Lara McKenzie


  • The University of Western Australia (M250), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • The University of Western Australia (M213,M257), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Dr Lara McKenzie is a Research Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at The University of Western Australia, and an Honorary Research Fellow in Anthropology at Macquarie University. Her research focuses on Australia, particularly on gender, age, love, kinship, family, reproduction, COVID-19, vaccination, and cultural change. Lara’s book, Age-dissimilar couples and romantic relationships: Ageless love? (2015), explores age-dissimilar couples in Australia. She has also undertaken research on inequality and cultural difference in education, as well as a study on recent PhD graduates’ experiences of looking for stable academic work. Her writing here addresses the themes of gender, age, family, and precarity. She has recently undertaken research on COVID-19 and vaccination, and is the Principal Chief Investigator on a grant awarded by the WA Department of Health, BabyVax: Optimising an evidence-based pregnancy-infancy immunisation toolkit for Western Australian parents and carers.

Lara's work has been featured by highly regarded international media providers, including Nature (feature articles), Times Higher Education, and University World News. She has had articles published in Times Higher Education, the ABC, and Inside Higher Ed. 

She is currently planning a new project on older parenthood, risk, and reproductive change in Australia, drawing on her expertise in kinship and reproduction, gender and age, the impact of work on family formation, and health policy.


Age-dissimilar relationships; romantic love; autonomy; relatedness; individualism; Australian society; kinship; family; reproduction; pregnancy

Higher education; universities; secondary education; neoliberalism; inequality; e-learning; early career academia; precarity; internationalisation; gender; family

COVID-19; pandemic; vaccination; immunisation; health policy

Funding overview

Lara has won competitive grants, scholarships, and travel funds of approx. $384,000 as chief or co-investigator.

Health: Care, COVID-19, Parenthood, and Vaccination

Lara has undertaken individual and collaborative research on COVID-19. This includes a project she is leading on pregnancy and vaccination (funded through a WA Health grant on which she is the Principal Chief Investigator), a grant-funded workshop and special issue for which she has received funding from The Australian Sociological Association (TASA), as well as a forthcoming visiting fellowship at The Australian National University. Collaborative research includes a project focused on preparing community and government for COVID-19 vaccination, also funded by WA Health.

  1. 2022. Research grant ($40,216) for the project ‘BabyVax: Optimising an evidence-based pregnancy-infancy immunisation toolkit for Western Australian parents and carers’, awarded by WA Health, Communicable Disease Control Directorate (CDCD) Immunisation Program Grants, Principal Chief Investigator.
  2. 2021. Workshop grant ($4,945) for the workshop and journal special issue ‘Alone in lockdown: Personal, financial, and health impacts’, The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) 2021 Gary Bouma Memorial Workshop Program, Chief Investigator.
  3. 2020. Research grant ($252,215) for the project ‘Coronavax 3: Helping the hard-to-reach’, awarded by WA Health, Future Health Research Innovation Fund (2020 Focus Grants: COVID-19), with Katie Attwell et al., Principal Investigator 7.

Academic Employment, Personal Life, and Post-PhDs

This project, investigating post-PhDs’ experiences of seeking stable academic employment, addresses themes of precarity, gender, family, and emotions.

  1. 2018. Precarious work scholarship ($600 + registration) to attend The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) 2018 Conference, awarded by TASA.
  2. 2018. Scholarship (€1,000 + conference registration) to present at 2018 Biennial Conference Plenary ‘Im/mobility, uncertainty and hope: Critical reflections on academic precarity’, awarded by the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA).
  3. 2015. Scholarship ($375) to attend Economic sociology forum ‘State of play and fault lines for future research’, awarded by The Australian Sociological Association (TASA).

Age-Dissimilar Relationships and Romantic Love

Lara's PhD focused on age-dissimilar couples in Australia, exploring gender, age, power relations, difference, love, and cultural change.

  1. 2013. Masterclass scholarship ($500 to attend ‘Research and ethnography of gender, sexuality, and health’, awarded by Australian Anthropological Society (AAS).
  2. 2012. PhD completion scholarship ($10,000), awarded by Graduate Research School, University of Western Australia. Chief Investigator.
  3. 2008. Research grant ($2,000) for the project ‘Inter-generational romantic relationships’, awarded by University of Western Australia (Postgraduate Research Fund). Chief Investigator.

Inequalities in Educational Organisations

Lara has undertaken extensive collaborative research on secondary and higher education institutions. Projects centre on inequalities in gender, internationalisation, regional and mature-aged university students, and finances.

  1. 2016. Project grant ($60,000) to develop a MOOC, ‘Culture shock’, awarded by University of Western Australia, with Loretta Baldassar. Joint Chief Investigator.
  2. 2012. Research grant ($1,000) for the project ‘Postgraduate-led and staff-supported discussion groups’, awarded by University of Western Australia (Improving Student Learning Grant), with Victoria Burbank et al. Principal Investigator 2.
  3. 2011. Research grant ($4,000) for the project ‘E-learning in context’, awarded by Association for Academic Language and Learning (Research and Resource Development Grant), with Nicole Crawford and Alison Jaquet. Principal Investigator 2.
  4. 2009. Research grant ($3,000) for the project ‘SmARTS: A case study for e-learning’, awarded by University of Western Australia (Learning and Teaching Performance Fund Competitive Grant), with Nicole Crawford. Principal Investigator 2.

Other funds

  1. 2023. Winner of School of Social Sciences Early-Career Research Award ($2,500 central funds + $1,000 school funds), awarded by University of Western Australia.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Education/Academic qualification

Anthropology and Sociology, PhD, Ageless love? Shared understandings of age-dissimilar, romantic relationships in Perth, Western Australia, The University of Western Australia

13 Mar 200717 Sept 2013

Award Date: 17 Sept 2013

Arts, Bachelor of Arts (Honours), The University of Western Australia

24 Feb 200312 Mar 2007

Award Date: 12 Mar 2007

External positions

Humanities Research Centre Visiting Fellow, The Australian National University

2024 → …

Research Fellow, Deakin University

5 Dec 202224 Mar 2023

Honorary Research Fellow, Macquarie University

1 Nov 202131 Dec 2025

Research expertise keywords

  • Kinship
  • Romantic love
  • Gender
  • Higher education
  • Precarity
  • Age-dissimilar couples
  • Love
  • Australia
  • Relatedness
  • Family studies
  • Democratisation, individualisation, and detraditionalisation
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Inequality
  • Early career academics
  • E-learning
  • Reproduction
  • Finances
  • Ageing
  • Precarious work
  • COVID-19
  • Pregnancy
  • vaccination
  • Immunisation
  • Pandemic


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