Career Development Fellow
Work and interests
Helen undertook a CEDAR Career Development Fellowship under the supervision of Dr. Esther van Sluijs in the Behavioural Epidemiology programme, which she completed in summer 2018. She conducted a suite of research to establish effective family-based intervention strategies for increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour in children. This work was informed by existing quantitative evidence (for example, the SPEEDY analyses), and innovative qualitative studies to engage the family unit. Later work explored the impact of the resulting ‘FRESH’ intervention on a range of physiological, psycho-social and behavioural markers in children.
Helen completed her MSc in Physical Activity and Health (Loughborough University), under the supervision of Professor Stuart Biddle, exploring the effect of physical activity interventions on depression in children and adolescents. This work was subsequently published as a meta-analysis in Sports Medicine (access article at PubMed here), and has been featured by various public health engagement sources, including ‘The Mental Elf’ blog and Psychology Progress.
Background and experience
Helen’s experience coaching in adolescent weight loss camps in New York, USA cemented her interest in the role of movement patterns in prevention of non-communicable diseases, particularly in young people. She spent a year in various lecturing (Loughborough College; Physical Activity and Health) and research positions (School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and the Institute of Youth Sport; both Loughborough University) before moving to the University of Queensland in 2009.
Under the tutelage of Professor Wendy Brown, Helen completed her PhD, examining relationships between objectively measured movement patterns and employee presenteeism. This work afforded her extensive experience in objective measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviour, and a wide range of physiological and psycho-social health outcomes. Publications from this thesis have been regularly featured in both AusPANet and GlobalPANet, furthering her interest in public engagement and effective dissemination of scientific research.
During this time, she was also involved in several exciting research projects, investigating all elements of physical activity epidemiology. Notable additional contributions include the Stand Up Victoria trial, conducted in collaboration with the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes group (Melbourne, Australia). Whilst completing her thesis, Helen was employed as an Associate Lecturer, co-ordinating and delivering Physical Activity and Health courses in large undergraduate programs.