Dr Caitlin Cowan

8655 Academic headshots 26 May

Dr Caitlin Cowan


University of New South Wales


You might not like to think about it, but you’re covered in bugs! Bacteria and viruses get a lot of bad press, no thanks to Covid-19. But not all microbes are harmful. In fact, we need some of them to keep us alive, and new research tells us that some microbes might also influence our mental health.

Dr Caitlin Cowan studies the gut microbes of young children, which means collecting and testing a lot of baby poo. She tries to answer questions like: Are there certain microbes that increase the risk for mental health problems? And could these microbes actually change our mood or our behaviour, either in good or bad ways? Ultimately, she’s trying to work out if and how we can use microbes to protect and support young people’s mental health, putting them on the right track for a happy, healthy life.

Caitlin completed her PhD and Master of Clinical Psychology at UNSW in 2017. Following this, she undertook a prestigious Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowship at the APC Microbiome Ireland, one of the leading microbiome research centres in the world. She is currently an NHMRC Investigator Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney.