Professor Abernethy is a first class Honours graduate and university medallist from the University of Queensland, a PhD graduate from the University of Otago, an International Fellow of the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education, a Fellow of the Australian Sports Medicine Federation and a Fellow of Exercise and Sport Science Australia. He is the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences and an affiliate Professor in the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences. Professor Abernethy is a previous Deputy Executive Dean and Associate Dean (Research) within the Faculty of Health Sciences (2011 - 2013), Head of the School of Human Movement Studies (from 1991-2003) and from 2004 to mid-2011 was the Director and inaugural Chair Professor of the Institute of Human Performance at the University of Hong Kong.
His research interest is in the control and acquisition of skilled movement, with a particular focus upon understanding the processes underpinning the expert perception and production of patterns of human movement. The work is interdisciplinary and spans human movement and sport science, experimental psychology, neuroscience and medical and health sciences. Prof. Abernethy's research work has been supported by a range of agencies including those funding basic science, such as the Australian Research Council and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, as well as those supporting more applied research, such as the Australian Sports Commission, the Australian Football League, the Australian Cricket Board, Worksafe Australia and the Motor Accident Insurance Commission.