Professor Jennie Ponsford

Professor Jennie Ponsford, BA (Hons), MA (Clin Neuropsych), PhD, MAPS, AO, is Director of the Centre. Professor Ponsford oversees all the activities of the Centre, including grant applications, project management, staff supervision and preparation of reports and publications.

She is also Professor of Neuropsychology in the School of Psychological Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University. This appointment, made in 2005 is a joint appointment with Epworth Hospital. She devotes 2.5 days of her working week to the Centre’s activities and clinical work, with 1 day devoted to administrative work in the School and 1.5 days to teaching. She is the Director of Clinical Programs in the School of Psychological Sciences and the founding Director of the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Neuropsychology programme.

She is a Chief Investigator on an NHMRC Centre of Excellence in Traumatic Brain Injury Psychosocial Rehabilitation and has also been a Chief investigator on the Centre of Excellence in TBI Research administered by the National Trauma Research Institute at the Alfred Hospital and funded by TAC. She is a Visiting Professor at the Sunaas Rehabilitation Hospital in Oslo, Norway. As the former manager of the Psychology Department at Bethesda Rehabilitation Hospital (now Epworth Hospital), between 1982 and 1999, Professor Ponsford has had broad clinical experience in the field of traumatic brain injury and has conducted extensive research investigating outcomes and the impact of rehabilitation following mild, moderate and severe TBI. She has been the recipient of numerous large grants as chief investigator, has published over 290 journal articles and book chapters, as well as two books on the management of traumatic brain injury, and is regularly invited to speak at international conferences, having made over 150 conference presentations. She has supervised 30 doctoral students to completion since 2005.

In 2013, she was awarded the Robert L. Moody Prize, an international prize for Distinguished Initiatives in Brain Injury and Rehabilitation, by the Robert Moody Foundation and University of Texas Medical Branch in the USA. In 2013, she was the first Australian President of the International Neuropsychological Society. In 2014, she was the Monash Postgraduate Association’s Supervisor of the Year, nominated by 14 of her current doctoral students. In 2015, she was awarded the International Neuropsychological Society’s Paul Satz Career Mentoring Award, presented in recognition of mentoring and teaching activities with a profound impact on careers of students in the field of Neuropsychology. In 2017, Professor Ponsford was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for her distinguished service to medical research in the field of neuropsychology, and through seminal advances in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients with traumatic brain injuries.

In addition to being Past-President of the International Neuropsychological Society, Professor Ponsford is also Past-President of the International Association for the Study of Traumatic Brain Injury and Past-President of the Australian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment (ASSBI), and currently serves currently on the Executive of the International Brain Injury Association and ASSBI. She is a member of the Editorial Board of five journals, including the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society Brain Injury, Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, Brain Impairment and NeuroRehabilitation and has served on multiple NHMRC project grant review panels. Professor Ponsford is also a member of the Governing Board of the World Federation of Neurorehabilitation, as well as the Steering Committee of the Victorian State Trauma Registry (VSTORM).

Staff Profile

Senior Academics


Dr. Catherine Willmott

Dr Willmott, BSci (Hons), MSc, PhD, is employed as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University and is the Co-Director of the Monash Psychology Centre. Findings from the largest ever successful trial of drug therapy to reduce attentional problems, conducted in collaboration with Professor Jennie Ponsford, have underpinned ground-breaking imaging studies to examine the brain pathways that mediate effective treatments, in collaboration with the Monash Biomedical Imaging Platform. She also investigated genetic biomarkers for recovery and response to pharmacological treatments. This research was funded by Monash University, the VNI and the ERI, and Dr. Willmott supervised doctoral students on these projects. She has also been a co-investigator on several developmental neuropsychology imaging studies in collaboration with the Murdoch Children’s’ Research Institute, namely a study of the neuroanatomical correlates of executive dysfunction in very preterm children with A/Prof Peter Anderson, and a study of neuroimaging correlates of language processing in children with language impairment with A/Prof Angela Morgan and Professor Alan Connelly from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health. Following her early research interest in mild TBI, she has recently completed work on a Monash Strategic Grant project evaluating the use of accelerometers to assess biomechanical underpinnings of sports concussion in collaboration with the NTRI. This pilot data has been used to develop studies investigating the detection and management of sport-related concussions. Dr Willmott’s research has been featured in a number of media outlets, including The Aussie Guys podcast, ABC radio, the Herald Sun, the Age and Channel 7 news. Current key projects include:

  1. Towards better detection and management of Sports Concussion in Australia
    Dr Willmott is a Chief Investigator on this 2017-2019 $200,000 NHMRC Partnership Grant, in partnership with funding from the Australian Football League. This project is one of the first ever to investigate the frequency and magnitude of head impacts in elite and amateur Australian football, and to elucidate the cognitive and physical symptoms associated with such head impacts. This alliance brings together an outstanding multi-disciplinary team of brain injury researchers in neuropsychology, neurosurgery, biomechanics, and trauma systems, the Australian Football League (AFL) to improve processes for the detection and management of concussion in sport, and the AFL aims to deliver outcomes that will be readily translatable into player management on game day, and over a career in reducing the risk of long-term potential ramifications of multiple head impacts.
  2. Padded headgear in youth football: what is the evidence?
    Dr Willmott is also lead investigator on a program of research investigating evidence for the use of padded headgear in youth football. This work over 2017-2020 is supported by more than $250,000 from Equity Trustees Walter Cottman Charitable Trust and partner the AFL. This research aims to investigate attitudes towards, frequency of use, and efficacy of padded headgear as a protective strategy in youth community football. It will involve considerable consultation with stakeholders within the industry and community, and development of findings that can easily translate into game development policy at all levels.

Dr Wilmott serves as an external reviewer for the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, Brain Injury, Journal of Neurotrauma, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, & Journal of Neuropsychology. She has also served as an external reviewer for NH&MRC.

Staff profile


Dr. Adam McKay

Dr. Adam McKay, BSc (Hons), MPsych(Clinical Neuropsychology), PhD, holds both academic and clinical positions in clinical neuropsychology. He is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychological Sciences at Monash University where he is involved in research, teaching, and is the clinical lead for the Neurorehabilitation Clinic at the Monash Psychology Centre. He is also a Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist at Epworth Healthcare where he works in the Brain Injury Program providing rehabilitation to clients with TBI and other neurological conditions. His joint roles across Monash and Epworth have been vital in the development of research collaborations across the two organizations while his clinical expertise ensures research projects are clinically meaningful and research findings can be translated back into practice using his clinical connections.

Dr. McKay’s research is focused on functional and psychosocial outcomes after brain injury and rehabilitation. Dr. McKay has published over 30 peer-reviewed papers, presents his work at national and international conferences, and has been a primary investigator for grants totaling over $500,000. His research efforts are supported by a number of Monash Doctor of Psychology (DPsych) and Psychology Honours students as well as grants from the NHMRC, ISCRR, William Buckland Foundation, Monash University, and ERI. Adam is a strong supporter of multi-disciplinary research and its benefits in understanding the impact and treatment of brain injury and has led collaborations with a range of disciplines including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and nurses. These projects have focused on a range of issues in TBI clients, including the relationship of physical function to psychological function, return to driving, and burden of care for nursing staff. Dr. McKay is currently focused on two programs of research within MERRC:

  1. Agitation during the early stages of TBI recovery. Dr. McKay is leading a program of research dedicated to better understanding the agitated behaviour that is common in the early stages of TBI recovery including its impact on patients, staff, families, and hospitalisation costs; along with the discovery of effective treatments for agitation.
  2. Developing effective psychological focused treatments for people with brain injury. Dr. McKay has been involved in the development and delivery of NHMRC funded trials of Cognitive-Behaviour therapy (CBT) for anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia after TBI. He is an emerging leader in the area of psychological focused treatments for people with brain injury and has presented workshops and conference papers on the use of CBT in people with brain injury and provides supervision to neuropsychologists in this area.

Staff profile


Dr. Rene Stolwyk

Dr Stolwyk, BSc (Hons), DPsych (Clin Neuro), Grad Cert (Health Prof Ed), is a Senior Lecturer and Clinical Neuropsychologist leading the stroke and telehealth research programs within MERRC. He is also Deputy Convenor of the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Neuropsychology Program within the School of Psychological Sciences at Monash University. Dr Stolwyk has over 10 years clinical experience working in stroke rehabilitation, including at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery at Queen Square, London. He utilises this clinical expertise to drive his translational research program, developing effective neuropsychological assessment and rehabilitation techniques to improve clinical outcomes for stroke survivors. Since 2010, his research team has grown to three research officers, ten doctoral candidates and two research interns. He has published over 50 research articles in the field of brain injury rehabilitation, including first-author publications in Stroke and The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. He has successfully attracted over $2,000,000 of grant funding (NHMRC, Beyond Blue, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation). He has presented his research at numerous national and international conferences, most recently a symposium at the 2018 International Neuropsychological Society Conference in Prague and two invited presentations at Stroke 2018 in Sydney. He is convening the 2018 Organisation for Psychological Research into Stroke (OPSYRIS) conference in Melbourne. Key research initiatives include:

  1. Improving memory rehabilitation methods following stroke. Dr Stolwyk led a world-first randomised controlled trial comparing the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of two competing approaches to memory rehabilitation (computerised cognitive training vs group memory skills training). This study highlighted the effectiveness of memory skills training to improve everyday memory function in stroke survivors, supporting the embedment of these programs within numerous Australian health services. This research was recently featured on a Stroke Foundation EnableMe Podcast, and continues, with Dr Stolwyk currently supervising two doctoral students to further investigate which aspects of memory skills training are most effective post–stroke (including error-based learning and retrieval-based learning techniques).
  2. TeleNeuropsychology in Stroke Rehabilitation (TNSR). In this initiative, funded by the Victorian Stroke Clinical Network, Dr Stolwyk has led the development and implementation of a world-first pilot teleneuropsychology rehabilitation service for rural Australia. This service provides cognitive, mood and behavioural assessment and intervention to rural stroke patients in addition to consultation for rural clinicians to build capacity and support patient management of stroke-related neuropsychological difficulties. Implementation data demonstrate TNSR is feasible, well accepted by patients and clinicians, and substantially improves quality of care managing cognitive and mood disturbance following stroke. In light of the success of this pilot, Safer Care Victoria are funding the establishment of a dedicated TNSR service hub, based at Monash University, which will provide services to three rural Victorian hospitals over 2018-2019. Dr Stolwyk’s research group is continuing to investigate optimal methods to deliver neuropsychological assessment and rehabilitation techniques via telehealth.
  3. Improving driving assessment and rehabilitation techniques following Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke. Dr. Stolwyk leads an international research collaboration across Australia (Monash University Accident Research Centre) and Canada (University of Ottawa, Lakehead University, Ontario) developing and validating driving assessments and rehabilitation techniques for people with brain injury. Funded by the Victorian Neurotrauma Initiative and Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation in 2010, they have developed and validated a number of clinical tools, including the Driver Observation Schedule (DOS) and Brain Injury Driver Self-Awareness Measure (BIDSAM) to optimise reliability and validity of on-road driver assessments following brain injury. In 2015, Dr Stolwyk was awarded the RACV Sir Edmund Herring Memorial Scholarship to fund the next phase of his research, developing simulator technology to improve driver rehabilitation techniques following brain injury.

Staff Profile


Dr. Dana Wong

Dr Wong graduated with a Masters/PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology (University of Western Australia) in 2005 and has since maintained active roles in clinical neuropsychology practice, education and research. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Neuropsychology at La Trobe University, and also maintains an adjunct appointment with the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences. She leads a body of scholarship in innovative neuropsychological rehabilitation techniques to improve the lives of brain injury survivors and enhancing clinician competence in delivering neuropsychological interventions. In 2014 Dana founded the Neurorehabilitation Clinic at the Monash Psychology Centre, which combines provision of evidence-based brain injury rehabilitation to the community, world-leading clinical training for doctoral students who learn to deliver these interventions, and a clinical and pedagogical research program. In recognition of this initiative, Dana was awarded the 2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, the 2017 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Education (Innovation in Teaching), and the 2016 Australasian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment (ASSBI) Clinical Innovation Award. Research projects she is currently leading include an investigation of telehealth delivery of memory rehabilitation for stroke survivors, an evaluation of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of embedding a memory skills group for stroke survivors into public health services, a trial of methods to train stroke survivors to use memory apps, a translational study of clinician training in cognitive behaviour therapy for anxiety and depression following brain injury, and a suite of projects developing tools for evaluating clinical competencies in delivering neuropsychological interventions. She is an Associate Investigator with the NHMRC Moving Ahead CRE in Brain Recovery and a Future Leader with the CRE in Stroke Rehabilitation and Brain Recovery. She is on the editorial board for the journal Brain Impairment. In 2017 Dana led the development of BRAINSPaN, a multidisciplinary network of clinicians and researchers in the brain impairment field. She is also leading an APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists working group developing a position paper on neuropsychological interventions. She convened the successful 2017 ASSBI conference and is a committee member of the ASSBI National Executive.

Staff profile

Core MERRC Staff

  Meagan Carty, BSc (Hons), is employed 0.6 FTE to manage the Longitudinal Head injury Outcome Project and oversee recruitment for other studies. Her position is funded by ISCRR. She manages and co-ordinates staff working on this and other projects.

Dr. Marina Downing, BBSc(Hons), PhD, is employed 0.8EFT as the MERRC Operations Manager and Research Fellow, funded by TAC. Joining the team in 2012, she plays a key operational role overseeing all activities related to finance and grant management, staffing, IT & database management, as well as key study management procedures. In her Research Fellow role, she also works on several studies and supervises both doctoral and honours students. Her contributions include data analyses, write-up and submission of publications, specifically, a series of papers looking at sexuality post-TBI, and outputs from the NHMRC-funded randomised controlled trial (RCT) of Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for anxiety and depression following TBI. Other work include papers on the influence of cultural background on rehabilitation following TBI, current cognitive rehabilitation practices in Australia and overseas, and the experience of return to work following TBI. She also works as a researcher on the Longitudinal Head Injury Outcomes study, conducting various analyses and writing up research reports for quarterly TAC steering committee meetings.

Staff profile

  Dr. Gershon Spitz, BA (Hons), PhD, is employed 1.0EFT as a Research Fellow, funded through the Brain Foundation and ISCRR. He has published 21 peer-reviewed publications in leading rehabilitation and neurotrauma journals, with 89% of articles being published in the top 25% of journals in their fields. Dr. Spitz has displayed accelerated research output as an early-career researcher, publishing one article in 2012, five in 2013, six in 2014, and nine in 2015. Dr Spitz has been awarded an Early-Career Researcher NHMRC Fellowship to examine novel approaches to remediate impaired cognition following acquired brain injury, which he is currently undertaking at the Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB), University of Oxford. Here he will further develop into an internationally-recognised neurorehabilitation researcher.  He is a lead researcher in the Longitudinal Head Injury Outcomes study coordinating data analysis and the production of research outputs in collaboration with the TAC/ISCRR steering committee. He also coordinates a theme of research that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine changes in cognition and behaviour following traumatic brain injury. Dr. Spitz was awarded a research grant from the Brain Foundation in 2014 as CI-A to identify the brain regions and networks implicated in impaired memory in patients with TBI. He co-supervises various honours and doctoral projects, and provides mentoring to students in regards to statistical analysis and research design. Dr. Spitz has delivered platform presentations at important international conferences in his field, such as the World Congress for NeuroRehabilitation, which had 1600 delegates. The International Neuropsychological Society (INS) has awarded Dr. Spitz with the Phillip M. Rennick award for best postgraduate research paper and the Nelson Butters award for best postdoctoral research presentations at recent INS conferences.

Staff profile

Dr. Kate Gould, BBNSc (Hons), DPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology), has worked at MERRC since 2006 and is currently employed 0.5 EFT as a Research Fellow, funded by ISCRR. Dr Gould completed her DPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology) through Monash University at MERRC in 2010, with her doctoral research consisting of a prospective longitudinal examination of post-TBI psychiatric disorders. This world-class study produced six peer-reviewed publications, which have been cited more than 270 times. Dr Gould has also published peer-reviewed studies and contributed to book chapters on the cognitive, behavioural, neuroanatomical and other psychological features of TBI, with more than 350 citations. Highlights of her research career include being the inaugural recipient of the Centre for Excellence in Traumatic Brain Injury Research Fellowship in 2012-2013; As part of a multi-centre study, she piloted a group therapy program of anger management for individuals with severe TBI. She also has continuing involvement with the longitudinal study of psychiatric disorders after TBI. Since late 2013, she has worked on an ISCRR funded study to understand challenging behaviours after TBI. This study is now in its second phase, and currently, Dr Gould, together with Professor Jennie Ponsford AO, Professor Malcolm Hopwood, Dr Tim Feeney and Amelia Hicks, are delivering and evaluating a landmark 3-year positive behaviour support intervention for challenging behaviours after acquired brain injury, again funded by ISCRR. Dr Gould regularly presents at local and international conferences, showcasing the centre’s psychiatric and neurobehavioural research to world leading brain injury experts. She supervises and lectures doctoral and honours students in clinical psychology and clinical neuropsychology at Monash University. Dr Gould also works part-time in private practice as a Clinical Neuropsychologist, with a focus on the assessment, diagnosis and rehabilitation of cognitive, behavioural and psychological features of acquired brain injury.

Staff profile

  Amelia Hicks, BA (Hons), MPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology), is employed full time as a Research Fellow, funded by ISCRR, working with Dr. Kate Gould to co-ordinate the ISCRR-funded project on understanding behaviours of concern following traumatic brain injury and currently conducting a systematic review of interventions for behaviours of concern. She also co-ordinates a US collaborative study with researchers from Houston investigating outcome patterns following TBI, funded by the US Department of Education. Amelia has recently started her PhD, under the supervisor of Professor Jennie Ponsford, which looks at the development of dementia following TBI.
 Dr. Lisa Johnston, PhD, is employed 0.4 EFT as a Research Fellow, who assists with grant submissions and manages the prospective study of Psychiatric Disorders being conducted within the Longitudinal Head Injury Outcomes Study. The psychiatric study team is currently collecting data for a 10-year follow-up. Dr Johnston’s position is therefore also funded by ISCRR.
 Mary Ryan, R.N. a trained nurse Outcomes Study, funded by ISCRR, locating contact details and organising appointments for patients and collecting saliva samples and questionnaires., is employed 0.3 EFT as a Research Assistant working on the Longitudinal Head Injury

Affiliated Staff


Adjunct Associate Professor Dean McKenzie, BA(Hons),PhD, is a Biostatistician at Epworth HealthCare. He is also an adjunct Associate Professor with the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Deakin University, and an adjunct Senior Research Fellow with Monash University, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, at the Alfred Hospital. Dean has a strong background in medical/psychiatric research, having worked at several Melbourne hospitals in more than 25 years with Monash. He graduated with honours in cognitive psychology from Deakin University, and more recently obtained a PhD in Epidemiology from Monash in 2009, looking at screening for depression in hospital patients, and other groups, using classification and regression trees. This research, as well as ongoing journal publications, beginning in 1992, applies methods developed in cognitive psychology / artificial intelligence as well as in applied statistics / data mining. Dr McKenzie received a Doctoral Scholarship, and a 4 year Postdoctoral Fellowship, from the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC), as well as a grant from Department of Veterans’ Affairs, to identify key symptoms for screening for depression in Gulf War veterans using data science / machine learning and statistical methods. Dean has widely published in international epidemiological, medical and psychological journals, with over 100 authored and co-authored papers.

Staff profile


Associate Professor Gavin Williams PhD, FACP, is a leading physiotherapist who has worked in neurological rehabilitation for over 20 years. He currently combines clinical work at the Epworth Hospital in Melbourne and clinical research at the University of Melbourne. Since he began working at the Epworth Hospital 19 years ago, he has developed a program to teach advanced gait and running skills to people with neurological injuries. This program led to his doctoral studies titled ‘The development of a high-level mobility assessment tool (HiMAT) for people with traumatic brain injury’. Since that time he has been a Post-doctoral Research Fellow focusing on the assessment, classification and treatment of mobility limitations following traumatic brain injury. Gavin was awarded a Fellowship by the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 2011. He has over 50 peer-reviewed journal publications and over 70 international and national conference presentations. He was also involved in the development of a new classification system for Paralympic athletics, which was implemented at the London Paralympics. Gavin currently holds a NHMRC post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Melbourne and has recently been awarded an NHMRC TRIPP Fellowship from 2016 as well as an NHMRC project grant focused on effective strength training for walking in neurological rehabilitation. Gavin is an associate investigator, overseeing the physical exercise assessment, intervention and monitoring process in the CBT for sleep disturbance study. He is also collaborating with MERRC on two further studies – an examination of activity levels following TBI and factors influencing these, in collaboration with physiotherapist Megan Hamilton, Dr. Adam McKay and honours student Penelope Analytis, and a second project in collaboration with physiotherapist Laura Di Nicolantonio, Dr. Gershon Spitz and honours student, Alissa Lever, examining the role of psychological factors in recovery following orthopaedic trauma.


Ms Pamela Ross, B AppSci, MA, PhD, is a Senior Occupational Therapist at Epworth and Manager of the Driver Rehabilitation and Vocational Rehabilitation programs, with specific expertise in traumatic brain injury. She has completed post-graduate qualifications in driver assessment and rehabilitation and career counselling. In 2009, Pam received an RACV Sir Edmund Herring Memorial Scholarship which enabled her to commence research on return to driving at Monash University under the supervision of Prof Jennie Ponsford and Dr Judith Charlton. In 2017, she completed a PhD investigating ‘Return to Driving after Traumatic Brain Injury’, supervised by Prof Jennie Ponsford, Dr Marilyn Di Stefano and Dr Judith Charlton. She has played a key role as an investigator on studies investigating the processes of assessment of driving capacity in individuals with TBI. She was a Chief Investigator on an international collaborative grant from the VNI that has focused on this subject. This prospective study is continuing. In 2015, Pam was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to travel to France, The Netherlands, Canada and USA to investigate the clinical use of driving simulators with older and disabled drivers. She has presented at many conferences and is also a presenter for the Community Mobility Program for Older Drivers, funded by TAC.

 Professor John Olver MBBS, FACRM, FAFRM (RACP), MD, who is Director of Rehabilitation at Epworth Healthcare, and a Professor in the Department of Medicine at Monash University, has been involved with the Centre since its inception. He has directed the head injury rehabilitation program at Epworth for 25 years. He conducts follow-up interviews with traumatically brain injured patients 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 years after injury as part of the Longitudinal Head Injury Outcome Project and is a regular presenter of findings from the outcome studies at national and international conferences. He has a diverse range of research interests, overseeing projects on treatment of spasticity, brachial plexus injuries and mobility following TBI, monitoring of sleep patterns in the acute stages of recovery from TBI and sense of smell following TBI, stroke rehabilitation and joint replacements for which he has received grants from the Epworth Research Institute. Prof Olver is the immediate past President of the Asia Oceanian Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (AOSPRM), Treasurer of the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM) and Past President of the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. He serves on the Editorial Board of the journals Neurorehabilitation and Brain Impairment. He is also Medical Director of the Australian Rehabilitation Outcome Centre (AROC).

Staff profile
 Dr. Michael Ponsford, MBBS, FACRM, FAFRM (RACP), Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine is also actively involved with research conducted at the centre, having been involved in the care of head injury patients at Epworth/Bethesda for many years. He also conducts follow up interviews with traumatically brain injured patients, 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 years after injury as part of the Longitudinal Head Injury Outcome Project and is involved in other specific projects.

Dr. Rose Acher, MBBS, FACRM, FAFRM (RACP), Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine is also actively involved with research conducted at the centre, having been involved in the care of head injury patients at Epworth/Bethesda for a number of years. She also conducts follow up interviews with traumatically brain injured patients 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 years after injury as part of the Longitudinal Head Injury Outcome Project. She has recently joined a multidisciplinary clinic for the management of spasticity, and is involved in the ULIS study through this clinic looking at the management of spasticity in upper limbs using botulinum toxin.

Current Research Staff

Dr Clare Kempnich. BPsychSc (Hons), DPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology), is employed as a Research Assistant and Therapist.

Dr Sylvia Nguyen.
BHealth Sci (Hons) and MPsych(Clin), DPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology), is employed as a Research Assistant.

Dr Jessica Trevena-Peters. BOccTh/BPsychSci(Hons), DPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology), is employed as a Research Assistant.

Toni Witheil. DPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology) candidate, is employed as a Research Assistant

Caroline Roberts. DPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology) candidate is employed as a Research Assistant

David Lawson. DPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology) candidate, is employed as a Research Assistant.

Jo Tran. BA/BSc, BPsych (Hons), MPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology), is employed as a Research Assistant.

Courtney Baxter. BBNS, BSc (Psych, Hons), Doctor of Clinical Neuropsychology Candidate, is employed as a Research Assistant.

Olivia McConchie. BBNSci(Hons), MPsych (Clinical Neuropsychology), is employed as a Research Assistant.

Current Doctoral Students


Matthew Staois. Developing reliable and valid neuropsychological assessment techniques for Greek-Australians. PhD commenced 2015.

Amelia Hicks. Risk of neurodegenerative disease decades after a TBI. PhD commenced 2016.


Kate Cameron. Awareness and psychological adjustment following stroke. DPsych Commenced 2011.

Shayden Bryce. Efficacy of Cognitive retraining in individuals with Schizophrenia. DPsych. Thesis. Commenced 2014.

Kristina Haebich. Executive dysfunction and brain development in very preterm 13 year olds – a longitudinal follow-up study. DPsych commenced 2014.

Bleydy Dimech-Betancourt. Assessment and Rehabilitation of Driving Capacity after Traumatic Brain Injury. DPsych thesis Commenced 2015.

Leah Zelencich. The influence of therapeutic process on response to cognitive behaviour therapy following traumatic brain injury. DPsych thesis Commenced 2015.

David Lawson. Using telemedicine to deliver neuropsychological interventions to stroke survivors. DPsych commenced 2015.

Penny Analytis. Parents and sibling experience of brain injury in children and adults. DPsych commenced 2015.

Jodi Chapman. Using telemedicine to conduct neuropsychological assessments for stroke survivors. DPsych commenced 2015.

Courtney Baxter. Assessing agitation following traumatic brain injury. DPsych  commenced 2016.

Laura Connolly. Light therapy for sleepiness and fatigue following traumatic brain injury, DPsych commenced 2016

Jonathan Reyes. Head impacts in elite and amateur Australian football. DPsych commenced 2016.

Lucy Ymer. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for sleep and fatigue difficulties after traumatic brain injury and stroke, DPsych commenced 2017.

Abbie Taing. The return of memory following traumatic brain injury: The critical role of the medial temporal lobe, prefrontal cortex, and associated brain areas, DPsych commenced 2017

Diane Ramirez-Hernandez. Memory skills training post–stroke. DPsych commenced 2017

Felicity Evans. Memory skills following stroke. DPsych commenced 2017

Jennifer Makovec-Knight. Padded headgear in youth football. DPsych commenced 2017

Lauren Libeson. Return to work experience of patients with traumatic brain injury. PhD ( Clin Neuropsych) commenced 2018.

Vanessa Sharp. Improving delivery of rehabilitation services to regional areas. PhD (Clin Neuropsych) commenced 2018.

Ruby Phyland. The use of olanzapine to treat agitation following traumatic brain injury: A pilot randomised controlled trial. PhD (Clin Neuropsych) commenced 2018

Completed Doctorates

Rudzki, Dion.  Impact of Apolipoprotein E polymorphism on cognitive function and outcome after traumatic brain injury.  D. Psych thesis.  Department of Psychology, Monash University.  Commenced 1998. Submitted May 2004 and passed with minor amendments September, 2004.

Steele, Diane. Sleep disorders associated with traumatic brain injury. DPsych thesis. Commenced 2000. Submitted November 2004. Passed with no amendments February 2005.

Ziino, Carlo. Fatigue following traumatic brain injury. DPsych thesis. Commenced 2000. Passed with no amendments, October 2005.

Helen Saltapidas.  The influence of cultural factors upon attitudes to and participation in rehabilitation following traumatic brain injury. DPsych thesis. Commenced 2001. Submitted August 2005. Passed with minor amendments January 2006.

Katie Anson   Evaluation of a coping skills group intervention following traumatic brain injury. DPsych thesis. Commenced 2001. Submitted March 2005.  Passed with minor amendments July 2005.

Caroline Fisher. Rehabilitation of aphasic disorders following stroke. DPsych thesis. Commenced 2002. Submitted August 2005. Passed with minor amendments January 2006.

Kristy Draper. Long-term outcome following traumatic brain injury. DPsych thesis. Commenced 2002. Submitted December, 2006. Passed with minor amendments, September, 2007.

Catherine Willmott.  Impact of methylphenidate upon cognitive function following traumatic brain injury. PhD. Submitted. Passed with minor amendments February 2009.

Rochelle Whelan. Psychiatric disorders following traumatic brain injury. DPsych thesis. Commenced 2003. Submitted February 2007 and passed with minor amendments June 2008.

Michele Grant. Rehabilitation of planning difficulties following brain injury. DPsych thesis. Commenced 2003. Submitted January 2008 and passed with minor amendments May 2008.

Dawn Senathi-Raja. Impact of age on outcome following traumatic brain injury. DPsych thesis. Commenced February 2005. Completed July 2008. Passed with minor amendments, November, 2008.

Laura Tweedly. Impact of intervention for substance use problems following traumatic brain injury. DPsych thesis. Commenced February 2005. Passed with minor amendments November 2011.  Passed with minor  amendments, December, 2011.

Kate Gould. Psychiatric disorders following traumatic brain injury: a prospective study. DPsych thesis Commenced February 2006. Passed with no amendments November 2010.

Belinda Renison. The use of Virtual Reality in Assessment of Executive Function. DPsych thesis commenced February 2006. Submitted May 2010. Passed with minor amendments, August, 2010.

Ming-Yun Hsieh. Use of motivational interviewing and cognitive behaviour therapy to treat anxiety disorders following traumatic brain injury. DPsych Commenced February 2007. Submitted December, 2010. Passed with no amendments March 2011.

Kelly Sinclair. The use of light therapy to treat daytime sleepiness and fatigue following traumatic brain injury. DPsych Commenced 2008..Submitted March 2012. Passed with no amendments, June 2012.

Amber Kelly. Self-concept following traumatic brain injury. Commenced 2007. Submitted June 2012. Passed with minor amendments October, 2012.

Gershon Spitz. Cognitive impairment, its biological basis and association with outcome following traumatic brain injury. PhD Commenced 2009. Passed with minor amendments, Nov 2013.

Cally Richardson. Self-awareness following TBI. D Psych Commenced 2009. Main supervisor. Submmitted Dec 2013. Passed with minor amendments, March 2014.

Jane Dahm. The contribution of head injury to psychological outcome following trauma – A comparison of TBI and orthopaedic outcomes. D Psych Commenced 2009. Passed with minor amendments February 2015.

Tijana Mihaljcic. Falls awareness in the elderly. DPsych Commenced 2010. Passed with minor amendments, December 2014.

Pamela Ross. Return to driving following traumatic brain injury. PhD Commenced 2011. Passed with amendments, January 2017.

Natalie Grima. Efficacy of melatonin for sleep disturbance following traumatic brain injury.  DPsych Commenced, 2011, Passed with no amendments, August, 2015.

Alicia Dymowski. Alleviating attentional disturbances following traumatic brain injury. DPsych Commenced 2011. Passed with minor Amendments, November 2015.

James Gooden. Awareness and driving following traumatic brain injury. DPsych Commenced 2011. Passed with minor amendments, September, 2015.

Lingani Mbakile. The experience of families of those with brain injury in Botswana. D Psych Commenced 2008. Main supervisor. Submitted September 2015. Passed with minor amendments January 2016.

Yvette Alway. Impact of relatives’ expressed emotion on anxiety and depression following traumatic brain injury. DPsych Commenced 2011. Joint main supervisor. Submitted November 2015. Passed with minor amendments, April, 2016.

Coco Bernard. Assessment of postconcussional symptoms in children following mild TBI. DPsych Commenced 2012. Main supervisor. Submitted September 2016. Passed with minor amendments December 2016.

Jacqueline Owens. Imaging correlates of attention and response to methylphenidate following traumatic brain injury. DPsych Commenced 2012.Associate supervisor. Submitted November 2016. Passed with minor amendments, February 2017.

Sylvia Nguyen. Cognitive-behaviour therapy for fatigue and sleep disturbance following traumatic brain injury. DPsych Commenced 2012. Main supervisor. Submitted January 2017. Passed with minor amendments, April, 2017.

Celia Pais. Positive growth following traumatic brain injury. DPsych Commenced 2013. Main  supervisor. Submitted March 2017. Passed with minor amendments, May 2017.

Jessica Trevena-Peters. Efficacy of early therapy for patients in post-traumatic amnesia. DPsych Commenced 2013.Joint supervisor. Passed with minor amendments, September 2017.

Caroline Roberts. Recovery from post-traumatic amnesia.  DPsych. Thesis. Commenced 2014. Main Supervisor. Submitted December 2017.

Toni Witheil. Rehabilitation of cognitive impairments following stroke. DPsych. Thesis. Commenced 2014. Submitted December 2017. Passed with minor amendments, July 2018.