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AIS Female Performance and Health Initiative appoints two research groups

08 March 2023

In an exciting step forward, the AIS Female Performance & Health Initiative (FPHI) has welcomed two new research groups to support the team.

Clare Minahan stands in a research lab, in front of an exercise bike, computer and diagnostic equipment and fan.
FPHI Research Lead Associate Professor Clare Minahan, who will co-chair both of the new research groups with FPHI Project Lead Dr Rachel Harris.

The FPHI was established in 2019 and aims to collect research and raise awareness about matters specifically relating to female athletes.

The first group appointed is the Research Reference Group (RRG) who will review and guide the operations of FPHI research activities and outputs while engaging universities, sporting organisations and the wider sporting industry. The RRG also reflects a great mix of knowledge and experience with ten new members representing sport performance, athlete health and wellbeing and leadership.

The second group appointed is a new FPHI Research Advisory Group (RAG) who are responsible for making high‐level recommendations and providing key information to assist the operations of FPHI research activities. The RAG comprises of eight members which include nationally and internationally recognised academics.

The two research groups will be co-chaired by FPHI Project Lead Dr Rachel Harris and FPHI Research Lead Associate Professor Clare Minahan in attendance with AIS Chief Science Officer Paolo Menaspa, AIS Professional Networks Manager Miranda Menaspa and AIS Business Advisor Wendy Read.

Associate Professor Minahan said: “The vision of the Female Performance & Health Initiative is to become global leaders in the advancement of female athletic performance. The appointment of these two new groups will ensure the research activities that underpin the FPHI are bold, progressive, authentic and excellent.”

Dr Harris echoed this: “These groups are key connections for us at the FPHI as they will assist with research networking, strategy, funding, collaboration between researchers and those in HP sport and importantly the amplification of research translation into practice. The overall aim is to facilitate quality research that will help our high performing female athletes reach their health and performance potential on the road to the Brisbane 2032 Games.”

Menaspa welcomed the new members on board on behalf of the AIS: “It is my privilege to extend a warm welcome to all individuals contributing to the AIS Female Performance & Health Initiative. I am struck by the extraordinary calibre of professionals who have joined the research groups. Each member brings with them a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience that will enrich our collective understanding of the complex issues surrounding female athlete performance and health.”

Research Reference Group Members

  • Helen Brown (PhD, BEd, BAppSc (Hons); Deakin University) is an A/Prof with a focus on sport coaching, behavior change, and knowledge translation. She is on the board of the Women's Coaching Association and works with industry partners Netball Victoria, AFL, Paralympics Australia, and VicSport.
  • Nicola Bullock (PhD; Paddle Australia) has over 20 years experience working as a Sports Scientist with elite female strength-power athletes. As the Pathways Performance Support Manager at Paddle Australia, Nicola’s expertise provides her with direct knowledge of the training environment and the ability to influence the direction of research in the system.
  • Anthea Clarke (PhD, BSpSc; La Trobe University) is a Senior Lecturer, and her research aims to improve support for female athletes. She works with several sport organisations (AIS, Rugby Australia, Carlton Football Club, Melbourne City FC) and with the Defence Science and Technology Group.
  • Jodie Dakic (BPhysio, MPhysio (WomHlthPlvFl); Senior Lecturer at Monash University) as a practicing clinician, has had roles with the Women’s Tennis Association including Director of Athlete Medical Services and Chair of the medical advisory. Her academic research focuses on the epidemiology/prevention of pelvic health in female athletes.
  • Tiarna Ernst (MBBS (Hons), FRANZCOG, MREPROD MED; City Fertility) is a medical specialist with rich experience and confidence in all areas of obstetrics and gynaecology and one of the trailblazing female athletes drafted in the inaugural AFL Women’s competition.
  • Kerry Hall (PhD; Griffith University) is a Lecturer in the First Peoples Health Unit and a Registered Aboriginal Health Practitioner. She has extensive experience working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and education and her professional and research interests include access to primary health care with a particular interest in culturally safe care.
  • Brianna Larsen (PhD, BExSpSci (Hons); University of Southern Queensland) completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship examining the effect of oral contraceptive use on exercise performance and is now a Lecturer with particular interest in female-specific physiology and female athlete education.
  • Alannah McKay (PhD, BSc (Hons); Australian Catholic University) is a Postdoctoral Fellow and has been an affiliate of the AIS since 2015 and holds a postdoctoral research fellowship at Australian Catholic University with a focus on dietary interventions to improve athletic health and performance.
  • Ashleigh Olive (BPsyc (Hons), MAppPsyc; Diving Australia) is the Lead Psychologist at Diving Australia and consults to National Sport Organisations regarding disordered eating and body image in athletes. She was awarded a Women in Sport PhD scholarship from the University of Canberra.
  • Shane Vial (PhD, MSc, BSc; Edith Cowan University) is a lecturer in Biomechanics and has applied his knowledge working within the National Institute Network as a Performance Scientist and Researcher. He has experience and expertise in 3D modelling and programming.

Research Advisory Group Members

  • Jacqueline Alderson (PhD, BSc (Hons); University of Western Australia) is a Professor and Technical Director of the UWA Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab. As a scientist and tech innovator, Jacqueline is a regular national and international keynote speaker currently leading research teams in wearable tech, artificial intelligence and pro-public technology applications in sport and health.
  • Louise Burke OAM (PhD, BSc, GradDipDiet; Australian Catholic University) is a Professorial Fellow with 40 years of experience working as a Sports Dietitian in the education and counselling of elite athletes. She worked at the Australian Institute of Sport for 30 years, first as Head of Sports Nutrition and then as Chief of Nutrition Strategy and is currently the Chair in Sports Nutrition at the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research.
  • Kay Crossley (PhD; BAppSc (Physio); La Trobe University) is the Director of the La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre and leads an IOC Research Centre. She has extensive clinical and research experience in preventing and managing musculoskeletal pain and injury, with a focus on women athletes.
  • Shona Halson (PhD, BSc (Hon.); Australian Catholic University) is a Professor and Deputy Director of the SPRINT Research Centre. Shona’s research focuses on sleep, recovery and fatigue and she has published more than 170 peer-reviewed articles as well as providing consultancy services to the Australian Open Tennis Tournament and Nike as well as a number of national and international sporting teams.
  • Kathryn (Kate) Henne (PhD, MA, MA, BA (Hon.); The Australian National University, Arizona State University) is a Professor and Director of RegNet, the ANU School of Regulation and Global Governance, and an Adjunct Professor in the ASU College of Health Solutions. Prof Henne is a social scientist whose work examines the governance of health and technoscience, with a particular focus on gendered inequities. She currently leads research projects on gender inclusion efforts in sport and on the long-term impacts of information-seeking practices developed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Christina Jang (MBBS, MD, FRACP; Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, University of Queensland) is a Senior Staff Specialist in Endocrinology at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and Senior Lecturer in the Academy of Medicine, University of Queensland.  She is an expert in female reproductive endocrinology, with a special interest in menstrual disorders in female athletes.
  • Sophia Nimphius (PhD, GAICD; Edith Cowan University) is the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sport) and Professor of Human Performance. Sophia is a change-maker and innovator, internationally recognised for research and thought leadership in sport performance, athlete health and advocacy for sport as a vehicle for social change.
  • Pete Peeling (BSc (Hon), MBA, MEd, PhD, GAICD; University of Western Australia, Western Australian Institute of Sport) is a Professor at the University of Western Australia and Director of Research at the Western Australian Institute of Sport. Pete has a research interest in factors affecting human performance, with a key focus on the iron demands of athlete populations. Pete has worked in the national institute network of Australia for more than 15 years, where he has provided applied physiological servicing and research support across multiple sport programs.
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