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.
Senior Legal Policy Adviser
Dr Penny Love
Senior Lecturer, APD
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.
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.
Jennifer McCann is a lecturer, current PhD student within the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition 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.
Principal Research Fellow
Research Projects Manager
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.
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.
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 Rebecca Byrne
ARC DECRA Fellow
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.
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.
Accredited Practising Dietitian
Naomi Hull is an RN, IBCLC, and has a Masters of Public Health (Nutrition). 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. Naomi is interested in the commercial determinants of health, 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.
Dr Lucinda Bell
Research Fellow in the Caring Futures Institute
Dr Lucinda Bell is a Research Fellow in the Caring Futures Institute (Healthy Start to Life area of focus) at Flinders University who is passionate about passionate about enhancing children’s health and nutrition from the start of life. Her body of research has improved our ability to routinely measure and monitor diet and other health behaviours to prevent childhood obesity. Lucy’s work sits within ‘CRE-EPOCH Translate’, an NHMRC funded Centre for Research Excellence in the Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood. She is currently leading the development of a Core Outcome Measures Set for Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood (COMS-EPOCH)(https://earlychildhoodobesity.com/).
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.
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. She leads a program of work evaluating food policies to achieve healthier and more equitable diets with a focus on ultra-processed foods, infant and toddler foods and salt and added sugar reduction . She generates evidence to support the design and development of policies that can meaningfully improve public health and she works closely with NGOs, government, and public health and academic collaborators to translate this evidence into action.
Daisy received her PhD from UNSW in 2021 for her work in evaluating efforts to improve the healthiness of the food supply in Australia.
PhD student, Deakin University
Monique Boatwright is a current PhD student and Research Assistant within Deakin University’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, and volunteer on the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s Advocacy Working Group. Her research concentrates on healthy and sustainable first food systems, regulatory challenges, and strengthening UN food regulations to improve health for infants and young children.
Dr Alexandra Chung
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
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.
Dr Phillip Baker
ARC Future Fellow
Dr Phil Baker is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, where he co-leads the healthy and sustainable food systems group. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr Miaobing Zheng
Senior Research Fellow, NHMRC
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.
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.