Our team

We are an international collaboration of researchers and clinicians dedicated to improving women’s health across every stage of life. Many of us have worked together for several years and continue to collaborate with a number of health professionals to inform our research and develop the most up-to-date, evidence-based wellness programs.

  • Professor Debra Anderson
    Founder and Director of the Women’s Wellness Research Collaborative and Dawn Complete Health and Wellbeing

    Professor Debra Anderson is the Founder and Director of the Wellness Research Collaborative and Dawn Complete Health and Wellbeing programs. With more than 25 years’ experience in education and research and a PhD in Social and Preventative Medicine, Professor Anderson is dedicated to supporting women to get the most out of their lives at each stage of life.

    Over the years, her research has focused on understanding the basis and effects of risk behaviours in women and exploring the interventions to change them. This research has been primarily focused on promoting wellness and healthy behavior change in women with and without chronic disease, including among midlife women, young women and cancer survivors.

    Rather than tackling discrete health issues one by one, Professor Anderson’s holistic approach to wellness combines all the elements that contribute to a woman’s wellbeing, including managing stress and anxiety, sleeping well and supportive strategies around hormonal changes from before pregnancy through to post menopause stages.

    Professor Debra Anderson is the Dean of Health at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and was previously the Associate Dean of Research at UTS and the Head of School of Nursing and Midwifery at Griffith University in Queensland. She was also previously Director of Research at the School of Nursing at Queensland University of Technology and the Research Leader of the Chronic Conditions research group at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Research.

  • Professor Alexandra McCarthy
    Co-director – Women’s Wellness after Cancer Program

    Professor Alexandra McCarthy is Co-director of the Women’s Wellness after Cancer Program. She is jointly-appointed Professor of Clinical Nursing with the University of Queensland and Mater Health Services, an adjunct Professor at Griffith University and Visiting Fellow at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.

    Professor McCarthy has extensive practical experience in acute cancer care, which informs her strong international profile in clinical cancer research. Professor McCarthy’s research has two streams – the first focuses on health promotion and risk reduction in long-term survivors of cancer with comorbidities. The second focuses on the assessment and management of the toxicities of acute cancer treatments, with an emphasis on the older cancer patient.

  • Dr Charrlotte Seib
    Co-lead of the Women’s Wellness Research Program

    Dr Charrlotte Seib is a nurse researcher and co-leads the Women’s Wellness Research Program at Menzies Health Institute Queensland at Griffith University. She has a PhD in Public Health and Social Epidemiology, conducted as part of a legislative review commissioned by the Queensland Government.

    Dr Seib has almost 15 years’ experience in education and research with expertise in women’s health, chronic disease self-management, epidemiology, and health statistics. Dr Seib’s research broadly focuses on understanding the factors that impact womens’ health and wellbeing across their lifespan. Her recent work utilises a range of complex statistical approaches to explore how exposure to stress across the life course is associated with distinct health trajectories in women as they age.

    She is currently leading the ENTWINE (systEmatic screeNing Tool for Women wIth gyNaecological cancer) project, a Cancer Australia funded initiative that aims to improve psychosocial wellbeing through the timely and accurate identification and management of distress in women with gynaecological cancer.

  • Dr Janine Porter-Steele
    Women’s Wellness Research Program Manager

    Dr Janine Porter-Steele is the Women’s Wellness Research Program Manager. She completed her PhD studies in the area of cancer and sexuality linked with the Women’s Wellness after Cancer Program (WWACP). Janine is also a Registered Nurse (RN) who undertook her training in the United Kingdom as an RN, midwife and health visitor. She has since completed a Bachelor of Nursing at the Queensland University of Technology and a Masters in Nursing Leadership at the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane.

    Dr Porter-Steele is also a Breast Care and Women's Health Nurse and the Manager of the Wesley Hospital Choices Cancer Support Program in Brisbane, which offers support and information to women, men, and their families who are affected by cancer. Her special interests are in menopause, sexuality, and depression for midlife women and for people after a diagnosis of cancer.

  • Dr Amanda McGuire
    Nurse academic, researcher, GroWell for Health Program lead

    Dr Amanda McGuire is a nurse academic and researcher with extensive experience in a wide range of roles within industry and tertiary education sectors. With a background in cardiac nursing, Dr McGuire’s research focuses on lifestyle risk factor modification for prevention of noncommunicable disease (NCD) in adults. Her research has two streams: (1) Primary prevention NCD in midlife adults, and; (2) Secondary prevention of NCD in women following cancer treatment, and women with type 2 diabetes.

    Dr McGuire has expertise in the design and testing of complex health behaviour change interventions, targeting modifiable risk factors especially physical activity and healthy eating. As an Early Career Researcher (ECR) she works closely with an interdisciplinary team (Women’s Wellness Research Program) on a range of projects. She is currently leading the GroWell for Health Program study, evaluating an eight week complex behaviour change program for primary prevention of NCD in midlife adults.

  • Dr Heena Akbar
    Pasifika Diabetes Wellness Program Lead

    Dr Heena Akbar is a Research Fellow for the Faculty of Health, School of Exercise and Nutrition Services at Queensland University of Technology and her research is shaping the way Pacific health research is used to improve the health and well-being of Māori & Pacific (Pasifika) peoples in Australia and internationally. Heena’s research addresses social behavioral change and empowerment of Pasifika women living with chronic conditions, identifying and co-developing solutions with communities to improve Pasifika Women’s health and reduce the impact of chronic disease burden on the Australian primary health care system.

    Heena’s work integrates community-based participatory action research and indigenous knowledge to engage Pasifika community partners, government organisations and health service providers to improve prevention and management of type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions in Māori & Pasifika communities.

    She has led the development of an innovative, culturally tailored, family-centred diabetes self-management intervention (Pasifika Women’s Diabetes Wellness Program) to improve diabetes health outcomes, reduce late hospital presentations and associated costs and disability from diabetes-related complications of Māori & Pasifika peoples with type 2 diabetes.

    As a research fellow, Heena’s current work investigates access to affordable healthy food and active life to reduce the burden of chronic conditions in Queensland Māori & Pasifika families and communities. Originally from Fiji, Heena has more than 20 years’ experience in public health and community research and capacity development, working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Māori & Pasifika Islander and culturally diverse communities in Australia and overseas. Her research is driven by her passion for Pacific Indigenous knowledge and decolonising research, social justice and community capacity development to improve health and well-being of Māori & Pasifika Peoples.


  • Dr Sarah Balaam
    Women's Wellness Research and Program Manager

    Dr Sarah Balaam is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Women's Wellness Research and Program Manager who recently completed her PhD candidature at the Queensland University of Technology. Dr Balaam’s research focuses on the benefits of particular nutritional factors which enhance the wellness of cancer survivors, specifically focusing on the consumption of alcohol and associated health behaviours following a diagnosis of breast cancer.

  • Nicole McDonald
    Senior Research and Project Manager

    Nicole McDonald is a Senior Researcher and Project Manager at the Griffith School of Nursing and Midwifery and Menzies Health Institute Queensland. Nicole’s current work involves the management and delivery of a large evaluation project which aims to evaluate a state-wide chronic disease prevention program – the 'My health for life program'.

    Nicole has more than three years’ experience in health-related research projects related to chronic disease prevention, wellness and behavioural interventions. She has contributed to the design, delivery and evaluation of multiple complex research projects with national reach and has a Master’s in Public Health, majoring in Health Promotion, with a background in exercise science. Nicole’s key interest is health promotion of key health behaviours such as physical activity in specific settings and populations.

  • Liz Christiansen

    Since 2013, Liz has worked with the Women’s Wellness Research Collaborative team to develop creative, branding and graphic design for the various wellness programs and Dawn Complete. Liz is a graphic designer with more than two decades of industry experience since graduating from the Queensland College of Art (QCA), Griffith University. Initially working across advertising and design studios, then transitioning into running her own business, Lula Creative, Liz currently focuses on creating a diverse range of work across branding, print and digital design. Her design passions include branding, typography, hand-lettering and surface pattern design with an emphasis on creative thinking. Liz is currently a casual sessional academic at QCA working within areas of typography and design.

  • Professor Dian Tjondronegoro
    Digital design technologies

    Professor Dian Tjondronegoro is currently a Professor of IT at the School of Business and Tourism at Queensland University of Technology. Dian has been collaborating with leading health organisations, institutions and health experts to design mobile health and wellness promotion mobile applications.

    His particular contribution is in user-centred design of eHealth solutions, multimodal data fusion and machine-learning for the promotion of health and wellbeing, including the detection of physical activities and psychological states via video and physiological signals. Dian is an accomplished researcher, with more than 135 papers in top tier peer-reviewed journals and is a highly sought after PhD supervisor.

    Dian is currently serving as an Associate Editor of IEEE Access, a prestigious cross-disciplinary journal with a real-world application focus.