About us – NESI officers


Sarah Shaw

Sarah Shaw is a senior research assistant and part-time PhD candidate at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre 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 individual and combined influences of adolescents’ physical food environments and social environments on food purchasing and dietary behaviours. Sarah is a student representative on the Executive Committee for ISBNPA and also the chair of NESI.


Steph Chappel

Dr Stephanie Chappel is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Central Queensland University – Appleton Institute, Adelaide, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science (Hons), and completed her PhD thesis at Deakin University. Her research focuses on the physical activity levels of workers within demanding industries including, firefighting, nursing and rail. Stephanie’s research combines the field of physical activity research with human factors and systems thinking research. She also has experience with physical activity within child and adolescent populations, and has an interest in measurement devices for physical activity and movement. Stephanie is an ECR Representative on the ISBNPA Executive Committee.

Lisa Mackay

Dr Lisa Mackay is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity, Wellbeing and Quantitative Research at Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. She completed her PhD thesis at Auckland University of Technology exploring patterns of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in parents with young children. Lisa’s research is centred in behavioural health and wellbeing with specific expertise in physical activity, sedentary behaviour, time-use, and wellbeing measurement frameworks. Working within a socio-ecological framework, Lisa’s research spans the personal, social, organisational, and environmental factors that influence physical activity and wellbeing outcomes. Lisa is an ECR Representative on the ISBNPA Executive Committee.


Amanda Folk 

Amanda is a PhD candidate in Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She also has her Master’s in Integrative Exercise Physiology from Temple University. Her research is at the intersection of behavioural aspects of physical activity, public health, and health communication – all while trying to look at it through a social justice lens. Her dissertation work is currently applying this to outdoor physical activity. Amanda is the co-chair of the NESI Communication Team.

Nivedhitha Parthasarathy

Nivi is a PhD candidate and graduate assistant in Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, United States. She holds a master’s in public health from Manipal Academy of Higher Education, India with a specialization in global health. Her research focuses on diet behaviors and the food environment of underserved families. Nivi is the co-chair of the NESI Communication team. 

Olivia Alliot

Olivia is a Research Associate with the Population Health Interventions programme at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge. She is currently working on an evaluation of the impact of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone on young people’s active travel to school. Prior to this Olivia completed her PhD studentship, also within the MRC Epidemiology Unit, where she explored the role of socioeconomic position in adolescent physical activity. Olivia is a member of the NESI Communication Team.

Cristina Gago

Cristina Gago, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, where she applies implementation science principles and behavior change theory to the evaluation of community health, food assistance, and social service interventions. Through her partnership-grounded, translational research practice, Cristina aims to identify actionable opportunities to increase health and social service accessibility and uptake. She is a member of the NESI Communication team.


Sarah Burkart

Dr Sarah Burkart is an Assistant Professor within the Arnold Childhood Obesity Initiative at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Burkart’s research aims to 1) understand the individual, family, social, and environmental factors that contribute to children’s sleep health 2) examine underlying mechanisms that lead to inconsistent sleep behavior, and 3) develop and test novel intervention strategies to enhance children’s health and well-being. Dr. Burkart completed her postdoctoral training at the University of South Carolina. She earned her MS in Kinesiology, MPH in Epidemiology, and PhD in Kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Sarah is co-chair of the NESI Networking Team.

Gwenn Porter

Dr Gwenn Porter is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Dr. Porter aims to implement effective weight management and chronic disease prevention interventions into typical practice through clinical and community partnerships; additionally, she seeks to identify the contextually-relevant implementation strategies to engage individuals in health promotion programming. She completed her PhD in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2020, and 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 co-chair 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.

Hilary Caldwell

Dr. Hilary Caldwell is a CIHR Health System Impact Fellow with the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Dalhousie University Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. Hilary completed her PhD with the Child Health & Exercise Medicine Program and the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University and a CIHR Health System Impact Fellowship with the City of Hamilton Public Health Services Healthy Built Environments in Hamilton, Canada. Hilary’s current research investigates how schools and communities can contribute to children’s physical activity, health, and well-being. Hilary is a member of the NESI Networking Team.

Alexandra Descarpentrie

Alexandra Descarpentrie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences and a university diploma in scientific mediation from Université de La Réunion. She then turned to Public Health by joining the master’s program at Université de Paris-Saclay. Currently, as a PhD candidate at Center for Research in Epidemiology and StatisticS (CRESS, Université de Paris, Inserm), she is interested in the relations between lifestyle patterns in early childhood and their family contextual factors as well as different health events, both in general and homeless populations. Alexandra is a member of the NESI Networking Team.

Kylie Wilson

Kylie is a PhD student in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University with an emphasis in Population and Behavioral Health Sciences. Her PhD research involves using multilevel community-based approaches to promote health and wellbeing, specifically within schools, with an emphasis on physical activity policy and assessment. Kylie is part of the NESI Networking team.

Kelly Cosgrove

Kelly is an Exercise and Nutritional Sciences PhD student at Arizona State University. She completed her BS and MS in Human Nutrition at Arizona State University. Her research interests include the development of behavior change interventions that encourage the adoption of healthier and more sustainable behaviors, including increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and decreasing food waste. Kelly is part of the NESI Networking Team.

Linnea Johansson

Dr Linnea Johansson is a postdoctoral research associate at the IMPACT research group, at Karolinska Institute, Sweden. She completed her PhD from Karolinska Institute, and her dissertation project focused on digital pediatric obesity treatment together with cardiorespiratory fitness and cardiometabolic risk in children with obesity. Currently, she is involved in an mHealth intervention aiming to improve cardiovascular health in adults. Linnea holds a BSc and MSc in Physiotherapy from Linköping University, Sweden. She is a new member to the NESI Networking team.

Ellinor Nilsson

Ellinor Nilsson is a PhD candidate at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. She has a BSc and MSc degree in nutrition from Stockholm University and Karolinska Institutet and is now working with the international study SUNRISE, investigating physical activity, sleep and screen time in preschool-aged children. Ellinor is part of the NESI Networking Team.

Maria Lungren

Maria is a Research Assistant at Karolinska Institute in Sweden. She holds a bachelors in nutrition from the University of the Sunshine coast, Queensland, Australia and a masters degree in nutrition science from Karolinska Institute, Sweden. Her main work is within mHealth and nutrition interventions for young children and moms to be and is a new member to the NESI team. Maria is part of the NESI Networking 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 co-chair of the NESI Webinar/Workshop Team.

Stephen Barrett

Stephen works as an Allied Health Research and Knowledge Translation lead in Bendigo Health, Victoria, Australia. Stephen is an Adjunct Research Fellow within the Holsworth Research initiative at La Trobe University, Bendigo.  He completed his BSc in Physiotherapy at University College Dublin, a Masters in Public Health at the University of Melbourne and finished his PhD at La Trobe University, Bendigo in 2021. His PhD research focussed on the role of behaviour change interventions in ambulatory hospital care. Stephen is co-chair of the NESI Webinar/Workshop Team.

Taylor Willmott

Dr Taylor Willmott is an award-winning early career researcher with interdisciplinary expertise in behavioural science, economics, social marketing, and human-centered design. She has held several research and teaching appointments across leading higher education institutions in Australia and is currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship with Social Marketing @ Griffith, Griffith University. Skilled in quantitative and qualitative research methods, Dr Willmott leads a program of research focused on the prevention of noncommunicable disease and the nexus between diet, physical activity, and body weight, particularly during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. She is a passionate advocate for providing young people with the knowledge and skills needed to take agency in their own health and wellbeing, and ensuring systems are in place to support them in doing so. Dr Willmott is a member of the NESI Networking team and an Events Officer for the newly formed ISBNPA Young Adult SIG. Taylor is part of the Webinar/Workshop team.

Emma Ostermeier

Emma is a PhD Candidate in Health Promotion at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. She received an undergraduate degree in Human Biology from the University of Toronto before completing her Master’s in Geography at Western University. Emma’s research interests include promoting physical activity and supporting healthy lifestyles among children. Her doctoral work examines the implementation of a free physical activity program for children in rural communities. Emma is a member of the NESI Webinar/Workshop Team.

Thomas Keiser

Thomas is a PhD student in the Department of Health Behavior and Nutrition Sciences within the College of Health Sciences at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. He received a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Towson University. His research aims to explore specific strategies to promote long-term health behavior change and maintenance. Specifically, he seeks to identify the role of circadian timing and regularity of daily behaviors (i.e., diet, physical activity, sleep, sedentary behavior) on cardiometabolic health to inform optimal approaches to disease treatment and prevention. Thomas is a member of the NESI Webinar/Workshop Team.

Merling Phaswana

Merling is a lecturer and part-time PhD candidate at the Department for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. She holds a Masters degree in Medicine from the University of the Witwatersrand. Her Doctoral work aims to address sedentary behaviour and improve cardiovascular health in South African office workers. Merling’s research area of interest is on developing strategies to address obesity and cardiometabolic diseases in South African working place. Merling is a member of the NESI Webinar/Workshop Team.