Team Biographies.

Dr. Joyce Siette

Dr Joyce Siette has an extensive research background in aged care, psychology, public health and digital health. As Research Theme Fellow at the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development at Western Sydney University, she will be exploring the role of digital health in supporting healthy ageing. 

Dr. Siette completed a Bachelor of Psychology and PhD in Psychology at the University of New South Wales and is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University.

The quality and impact of her research has been recognised through a number of awards including the 2018 Researcher of the Year, Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research at Macquarie University, 2020 Bupa Emerging Health Researcher Commendation Award, and 2021 Winner of Future of Ageing Awards – Research Category.

Find out more about her projects here

Ms Laura Dodds

Ms Laura Dodds specialises in public health promotion and is a Research Assistant at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation. She is working on several projects involving the assessment and improvement of cognition, social engagement, and quality of life in older adults across multiple settings.

She has attained undergraduate degrees in psychology and health and completed a Master of Public Health specialising in cross-disciplinary studies. 

Previously, she has worked on the frontline of aged care facilitating older adult engagement in the Healthy Older People Partnership Program (HOPP) and the Stepping On program as well as delivering a variety of services which focus on exercise and mobility, pain management and wellbeing.

She is now undertaking a PhD with Dr Siette targeting better brain health for rural older adults.

Professor Greg Savage

Greg Savage is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Macquarie University, and Neuropsychology Clinical Discipline Head at MQ Health.

His research interests are broad in scope, but many projects have a unifying theme in terms of developing theoretically-informed tests of memory. Another theme focuses on early detection of Alzheimer’s disease (mainly through his role as Co-Leader of the Clinical and Cognitive Stream in the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers & Lifestyle [AIBL] Study of Ageing).

Recently he has focused on understanding the impact of hearing loss on cognition, and particularly, how hearing loss relates to risk of developing dementia.

Professor Deborah Richards

Deborah Richards is a Professor in the Department of Computing at Macquarie University. Following 20 years in the ICT industry during which she completed a BBus (Comp and MIS) and MAppSc (InfoStudies), she completed a PhD in artificial intelligence on the reuse of knowledge at the University of New South Wales and joined academia in 1999.

While she continues to work on solutions to assist decision-making and knowledge acquisition, for the past decade, her focus has been on intelligent systems, agent technologies and virtual worlds to support human learning and well-being.

Dr. Paul Strutt

Dr Paul Strutt is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Clinical Neuropsychology Registrar in the Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University.

As a clinician, he provides clinical assessment, diagnosis, and rehabilitation management for cognitive disorders across the lifespan. His research interests are in the investigation of modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.

Currently, this work is focussed on the role of hearing loss and the potential benefits of hearing and communication interventions for protecting cognition as people age.

Dr. Kiran Ijaz

Kiran is a Human-Computer Interaction Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Macquarie University.

She has taught the computer science curriculum for seven years and been part of many culturally diverse research teams. She has a background in Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

Her specific research interests are to design, develop, and evaluate novel health technologies. Currently, she investigates immersive VR, serious games and Human-AI interaction to support both physical and mental wellbeing. Her work has acclaimed both teaching and research awards.

Professor Piers Dawes

Piers Dawes studied speech and hearing science at Curtin University in Western Australia and holds a doctorate in experimental psychology from Oxford University.

He is currently Professor at the University of Queensland. Professor Dawes’s research interests concern the causes, impacts, prevention and treatment of hearing impairment, particularly in the context of multimorbidity in older age, as well as hearing service development and evaluation.

Professor Dawes has been a recipient of many awards including the US-UK Fulbright award and the British Society of Audiology’ TS Littler prize for services to audiology. As the founding chair of the British Society of Audiology’s special interest group for cognition in hearing, he promotes research and raises awareness of new developments on cognitive issues in hearing science, assessment and intervention.

Professor Viviana Wuthrich

Professor Viviana Wuthrich is the Director of the Centre for Ageing, Cognition and Wellbeing , and a Medical Research Future Fund Emerging Leader 2 Fellow (2021-2025), She is a Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Psychology and Centre for Emotional Health, Macquarie University, and National Convenor of the Australian Psychological Society Psychology and Ageing Interest Group.

Her research interests relate to understanding and treating anxiety and depression across the lifespan, with particular interests in older adults. Her research includes the development and evaluation in clinical trials of psychological interventions to reduce anxiety, depression and reduce risk for dementia, and translation of these programs into public and private mental health settings.

She is currently evaluating a dementia risk reduction intervention in primary care, as well as leading two large clinical trials to evaluate cognitive behavioural therapy based interventions in older adults. This includes a $1.02 million National Health and Medical Research Council multisite trial evaluating a model of stepped care in older adult mental health services, and a clinical trial focused on improving treatment outcomes using CBT enhanced with interventions to improve social participation.

Dr. Carly Johnco

Dr Carly Johnco is a Macquarie University Senior Research Fellow and a registered Clinical Psychologist.

She completed her PhD and Masters of Clinical Psychology at Macquarie University in 2014, followed by two postdoctoral fellowships at the University of South Florida and at Macquarie University before beginning her Macquarie University Research Fellowship.

Her research is focused on understanding the cognitive and environmental mechanisms that underpin anxiety (and related disorders) in childhood and older age, and whether these factors impact on the efficacy of existing treatments. These interests include how fear learning, cognition, attention and memory impact the development, maintenance and treatment of anxiety problems.

Dr. Karla Seaman

Dr Karla Seaman is an experienced pharmacist and health services research fellow in the Aged Care Evaluation and Research Team at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University. Her passion is to support older Australians. In doing this, her translational research focusses on building and driving more evidence-based older adult health services particularly focusing on residential aged care. She has worked across a variety of health sectors including leading and coordinating research for a non-for-profit organisation, hospitals and within the community with older adults. She supported the establishment of a research centre in aged care and has been an industry leader for the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre.

Dr. Kristiana Ludlow

Dr Kristiana Ludlow is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Queensland and Honorary Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University. She is passionate about collaborating with consumers and health professionals to improve the delivery of healthcare and mental health services. Kristiana has experience working with vulnerable populations including aged care residents and community clients, young children, and adolescents. Her current research focuses on co-designing tools and interventions with end-users to enhance usability, engagement, and uptake.

Professional and Community Engagement Program (PACE)

Our PACE students are offered a unique research experience during their placement. Students often work together to produce new understanding of innovative initiatives targeting better health and wellbeing in older adults. To date, we have had over 30 PACE students undertake their research placement with us.

Masters of Public Health (MPH) Students

Our MPH students are offered an in-depth knowledge and skills-based placement during their professional practice placement. Students are offered training in areas essential to modern public health concerns including public health policy and health promotion by targeting health systems. We provide students practical strategies to address issues of public health policy through a curriculum-based approach. To date, we have had 4 MPH students successfully complete their project with the team.

Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) students

At Western Sydney University, our Honours students are invited to conduct individual experimental studies targeting an area of interest within the research team. This includes supporting digital health applications targeting dementia diagnosis and prevention strategies. In 2022, we welcomed 7 Honours students to the team.

Dr. Jed Montayre

Dr Jed Montayre is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University. Jed has a strong clinical background in gerontology and medical-surgical nursing.  He is an experienced nurse academic, who has worked in the Philippines and New Zealand. Jed’s teaching areas include gerontology and aged care nursing. Jed’s research focuses on age-friendly communities, ageing and health, cardiovascular health of migrant populations, nursing policy and workforce issues. Jed developed the curriculum for the Master of Ageing, Wellbeing and Sustainability course in the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Associate Professor Quang Vinh Nguyen

Vinh is an Associate Professor in Visual Analytics and The Director of Academic Program – Postgraduate ICT at the School of Computer, Data and Mathematical Sciences and the MARCS Institute, Western Sydney University. His research areas are in Visual Analytics and Information Visualization, including Medical Data AnalysisGraph and Network AnalysisGraph DrawingApplications with Visualization and Visual AnalyticsVisual Collaborative SystemHuman Computer Interaction, and related research areas. He is the group leader of the Human Information Communication and Interaction Group.

Dr. Celia Harris

Celia completed her PhD at Macquarie University in 2010 and worked on postdoctoral projects relating to the functions that autobiographical memory serves for individuals and groups.

In 2020, Celia moved to the MARCS Institute as a VC’s Senior Research Fellow in Cognitive Neuroscience, to study how memory can be supported across the lifespan. Celia combined her interests in social and conversational memory, memory functions, and memory cuing, to study how remembering is shared in couples: the functions that conversations about the past play in supporting relationships, the ways that couples might provide a rich cuing context for each others’ memories, and how older couples might remember together and support each other’s memories in the face of cognitive decline. 

Ms Tyler-Ann Wheeler

Tyler is a 3rd year undergraduate student studying a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons.) at Macquarie University. She is currently participating in the Brain Bootcamp Frontiers project as a part of a practical placement in her degree. She hopes that this experience will broaden her knowledge in the area of dementia, and assist to prepare me for a successful career in neuropsychology.

Ms Sucy (Leyi) Wu

Sucy has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the Australian National University. She is currently completing her honours year in psychology in Macquarie University. She is am an intern at Brain Bootcamp Frontiers.

Her interest in psychology is psychopathology, including mental disorders, their aetiology and treatments, especially music therapy. Her career goal is to undertake a Masters and PhD in psychology in the future and become a therapist or clinical psychologist. Through this internship, her goal is to achieve more understanding towards dementia and the related work, and also develop relevant skills in a professional environment.

Mr Jonathan Leo Guion

Current 4th year Bachelor of Psychology Honours student participating in the LEAF CAFÉ computer simulated environment project as part of his thesis research.

He hopes that this experience can help increase his knowledge and understanding of the role of emerging technology such as virtual reality and its applications in psychology.

Professor Chris Armitage

Professor Christopher Armitage is a Health Psychologist registered with the UK Health and Care Professions Council, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, and Director of Research at the Manchester Centre for Health Psychology in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester.

He uses psychological theory and evidence to develop effective behaviour change interventions in multiple behaviours and among diverse populations. He has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles on these topics and has received funding to support this research from numerous sources, including the European Union and several of the UK’s Research and Innovation Councils.

Assistant Professor Kay Deckers

Kay works as an Assistant Professor at the School for Mental Health and Neuroscience and the Alzheimer Center Limburg at Maastricht University.

He was initially trained as a neuropsychologist before becoming an epidemiologist. In his research, he investigates the effects of lifestyle factors on cognitive disorders, with most studies focusing on dementia. Additionally, he is very concerned with preventive strategies for a brain-healthy society (e.g. awareness campaign, development of a brain-health tool, implementation of dementia risk reduction in general practices).

Ms Irene Heger

I am a PhD student at the School for Mental Health and Neuroscience and the Alzheimer Center Limburg, at Maastricht University (the Netherlands).

I am a trained psychologist with a background in medical psychology. My PhD project is focused on raising public awareness of modifiable risk and protective factors for cognitive decline and dementia. The main focus of my project is the development and evaluation of a public health campaign, aimed at increasing awareness of dementia risk reduction in the general population.

Part of the campaign was the MijnBreincoach online platform, which gives people insight into their personal dementia risk profile and identifies room for lifestyle improvement.

Associate Professor Sebastian Kohler

Seb is an Associate Professor at the School for Mental Health and Neuroscience and senior researcher at the Alzheimer Center Limburg at Maastricht University.

He was trained in neuropsychology and epidemiology and leads the research line Neuroepidemiology, which specializes in risk and protective factors for cognitive decline and dementia in the general as well as clinical populations. Seb’s group developed the LIBRA modifiable dementia risk score and the MijnBreincoach app, which is used in public health campaigns on dementia prevention in the Netherlands.

He is a member of the Management Board of The Maastricht Study, a deep-phenotyping cohort of 9,000 individuals, and is co-PI of the 25-year follow-up Maastricht Ageing Study into determinants of normal and pathological cognitive ageing. He co-leads the FINGER-NL trial, a 2-year multidomain lifestyle intervention program to promote brain health in older adults.

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