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Who we are

The Infant and Toddler Foods Research Alliance brings together researchers and health professionals with an interest in infant and toddler food regulation, development, and intervention to better support dietary and feeding outcomes for infants and young children.

Healthy Food

Executive Committee


Dr Catharine Fleming 
Lecturer Public Health

Dr Catharine Fleming is a Lecturer in Public Health in the School Health Science, Western Sydney University and is a Co-Chair of the Infant and Toddler Foods Research Alliance. Dr Fleming has a PhD in paediatric nutrition and dietetics and over 15 years’ experience in paediatric nutrition relating to infant and young child feeding, paediatric food allergy and childhood obesity. Dr Fleming has research experience in mixed methods, co design, clinical and public health research methodologies covering quantitative, qualitative and data linkage studies. 

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Dr Jennifer McCann
Lecturer, Nutrition/Public Health

Dr Jennifer McCann is a lecturer within the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University and is a Co-Chair of the Infant and Toddler Foods Research Alliance. Her research focuses on the connections between food policy and regulation and toddler dietary intakes and encompasses retail food environments as well as parental influences on toddler food and drink purchases.

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Co-stream Leader: Advocacy 
Andrea Schmidtke 
Senior Legal Policy Adviser

Andrea Schmidtke works for the Food for Health Alliance (formerly Obesity Policy Coalition), a leading policy and advocacy voice working to improve diets and prevent overweight and obesity in Australia, particularly for children. Food for Health Alliance advocates to governments for laws and polices to improve the food environment – the way food is made, labelled, sold and advertised. One of their key priority areas is improving foods for babies and toddlers. You can learn more about their work in this space here.

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Co-stream Leader: Advocacy 
              Naomi Hull                             RN, MPH, PhD Candidate

Naomi Hull RN, MPH, PhD Candidate at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health. She is interested in understanding how food security for infants and children is positioned in global discourse, how the commercial determinants of health impact food security, and feels strongly about policies to support mothers to reach their breastfeeding goals in an Australia that cares how babies and young children are fed.

Naomi volunteers with the Australian Breastfeeding Association as a Breastfeeding Counsellor (since 2006) and as the national coordinator for the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative – Australian team.

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Stream Leader: Building Evidence 
Dr Alexandra Chung
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Monash University

Dr Alex Chung is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Health and Social Care Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. Her research interests include childhood obesity prevention, health equity, and the role of policy to improve children's diets. Alex is a qualified dietitian whose experience in clinical and public health nutrition informs her research. Alex is the recipient of a VicHealth Postdoctoral Research Fellowship where her research is focused on regulating marketing of infant and toddler foods.

Our members


Dr Emma Esdaile
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Emma Esdaile is a postdoctoral research fellow and Project Lead of #SchoolFoodies at Queensland University of Technology, investigating ways to optimise food and nutrition education and environments in Queensland schools. She has over 10 years’ experience as a dietitian/nutritionist. Her career has focused on supporting families with food and nutrition through statewide preventive health programs and research implementation. Emma’s PhD explored the Australian policy levers for the early prevention of obesity in childhood and her research interests are focused on systems changes to improve health and wellbeing.

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Helen Dixon
Principal Research Fellow
Maree Scully
Research Projects Manager
Belinda Morley 
Senior Research Fellow

The Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC) at Cancer Council Victoria focuses on finding out the best ways to prevent or reduce behaviours that increase cancer risk, and to support participation in evidence-based cancer screening. CBRC’s work is an important part of Cancer Council Victoria’s mission to prevent cancer and save lives.   You can learn more about CBRC’s research relating to healthy eating and body weight here.

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Dr Daisy Coyle
Research Fellow, Food Policy
The George Institute for Global Health

Daisy Coyle is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD), Conjoint Lecturer at UNSW and Research Fellow at The George Institute. Her program of research involves designing and evaluating food policy interventions aimed at fostering healthier and more equitable diets. Her research interests span across ultra-processed foods, added sugars, early childhood foods and reformulation. She is supported with both an NHMRC Investigator Grant and a Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. Daisy is also a media Dietitian and regularly provides expert commentary on a range of nutrition content across radio, TV and print media nationally.

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Rebecca Golley is a Matthew Flinders Professor and Deputy Director of the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University Her research spans the life course and the range of settings where children and families live, eat, work, learn and play. Her body of research has helped transform approaches to the prevention and management of childhood obesity and improved our ability to routinely monitor and measure obesity-related behaviours. In recent years, her work has focused on nutrition in the first years of life. 

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Dr Alexandra Jones
Senior Research Fellow 
The George Institute for Global Health

Alexandra Jones is a public health lawyer and researcher leading a program of work on regulatory strategies to promote healthier, more sustainable diets. Her work uses an innovative mix of law and science to generate evidence that supports policymakers to design and implement policies with maximum public health impact. She works closely with UN agencies, national and state governments, public health and consumer organizations, and academic collaborators to translate evidence into effective action.


Dr Miaobing Zheng
Senior Research Fellow, NHMRC
Deakin University

Dr Zheng is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University. She is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutrition Epidemiologist with in-depth knowledge in dietary assessment and biostatistics and extensive experience in analysing a wide range of data from National Health Surveys, longitudinal cohorts, and randomised control trials. Her current research is funded by NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship, which focuses on applying innovative statistical methods to understand the role of dietary and behavioural factors in early origins of adiposity and cardiovascular disease. 

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Dr Julie Smith
ARC Future Fellow
Australian National University

Dr Julie Smith is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University. Her recent research has focussed on the economics aspects of breastfeeding and markets in mothers milk. She has been an expert advisor to WHO, US and Australian departments of health, and national and international NGOs, and was previously a senior economist in the Australian and New Zealand governments.

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Dr Kaitlyn Brunacci
Western Sydney LHD


Dr Kaitlyn Brunacci is a medical doctor and aspiring perinatal and children's health general practitioner. She completed her medical degree in 2022 and is undergoing specialty training in Western Sydney. Her additional qualifications include the Sydney Child Health Program (formerly Diploma of Child Health) and a Bachelor of Medical Research.  

She is undergoing further training to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and volunteers with the Australian Breastfeeding Association as a trainee breastfeeding counsellor. Her research interests include infant nutrition and perinatal primary healthcare, including barriers to safe and effective breastfeeding management. 

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Amelia Scott
PhD student, Flinders University

Amelia is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) and current PhD student in the Caring Futures Institute (Healthy Start to Life area of focus) at Flinders University who is passionate about enhancing children’s nutrition and wellbeing from the beginning of life. Amelia has experience in a private practice setting where she gained interest in child and family nutrition, caregiver wellbeing and food security. Her research focuses on factors influencing food provision to children, with her PhD exploring the influence of social norms on complementary feeding.

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Dr Penny Love 
Senior Lecturer, APD

Dr Penny Love is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian. An early interest into the impacts gained through a population-wide approach of environmental and policy changes led to her PhD research developing food-based dietary guidelines for South Africans. Her public health nutrition career has included a focus on nutrition in the early years, Indigenous nutrition and food security.  Her current research focuses on intervention implementation and sustainability for the prevention of childhood obesity, specifically within the early childhood education and care setting.

Rebecca Emmett
Accredited Practising Dietitian

Rebecca Emmett is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, with an interest in responsive feeding practices, early feeding and family nutrition. Rebecca has over 10 years experience as an Early Childhood Dietitian in both the public and private sector. Rebecca runs a private practice (Munchkin Nutrition and Dietetics) and is the consultant Dietitian at the Illawarra Early Parenting Centre. Rebecca is also an Associate Lecturer at UOW and is involved in research with Dr Catharine Fleming at Western Sydney University, investigating sensory feeding difficulties in children. 

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Dr Rebecca Byrne

Dr Rebecca Byrne is an ARC DECRA Fellow (2023-2025) and Accredited Practising Dietitian within the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at QUT. Her research focuses on what and how young children are fed. She has a focus on improving the measurement of dietary intake and other health behaviours in early childhood, and the promotion of responsive feeding practices which support children’s autonomy, development of healthy food preferences and optimal growth.

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Rachel Laws is an Associate Professor of Public Health Nutrition at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University. Her research focuses on the development of scalable approaches to promoting nutrition in the first 2000 days of life, with a particular emphasis on implementation research in real world settings in collaboration with practice and policy partners.


Dr Phillip Baker
ARC Future Fellow, Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney

Dr Phil Baker Dr Phil Baker is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, and Horizon Fellow, at the School of Public Health, University of Sydney. His research focuses on understanding global food systems change, and the implications for human and planetary health. Recent topics have included the global rise of ultra-processed foods in human diets, the political economy of food systems, and the commercial determinants of infant and young child nutrition.


A/Professor Karleen Gribble
Western Sydney University

Karleen Gribble is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Western Sydney University. Her interests include infant and young child feeding in emergencies, regulation of the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, child rights, adoption reform, and treatment of infants within child protection, immigration detention, and criminal justice systems. Karleen passionately advocates for recognition of the importance of mothers to their infants and works to create environments that support breastfeeding and the mother-infant relationship, particularly in situations of adversity. She is an Australian Breastfeeding Association Breastfeeding Educator and Counsellor.


Monique Boatwright
PhD student, University of Sydney

Monique Boatwright is a current PhD student and Research Assistant within the University of Sydney School of Public Health. Her research focuses on healthy and sustainable first food systems. This involves identifying existing challenges and strengthening UN food regulations to support, promote and protect maternal, infant, and young child nutrition and health. Monique also volunteers on the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s Advocacy Working Group.

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Dr Sally Mackay
University of Auckland


Dr Sally Mackay is a lecturer in public health nutrition at the School of Population Health, University of Auckland, New Zealand. She is co-chair of the Health Coalition Aotearoa food expert group and a Registered Nutritionist. Her research interests are in monitoring  the food environment, food policy, dietary assessment, healthy sustainable diets and food composition of infant and toddler foods. She was involved in updating the dietary guidelines for Infants and Toddlers in New Zealand.


Dr Astrid Poelman

Principal Researcher, Behavioural Nutrition, CSIRO

Dr Astrid Poelman is a Principal Researcher Behavioural Nutrition and Team Leader of the Applied Public Health Team at CSIRO Health & Biosecurity, based in Westmead, Sydney. Her research interests include behavioural interventions and resources for community settings to support adoption of healthy eating behaviours, and children’s food preference development. A specific research focus is increasing children’s enjoyment of vegetables as a sustainable way to positively influence lifelong vegetable consumption.

Other members:

Alison McAleese, Cancer Council Victoria

Dr Libby Salmon, ANU

Alexandra Shanks, ABA

Member Affiliations

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Infant & Toddler Foods Research Alliance
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