The School of Behavioural and Health Sciences has new and emerging researchers and scholars, from Australia and abroad. Find out more about their research interests and outcomes.


Dr Michael Cole
Dr Michael Cole has an extensive background in the fields of biomechanics and neuroscience and has specific expertise with common systems used for the assessment of balance, mobility and neuromuscular function in healthy and neurologically-impaired populations (e.g. people with Parkinson’s disease). Since completing his PhD in 2009, Dr Cole has been involved in numerous multi-disciplinary research programs that aim to evaluate the relationship between postural instability, gait disability and falls in people with Parkinson’s disease. As part of this program of research, Dr Cole has completed studies that have sought to evaluate the safety and efficacy of numerous invasive (e.g. deep brain stimulation) and non-invasive (e.g. exercise) interventions for people with Parkinson's disease and other neurological disorders.

Deanne Armstrong
Deanne’s research background is working with trauma and how to predict post-trauma outcomes (e.g., posttraumatic growth and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder), particularly for those who are in the emergency services (eg, fire fighters, paramedics) or at risk groups. She also has an interest in investigating factors that impact on the mental health of employees within organisations (e.g., organisational and personal factors) and an overall interest in promoting psychological health.


Dr Melanie Lowe
Dr Melanie Lowe’s research spans the public health and urban planning fields, examining how to plan healthy and liveable urban environments. She works collaboratively with multidisciplinary teams of researchers and policymakers to strengthen the consideration of health in urban policy and planning. Melanie has published work on integrated planning; urban design and health; liveability indicators; translating research into practice; and policy options with co-benefits for mitigating obesity and climate change.

Dr Stephen Fisher
Research interests: Gender inequality and public health; Prevention of men’s violence against women; Structural inequality and neo-liberal determinants of illness; Men, masculinities and social health; Community development and advocacy campaigns for social and ecological justice.

Leah Brennan
Associate Professor Leah Brennan is a clinical, health and educational psychologist. Her research interests include; (1) the role of psychology in understanding and treating eating, weight and body image concerns and their biopsychosocial comorbidities (e.g., diabetes, depression, stigma), (2) the role of parents in improving child behaviour and well being (including child feeding), and (3) promoting evidence-based practice and the generation of practice-based evidence in 'real-world' settings. She is particularly interested in developing and/or evaluating evidence based interventions, conducting intervention trials (including efficacy, effectiveness, implementation) and evaluating the effectiveness of real-world treatment programs. She currently leads the Body Image, Eating and Weight Clinical Research Team (BEWT) and the ACU Clinic for Health Eating and Weight (CHEW).

Xochitl De la Piedad Garcia
I am an experimental psychologist with training in behavioural economics. In particular, I am interested in models of decision making that account for behaviour in temporal and social dilemmas. More recently, I have developed an interest in the application of this perspective to research on dishonesty and moral behaviour. In particular, I am interested in how people balance their long term goals of being “good”, both as individuals and as members of a group (which may entail foregoing immediate gains) with their short term goals of maximising immediate gains (which may stand in opposition to their long term goal).

John Gleeson
Professor John Gleeson is a clinical psychologist with expertise in youth mental health. His major research interests are in psychological mechanisms and novel treatments for serious mental health problems in youth to target engagement and recovery. His current major research projects include:
Development and evaluation of innovative online systems of treatment for youth and their families utilising social networking fully integrated with online therapy and professional and peer support.
Development of innovative systems for real-time assessment and treatment of psychological disorders using smartphone technology (with Dr Koval).

Izelle Labuschagne
My research examines the social cognitive processes in humans, and in particular, how psychiatric illnesses affect these processes. My research incorporates a variety of brain technologies (such as fMRI, DTI, EEG, EMG, and tDCS), cognitive assessments, and neuropsychopharmacological manipulations. I have conducted randomised and double-blind placebo-controlled trials in humans investigating the effects of antidepressants such as SSRIs, serotonergic precursors such as tryptophan, and more recently, neuropeptides such as oxytocin. My research uses both healthy as well as clinical samples, with a particular focus on Ageing, Social Anxiety Disorder and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Using a variety of research methods, I strive to understand the neurobiological mechanisms implicated in dysfunctional social cognitive processes in humans, with an aim to improve quality of life and develop more refined and targeted treatment options for mental health disorders. 

Peter Rendell
Cognitive ageing with a particular interest in prospective memory (memory for intentions such as keeping appointments and taking medication). He is also interested in memory in various other groups including children, pregnant women, autism, chronic heart failure and substance users. In addition, currently investigating cognitive basis of emotional processing in older adults and various clinical groups. He currently leads the Cognition and Emotion Lab that includes four academic staff and 25 research students at Honours, Masters and PhD level.

Gill Terrett
My research generally reflects my background in developmental psychology. My current interests focus on cognitive functioning within a range of clinical populations, including children with autism and adult substance users. I am particularly interested in cognitive processes that impact on the capacity to function effectively in daily living. I am currently conducting research in the areas of future thinking, prospective memory and emotion processing.

Tom Whelan
Broadly, my field of research involves exploration of the relationship between emotions, parenting and mental health. This is reflected in three main areas. 1) An exploration of the relationship between fathers’ mental health, the couple relationship and child outcomes. 2) An investigation of mother and infant emotion regulation during the perinatal period, along with correlates of maternal mental health during the perinatal phase. 3) An examination of the relationship between the expression or inhibition of emotion and mental health. Specifically, this involves exploration of the function and impact of emotional tears beyond childhood.

Peter H Wilson
My research interests include the following: (1) Cognitive neuroscience of developmental motor disorders. Aims: To develop neurocognitive and behavioural models of motor disability in children (esp. DCD and CP) and to translate this knowledge to new approaches to therapy. (2) Cognitive and motor development of children. Aims: To develop models of development that describe the pivotal interactions between motor, cognitive, and affective systems in children and adolescents. (3) Movement rehabilitation including use of new technologies. Aims: To develop research-led innovations in rehabilitation, including the use of new technologies like virtual reality, and to evaluate the efficacy of these interventions in children and adults with movement disabilities, both developmental and acquired. (4) Participation in children. Aims: To model predictors of change in participation among children with and without a disability; to understand participation at the level of physical, academic and socio-cultural function; to develop ecological approaches to intervention.

North Sydney

Dr Klaus Gebel
Klaus’ main research areas are the relationship between built environments, physical activity and health; and health effects of physical activity. As well, he has written multiple systematic reviews and has given workshops on review methodology.


Megan Willis
My research interests concern understanding the perceptual, cognitive, physiological and neural mechanisms that underpin the capacity to recognise and respond appropriately to the facial expressions of others. I am particularly interested in how these capacities are acquired, and decline over the lifespan (i.e., in childhood and older adulthood). My research also seeks to understand what underpins individual differences in these capabilities. I am currently exploring the potential use of mild brain stimulation to treat deficits in facial expression processing.

Keong Yap
My research interests are in the area of clinical psychology with a focus on obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, compulsive buying, and anxiety disorders. I am also very interested in examining the application of mindfulness and acceptance based therapies for these conditions.

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