Kayla Smurthwaite

Bachelors of Medical Science
PhD Candidate


Kayla Smurthwaite is undertaking her PhD in spatial epidemiology at the Department of Health Services Research and Policy, under the supervision of Dr Nasser Bagheri, Emeritus Professor Nicholas Glasgow and Dr Elizabeth Sturgiss. Kayla will also conduct her research in collaboration with the Visualisation and Decision Analytics (VIDEA) lab at the Centre for Mental Health Research. Her project is centred on understanding the geographical variation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) hospital admissions in NSW, Australia. Prior to starting her PhD, Kayla completed a Bachelor of Medical Science with Honours in population health. 

Kayla also works as a research assistant at NCEPH on the PFAS Health Study, which aims to explore the health risks associated with exposure to per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The study is specifically looking into the PFAS contamination in three Australian communities, Williamtown, NSW, Oakey, QLD, and Katherine, NT.



Research interests

Kayla’s research will examine the spatial variation and significant clusters of COPD hospital admissions over 15 years. Her research aims to examine driving factors of COPD hospital admissions, spatial variation in the severity of COPD hospital admissions and implementing Geographical Information Systems (GIS) into policy decision making. Her research has previously focused on examining geographical variation and geographical convergence of chronic disease diagnoses, including obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory diseases.




Smurthwaite, K & Bagheri, N 2017, 'Using geographical convergence of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes at the neighborhood level to inform policy and practice', Preventing chronic disease [electronic resource]., vol. 14, no. 10, pp. -.