Research Staff


Seema Mihrshahi

BSc (Hons), MPH, PhD



Seema has a background in public health nutrition and nutrition epidemiology. She is currently the research translation coordinator for the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood and based at the Prevention Research Collaboration at the University of Sydney.


Research Interests

Seema’s current research focuses on population-based approaches for the prevention of overweight and obesity in children, effective monitoring and surveillance strategies for overweight and obesity, and program evaluation. She has a keen interest in research translation, particularly implementing effective strategies to achieve optimal growth in early life. She has participated in various research projects with a focus on women’s and children’s health both within Australia and internationally.


Role in the Centre of Research Excellence in the Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood (EPOCH CRE)

She is currently the research translation coordinator and helps to facilitate partnerships, develop cross-disciplinary collaborations and design and implementing processes for knowledge synthesis, dissemination, exchange and application. She is also a Research Fellow within Stream 1: Analysing intervention trials to prevent childhood obesity



Kylie Hunter

MPH, BA(Hons) Human Movement, BA (Indonesian)


Kylie Hunter is a Senior Project Officer for the Systematic Reviews and Health Technology Assessment team at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney. She has a background in Human Movement and works as a Research Assistant for EPOCH stream 1. She is also involved with the Cochrane Prospective Meta-analysis Methods Group, works for the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR), and is involved in research projects on breast cancer screening, perinatal medicine, and research transparency.




Penny Love

PhD, BSc Diet (Hon), PGDip Hosp Diet


Dr Penny Love has recently been appointed as a postdoctoral fellow within the EPOCH CRE based at Deakin University, focusing on the translation, implementation and sustainability of early childhood prevention interventions at scale.  She has a background in dietetics and nutrition with experience spanning policy, practice, and research having worked as a public health nutrition practitioner in a range of contexts in urban, rural and remote areas.  Penny's current research areas of interest are community-wide obesity prevention through a systems approach, implementation and sustainability at scale, with a specific interest in remote and rural communities.  Her role within within the EPOCH CRE will be to undertake research to inform the identification of key leverage points for obesity prevention interventions when implemented within existing service delivery systems in Australasia.



David Espinoza

BArch, BSc (Adv.Math), MBioStats


David Espinoza as biostatistician employed at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre (CTC), University of Sydney since 2011. David has worked on the EPOCH1 IPD-PMA as well as various clinical oncology trials;  collaborations with the BODEN institute looking at obesity and consults with the Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research. He oversees the randomisation system offered by the CTC statistics team.




Rebecca Byrne

BMedSc MNutrDiet PhD


Dr Rebecca Byrne is the postdoctoral research fellow within Stream 2 of the EPOCH CRE, based at the Queensland University of Technology - Centre for Children's Health Research.  Rebecca is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and her research interests include what and how young children are fed, understanding how eating behaviours - such as fussy eating - develop, and improving the measurement of obesogenic behaviours.  She has worked on the NH&MRC funded NOURISH trial that evaluated a complementary feeding intervention to prevent childhood obesity, and upscaling of the PEACHTM program - Parenting, Eating & Activity for Child Health - across Queensland.  Rebecca is passionate about ensuring parents and educators feel confident in their ability to foster heathy behaviours in children.,_Rebecca.html




Sarah Taki


Sarah has recently been appointed as the Senior Research Officer and Postdoctoral Research Fellow within stream 4 of the EPOCH CRE based at Health Promotion Service, Sydney Local Health District. Her work will focus on conducting research for the implementation of the Healthy Beginnings program in the real-world setting as part of CRE Translational Research. Sarah is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and recently completed her PhD in the prevention of childhood obesity at the University of Technology Sydney. Her study was embedded in the Growing healthy program, a feasibility mHealth study which supported parents with infant feeding behaviours that promote healthy weight gain.


Profile: Sarah Taki COMBINE Study


Andrew Tan

BBank(Hons), MIntEcon&F(Adv) and PhD(Econ)


Andrew Tan is the postdoctoral fellow within Stream 3 of the Centre of Research Excellence in the Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood (CRE EPOCH), based at the School of Public Health, University of Sydney. He has a background in economics and was previously involved in research projects that investigate the impacts of climate on productivity and population health. Andrew's role in the CRE EPOCH will be to develop a health economic model for progression of obesity in early childhood, which will then be used to compare cost effectiveness of interventions targeted in childhood.




Dorota Zarnowiecki

BAppSc(FoodSci&Nutr), BHlthSc(Hons), PhD, RNutr, (currrently completing MND)


Dorota works within Stream 2 to develop validated measures of dietary intake for infants, toddlers and pre-school aged children and is also currently  completing a Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics. Dorota’s PhD explored relationships between socioeconomic status and children’s dietary intake to inform the design of tailored interventions. Since completing her PhD, she has worked on research studies evaluating the effectiveness of programs for improving nutrition, physical activity and health outcomes in pregnancy, infancy and childhood, working with vulnerable target groups including Aboriginal people, socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and individuals with mental illness.

Development of healthy lifestyle behaviours (nutrition focus) in  childhood, reducing socioeconomic health disparities, nutrition for improving mental health, dietary assessment methodology


Victoria Brown

BEc (Hons), MPH, PhD


Vicki completed her PhD in 2017, which focused on non-health sector interventions for obesity prevention.  Specifically, her PhD investigated the role of the transport sector in obesity prevention.

Vicki is a health economist, with interests in the economics of childhood obesity and the cost-effectiveness of interventions for treatment and prevention.




Lene Seidler



Anna Lene Seidler is part of the Systematic Reviews and Health Technology Assessment team at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney. She has a background in Psychology (BSC and MSc) and  works as a research assistant for EPOCH stream 1.



PhD Students


Chelsea Mauch

BNutDiet, Bsc(Hons)


Chelsea is undertaking her PhD with Stream 2 at Flinders University under the supervision of Associate Professor Rebecca Golley. She was awarded an NHMRC postgraduate scholarship, and commenced her studies in January 2017. Chelsea is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, with more than a decade of experience in public and private paediatric dietetics. She worked on the NOURISH project as a Research Associate for 8 years, and played a key role in intervention design and delivery, and dietary data collection and analysis. Her PhD project aims to design an evidence-based early obesity prevention app addressing the parental provision of food to young children.




Emma Esdaile

APD, BA, MIS, BHlthSc(Nutr&Diet)(Hons)


Emma Esdaile commenced her PhD at Sydney University in October 2016, undertaking a project in Stream 4 within the EPOCH CRE. Her work will focus on the policies and infrastructure that could impact upon childhood obesity (0-5 years). Emma is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and worked most recently in the Queensland-wide scaling up of the PEACH - program (Parenting, Eating and Activity for Child Health) with Queensland University of Technology.


Lakshmi Ekambareshwar

MHS (Hons), Grad Dip HSM, BSc

 Lakshmi Ekambareshwar commenced her PhD at Sydney University in March 2017, undertaking a project in Stream 4 within the EPOCH CRE. Her work will focus on the Process Evaluation of Communicating Healthy Beginnings Advice by Telephone (CHAT) Trial. For her Master’s research, Lakshmi evaluated the education and training provided to health professionals for web-based incident reporting in the use of New South Wales State-wide Incident Information Management System.  Lakshmi has extensive experience within the New South Wales Health system and most recently was Cancer Systems Innovation Manager at Northern Sydney Local Health District.


Andrea Fuller

APD, BBus, BNutr&Diet (Hons)


Andrea commenced her PhD at Queensland University of Technology in March 2017, working in Stream 2 within the EPOCH CRE, and based at Centre for Children’s for Health Research.  Her research will include the development and evaluation of a pilot program aimed at parenting skills that encourage healthy lifestyle behaviours in children under 5 attending playgroup. The intervention will cover diet quality, physical activity, sedentary behaviours and sleep.  Andrea is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and conducted an undergraduate research project evaluating the PEACHTM program (Parenting, Eating & Activity for Child Health) for families with a child with special needs, particularly Autism Spectrum Disorder and the evaluation of a pilot PEACHTM program at a Special School.

Widjane Ferreira Goncalves

BSp&ExSc, MHSc


Widjane commenced her PhD at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in November 2017. She was granted an Epoch - CRE scholarship and she is currently based at Queensland Centre for Children’s Health Research with her supervisors Professor Stewart Trost and Dr. Rebecca Byrne. The primary focus of her PhD is to analyse parental health behaviours and parenting practices in rural Brazilian families living in the municipality of Caruaru in Pernambuco, focusing on children aged 3 to 6 years old. The research will include the investigation of the inter-relationships between parental health behaviours, domain-specific parenting practices, and children’s physical activity, screen time, eating and sleep. The way these characteristics impact children’s BMI z-score, waist circumference and triceps and subscapular skinfold measures will also be considered. The results will inform decision-makers in public health and will explore the need for intervention programs targeting parenting practices and obesity-related behaviours in families located in the countryside surrounding Caruaru. Widjane is a professional in Sports and Exercise Science and she is completing her Master’s in Health Sciences at Federal University of Pernambuco – Brazil. During her exchange program to Australia (2013-2014) she participated in a research placement mainly in the programs, PEACH – Parenting, Eating & Activity for Child Health and LEAPS – Learning, Eating, Active Play, Sleep with QUT. She has experience on Public Health, with emphasis on the following topics: Parenting practices; Obesity-related behaviours; Epidemiology of Childhood Obesity; and Lifestyle and Health.

Sarah Marshall

MSc (Global Health), BNutr&Diet (Hons), APD


Sarah commenced her PhD with the School of Public Health, University of Sydney in March 2018, undertaking a project in Stream 4 of the EPOCH CRE. Her research will focus on the cultural adaption of intervention materials, developed in English through the Healthy Beginnings Trial, to promote healthy infant feeding and active play for the early prevention of childhood obesity among Chinese and Arabic populations in New South Wales. Sarah is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with a background in public health nutrition and global health.


 Anagha Killedar

BSc (Adv)(Hons), MPH


I commenced my PhD at the University of Sydney in March 2018 and am supported by the Kassulke Scholarship. With supervisors, A/Prof Alison Hayes and Dr. Thomas Lung, my work will be looking at incorporating socioeconomic inequalities into cost-effectiveness analysis of obesity prevention and treatment interventions in children and adolescents. This research aims to inform funding decisions that consider the balance between overall cost-effectiveness and the equity impact of interventions.




Lucinda Bell

BNutrDiet (Hons), PhD, APD


Dr Lucinda Bell is a postdoctoral research associate within Stream 2 of the EPOCH CRE, based at Flinders University. Lucy is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian with a PhD in early childhood dietary assessment. Lucy's research interests centre on improving lifestyle behaviours in early childhood to prevent overweight and obesity. She has worked on several childhood obesity programs, namely NOURISH, an NHMRC-funded trial that evaluated a complementary feeding intervention to prevent childhood obesity, the evaluation of the state-wide South Australian OPAL - Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle- program, and delivery of the PEACHTM - Parenting, Eating & Activity for Child Health -  program across South Australia. Lucy's role within the EPOCH CRE will be to undertake research to develop tools that measure key obesity-related behaviours in infants, toddlers and preschoolers and that are suitable for large-scale obesity prevention programs.


Jazzmin Miaobing Zheng

Bsc(Hons), PhD


Jazzmin is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University. She holds a National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellowship (2017-2021). She is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and has a background in nutrition epidemiology and public health. Her fellowship focuses on assessing the dietary correlates of rapid growth and adiposity in early childhood, and how rapid weight gain during infancy programs later obesity risks among several Australian longitudinal birth cohorts. Other research interests include the role of dietary intakes such as portion size, energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods in the development of obesity and chronic diseases.

 Konsita Kuswara

APD, MPH, MNutrDiet, BMedSci


Konsita commenced her PhD in January 2017 at Deakin University under the Deakin University Postgraduate Research Scholarships.  Her research focuses on the promotion of best practice Infant feeding practices among Chinese immigrants in Australia.  Konsita is an experienced Accredited Practising Dietitian with special interest in maternal and child nutrition.

Adam Walsh

BAppSc, MNutrDiet, GCert (Paed Nutrition) GCert (Higher Ed), PhD, APD


Adam is a PhD student and lecturer in Dietetics in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University.  Adam is an accredited practising dietitian having worked at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne prior to joining Deakin.  The primary focus of Adam’s PhD is the influence of fathers on the dietary and physical activity behaviours of children under five years.  Adam’s research has concentrated on developing a better understanding of the dimensions of father’s roles on the eating and physical activity behaviours of young children and the unique impact that paternal involvement has on child and family health outcomes.


Katherine Downing

BHlthSci, BEx&SpSci(Hons), PhD


Katherine is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Deakin University’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition. Her research focuses on sedentary behaviour in early childhood. In particular, she is interested in the measurement of sedentary behaviour, patterns of sedentary behaviour, and how we can best educate and support parents to reduce their children’s sedentary behaviour


Brittany Johnson

APD, BNutr&Diet, BHSc(Hons)


Brittany is currently undertaking her PhD at Flinders University. Her research interests include improving diet quality by reducing unhealthy food intake and creating supportive environments where we live, work and play. Her PhD project aims to identify intervention content to support parents to reduce provision of unhealthy foods to their young children during the transition to pre-school and school. Brittany is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with a background in public health nutrition and experience in working with Aboriginal communities and the child care sector to make healthy food choices.