CATS Project Team and Reference Group

Meet the Team

Project Director
Project Manager
Project Coordinator

Elissa Phillips

Elissa has been working at the Murdoch Childrens since 2010. Prior to this, she completed a Bachelor of Health Science (Hons), with her main interests in nutrition and health promotion. While at the MCRI, Elissa has worked on a range of projects with children aged from 6-8 weeks to 15 years. Most notably, she played a lead role in one of Australia’s major research projects, Growing Up in Australia’s Child Health CheckPoint. Elissa is interested in maternal and child health, and how early life predicts health during adolescence. Outside of work, she loves spending time outdoors with friends and family. Elissa is excited to learn more about how Victorian children transition from childhood to adolescence.

Data Analysts 

Louise Canterford

Louise has completed a Master of Biostatistics and really enjoys working with numbers. Having worked at Murdoch Childrens for the past 10 years, she has extensive experience analysing longitudinal data. She looks forward to helping senior investigators discover more about puberty

Project Assistants

Paul Hockey

Paul has a Bachelor of Science (Honours)(Psychology) from Swinburne University with main interests in child and adolescent development and forensic psychology. He has previously worked with the Sleeping Sound with ADHD and Growing up in Australia’s Child Health CheckPoint projects in the Centre for Community Child Health and is very excited to be part of the CATS team.  

Michael Wilson

Michael is currently in his final year of Uni studying Psychology. He is particularly interested in substance use, sleep and mental health during adolescence. His favourite part of CATS is visiting schools and meeting our participants who are so keen to be involved in such an exciting study. He is also a student on the CATS project, completing his Honours project investigating substance use among adolescents.

Ashleigh Salmon

Ashleigh has just finished her Bachelor of Science (Hons) where she majored in Psychology. She is excited to be joining the CATS team in 2017 as she is passionate about adolescent mental health and working with young people. Ashleigh is keen to meet our CATS participants this year and can’t wait to learn more about the transition from childhood to adolescence.

Tehani Paiva

Tehani has completed a Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours). She has a keen interest in sleep-related issues and mental health development throughout childhood and adolescence. She is excited to be a part of the CATS team, and is looking forward to engaging with our participants.

Paul Butera (volunteer)
Dana Meads (volunteer)
Jennifer Nguyen (volunteer)
Michael Wilson (Honours)
Cindy Hsiao (Honours)
Mandy Lee (Honours)
  • Prof Nicholas Allen is a professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Oregon.  With a focus on depression in adolescents, he uses structural and functional neuroimaging and psychophysiology techniques to understand how emotion, attention, and social cognition are affected by depressed states and vulnerability to depression.
  • Prof Susan Sawyer is the director of the Centre for Adolescent Health at The Royal Children's Hospital, the Chair of Adolescent Health in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Melbourne, and Australia's leading academic centre of excellence in adolescent health. 
  • Prof Timothy Olds is in the School of Health Sciences, Physical Education and Exercise and Sport Studies at the University of South Australia. Timothy has been investigating fitness, fatness, physical activity and food intake in children in Australia and around the world.
  • Prof Louisa Degenhardt is based at the University of New South Wales. She is an expert in the epidemiology of illicit drug use and associated health risks.
  • Prof Russell Viner is an academic paediatrician and adolescent physician at the University College London Institute of Child Health, working clinically at University College Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London. He works as a consultant on adolescent health for the Departments of Health and of Education in the UK, and for the WHO internationally.
  • A/Prof Joanne Williams is a Principal Research Fellow at Centre for Adolescent Health and lecturer at Deakin University. A/Prof Williams' focus is Population Health Studies of Adolescents.
  • A/Prof Jordana Bayer is a clinical psychologist based at La Trobe University. She has a particular interest in children's mental health and is involved in developing and evaluating large-scale non-stigmatising prevention programs run in community health settings.
  • A/Prof Craig Olsson is a Senior Research Fellow at Deakin University and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. His research interests include genetics, epidemiology, paediatrics and public health.
  • Dr Rosa Alati is a Principal Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, and a research fellow at NHMRC.  She has a background in alcohol studies and Indigenous health research.
  • Dr Fiona Mensah is a biostatistician at The Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit (CEBU), which is jointly supported by Murdoch Childrens and The University of Melbourne's Department of Paediatrics.
  • Dr Helena Romaniuk is a biostatistician at CEBU, which is jointly supported by Murdoch Childrens and The University of Melbourne's Department of Paediatrics.
  • Dr Felice Jacka is an NHMRC Fellow based at Deakin University. Her research involves investigating links between diet and mental health.
  • Prof John Toumbourou is a VicHealth Senior Research Fellow, Associate Dean (Partnerships and Workplace), and the Chair in Health Psychology within the School of Psychology at Deakin University.
  • Prof Rico Catalano is the Director of the Social Development Research Group in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Prof Stephen Wood is a Professor of Adolescent Brain Development and Mental Health at the School of Psychology, University of Birmingham.
  • Prof Melissa Wake is the Director of Research at Centre for Community Child Health. Her focus is community-based strategies in the areas of language and literacy, hearing loss, overweight and obesity, and early mental health. 
  • Prof John Carlin is the director of CEBU at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

The CATS Reference Group aims to assist the achievement of project outcomes by enabling working partnerships with the education sector and the community regarding the engagement of schools, parents and the facilitation of research strategies.

The Reference Group provides an avenue for community feedback about proposed research activities, as well as support and the networking required for the promotion and implementation of the project.

The Reference Group consists of representatives from each of the education sectors, teachers, parents and researchers.


  • Prof John Hattie -  Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE)
  • Kris Arcaro -  Department of Education and Training (DET)
  • Cathy Henbest - Catholic Education Office Melbourne (CEOM)
  • Sally Karlovic - Principal at North Melbourne Primary School
  • Don Kirk - Teacher at Caulfield Junior College
  • Dr Sara Glover - Mitchell Institute
  • Andrea Krelle - Centre for Adolescent Health (CAH)