Associate Professor Anna Sullivan is Director of the Centre for Research in Education and Social Inclusion (CRESI) at the University of South Australia.
Anna began her studies in teaching and on completion embarked on a career in the United Kingdom before returning to Australia to teach at schools in rural South Australia, Adelaide and Sydney.
During this period Anna keenly observed the differences in education systems and cultures across different locations. Despite these differences she saw how similar children were - all with different backgrounds and interests but fundamentally all wanting to feel engaged and connected. These observations formed the start of Anna’s passion for social sciences that saw her career shift towards academia, focusing around building greater understanding of education issues relating to inclusion and exclusion.
Since completing her PhD in 2002, Anna’s academic career grew as she navigated motherhood. During this time Anna moved institutions and was required to continually re-established herself as a researcher. Through these significant career interruptions Anna forged a successful academic career and built an international reputation.
Anna’s sheer determination and skill of working collaboratively also saw her successfully secure two ARC Grants, one as lead investigator, at a time when she was not officially employed – a significant achievement in the competitive grant environment.
To date Anna has attracted over $1.9 million in research funding, she has been Chief Investigator on 1 Discovery and 4 ARC Linkage Grants and partnered with 31 organisations. Anna provides unique perspectives on how to successfully engage and collaborate with industry and translate research for the media.
Through her experience with the media, Anna saw the need for more leadership in how education research was reported. This saw her co-found the Media Centre for Educational Research Australia (MCERA) which is committed to improving public understanding of key educational issues by providing the media with authoritative, independent and accessible insights from education research.
The establishment and success of MCERA has been a highlight of Anna’s career and has been recognised as a finalist in the 2019 Telstra Business Awards and awarded the 2019 Australian Council for Education Leaders SA Media Award.
Anna’s approach to mentoring is based on open communication and building strong relationships. She is a connector and collaborator and continually seeks opportunities for those she mentors. In her own teams Anna always ensures that careers, opportunities and professional development is on the agenda and has a passion for supporting women navigate the structural barriers of being an academic.
On the weekends you will often find Anna juggling the sporting commitments of her children and cheering them on the hockey field.