Early Career Researchers

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Christina Atay

Dr Christina Atay is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Language Processing at the University of Queensland. She is currently holding a conjoint position between the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (UQ School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering) and the Asia-Pacific Centre for Neuromodulation (Queensland Brain Institute). Her work focuses on neurogenic communication disorders and the development of smartphone applications for voice and communication assessment and monitoring. Her team's chatting robot app 'Harlie' (Human and Robot Language Interaction Experiment) is currently being trialled in Australia.


Alannah Bailey

Alanna Bailey is a PhD student focusing on friendships following TBI at La Trobe University, supervised by Associate Professor Jacinta Douglas. She completed her Masters of Speech Pathology at La Trobe University in 2005. Alanna currently works as a Speech Pathologist at Epworth Rehabilitation, Camberwell Campus in Melbourne. She previously worked in the TBI Unit at Royal Rehabilitation Centre in Sydney with TBI clients across both inpatient and community settings.
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Elizabeth Beadle

Lizzie Beadle is a Clinical and Neuropsychologist who is currently completing her PhD at Griffith University and coordinating a new NHMRC project under the supervision of Associate Professor Tamara Ownsworth (Griffith University), Professor David Shum (Griffith University) and Associate Professor Jennifer Fleming (University of Queensland). Lizzie is investigating changes in identity after a moderate to severe TBI in adulthood. Specifically, she is interested in if/how identity changes after TBI, the neurocognitive and psychosocial mechanisms related to change, and how this influences psychological adjustment and rehabilitation. She is exploring this through self-discrepancy theory: a theory of how perceptions of who we are, and who we feel we should be, can cause emotional discomfort. To date, Lizzie has published a systematic review on factors influencing self-discrepancy and self-concept following TBI.


Nicholas Behn

Dr Nicholas Behn is a Research Fellow at City, University of London. He completed his PhD on communication and quality of life outcomes for people with acquired brain injury (ABI) following project-based treatment. His Masters was on communication partner training for paid carers of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI). With more than 15 years of experience, Nicholas is also a Speech Pathologist keenly interested in working with adults who have communication disorders following an ABI. He frequently lectures and conducts talks and seminars on the topic. Currently, he has taken up post at City, University of London as Trial Manager on the SUpporting wellbeing through PEeR Befriending (SUPERB) trial funded by The Stroke Association. This trial is aimed at evaluating the feasibility of peer befriending for people with aphasia post-stroke. Dr Katerina Hilari leads this trial with a team of co-investigators (Prof Jane Marshall, Prof Alan Simpson, Dr Shirley Thomas, Dr Chris Flood, Dr Sarah Northcott, Dr Sally McVicker and Dr Kimberley Goldsmith).


Melissa Brunner

Melissa Brunner is a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist and PhD Candidate at the University of Newcastle investigating the use of social media, specifically Twitter, by people with traumatic brain injury. Following a survey of how people with TBI use Twitter, Melissa will develop and test online Twitter training for use with people who have a TBI and communication disability. Her research will yield important insights into how people with TBI might be supported to use Twitter for communication, participation, and inclusion in online communities. The research is supervised by Associate Professor Bronwyn Hemsley at the University of Newcastle, Associate Professor Stuart Palmer at Deakin University, Dr Stephen Dann at the Australian National University, and Professor Leanne Togher at the University of Sydney. Melissa’s research is supported in part by an APA PhD Scholarship through the University of Newcastle. For more information on Melissa and her research, click here.


Dr Anneli Cassel

Dr Anneli Cassel is a Clinical Psychologist and PhD candidate at the Moving Ahead Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Brain Recovery, receiving supervision from Professor Skye McDonald (UNSW) and Dr Michelle Kelly (University of Newcastle). Anneli is conducting her research investigating the feasibility of a new social cognition treatment, developed particularly for people with acquired brain injury. The treatment aims to help improve peoples’ ability to detect, and respond to, the cues important in understanding other peoples’ feeling, thoughts, and intentions during social interactions. Anneli is interested to find out if this treatment can be run as a group therapy and as an individual therapy via telehealth.UNSW Logo

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Kimberley Docking

Dr Kimberley Docking is a Research Fellow at the University of Sydney under the leadership of Professor Leanne Togher. She is also a Lecturer in Child Language in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney. Her research, teaching, and clinical experience lie in the area of child language development and childhood brain injury. She has experience as a clinical Speech Pathologist in major children's hospitals, rehabilitation, special education early intervention centres, and private practice. Kimberley’s research activity to date has made significant contributions to the field of paediatric acquired language disorders in populations of children who are recovering from childhood cancer and traumatic brain injury, particularly in identifying the potential for long-term communication deficits and recovery patterns in these populations.

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Emmah Doig

Dr Emmah Doig is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Queensland under the supervision of Associate Professor Jenny Fleming. With more than 12 years of experience, Emmah is also an Occupational Therapist working with adults with acquired brain injury in acute, inpatient and community rehabilitation settings in Australia and overseas, and within her own private practice. Emmah is an experienced researcher in the field of brain injury rehabilitation, completing her PhD in 2010, which compared the effectiveness of an outpatient brain injury rehabilitation program in home and hospital settings. Her previous and current research related to traumatic brain injury, the findings of which are outlined in a dozen publications to date, include the efficacy of client-centred goal-directed rehabilitation, community-based rehabilitation and goal planning and measurement. Emmah’s research interests include goal planning approaches, metacognitive and occupation-based treatment approaches, community integration, outcomes following traumatic and acquired brain injury, and community-based rehabilitation.


Elise Elbourn

Elise Elbourn is a PhD Candidate (NHMRC Scholar) investigating the recovery of spoken discourse following severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) under the leadership of Professor Leanne Togher at the University of Sydney. After Elise graduated with her Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology), Honours First Class at the University of Sydney, she went on to work as a Speech Pathologist at Westmead Hospital for two years. She currently works as a Speech Therapist at Elise Elbourn Adult Speech Therapy where she focuses on speech, language and communication difficulties. Her research interests are in the areas of TBI and stroke rehabilitation.


Paul Gertler

Paul Gertler is a PhD Candidate at the John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research within the Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Professor Robyn Tate and Professor Ian Cameron. His research area is non-pharmacological intervention for major depression occurring after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Paul is also a Clinical Psychologist in private practice, with an interest in treating emotional and behavioural disorders following brain impairment.

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Kynan Gooding

Kynan Gooding commenced his Masters in Clinical Psychology at Griffith University in 2015 under the supervision of Associate Professor Tamara Ownsworth and Dr Elizabeth Beadle. His research project seeks to investigate the relationship between neurocognitive functioning, rumination and reflection, and mood after TBI. Specifically, he aims to determine whether neurocognitive functioning (i.e., attention, memory, executive functioning and awareness of deficits) is associated with the cognitive processing styles of rumination and reflection; and to clarify the relationship between cognitive processing styles and mood.


Melinda Hickey

Melinda Hickey is a PhD Candidate at the University of Wollongong under the supervision of Associate Professor Stuart Johnstone. She is investigating the feasibility and efficacy of a neurocognitive training (combined cognitive and neurofeedback training) program that aims to improve state control (attention and relaxation), impulse control and working memory in adults with a traumatic brain injury. Melinda is interested in the cognitive, electrophysiological and behavioural outcomes of this training program.


Belinda Kenny

Dr Belinda Kenny is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working on a project tracing communication recovery in people with severe TBI over a two year period following their injury. The project is being conducted by an international research team, led by Professor Leanne Togher from the University of Sydney, in collaboration with three major Brain Injury Rehabilitation Units in Sydney, NSW. The study aims to determine predictive factors underlying recovery of communication deficits after TBI and identify the optimal period of recovery for communication skills. Belinda is also an experienced Speech Pathologist and clinical educator with research interests in professional ethics and communication issues following traumatic brain injury.

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Joshua King

Joshua King commenced his PhD in Clinical Psychology at Griffith University in July 2015 under the supervision of Associate Professor Tamara Ownsworth and Dr Harriet Bodimeade. His research aims to investigate people’s self-awareness of their ability to relate to others and respond appropriately in a social context (i.e. ‘social metacognition’). He is comparing the profile of social metacognition impairments in people with social anxiety and those with TBI.


Fiona Lewis

Dr Fiona Lewis is a Lecturer and Speech-Language Pathologist from the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Queensland. Fiona's research investigates both developmental and acquired disorders of communication in children; and the development of screening tools to identify early on which children are most vulnerable to language difficulties. Her current research interests encompass behavioural and neurophysiological investigations of language skill development following cancer treatments, acquired brain injury, and inherited/metabolic disorders such as galactosaemia.


Owen Lloyd

Owen Lloyd is a part-time PhD student at Griffith University and is the Neuropsychology Clinical Leader at the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service at the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane. He commenced his PhD in March 2013 under the supervision of Associate Professor Tamara Ownsworth (Griffith University) and Associate Professor Jennifer Fleming (University of Queensland) investigating factors influencing awareness of deficits in children with TBI, changes in awareness of deficits between discharge and 12-months post-injury, and the impact of self-awareness on psychosocial outcomes after paediatric TBI. To date, Owen has published a systematic review of awareness deficits following paediatric TBI, and has completed a pilot study investigating the psychometric properties of a new awareness tool – the Paediatric Awareness Questionnaire (manuscript in preparation).

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Frank Muscara

Dr Frank Muscara is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and a part-time Research Fellow at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) supervised by Professor Vicki Anderson. Frank's interests lie in intervention studies aiming to improve cognitive and psychosocial outcomes in children/adolescents and their families. His most recent research investigated long-term social outcomes following childhood acquired brain injury (ABI), and the impact of parent functioning on these social outcomes. Through this research, he developed a questionnaire measuring social competence in children with ABI (PEERS-Q). Frank has also been instrumental in the Take a Breath project which involved the development and piloting of a clinical web-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy intervention for parents with children hospitalised due to a life threatening illness or injury. Take a Breath helps parents to manage the distressing thoughts and feelings that come with having a very sick child.

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Sylvia Nguyen

Sylvia Nguyen is a Registered Clinical Psychologist and Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology) Candidate at Monash University. She is conducting a randomized controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in treating fatigue and sleep disturbance after TBI. This project is under the supervision of Professor Jennie Ponsford, Professor Shantha Rajaratnam, Dr Adam McKay and Dr Dana Wong. Sylvia also works as a Research Assistant at the Monash-Epworth Rehabilitation Research Centre.
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Katie Osborne-Crowley

Katie Osborne-Crowley is a PhD Candidate working under the leadership of Professor Skye McDonald and Dr Jacqueline Rushby at the University of New South Wales. Her research focuses on neuropsychological deficits underlying disinhibited social behaviour in people with traumatic brain injury.


Elizabeth Pagan

Elizabeth Pagan commenced her Masters in Clinical Psychology at Griffith University in February 2013. To support one of the key aims of the Moving Ahead CRE, her research seeks to investigate clinicians’ perceptions of the barriers to providing effective neurorehabilitation for people with TBI and their professional development preferences. In 2013, Liz conducted a survey of multidisciplinary professionals involved in psychosocial rehabilitation after TBI, receiving completed surveys from 305 clinicians. The findings of this study provide a unique multidisciplinary perspective on clinicians working in TBI rehabilitation and improves understanding of barriers to practice and professional development needs within TBI in Australia.

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Freyr Patterson

Freyr Patterson is an experienced Occupational Therapist who commenced her PhD at the University of Queensland in 2013 under the supervision of Associate Professor Jennifer Fleming. Freyr’s PhD will explore the use of therapy groups in inpatient brain injury rehabilitation. She has recently completed a scoping review of the literature to investigate the use of group therapy interventions in TBI rehabilitation. The findings of this review supported the need for further research into the efficacy of groups, as well as research which includes patient and clinician perspectives about groups. Freyr has commenced data collection for a research project which will explore group processes and patient and clinician perspectives about their experience of involvement in a group therapy program at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit using quantitative and qualitative methods (video-recording of group sessions, focus groups, interviews).


Sarah Prescott

Sarah Prescott is an experienced Occupational Therapist who was awarded an APA Scholarship in September 2013 and commenced her PhD at the University of Queensland in February 2014 under the leadership of Associate Professor Jennifer Fleming. Sarah’s thesis will use quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore the goal planning process with people with brain injury in outpatient rehabilitation settings. She has prepared a scoping review of the literature and data collection is currently underway. This study is capturing the goal planning process by analysing transcriptions of audiotaped goal planning sessions between therapists and people with brain injury. A range of other therapist, client and contextual factors are also being measured to explore the relationship between client participation in goal planning, contextual factors and outcomes.


Rachael Rietdijk

Rachael Rietdijk is a qualified Speech Pathologist with over 5 years of experience. She commenced her PhD in 2011 under the supervision of Professor Leanne Togher and Dr Emma Power at the University of Sydney. Her thesis, entitled Communication training for people with traumatic brain injury and their communication partners via telehealth”, aims to compare the outcomes of a Skype-based communication skills training program to a traditional face-to-face communication skills training program for people with TBI and their communication partners. For more information on Rachael's research, click here. Rachael is also an ASSBI Student Ambassador currently serving as the Social Media Officer.

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Jacqueline Rushby

Dr Jacqueline Rushby is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer for the Bachelor of Neuroscience honours course at the University of New South Wales under the supervision of Professor Skye McDonald. She was awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council four year research fellowship to investigate psychophysiological indices of recovery after severe traumatic brain injury. Her research aims to examine psychophysiological processes underpinning arousal and activation, in order to inform our understanding about how and why arousal to emotional events is dysregulated after severe brain injury.

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Nicholas Ryan

Nicholas Ryan is a PhD/Master of Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology) Candidate at the University of Melbourne. In 2012, he completed his Honours project examining predictors of emotion perception, and its relationship to social communication and externalizing behaviours in young adult survivors of paediatric TBI. Following on from this work, his PhD aims to investigate the neural bases of outcome and recovery of Theory of Mind in children and adolescents with TBI. He is supervised by Professor Vicki Anderson and Associate Professor Cathy Catroppa at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. In the future his goal is to work as a Paediatric Neuropsychologist in public healthcare settings, with a particular focus on context-sensitive rehabilitation, and integrated assessment of social, cognitive and behavioural function in children with neurodevelopmental disorders.


Linda Sigmundsdottir

Dr Linda Sigmundsdottir is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research at the University of Sydney under the leadership of Robyn Tate. She has a Doctorate in Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology) from Macquarie University, and works clinically part-time in the area of cognitive rehabilitation following acquired brain injury at the Liverpool Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit. As part of her research work with the Moving Ahead CRE, Linda is an investigator on the PEPA Program, which aims to evaluate an intervention approach to support persons with TBI to engage and sustain their involvement in meaningful avocational activities. She has recently completed a systematic review of the research literature evaluating use of computerised cognitive training programs for persons with acquired brain injury and is Project Manager for the PsycBITE online database which catalogues published psychological and cognitive rehabilitation interventions for acquired brain injury.


Kelly Sinclair

Dr Kelly Sinclair is a Research Fellow at Monash University in the Monash Epworth Rehabilitation Research Centre (MERRC) under the supervision of Professor Jennie Ponsford. She completed a Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology) at Monash University in 2012, focusing on the assessment of fatigue and sleep disturbance following traumatic brain injury and examining the use of light therapy to reduce these symptoms following injury. Kelly continues to work on projects across the Moving Ahead CRE examining fatigue and sleep complaints following acquired brain injury. Her research has awarded her the World Federation of NeuroRehabilitation’s Frank Gerstenbrand Award at the Eighth World Congress for NeuroRehabilitation, Istanbul, Turkey, April 8-12, 2014.
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Cheryl Soo

Dr Cheryl Soo is a Research Fellow under the supervision of Professor Vicki Anderson at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. She has worked on research projects investigating the psychosocial outcomes of children and adults with TBI for the past 10 years. Cheryl is currently Lead Investigator on a multi-centre RCT of cognitive behavioural therapy for managing anxiety in adolescents with brain injury funded by the NHMRC.


Joanne Steel

Dr Joanne Steel is a Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist and Senior Research Associate at the University of Newcastle, working under the leadership of Professor Leanne Togher from the University of Sydney. Her PhD research investigated cognitive communication presentation and recovery during post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), and speech pathology assessment methods during the early stages after injury. While it is well documented that cognitive and social communication impairments are a common, debilitating and persisting consequence of TBI, there has been little empirical study into cognitive communication during PTA and the post-acute period. The research aims to assist with planning of speech pathology services and may help identify people with TBI at risk of developing long-term cognitive communication difficulties.

Hayley Walsh

Hayley Walsh

Helping people to fulfil meaningful roles and goals in life using effective interventions is a driving ideology for Occupational Therapist Hayley Walsh. Originally surfacing from the brewing pot of the University of Sydney in 2007, she found herself working in acute and subacute neurosurgery and neurology in Sydney and UK hospitals. In 2014, she moved to Barcelona to study a Masters in Neurorehabilitation at the Institut Guttmann, Spain, where she decided to continue research collaborations with the inspirational Dr Narda Murillo and to reach out to the erudite Dr Jennifer Fleming at the University of Queensland.

Hayley is currently working with adults who are recovering from a traumatic brain injury as they progress through the phase of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) for her PhD research based at the Institut Guttmann. She hopes to further understand the broader sensory, motor, cognitive and functional characteristics of people during PTA, as well as assess the feasibility of conducting a randomised controlled trial of a new intervention protocol based on occupation-based multisensory stimulation and environmental enrichment.
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Travis Wearne

Dr Travis Wearne is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales under the supervision of Skye McDonald. He completed a combined Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Clinical Neuropsychology degree from Macquarie University in 2015. His PhD research examined methamphetamine-induced psychosis and was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s commendation for outstanding research achievement. Prior to joining UNSW, Travis worked across several randomized clinical trials and lectured and tutored on several undergraduate courses at Macquarie University. Travis is also a Neuropsychology Registrar and has worked with acquired brain injury across public and private sectors. More broadly, Travis’ research interests surround mental health, substance use, cognitive intervention, and acquired brain injury. Travis will be involved in the coordination of the Moving Ahead CRE-related activities and projects.