Margaret Loughnan obtained a degree in nursing at Prince Henry’s Hospital in Melbourne in 1980 and worked in England, Melbourne and regional Victoria until 1991. In 1995 she completed an Integration Aide (special education assistant) course at Monash University and worked in primary and secondary schools until 1997. During 1997 to 2008 she has completed a BA (Hons Geography) and a PhD in Health Geography. Her current position is a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the School of Geography and Environmental Science Monash University. This is a joint research project with the Department of Human Services Victoria to develop a Spatial Vulnerability Index for heat events in Melbourne and to identify threshold temperatures for 11 regional centres in Victoria.
Margaret’s PhD thesis (2008) focused on the environmental and social epidemiology of non-fatal heart attacks in Melbourne Australia. That project presented a trans-disciplinary approach to solving a well recognised public health problem by combining medical, geographical and demographic expertise to identify the influence of climatic conditions and socioeconomic circumstance on increasing numbers of heart attack admissions to hospital. Margaret’s research represents a major advancement in our understanding of the relationship between a major public health issue and environmental exposures to temperature. These investigations are continuing through publication in peer reviewed academic journals and conference presentations and through her involvement in the Victorian Climate Change Adaptation Program with the Department of Human Services Victoria (DHS).Margaret has published several papers in peer reviewed journals, and government reports. She has worked as a Research team member with the Department of Human Services Victoria and NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Patient Safety Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine Monash University on a project titled Reducing Harm to Older Persons from Extreme Hot Weather.
Margaret has worked with fellow researchers at Monash Climate to develop a simple heat alert system for Melbourne. She has expanded this methodology to determine threshold temperatures for the remaining 10 regional areas in Victoria, which will lead to the development of heat alert systems specific to these regions. Margaret has developed a spatial vulnerability index for heat events in Melbourne. This project contributes valuable information to the DHS Victorian Climate Change Adaptation Program by developing an index using multiple demographic, health, socioeconomic and environmental indicators to identify ‘high risk’ areas using small scale regions such as postcodes. This analysis tool is being developed and tested for Melbourne but will ultimately be transferable to any city or region in Australia. Current projects include Micro-climates and health part of the Cities as Water Supply Catchments program, NCCARF Emergency management project assessing heatwave risks in al Australian capital cities both now and for climate change scenarios 2016 and 2030, and is a team member with Prof Neville Nicholls on an ANU based NHMRC funded project Changing Heat: direct impacts of temperature on health and productivity - current risks and climate change projections.