Meet the Team

Body Image, Eating and Weight Research TeamThe team is led by Associate Professor Leah Brennan from La Trobe University, and Dr Xochitl de la Piedad Garcia from Australian Catholic University, and includes Dr Matthew Ruby and Dr Sian McLean from La Trobe University. We work closely with a range for clinicians, researchers, students and consumers.

Team Leaders

Associate Professor Leah Brennan

Leah is a clinical, health, educational and developmental psychologist. Her research focuses on the role of psychology in understanding and treating eating, weight and body image concerns and their biopsychosocial comorbidities (e.g., diabetes, depression, stigma). She uses various research designs including systematic reviews and meta analyses, randomised control trials, service evaluation and quality assurance, single case experiment, scale development, cross sectional, and qualitative research designs. She is particularly interested in developing and/or evaluating evidence-based interventions, conducting intervention trials (including efficacy, effectiveness, implementation) and evaluating the effectiveness of real-world treatment programs. She is also passionate about training and supporting clinicians to provide best-practice care in real world settings.

Dr Xochitl de la Piedad Garcia

Xochitl is a psychology researcher with an interest in experimental approaches to the study of decision making and choice. She has a particular interest in behavioural models of self-control as the conflict between choosing between behaviours leading to immediate small rewards and behaviours whose rewards are abstract an only attainable over the long term (as the result of a sustained pattern of engagement with a particular behaviour). In BEWT, Xochitl's work attempts to develop experimental tests of some of the mechanisms outlined in clinical models of disordered eating, such as the role of dichotomous thinking about eating or the effect of body checking on subsequent eating. Xochitl also uses her expertise in statistical and research methods in conducting systematic reviews, meta-analyses and cross-sectional research.

Team Members

Dr Matthew Ruby

Matt is a psychology research with a particular interest in how people think about and enact food and eating behaviours. His primary focus is on "the modern omnivore's dilemma"- the conflict between people's desire for meat and the costs of indulging this desire. In particular, he investigates how people decide which (animal) foods are acceptable to eat and which are not, how people reconcile the dissonance between loving meat and loving animals, and how omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans perceive one another. Alongside his main program of research, he also has a keen interest in the positive ways that food and eating are embedded in people's lives, and how people can be encouraged to make more sustainable food choices.

Dr Sian McLean

Siân is a psychology researcher at The Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University. Her research focuses on body dissatisfaction and eating disorders in children, adolescents, and adults and (1) uses experimental methodology to investigate effects on body image of exposure to media imagery and messages; (2) explores risk, maintenance, and protective factors that contribute to the development of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, and (3) evaluates sociocultural (i.e., media literacy) and psychological (i.e., cognitive behavioural therapy) interventions to reduce body dissatisfaction and disordered eating and improve well-being. Siân holds the position of President-elect of the Australia and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders, the peak body for eating disorder professionals.

Our Students

PhD Students

Master of Psychology Students

  • Sophie Allan (Australian Catholic University)
    • Project: Compassion-focused therapy for eating and weight concerns
  • Charlotte Arnold (Australian Catholic University)
    • Project: Social Media and Bariatric Surgery Decision-Making
  • Mary Barillaro (Australian Catholic University)
    • Project: Treatment of Body Dysmorphic Disorder: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis
  • Giulia Flammea (Australian Catholic University)
    • Project: Psychosocial Correlates of Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Claudia Geils (Australian Catholic University)
    • Project: Qualitative Evaluation of Time Restricted Feeding Intervention for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
  • Pheobe Gleeson (Australian Catholic University)
    • Project: What are dietary restraint scales actually measuring?
  • Amy Kierce (Australian Catholic University)
    • Project: Late Onset Eating Disorders: A Systematic Review and Analysis
  • Kate Mellody (La Trobe University)
    • Project: Eating disorder interventions for individuals with a higher BMI
  • Suzannah Willis (Australian Catholic University)
    • Project: Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Fourth Year Psychology Students

  • Shona Flynn (La Trobe University)
    • Project: The role of heuristic processing on short-term diet commitment in vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores
  • Phillip Jayasinghe (La Trobe University)
    • Project: Attitudes to vegetarians and vegans in France and the UK
  • Rachel Martin (La Trobe University)
    • Project: How well do emotional eating questionnaires measure emotional eating?
  • Jennifer Moufarij (Australian Catholic University)
    • The Impact of Body Positive/Body Diverse Media Images
  • Morgan Nicholson (Australian Catholic University)
    • Biopsychosocial Correlates of Intuitive Eating
  • Jessica Piazzon (Australian Catholic University)
    • The Morality of Food
  • Jerome Scaffidi (Australian Catholic University)
    • Men’s Body Image
  • India Watson (La Trobe University)
    • Project: Reducing meat Intake to protect the environment: The role of message framing and values

Please contact us if you are interested in doing a student research project with us.

Our Collaborators

Research Collaborators

We collaborate with a variety of local, national and international research Groups.

  • La Trobe University: School of Psychology and Public Health; Department of Rehabilitation; Nutrition and Sport
  • Australian Catholic University: School of Behavioural and Health Sciences; Mary McKillop Institute of Health Research
  • Lancaster University: Department of Psychology
  • Monash University: Centre for Obesity Research and Education; Centre for Health Research and Implementation
  • Universität Konstanz: Department of Psychology
  • Universidade de Lisboa: Institute of Social Sciences
  • University of Canterbury: Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies
  • University of Melbourne: Department of Psychology; Division of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
  • University of Pennsylvania: Department of Psychology
  • University of Sydney: Department of Psychology
  • University of Technology Sydney: Institute for Sustainable Futures
  • Swinburne University: Centre for Mental Health; Department of Business Technology and Entrepreneurship
  • Deakin University: School of Psychology
  • Victoria University: Institute for Health and Sport
  • Northeastern University: Department of Applied Psychology
  • University of the West of England: Centre for Appearance Research

Clinical Collaborators

We collaborate with a range of clinical services.

  • Austin Health
  • Centre for Bariatric Surgery
  • Centre for Eating, Weight and Body Image
  • Victorian Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders
  • St Vincent's Health
  • The Bouverie Centre

Consumer and Carer Groups

  • Eating Disorder Victoria

Professional Associations

  • Australia & New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders
  • Australian Psychological Society
  • National Eating Disorders Collaboration

Please contact us if you are interested in collaborating on a research project with us.

The Body Image, Eating and Weight Research Team

Our Projects

Our Recent Publications

BEWT media

Contact Us