers and entertainers to put learning science in the hands of educators. In 2021, Kathy was elected as a member of the National Academy of Education. Her newest initiative, Playful Learning Landscapes (, re-imagines cities and public squares as places with science-infused designs that enhance academic and social opportunities.


Grace Sarra

Professor Grace Sarra

Professor Grace Sarra is an academic and researcher at Queensland University of Technology. She is of Aboriginal heritage (Bindal and Birri clans of the Birrigubba nation) and Torres Strait Islander heritage (Mauar, Stephen and Murray Islands). She has more than 30 years of experience in teaching and leadership roles in schools and universities. Grace has written extensively about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, social justice (improving mathematics and core curriculum learning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students) and low socioeconomic status schools. She has also written about working with incarcerated young people in detention.

Grace’s research projects are grounded in the belief that changing a curriculum will not improve learning unless accompanied by a whole-of-school program to challenge attendance and behaviour, encourage pride and self-belief, instil high expectations, and build local leadership and community involvement. She has been involved in numerous long-term research collaborations in systems, regions, schools and TAFE institutes. Her role as an Indigenous educator and researcher is to provide leadership and knowledge around whole-school change, working with principals and teachers and ensuring that programs include cultural empowerment ideas that are applicable to all schools. Grace’s distinctive contribution as an Indigenous researcher has been in utilising Indigenous knowledge and frameworks with theoretical frameworks to contest prevailing assumptions and stereotypes that contribute to Indigenous students’ lack of success in schools.

Professorial conversation

Ann Farrell

Ann Farrell

Professor Emeritus Ann Farrell

Professor Emeritus Ann Farrell is a passionate leader in the early childhood education and care sector and a proud member of Early Childhood Australia. Commencing her professional career as an early childhood teacher in Australia and Canada, Ann went on to head the School of Early Childhood at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) for 15 years. Currently, she is Deputy Chair of the Board of the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) and serves on the National Advisory Board of Be You.

Ann earned a PhD from the University of Queensland in 1996 and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) in 2012 for international leadership in early childhood research. She has authored more than 100 scholarly publications and is committed to sharing her insights in professional and community contexts.


Sandie Wong

Associate Professor Sandie Wong

Sandie Wong is an Associate Professor at Macquarie University and a Research Fellow with Goodstart Early Learning. Sandie has worked as an academic, manager, researcher, evaluator, educator, consultant and nurse in a range of early childhood, academic and health organisations. Sandie is committed to working in collaborative, strengths-based ways with academics from a range of disciplines, early childhood organisations, practitioners and governments to lead and support high-quality research, evaluation and practitioner inquiry that contributes to best practice in early childhood. Her current work investigates early childhood practices (including inter-professional practice), workforce issues (including educator time-use), educator wellbeing and the history of early childhood internationally. Sandie is on the Editorial Committee of the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood.


Tricia Eadie

Professor Tricia Eadie

Professor Tricia Eadie is Director of the philanthropically funded REEaCh (Research in Effective Education in Early Childhood) Hub in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. Tricia’s research focuses on better understanding and advancing young children’s early learning experiences through professional learning that enables educators to implement high-quality intentional-teaching practices. Her work is characterised by multidisciplinary efforts to understand young children’s learning and developmental pathways from birth through preschool, and her research is focused on building evidence for the role of education in overcoming the growing equity gap in Australian communities.