IT all began with a deep-seated fascination with animals.
"I've always loved animals and the outdoors," Gerard Kennedy says. "I wanted to combine my interest in the behavioural aspects of animals and humans with the biological aspects."
Soon he was a third-year behavioural science student, working as an assistant to one of Australia's first chronobiologists, Professor Stuart Armstrong.
Now a Victoria University associate professor in St Albans, the 57 year old has completed landmark studies on human and animal body clocks and sleep disorders.
He also runs a weekly sleep clinic at the Monash Medical Centre.
In 2011 he and fellow researcher Dr Greg Willis discovered that bright light therapy can slow or halt the progress of Parkinson's disease by decreasing or blocking the hormone melatonin activity in the brain.
At the Australasian Sleep Conference in 2010, he received global recognition for a report that delved into the bizarre act of having sex while asleep.
At the moment Kennedy is one of the chief investigators in the Sleep Health in Quadriplegia Research Program at the Austin Hospital. Funded by a $5million grant from the Transport Accident Commission, it is a collaborative research project between the hospital respiratory and sleep medicine unit and the Victorian Spinal Cord Service that aims to reduce disturbed sleep patterns endured by quadriplegics.
"Helping them with their sleep patterns is only a small thing compared with the large cross they already have to bear," he says.
"But it is rewarding and exciting to improve their lives in some little way."
But he says it's his role as an lecturer and mentor to hundreds of students is his greatest achievement.
"It's almost like being a father and watching all your children leave the nest because you've watch them grow in their chosen field.
"Some keep in contact and you hear all about what they are up to and others you run into along the way...or you end up working on research projects with them and they become your colleagues."