About Professor Melanie Zimmer-Gembeck


Dr. Melanie Zimmer-Gembeck has been working in the School of Applied Psychology at Griffith University since Sept 2001. She is currently the PhD Program Director, the Director of the Family Interaction Program and a Co-leader of the Healthy Young Minds Research Group, developers of the Life-Fit-Learning assessment tool.

She is currently Chair of the 2018 International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development. This conference will be held on the Gold Coast, Australia, 15-19 July 2018.

Prior to this, from 1999 to 2001, Dr. Zimmer-Gembeck was a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow in a multidisciplinary training program at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA. At U of M she worked with Faculty at the Life Course Center (Department of Sociology) and the Institute of Child Development. She also worked at the Oregon Health Department in Program Design and Evaluation Services on projects related to teen parenting, reproductive health, and health care access. She has also been a Research Associate at Oregon Health & Sciences University (Evidence-based Practice Center), where she was fortunate to work with world leaders on health care access, decision-making, and best treatment practice across a range of areas – prenatal care, thyroid screening, cervical screening, colon cancer, traumatic brain injury, and adolescent risk behavior.

Dr. Zimmer-Gembeck currently holds grants totaling approx $8 million from Queensland Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, ARC, NHMRC, Swiss Science, Rotary, and the Menzies Health Institute of Queensland. In the past she has held grants from the ARC, Rotary Health Fund, Rotary Mental Health Intervention Fund, the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, and National Institutes of Health.

Research areas include

  • The interface of children’s and adolescents’ relationships with peers (e.g. friendships, romantic relationships, peer status, and sexual behavior) and individual development
  • The development of the self-system (e.g. autonomy, identity, self-perceptions, self-determination, self-regulation, self-esteem)
  • Relational aggression, externalizing behaviours, and internalizing symptoms (especially in relation to gender)
  • Intervention programs for children and adolescents
  • Statistical methods for analyzing change
  • Coping and stress
  • Parenting
  • Emotion and emotion regulation

Dr. Zimmer-Gembeck is Associate Editor of the International Journal of Behavioral Development. She is also Consulting Editor for the Journal of Research on Adolescence and on the Editorial Board of Journal of Relationships Research. She is a past Co-Editor of the Journal of Adolescence.

Dr. Zimmer-Gembeck completed her PhD (1998) in a combined Psychology/System Science program receiving a degree in Applied Developmental Psychology from Portland State University (PSU) in Portland, Oregon, USA. While at PSU, she worked with Dr. Ellen Skinner investigating development of perceived control in middle childhood and early adolescence. Her research with Dr. Skinner examined a self-system model of development in the classroom incorporating the social context, self, action, and behavioral outcomes. She completed a dissertation titled ‘Negotiation and reorganization of peer relationships during adolescence: The emergence of romantic relationships and quality of peer relationships.’ This work examined individual differences in the development of romantic relationships during adolescence, the impact of dating behavior on same-sex friendships, the interface of dating, friendships and individual psychosocial functioning, and aggression in dating relationships.

Dr. Zimmer-Gembeck has published more than 200 empirical and review papers, book chapters, monographs and edited books and holds a number of research grants. She is Director of the Family Interaction Program at Griffith University, which includes a number of research programs and interventions (e.g., Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Circle of Security, Regulating Overload and Anger) to support Gold Coast-area families.

Dr. Zimmer-Gembeck was awarded the 2017 Health PVC Award for Research Excellence, as well as the 2013 GU Health Group Award for Research Excellence in Postgraduate Supervision. She is currently supervising 1 postdoctoral fellow and 16 PhD students. In addition, she has supervised the research projects of 56 postgraduate students (40 PhD, 9 DPsych, 9 Masters) and 31 honours students to completion. She leads a team of more than 10 staff who work as research assistants and psychologists within The Family Interaction Research Program (FIP) and on other research projects.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • American Psychological Society (APS)
  • Australian Psychological Society (APS)
  • International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISSBD)
  • Society for Prevention Research (SPR)
  • Society for Research in Adolescence (SRA)
  • Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD)
  • Psychology of Relationships Interest Group (APS)