Scientific Advisory Committee
We are delighted that leading researchers with an interest in loneliness, from overseas and across Australia, have agreed to volunteer their time to be founding members.
Assoc Prof Mario Alvarez-Jimenez
Associate Professor Mario Alvarez-Jimenez is Head of E-health at Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health. Assoc Professor Alvarez-Jimenez leads a multidisciplinary team of 41 professionals focused on bringing about long-term psychosocial recovery in youth mental health through online social media-based technologies, virtual reality and new models of psychotherapy. He has published 90 papers in refereed journals, 7 book chapters and one book.
Since 2010, Assoc Professor Alvarez-Jimenez has attracted 25 competitive grants (13 as principal investigator), totaling $15M in competitive research funding (over $5M as principal investigator). In 2012, he was awarded the CR Roper Fellowship by the University of Melbourne, as well as the International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA) Young Investigator Award. In 2013, he was awarded the Young Investigator Award for Excellence in Research by the Australasian Schizophrenia Conference.
In 2014, Assoc Professor Alvarez-Jimenez obtained a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) career development fellowship and was awarded the 2014 Society for Mental Health Research (SMHR) Rising Star Award. In 2015, he was awarded the Research Excellence Award by the National Health and Medical Research Council being Top-Ranked in the Career Development Fellowship-Clinical scheme Australia-wide.
Professor Johanna Badcock
University of Western Australia
Professor Jo Badcock is a clinical and experimental psychologist at the Centre for Clinical Research in Neuropsychiatry at The University of Western Australia. She graduated with a BA in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford, and received her MA (Clinical Psychology) and PhD from the University of Melbourne.
Her research centres on unravelling the cognitive, biological and social processes involved in psychotic disorders and symptoms. Most recently, this work has focused on the high rates of loneliness experienced by people with, or at risk for, psychosis, the impact of loneliness on physical health and well-being, and the need to improve clinical training in the assessment and treatment of loneliness.
Professor Badcock has mentored students in clinical and neuropsychology over many years and now serves as the Research Director of Perth Voices Clinic – an integrated clinical and research facility for people with hallucinatory experiences – which provides advanced training for future clinical psychologists.
Professor Fiona Brooks
University of Technology Sydney
Professor Fiona Brooks is a medical sociologist and a professor of child and family health at UTS who has published widely on topics relating to young people’s health and well-being. Since 2008, Professor Brooks has been principal investigator for England on the WHO Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study (HBSC). The study is undertaken in 43 countries and aims to gain new insights into young people’s health and well-being, health behaviours and their social context. Among the issues Prof Brooks and other HBSC researchers are looking at are eating, sleeping, self-harm and the use of social media by adolescents.
In 2014, Professor Brooks was invited by Public Health England to brief all head teachers, college principals, teachers and school governors in England on the relationship between health and well-being and attainment. She has also advised the UK Cabinet Office, Public Health England and the UK Department of Health.
Professor Alex Brown
SA Health & Medical Research Institute
Professor Alex Brown is an Aboriginal medical doctor and researcher, with a degree from the University of Newcastle. He worked in hospitals on the NSW central coast before completing a Master of Public Health overseas. After managing the local Centre for Disease Control in Alice Springs, he worked in research at the Menzies School of Health Research.
In 2007, Professor Brown set up a research program in Central Australia with the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, which focuses on heart disease and diabetes in Aboriginal people. During this time, he completed his PhD on depression and heart disease in Aboriginal men. Professor Brown has been heavily involved in engaging government and lead agencies in setting the agenda in Aboriginal cardiovascular disease management and control and chronic disease policy. He serves on a range of national committees, including the Heart Foundation, chairs the Cardiac Society Indigenous Cardiovascular Council and was a member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council (2009-2012). In July 2012, Alex joined SAHMRI to lead Aboriginal health research.
In November 2012, Professor Brown was awarded the prestigious Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship to further his research into the impacts of psychosocial determinants on cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal communities.
Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad
Brigham Young University (Utah, USA)
Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Brigham Young University, where she is also the director of the social neuroscience lab. Her program of research takes an interdisciplinary and multi-level approach to understanding the associations between social relationships and long-term health outcomes, factors that may moderate the association, and biological pathways by which these associations occur.
Professor Holt-Lunstad has recently begun work that examines how social relationships may be utilized in interventions to potentially reduce risk. She currently serves as an associate editor for the International Journal of Psychophysiology. She has been awarded the Citation Award for Excellence in Research by the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the George A. Miller Award from the American Psychological Association, the Mary Lou Fulton Young Scholar Award, the Marjorie Pay Hinkley Endowed Chair Research Award, and has received considerable international media attention for her research.
Dr Michelle Lim
Chair - SAC | Swinburne University of Technology
Dr Michelle Lim is a Lecturer in Clinical Psychology and is the head of the Social Connectedness Laboratory, Centre for Mental Health, Swinburne University of Technology.
Dr Lim’s interest is primarily in the area of loneliness and psychosis. Her studies examine how subjective loneliness can negatively impact social functioning and exacerbate mental health symptoms (e.g., social anxiety, depression and paranoia). Her research has focused on reducing loneliness in young people with first episode psychosis and, or social anxiety disorder.
Dr Lim currently leads projects that address loneliness in young people and uses both face-to-face group programs and digital technology to deliver these interventions. Her research has more recently extended to loneliness in older people and how it impacts on physical health. Dr Lim developed +Connect, a strengths-based digital program designed to target loneliness in young people. Michelle is also a registered clinical psychologist and a board approved supervisor for the Psychology Board of Australia.
Assoc Professor Cathy Mihalopoulos
Associate Professor Cathy Mihalopoulos is the Associate Professor of Mental Health Economics and Associate Head of School Research at Deakin University. Assoc Professor Mihalopoulos’ research interests lie in the economic evaluation of mental health and psychosocial care within an Australian context. This includes both undertaking full economic evaluations of services and interventions as well as focusing on specific methodological issues for economic evaluation of mental health care. For example, she has an advisory role in an NH&MRC funded project which is developing a preference based health related quality of life measure specifically for mental health problems.
Assoc Professor Mihalopoulos has considerable experience in the economics of stroke care where she was instrumental in developing the Model of Resource Utilisation Costs and Outcomes (MORUCOS) for the National Stroke Foundation and has also worked in the assessment of new health technologies (particularly MRI). She has had experience conducting health program evaluation and research, particularly in the field of mental health.
Ms Fiona Orr
Deputy Chair - SAC | University of Technology Sydney
Fiona Orr is the Director of International Activities and Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at the Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney (UTS). She is a Registered Nurse and an appointed member of the interdisciplinary management committee of The Mental Health Services Learning Network (TheMHS). She received her Bachelor of Nursing and Master of Letters from the University of Sydney and she is completing her PhD at UTS.
Ms Orr’s current research includes, a mixed methods study of a voice-hearing simulation to enhance nurses’ empathy for and self-efficacy to communicate with consumers who hear voices, a mixed methods study of the impacts of horticultural therapy for mental health consumers, and a qualitative study of the use of live simulation with consumers to develop recovery-focused mental health nursing practice.
Professor Nancy A. Pachana
University of Queensland
Professor Nancy A Pachana is professor in the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland, and is co-director of the UQ Ageing Mind Initiative, providing a focal point for clinical, translational ageing-related research at UQ.
Prof. Pachana is a clinical geropsychologist, neuropsychologist. She has an international reputation in the area of geriatric mental health, particularly with her research on late-life anxiety disorders. She is co-developer of the Geriatric Anxiety Inventory, a published brief self-report inventory in wide clinical and research use globally, translated into over two dozen languages. She has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and books on various topics in the field of ageing, and has been awarded more than $20 million in competitive research funding, primarily in the areas of dementia and mental health in later life. Her research is well-cited cited and she maintains a clear international focus in her collaborations and research interests, which include anxiety in later life, psychological interventions for those with Parkinson’s Disease, nursing home interventions, driving safety and dementia, research on human-animal interventions, and mental health policy and ageing.
Prof. Pachana was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 2014. She is also a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society, and is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including an Australian Davos Connection Future Summit Leadership Award, for leadership on ageing issues in Australia. She serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Science, one of the top two journals in the world for publication of research in the science of the psychology of aging. Originally from the United States, Nancy was awarded her AB from Princeton University in 1987, her PhD from Case Western Reserve University in 1992, and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA, Los Angeles, and the Palo Alto Veterans Medical Center, Palo Alto, California.
Professor Jenn Scott
University of Tasmania
Professor Jenn Scott is a clinical psychologist and director of the post-graduate psychology training at the University of Tasmania. Her clinical research expertise is in the development and evaluation of social-coping based interventions for people and their families dealing with chronic mental and physical health problems.
Professor Scott has worked in academia for just over 10 years, after working as a welfare officer before becoming a clinical psychologist. This background has, in part, motivated her strong desire to ensure that effective interventions reach the people who need them most, are cost-effective and sustainable, and can be easily embedded in community settings and services.
Professor Scott has worked in partnership with non-profit organisations, including Beyondblue, Alzheimer’s Australia (Tas), Carers Tas and a number of Cancer Councils. She designs programs that do not rely on face-to-face delivery, including a recent project to develop and evaluate a mobile app to assist dementia carers’ coping resilience (2017-2020) which highlights the translational nature of her research. The project involves partnerships with the Tasmanian Community Fund, Alzheimer’s Australia (Tas), Carers Tas and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Professor Scott has been awarded competitive external grants totalling $4.1 million as a chief or primary investigator, with 60% of these funds from NHMRC, ARC and the National Cancer Institute (NCI: USA).