Our research collaborators and partners from around the world are an important part of our team. Their involvement and contributions are essential ingredients to achieving ICHEN’s mission.

ICHEN Founders

Professor Ester Cerin

Orchid ID: 0000-0002-7599-165X

Ester Cerin is an ARC Future Fellow and the Leader of the Behaviour, Environment and Cognition Research Programme at the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University. She also holds honorary professorial positions in the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong and Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute (Melbourne).

Her background is in psychology and statistics. Over the past 15 years, Ester has extensively studied the effects of the built and social environment on physical activity behaviour and health globally. She is also known for her expertise in sophisticated statistical methods for the analysis of environmental factors influencing health.

In the last 5 years, Ester has been awarded 19 research grants totalling $16.8 million and published nearly 100 papers in prestigious scientific journals. These journals include The Lancet, Journal of Clinical Oncology, BMJ, Pediatrics, Alzheimer’s & Dementia and the International Journal of Obesity.

After spending time in the US, Europe and Hong Kong, Ester is dedicated about continuing her international collaborative efforts with other researchers passionate about how community environments affect health outcomes and the way people live.

Professor Mark Nieuwenhuijsen

Orchid ID: 0000-0001-9461-7981

Mark Nieuwenhuijsen is Director of the Urban Planning, Environment & Health Initiative at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, ISGlobal. He is a world leading expert in environment exposure assessment, epidemiology, and health risk/environment with a strong focus and interest on healthy urban living.

In 2018 Mark won the John Goldsmith Award recognising ‘sustained and outstanding contributions to the knowledge and practice of environmental epidemiology’.

Professor Karin Anstey

Orchid ID: 0000-0002-9706-9316

Kaarin Anstey is Director of the UNSW Ageing Futures Institute and Senior Principal Research Scientist at NeuRA. She leads an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Cognitive Health, is a director of the NHMRC Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration and Co-Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research. Kaarin’s research programs focus on the causes, consequences and prevention of cognitive ageing, dementia, and common mental disorders in adulthood.

A second focus is on older drivers’ risk assessment and safety. Kaarin has worked extensively with longitudinal studies, and leads the PATH Through Life Project (PATH). PATH is a large cohort study focussing on common mental disorders and cognitive function, based in the ACT and surrounding regions.

Kaarin is the Chair of the International Research Network on Dementia Prevention, a Director of the Board of the Dementia Australia Research Foundation, a member of the World Health Organisation Guideline Development Group cognitive decline and dementia, and a member of the Governance Committee of the Global Council on Brain Health, an initiative supported by the American Association of Retired Persons and AgeUK.

Associate Professor Anthony Barnett

Orchid ID: 0000-0002-6320-4073

Anthony Barnett has expertise in the measurement of physical activity and the influence of the neighbourhood built environment on physical activity in older adults. He also has an interest in the effect of the built environment on cognition.

An exercise physiologist, he has worked with large older adult and adolescent built environment and health outcome data sets in Hong Kong, elite athletes (Queensland Academy of Sport) and older adults in Australia. Anthony has published 43 peer-reviewed journal articles and 6 book chapters. He has been principal or co-investigator on 10 successful grant applications. 


Dr Muhammad Akram

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-1073-3614

Muhammad Akram is a research-fellow (Bio-statistician) at Merry Mackillop Institute of Health Research (MMIHR), Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. He holds PhD degree in Statistics from Monash University. His PhD research was on time-series analysis and forecasting.

Previously he worked as a post-doctoral biostatistician at the department of epidemiology and preventive medicine, Monash University. His previous work has involved development of statistical methods for short interrupted time series, methods for cluster randomized crossover trial, multilevel modelling and analysis of case-crossover designs. Currently, he is working on physical activity and built environment projects.

His research interest includes applied statistical modelling, application of time-series analysis and forecasting, predictive and multilevel modelling in health sciences.

Dr Govinda Poudel

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-0043-7531

Dr Govinda Poudel is an interdisciplinary researcher with background in Computer Systems Engineering and Neurosciences. He holds PhD from the University of Otago, NZ and BE (First Class Honours) from UTS, Sydney. His research focuses on novel Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Electroencephalography (EEG) based techniques for understanding human brain in health and disease, including sleep health and neurodegeneration.

Prior to joining MMIHR, Govinda was a researcher at the University of Sydney, Monash University, and New Zealand Brain Research Institute.

He has received several awards and scholarships including the Young Biomedical Engineer Award (awarded by the college of Biomedical Engineers, Engineers Australia), Hereditary Disease Foundation, USA Fellowship, Endeavour Australia Research Fellowship, and AusAid Scholarship. He has published 39 peer-reviewed papers (28 first/second author) in international journals and IEEE conference proceedings and attracted ~ AUD 0.5 million grants and fellowship funding as a Chief Investigator.

Govinda served on the editorial board of journal SLEEP (2014-2017), which is published by Oxford Academic.

Research Support staff

Yih Kai Chan
Program Manager

Maria Soloveva
Research Manager(Neuropsychology) 

Nerolie Stickland
Data Manager 

Lara Pigatto
Research Communications Manager (ICHEN & IPEN) 

Miguel Molina
Senior Research Analyst (Environment Science, Engineering and Modelling)

Apeksha Purohit
Senior GIS Technical & Research Officer 

Mark Symmons
Senior Research Officer 

Karen Hartigan
Research Assistant 

Alex Li
GIS Technical & Research Officer 

Sonia Marchionda
Research Support Officer

Carmin Smith
Research Support Officer 

Leonila Tanyag
Data Administrator 

Ralf Dieter Schroes

Collaborating Institutes