Australia's Biggest Morning Tea

Every dollar raised makes an incredible difference

Register Now

Centre for Behavioural
Research in Cancer

Meet the team

Sarah Durkin

Prof Sarah Durkin

BA (Psych), PgradDip (Psych), PhD

Acting Director, CBRC

Beginning her career in health behaviour research in 1997, Sarah joined Cancer Council Victoria in 2003 and has since served in increasingly senior research and evaluation roles. She is now Acting Director of CBRC and a Professorial Fellow in the University of Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences. She leads a multidisciplinary team of talented researchers and evaluators who are committed to understanding how large-scale behavioural and environmental interventions can reduce population cancer risk. Sarah’s research focusses on developing and examining the impact of public communication messages and multi-media campaigns in cancer prevention, especially tobacco control and bowel cancer screening, using qualitative research, message-testing, experimental studies, population surveys and cohort studies. Her research has substantially influenced state, national and international practice, as it provides guidance for governments on the optimal level and duration of campaign investment, the features of campaign messages that maximise impact, and how priority target audiences respond to messages. She also collaborates on tobacco policy research and served as a senior member of the team that evaluated the impact of Australia’s world-first tobacco plain packaging policy.  Sarah is President-Elect of the Oceania Chapter of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. She received the Public Health Association of Australia’s Health Promotion Award for Service (Research) in 2022 and recently completed a period of service as Senior Editor of the British Medical Association’s international journal Tobacco Control.    

Helen Dixon

A/Prof Helen Dixon

DipArts, BA (Hons), PhD

Principal Research Fellow

Helen has been conducting behavioural research applied to cancer prevention and public health since the mid-1990’s. Her main area of research endeavour involves assessing adult’s and children’s responses to health-relevant media and communications, especially in relation to nutrition and obesity prevention. This work includes population surveys and experimental studies assessing consumer responses to public health campaigns, nutrition labelling interventions and commercial product marketing. Helen regularly collaborates with Cancer Council’s Prevention Division, the Food for Health Allianc, and other external researchers and health educators involved in chronic disease prevention. She is an Honorary Principal Fellow in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at The University of Melbourne (where she earlier completed her PhD). 

Michelle Scollo

Dr Michelle Scollo AM

BBehavSc, GradDipCommHlth, PhD

Senior Policy Advisor, Tobacco

Dr Michelle Scollo is the senior policy adviser on tobacco at Cancer Council Victoria. A former director of Quit Victoria, Michelle has worked for more than 30 years in roles spanning program delivery, policy development and policy evaluation. Michelle's research has focussed on the economics of tobacco control. Until 2003, she was co-director of the VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control; a legal, economic and social research centre. Her current areas of interest include tobacco indicator development and monitoring, price-related marketing and tax policy. Since undertaking her PhD, she has worked as an advisor to the Cancer Council's Behavioural Science Division, mainly in the monitoring of pricing and consumption of tobacco products. Michelle is the Senior Editor of Australia's comprehensive on-line resource, Tobacco in Australia: facts and issues.

Emily Brennan

Dr Emily Brennan

BSc (Hons), PhD

Senior Research Fellow

Emily earned her PhD in Psychology from the University of Melbourne in 2012. After her PhD, she completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked in cancer prevention research since 2006, with a particular focus on studying the ways in which public communication interventions can be used to reduce unhealthy behaviours like tobacco use and harmful levels of alcohol consumption. Emily served as a member of the team that evaluated Australia’s world first tobacco plain packaging policy. She leads a series of research studies to develop and test the impact of novel warning labels for tobacco products and to develop cigarette pack insert messages that support and empower smokers to quit. She has also led a program of research that developed and tested the effectiveness of new health warning labels for alcohol containers and advises on the evaluation of media campaigns to reduce alcohol consumption. Emily’s research has been funded by the NHMRC, Cancer Council Victoria and through contracts with the Australian Government.

Belinda Morley

Dr Belinda Morley

BA (Hons), MPH, PhD

Senior Research Fellow

A registered psychologist, Belinda has a PhD in psychology and Master of Public Health and has been working in public health research and evaluation since 2001. Belinda began her research career in the Program Evaluation Unit at the University of Melbourne's School of Population Health where she was a Research Fellow, evaluating studies and commonwealth mental health programs as well as physical activity in primary care. As Senior Research Fellow, Evaluation, she leads behavioural research projects and program evaluation studies to support obesity prevention initiatives in collaboration with our Cancer Prevention Centre and the Food for Health Alliance. Belinda is experienced in research to evaluate mass media campaigns to inform public communication on obesity prevention as well as population monitoring of secondary students' overweight/obesity prevalence and diet and physical activity behaviours. She has also undertaken applied research to evaluate the impact of obesity prevention policies and population surveys to measure support for potential regulatory measures.

Ashleigh Haynes

Dr Ashleigh Haynes

BPsych (Hons), PhD

Senior Research Fellow

Ashleigh was awarded her PhD in Psychology from Flinders University in 2016, where her work focused on cognitive influences on unhealthy snacking behaviour. She then joined the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool in the UK where she led research examining the effect of food portion size on energy intake and was involved in research on meal energy content and calorie/kilojoule labelling practices in UK restaurants. Ashleigh has adopted a range of behavioural science methods including behavioural and cognitive experiments, laboratory-based assessment of nutritional intake, and observational and questionnaire methods to investigate environmental, cognitive, and social influences on obesogenic behaviour. Ashleigh joined Cancer Council Victoria in 2019 as the David Hill Research Fellow and became a Senior Research Fellow in 2023.


Clover Maitland

Dr Clover Maitland

BPHE, PGDip (Hth Prom), PhD

Senior Research Fellow

Clover holds a PhD and a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Promotion and has been working in health promotion research, evaluation and practice since 2001. Prior to joining CBRC, she worked as Research Fellow in the Health Promotion Evaluation Unit at the University of Western Australia evaluating Healthway’s health promotion partnerships, while also conducting her PhD thesis research on children’s physical activity. Clover has also worked as a Research Coordinator at RMIT University, and a Senior Manager at the Heart Foundation (WA) delivering health promotion campaigns and programs. Clover works closely with the SunSmart team at Cancer Council Victoria to evaluate mass media campaigns and targeted programs around skin cancer prevention and detection.

Kerryann Lotfi-Jam

Kerryann Wyatt

BA (Soc Sc), PgradDip( Psych)

Research and Evaluation Manager, Screening, Early detection and Immunisation

With a background in Psychology, Kerryann is an experienced researcher with expertise in designing, evaluating, analysing and reporting health programs and research. Since 2006, she has worked on a range of programs across the cancer trajectory including screening and prevention, patient experiences and post treatment survivorship care. She has also lectured on research methodologies at the University of Melbourne and enjoys mentoring staff to develop evaluation skills and capacity. Her role in CBRC focuses on the evaluation of strategies that aim to improve cancer screening, early detection and immunisation participation rates in Victoria.

Clover Maitland

Dr Eve Mitsopoulos

BA, BSc(Hons), PhD 

Research and Evaluation Manager, Quit

Eve holds a PhD in psychology and has been working in the fields of behavioural science and human factors since 2000. She has had the opportunity to work on a range of projects in research and evaluation, and policy and program development, spanning academic, government and non-government sectors. Eve joined CBRC in March 2020. Prior to that time, Eve worked as a Research Fellow at the Monash University Accident Research Centre while completing her PhD in youth road safety, and then in senior policy roles at VicRoads and the Transport Accident Commission. Eve’s particular interests are in evaluation methods and approaches, program theory, and knowledge translation. Eve works closely with other CBRC researchers and the Quit team at Cancer Council Victoria to inform and evaluate their initiatives in tobacco control.

Anna Nicholson

Dr Anna Nicholson

BPhty(Hons), GDipPH, PhD

David Hill Research Fellow 

Anna Nicholson has been working in public health research and evaluation since 2010, on a background of allied health. Anna completed a PhD in 2016 on the effectiveness of advertising and warning labels for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers, as part of a research partnership between Menzies School of Health Research, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and Cancer Council Victoria. Since then, Anna has led several busy research and evaluation programs and teams, including for SunSmart Victoria and Beyond Blue, where she managed research, evaluation, and knowledge translation activities. Anna has also worked as a public health practitioner in regional Victoria, where she brokered health and equity outcomes in local government policies and community settings. Anna held a leadership role for the Public Health Association of Australia from 2019-2022, as a spokesperson and advocate for state-based public health priorities. Anna returned to Cancer Council Victoria in 2023 as the David Hill Research Fellow.


Melanie Wakefield

Prof Melanie Wakefield AO

BA, Dip Appl Psych, MA(Applied Psych), PhD

Senior Principal Research Fellow

After two decades heading the Centre, Melanie now serves as its Senior Principal Research Fellow and is a Professorial Fellow in the University of Melbourne’s School of Psychological Sciences. With training in psychology and public health, she is internationally known for her rigorous population-based and experimental studies which have demonstrated the beneficial outcomes of mass media campaigns and tobacco control policies on reducing tobacco use. She has published over 300 peer-reviewed journal papers, with her research funded by grants and contracts from Australian, US and international funding sources. Melanie is a past recipient of the American Cancer Society’s Luther L Terry Award for Outstanding Research Contribution in Tobacco Control in 2012 and a WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award for Tobacco Plain Packaging in 2016. In 2019, Melanie was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to medical research in the field of population health and cancer prevention, and as a mentor.