Meet our Researchers and Students



Rebecca Golley 


Home town: Adelaide

Something you might not know about me: You will find me underwater Scuba Diving when on holidays. I have dived in Egypt, Thailand, Fiji and of course on our own Great Barrier Reef.
The Institution where I am based and what I do there: From February 2018 I will be Associate Professor (Research) in Nutrition and Dietetics at Flinders University. In this role I will be leading the child nutrition research group and building capacity in Nutrition and Dietetic Research.
My main area of research: Dietary assessment methodology and development of interventions to improve children’s diet quality with a particularly focus on discretionary foods.
My role in the EPOCH-CRE: I co-lead stream 2 which is developing and validating a short tool to measure obesity-related behaviours in young children. My main contribution is to the measure of food intake. 
The thing I most like about working in the EPOCH-CRE: Working as a (big) team! I love that the EPOCH-CRE brings together researchers from a range of disciplines and career stages to collaborate on preventing obesity in young children.

Alison Hayes
Home town:  Hmmm… how to interpret ‘home town’ ….I’ve had a few!! I grew up in the East End of London (before it was fashionable), and I was born within the sound of Bow Bells, which makes me an official Cockney. I have also lived in a small University town in Germany, close to the mountains where the Grimm brothers lived and wrote all their fairy tales.  Auckland, NZ was also my ‘home town’ for 19 years before we moved to Sydney.
Something you might not know about me:  I started my academic career as an entomologist, and have spent hours peering down a microscope observing critters no bigger than a pin head. During this time I was based on an apple orchard in Nelson (NZ) and learnt how to drive a tractor.  Buy me a nice Sauvignon Blanc and I’ll fill you in on how I made the transition from entomologist to economist.
The Institution where I am based and what I do there:  I am based in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney and am a teaching/research academic. I am co-ordinator for two health economic units at a Masters level. I also have an active research portfolio, including both methodological and applied health economic research.  The great thing about health economics is the opportunity to work across different disease areas, and different populations. My recent research has included diabetes, cardiovascular disease, falls prevention and maternal and infant health in low income countries.
My main area of research:  Is developing and applying modelling methods to project long term health and economic outcomes in chronic disease. My work takes a life-course approach to projecting the consequences of chronic disease, with a strong emphasis on modelling the epidemiology of disease and its associated long term costs and quality of life outcomes. The models combine techniques of patient-level simulation with decision analysis for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of interventions.  I am passionate about using models as translational tools to bridge the gap between cost-effectiveness evidence and policy decisions in public health.
My role in the EPOCH-CRE:  I co-lead stream 3 (health economics) with Prof Marj Moodie. We are developing a health economic model for economic evaluation of obesity prevention and treatment in early childhood. This is based on Australian data and will enable us to work out which obesity prevention or treatment programmes are best value for money, in the long term. 
The thing I most like about working in the EPOCH-CRE: is the intellectual stimulus provided by working with all the very smart young research fellows that we have on board. And knowing that we will make a difference for the next generation.
Rachel Laws

Home town: Camden, NSW (was a small country town when I grew up!)
Something you might not know about me: 
I topped history and French at school and did no science subjects but went on to do 3 science degrees at Uni!
The Institution where I am based and what I do there:
 Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University. I am a Senior Research Fellow (NHMRC ECR Fellowship)
My main area of research: 
Early life nutrition, obesity prevention, mHealth, and implementation science/research translation
My role in the EPOCH-CRE: 
Co-lead stream 4 on translation of evidence into policy and practice
The thing I most like about working in the EPOCH-CRE:
the fabulous group of people and our cutting-edge research!
Dorota Zarnowiecki

Home town: My home town for most of my life has been Adelaide, but my original home town was Warsaw, Poland. I moved to Australia with my family when I was 4 years old.

Something you might not know about me: My parents ‘made’ me learn Polish as a child. I had to attend Polish school every Saturday, where I learnt to read and write in Polish and also Polish dancing. As a child I used to hate giving up my Saturday mornings to do it, but now as an adult I’m so grateful to be fluent in another language.

The Institution where I am based and what I do there:  I’ve been at the University of South Australia for almost 9 years, and during that time I have had the opportunity to work across a range of research topics including obesity-prevention, dietary measurement, socioeconomic inequalities in child eating (my PhD topic), online nutrition and walking interventions, rural health, nutrition for mental health and Aboriginal health. From early 2018, I will be moving with the Adelaide based stream 2 staff to Flinders University.

My main area of research:  Childhood nutrition, behavioural nutrition, dietary assessment methodology, obesity prevention and (reducing) socioeconomic inequalities in health.

My role in the EPOCH-CRE: I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in stream 2 (advancing assessment of dietary methodology) working with Associate Professor Rebecca Golley. In stream 2, we are developing rapid online assessment tools of obesity-related behaviours. I am leading a project to understand how parents interpret and understand questions about their child’s food intake.

The thing I most like about working in the EPOCH-CRE: Doing research that can make a difference and has such a strong emphasis on translation from research into policy and practice. I also really value the opportunity to work with and learn from so many exceptional researchers from around Australia.

Victoria Brown


Congratulations: Recipient of the CAPHIA 2018 Award for PhD Excellence in Public Health


Tell us about yourself: I am a post-doctoral Research Fellow at Deakin Health Economics, now settled in Melbourne but previously of (in-order!) Canberra, Toowoomba, Townsville, Sydney, Brisbane and Warrnambool.  On moving to Melbourne seven years ago, I was lucky enough to be in contact with Prof Marj Moodie and the team at Deakin Health Economics, and began my PhD there soon thereafter.  My PhD explored the cost-effectiveness of policy-level interventions for obesity prevention as part of the Centre for Research Excellence in Obesity Policy and Food Systems.  I have two kids (Amelie is 11 and Finn is 9), and a special interest in the economics of obesity prevention in childhood and adolescence.

 Tell us about your EPOCH project: I am in the health economics stream of the CRE, where we are building a model to estimate the cost-effectiveness of obesity prevention interventions in early childhood.  We will then use the model to undertake the economic evaluation of a series of early childhood obesity prevention interventions – to provide information on which interventions are good value-for-money.  I am also very interested in the economics of scaling-up public health interventions, and the EPOCH CRE has provided me with many valuable research connections to explore this idea (work-in-progress!) further.

 Why are you passionate about your work? I am naturally inquisitive and enjoy learning new things, and so a job where we are paid to explore new ideas is perfect.  Not always easy, but always interesting!  And as a mum to two, I am passionate about improving the health of children and setting them up for the best possible start in life.

 One thing we probably don’t know about you:  I also have a new addition to the family……. Rapha the Boston Terrier was a Christmas present “for the kids”




Widjane Goncalves 

Tell us about yourself: I am a health-conscious, fun-loving, warm-hearted young woman who has discovered her career niche in scientific paediatric research. I am extremely passionate about epidemiological and clinical research in childhood obesity. My general interest lies in undertaking quantitative research, focusing on young under-privileged children when health status and physical development are not optimal, so I can transform lives. I am deeply committed to providing valuable information about how parental practices and health behaviours impact child health status. I am also dedicated to the idea of assisting health policy-makers of Early Childhood Education and Care centres on how to implement polices and environment that could positively influence the development of children’s health-related behaviours. My overall goal in life is to improve the lives of others by pinpointing problems and centering on resolutions for a better world.
Tell us about your project: My project will explore the interrelationships among parenting practices and behaviours, ECEC policies and environment, and children’s obesity-related behaviours and weight status amongst rural communities from Northeast Brazil. There is potential for the results of my thesis to enable change in policy and with greater awareness, transformation in these under-resourced communities could be possible. The development and implementation of early childhood obesity prevention programs, targeting low-middle income families could also be driven by the findings of my research.
What do you like to do over the summer holidays? My first priority is sharing quality family time, and getting sufficient rest. I also enjoy reading and exploring new places. During this period, I also find time to exercise and grow fitter. To round off my vacation, I always enjoy volunteering in school holiday programs, especially when I can assist in training youngsters to become more physically fit and active.

Andrea Fuller 

Tell us about yourself: I grew up in Melbourne, where I completed a Bachelor of Business in Accounting. I worked as an accountant in Melbourne and country Victoria before moving to Brisbane with my husband and four children in 1995. In 2012 I decided on a career change and studied at QUT to become a dietitian. I’m currently a casual sessional academic, tutoring and marking for the School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences at QUT, in between working on my PhD.
Tell us about your project: I am working with supervisors Stewart Trost, Rebecca Byrne and Rebecca Golley to develop a parenting intervention to target obesity-related behaviours in children aged 2-5 years. The intervention will target autonomy promoting parenting practices in respect to eating, physical activity, screen-time and sleep, and will be piloted in playgroups around Brisbane early 2019. Focus groups with parents were conducted in May 2018 and the results are being used to develop an intervention that parents want, and delivered in a way that is compatible with the playgroup setting and ethos.
What do you like to do over the summer holidays? Christmas this year will be in Melbourne with parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, followed by a few days at Thredbo, and then on to the Hunter Valley. This covers off two of my favourite activities – walking in the Kosciusko National Park, and drinking excellent wine! Before setting off down south, my husband and I will have a pre- pre-Christmas family celebration with our children and grandchildren  here in Brisbane.