About us – NESI officers

NESI CHAIR AND STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE

Simone Verswijveren

Simone Verswijveren has a BSc and MSc in Human Movement Sciences from the Vrije Universiteit, The Netherlands. She is currently a PhD Candidate within the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Her PhD focuses on patterns of physical activity and sedentary behaviour and associations with cardio-metabolic health in children and adolescents. Simone is currently chairing the communication team of NESI, and is the 2020-2022 Student Representative on the ISBNPA Executive Committee.

EARLY CAREER RESEARCHER REPRESENTATIVES

Jenna Hollis

Dr Jenna Hollis is an Early Career Researcher at Hunter New England Population Health and the University of Newcastle, Australia. She recently returned to Australia from the United Kingdom where she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southampton and Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health (University of Aberdeen). Her research interests are in women’s and children’s health; specifically in i) investigating the diet and lifestyle predictors of maternal and child health and ii) translating research findings to primary prevention initiatives that benefit the wider community. Jenna is one of the 2020-2022 Early Career Representatives on the ISBNPA Executive Committee.

Inês Santos

Inês Santos

Dr Inês Santos is a Nutritionist with a PhD in Physical Activity and Health (2017). She is an Early Career Researcher at the Self-Regulation in Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity (PANO-SR) Research Group at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Human Performance (CIPER), Faculty of Human Kinetics, University of Lisbon, and an invited assistant professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon, Portugal. She has developed expertise in the area of self-regulation of weight loss maintenance and energy balance-related behaviors. Additionally, her work has contributed to a better understanding of the epidemiology of weight loss attempts in adults across the world. Inês is one of the 2020-2022 Early Career Representatives on the ISBNPA Executive Committee.

COMMUNICATION TEAM MEMBERS

Brittany Johnson

Brittany Johnson is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Caring Futures Institute, at Flinders University in South Australia. She is currently leading the deconstructing interventions component of the TOPCHILD Collaboration—a new project that is bringing together researchers from around the world to transform early childhood obesity prevention. Her research interests include improving children’s diet quality by reducing unhealthy food intake, applying behaviour change theory and creating supportive environments where we live, work and play. Brittany is currently chair of the NESI Communication Team.

Alissa Burnett

Alissa Burnett is a PhD candidate within the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Prior to this she obtained an undergraduate Degree in Psychology and a Master of Human Nutrition.  Her research focus is the prevention of childhood obesity through investigating the parental factors that influence the dietary intake and patterns of pre-school children. Alissa is a member of the NESI Communication Team. 

Kate Parker

Dr Kate Parker is a Lecturer in Physical Activity and Health at Deakin University, School of Exercise and Nutrition Science. She has a background in exercise science and completed her PhD at Deakin University in early 2020. Her research focuses on understanding how and why adolescents’ participation in various movement and non-movement behaviours cluster and track over time. Kate is a member of the NESI Communication Team. 

Jelle Arts

Jelle Arts is a PhD candidate within the section Child Health & Care research at the Amsterdam UMC in the Netherlands. Prior to this he obtained a master’s degree in Human Movement Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is currently working on a project called My Little Moves – a project that aims to gain insight into the ideal 24-hour movement behavior for a healthy growth and development of children aged 0-4 years old. Jelle is a member of the NESI Communication Team.

NETWORKING TEAM MEMBERS

Jane Jie Yu

Dr Jane Yu is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). After receiving training in Sports Psychology at the Shanghai University of Sports in China, Jane moved to Hong Kong and obtained her PhD in Education in 2013 from CUHK. Her research focuses on physical activity, motor skills development, health promotion in children with a special interest in those with disabilities or special needs. Jane is co-chair of the NESI Networking Team.

Arlene McGarty

Dr Arlene McGarty is a Research Associate at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She completed her PhD at the University of Glasgow in 2016, and also holds a BA(Hons) Sport and Physical Activity from the University of Strathclyde and an MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology from Staffordshire University. Arlene’s research interests relate to measuring and understanding physical activity and sedentary behaviour in children and adults with learning disabilities. Arlene is co-chair of the NESI Networking Team.

Sarah Burkart

Dr. Sarah Burkart is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the Arnold Childhood Obesity Initiative at the University of South Carolina. Her research aims to examine the complex interplay between the home environment and children’s sleep, which ultimately impacts childhood obesity. She completed her MS, MPH, and PhD at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she focused on developing classroom-based physical activity programs to enhance preschool children’s health and academic behaviors. Sarah is co-chair of the NESI Networking Team.

Hilary Caldwell

Hilary Caldwell is a PhD Candidate with the Child Health & Exercise Medicine Program and the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. She is concurrently completing a CIHR Health System Impact Fellowship with the City of Hamilton Public Health Services Healthy Built Environments team where her work focuses on active transportation. Her doctoral research focuses on children’s physical literacy, physical activity and health across childhood. Previously, Hilary completed a MSc in Kinesiology, where she focused on physical activity and fitness in early childhood. Hilary is a member of the NESI Networking Team. 

Gwenn Porter

Dr. Gwenn Porter is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. She aims to implement effective weight management and chronic disease prevention interventions into typical practice through clinical and community partnerships. She holds a BS in Kinesiology from The Pennsylvania State University and an MS in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gwenn is a member of the NESI Networking Team. 

Christine St. Laurent

Dr. Christine St. Laurent is a postdoctoral research associate in the University of Massachusetts (UMass) SomneuroLab which researches the impact of sleep on health and cognition across the lifespan. She earned her PhD in kinesiology and MPH in epidemiology at the University of UMass. Her dissertation project focused on the effects of a school-based fitness program on academic performance and cognition in elementary school children. Her research focuses on the interactive roles of physical activity and sleep on children’s physical, cognitive, and brain health. Currently, she is examining the associations between 24-hour movement behaviors and various health and cognitive outcomes in early childhood. Christine is a member of the NESI Networking Team.  

WEBINAR/WORKSHOP TEAM MEMBERS

Sarah Shaw

Sarah Shaw is a senior research assistant and part-time PhD student at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton, UK. Sarah has a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and is a Registered Associate Nutritionist (Public Health) in the UK. Her PhD research is using a mixed-methods approach to investigate the interactions between adolescents’ physical food environments and social environments, and the influence these have on diet and food purchasing behaviours. Sarah is co-chair of the NESI Webinar/Workshop Team. 

Stephanie Chappel

Stephanie Chappel is a PhD candidate within the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science (Hons), and has recently submitted her PhD thesis for examination. Her research focuses on the physical activity levels of emergency nurses, in particular the temporal associations within- and between-shifts and across occupational and leisure time activity. She also has experience with physical activity within firefighting, medical/surgical nursing, child and adolescent populations. Stephanie is co-chair of the NESI Webinar/Workshop Team. 

Emma Lawlor

Dr Emma Lawlor is a postdoctoral Research Associate at the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) at the University of Cambridge. She completed her PhD at Queen’s University Belfast in 2018. Her research focuses on evaluating population level built environment and policy interventions, particularly in relation to physical activity. She also has experience in developing and evaluating weight management programmes. Emma is a member of the NESI Webinar/Workshop Team.

Alexis Jones

Alexis Jones is a doctoral student at the University of South Carolina within the Arnold Childhood Obesity Initiative. Her research interests focus on the relationship between parental rules, screen time, and sleep and their association with childhood obesity. She completed her B.S. in Psychology at Campbell University and her M.S. in Health and Exercise Science at Wake Forest University. Alexis is a member of the NESI Webinar/Workshop Team.

Teferi Mekonnen Yitayew 

Teferi is a PhD candidate at the Department of Nutrition, Public Health Nutrition research group, The University of Oslo, Norway. He holds a BSc degree in Nursing and MPH/Nutrition. His PhD project focuses on exploring the longitudinal development of inequalities in body weight between birth and 14 years of age and identify important mediators of these inequalities using the MoBa study. Before joining the University of Oslo, he worked at Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia as Assistant Lecturer (2012-2016) and Lecturer (2016-2018). He is a GBD Collaborator at IHME, the University of Washington. Teferi is a member of the NESI Webinar/Workshop Team.

Patrick Abi Nader

Dr. Abi Nader is an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Québec Rimouski, Québec, Canada. He holds a BA in Physical Education (University of Balamand, Lebanon), an MS in Exercise Physiology (University of Louisville, KY, USA), and an MPH in Epidemiology and PhD in Physical activity and Public Health from Oregon State University, OR, USA. His research focuses on: 1) identifying the best strategies to implement school-based physical activity interventions to ensure their success, 2) identifying factors that influence youth’s participation in movement behaviors from childhood through adolescence (especially in the transition age period), and 3) evaluating the performance of a society or country in its efforts to promote physical activity behaviors among its young population. Patrick is a member of the NESI Webinar/Workshop Team.