Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research researchers

Our researchers are co-partnering with communities to translate healthcare findings into practice.

Associate Professor Stephen Begg

Associate Professor Stephen Begg is the Director of the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research. He is one of Australia’s most experienced academics in the field of population health assessment and burden of disease analysis, a field he helped introduce to Australia in the 1990s and to which he has contributed through positions at Harvard University and the World Health Organization. He is a trained epidemiologist with over 25 years’ experience in international research and consultancy and has led and managed teams in both academia and the public sector. Associate Professor Begg manages a diverse industry-driven research portfolio with a focus on rural and Indigenous health inequalities and health system strengthening. Testing

Professor Leigh Kinsman

Professor Leigh Kinsman has joined the School as the Violet Vines Marshman Chair of Rural Health Research. This is a homecoming for Leigh who previously studied at the Bendigo campus and was a Lecturer in Nursing from 1998 to 2006. Leigh brings an outstanding record of community engagement and industry partnerships in rural health to translate research into practice and build the capacity of rural researchers to conduct and implement meaningful research. Joining the Violet Vines Marshman Centre of Rural Health Research from his most recent position as Joint Chair with the University of Newcastle and Mid North Local Health District, Professor Kinsman’s impressive career has reflected a whole-of-community approach to addressing health disparities, particularly for our most disadvantaged and vulnerable. Most recently, Leigh partnered with the NSW Mental Health Commission to improve the responsiveness of health and community organisations for people with lived experience of mental ill-health and their carers.

Professor Jane Mills

Professor Jane Mills is the Dean of the La Trobe Rural Health School and is one of Australia’s foremost primary health care academics. Professor Mills is listed in Australia’s top 100 researchers in FOR1110. An internationally recognised grounded theorist, in the past decade wrote the popular text, 'Grounded Theory: a practical guide'. Professor Mills also has a reputation as an outstanding higher degree research supervisor across a number of disciplines including public health, dentistry, nursing, midwifery, pharmacy, allied health and social work.

Professor Hanny Calache

Professor Hanny Calache is a paediatric dentist, with extensive public dental health experience. He is Academic Lead in Paediatric Dentistry, the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University; and Head of the Oral Health Research Stream, Deakin Health Economics at Deakin University. His research interests include health promotion, paediatric dentistry, geriatric dentistry, workforce development and public health, and he has published extensively on these topics. Professor Calache also has extensive translational research experience in public dental programs in Victoria and nationally.

Professor Mark Gussy

Professor Mark Gussy is the Global Professor in Rural and Social Care at the Lincoln Institute for Rural Health. His research has made significant contributions to the evidence base for child oral health and its interface with general health and wellbeing. Two major nationally funded cohort studies have allowed early childhood cavities to be tracked longitudinally in rural children, quantifying the independent and interactive contributions of the oral environment, fluoride exposure and socio-economic factors to levels and rates of change in oral health from birth to six years of age. Professor Gussy has also worked with rural communities, exploring the broader social and structural determinants of participation, and challenging entrenched systems that disadvantage the most vulnerable.

Emeritus Professor Amanda Kenny

Emeritus Professor Amanda Kenny was the inaugural Violet Marshman Professor of Rural Health and Director of the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research at La Trobe University, 2019-2020. She is a registered nurse and midwife with 40 years’ experience in rural health services and is an expert in primary health and rural health policy. Emeritus Professor Kenny is internationally recognised for her expertise in multidisciplinary participatory research, co-design and integrated knowledge translation. She has attracted almost AU$105 million in grant funding for research and major strategic initiatives. Emeritus Professor Kenny has built strong international partnerships, currently holds international grants, and mentors senior leaders in several countries. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Nurse Education Today, sits on the editorial board of Collegian, International Journal of Qualitative Methods and the Advisory Board of the International Institute of Qualitative Methodology, Canada. She is also a member of the Board of Directors at Rural Northwest Health.

Associate Professor Carol McKinstry

Associate Professor Carol McKinstry is an academic in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University, with a background in occupational therapy. Her research focuses on the rural workforce including the preparation of graduates to work in rural practice, transition to practice for students and graduates, and recruitment and retention of rural health professionals. Rural workforce service delivery and emerging areas of practice are other research areas. Associate Professor McKinstry is President of Occupational Therapy Australia and is a Board Director at the Rochester and Elmore District Health Service.

Additional Members

Dr Joanne Adams

Dr Joanne Adams is an Early Career Researcher in the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research (VVMCRHR) based at the La Trobe Rural Health School. Jo received her PhD in 2020 exploring the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening particularly for older people, including aspects of mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. This followed a master's study that looked at the impact of climate change on gardening practices. Jo has a strong interest in how humans interact with the natural environment with a particular focus on rural and regional environments. She also has a keen interest in the health and wellbeing of older people. Jo has a background in public and environmental health and has previously worked in local government and corporate sector roles.

Dr Karen Anderson

Dr Karen Anderson is an experienced lecturer in health science in the Rural Department of Health Sciences, La Trobe Rural Health School. Karen, leads the health promotion major in the Bachelor of Health Science and is a lecturer and subject coordinator of several subjects including principles of public health practice, community health promotion, rural health and health promotion planning and evaluation.  She has extensive experience teaching in a diverse range of disciplines including health science, health promotion, paramedicine, dentistry, oral health, education, exercise science, sports development, pharmacy and allied health. Karen's research interests include health promotion workforce development, women's health including prevention of violence against women and gender equity.  She has also contributed to research in oral health promotion, women's participation in sport and community pharmacy.

Dr David Azul

Dr David Azul is a Senior Lecturer, Discipline Lead in Speech Pathology and Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. His research takes a transdisciplinary approach to the nexus between voice, communication, sociocultural belonging and wellbeing using theoretical, qualitative and creative methods of inquiry.

Dr Stacey Bracksley-O'Grady

Dr Stacey Bracksley-O'Grady is an Oral Health Therapist. She has an interest in public health and health promotion within Dentistry and Oral Health. Her work includes the exploration of promotion content in dental and oral health courses; dental/oral health educator’s knowledge and skills in health promotion, and their preparedness to translate this into teaching and learning; and the perceptions of graduates and how prepared they feel to undertake health promotion in practice.

Dr Carina Chan

Dr Carina Chan is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at La Trobe University. Her research focuses on health promotion and disease management and has been involved in research projects in both developed and developing countries. Her current research has extended her expertise in the regional/rural context and focuses on psychosocial issues associated with ageing, chronic disease prevention and management, and oral health.

Dr Leonard Crocombe

Dr Leonard Crocombe is Professor of Rural Oral Health at La Trobe University, an Honorary Professor in Dentistry at the University of Papua New Guinea and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH) at the University of Adelaide. He has worked as a private dental practitioner in rural and regional areas of Australia, as the State Coordinator of the Tasmanian Dental Service and consulted for the Australian Graduate Dental Year Program. He currently consults for the Rural Flying Doctor Service in Tasmania, the University of Papua New Guinea Dental District and am the Patron of the Papua New Guinea Dental Association.

Dr Fiona Dangerfield

Dr Fiona Dangerfield is an Early Career Researcher in the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research (VVMCRHR) based at the La Trobe Rural Health School. She received her PhD in 2022 exploring the role of food environments in influencing food purchasing behaviours in regional Australia. She has nearly 30 years of experience working in regional Victoria and New South Wales in the areas of academia; dietetic service management; indigenous health project management and workforce development; health promotion; clinical dietetics and community nutrition.  She has a keen interest in public health and rural health, with a specific focus on addressing the social and environmental determinants of poor health in rural populations.

Dr Virginia Dickson-Swift

Dr Virginia Dickson-Swift is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research. She is a public health researcher with over 20 years’ experience working in rural communities. Dr Dickson-Swift specialises in public health approaches to health and wellbeing challenges, oral health, qualitative research methodologies, sensitive research, ethics and working with vulnerable rural communities to solve local health issues.

Dr Lisa Hanson

Dr Lisa Hanson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Rural Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. She is also a physiotherapist and experienced clinician. Dr Hanson is an expert on the role of exercise and activity for people with chronic conditions and sustainable models of healthcare that support people with chronic conditions who live in rural and regional communities. She is passionate about advancing and extending the scope of allied health rural practice.

Dr Brad Hodge

Dr Brad Hodge has a broad range of experience within the higher education and community sector. He brings with him research expertise in social psychology, leadership, project management and communication skills. His research focuses on the evaluation and development of effective training activities to enable rural communities to improve their health and wellbeing.

Dr Nerida Hyett

Dr Nerida Hyett is a Lecturer in occupational therapy in the Department of Rural Allied Health and Bendigo Occupational Therapy Course Advisor in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. She has a clinical background in community-based alcohol and other drug services, and mental health. Her research focuses on consumer and community participation that targets complex population health issues. Dr Hyett has expertise in qualitative and participation-based research methods using action research, co-design and co-production.

Dr Sue Kidd

Dr Sue Kidd is an Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Rural Nursing and Midwifery in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University, and Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at Victoria University. She is an experienced mental health clinician and registered nurse with over 30 years’ experience working in a range of inpatient and community mental health settings. She has worked with mental health consumers, carers and peak consumer bodies and has experience in leadership within health organisations.

Dr Ron Knevel

Dr Ron Knevel is a Coordinator of Oral Health in the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. With over 30 years’ experience as an international oral health academic, he has a passion for community-based research. His PhD explored dental hygiene education in Nepal. He has been awarded the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education and a Social Responsibility Award from the Global Child Dental Fund and International Federation of Dental Hygiene.

Dr Natasha Long

Dr Natasha Long is a Lecturer in Social Work and Social Policy. Natasha has over 15 years’ experience as a lecturer across the program with a focus on coordinating and teaching social work field education curriculum. Her research interests include exploring graduate preparedness for professional practice with a focus on professional identity development and resilience; the development of culturally safe curriculum and classrooms; and teaching critical reflection in field education.

Dr Mohd Masood

Dr Mohd Masood is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. He is an expert in dental public health and oral epidemiology. His current research focuses on improving oral health and reducing oral health inequalities in rural populations.

Dr Yaghma Masood

Dr Yaghma Masood is a Lecturer in the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. She is a dentist with a Masters in Oral Pathology and PhD in human genetics. Her current research focuses on improving oral health in rural populations.

Dr Corina Modderman

Dr Corina Modderman is a Lecturer and Course Advisor in Social Work and Social Policy at the La Trobe Rural Health School, Shepparton campus. Dr Modderman has spent over 18 years as a senior manager and practice leader in child protection in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Australia. She brings extensive international social work expertise, demonstrated leadership capabilities and strong networks in the statutory and not for profit sector. Her research interests are in the areas of child abuse, child protection workforce development, transnational social work, Out of Home Care, and integrated health systems. Dr Modderman applies a strong feminist lens over her work and areas of practice. She is determined to see better outcomes for children and young people in out of home care and disadvantaged communities. She is currently leading research projects that focus on improving health outcomes for children in Out of Home Care and evaluating mentoring programs for First Nations young people in rural and regional Victoria. Dr Modderman is also Chair of the board at the Centre Against Violence in North East Victoria.

Dr Elizabeth Sari

Dr Elizabeth Sari is an oral medicine specialist and lecturer who is interested in oral cancer research and curriculum construction in dentistry. She has been involved in academic teaching, preclinical/clinical supervision, and research since 2003 in both Australia  and Indonesia. She gained her qualifications of certificate of teaching in higher education (from Melbourne University), and a certificate of curriculum construction, teaching approach and problem based learning in dentistry (from Radboud Universiteit, Netherland collaborating with WHO).

Dr Lyndal Sheepway

Dr Lyndal Sheepway is a Lecturer in the La Trobe Rural Health School, La Trobe University. Her professional background is in speech pathology and her PhD explored the development of competence in speech pathology student placements. Dr Sheepway is interested in research related to workplace learning, as well as rural workforce development.

Dr Evelien Spelten

Dr Evelien Spelten is a Senior Lecturer in Public and Community Health. Her move from the Netherlands to rural Mildura in Australia in 2016 sparked an interest in rural health and wellbeing, and in increasing academic opportunities in the regions. With a background in organisational psychology, she has worked as a researcher, a consultant and trainer. She is an experienced higher degree supervisor and has students from a range of health disciplines.

Dr Jyothi Tadakamadla

Dr Jyothi Tadakamadla is a senior lecturer of Dentistry and Oral Health. Before joining La Trobe, Dr Tadakamadla was a Lecturer at Griffith University in Gold Coast coordinating oral medicine and oral pathology subjects. Her research interests include oral potentially malignant disorders, oral epidemiology, oral cancer, and quality of life. She is a recipient of the IADR ANZ Investigator award and has also received research grants throughout her career.

Associate Professor Santosh Tadakamadla

Associate Professor Santosh Tadakamadla is  the Discipline lead of Dentistry and Oral Health at La Trobe. A/Prof Tadakamadla has vast experience in curriculum development and course coordination in the dentistry discipline, he is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. His research interests include health promotion; health-related behaviour, health inequalities; oral epidemiology; oral-systemic link; and quality of life.

Dr Marietta Taylor

Dr Marietta Taylor is an experienced general dentist, with experience in clinical teaching and supervision of early career clinicians. Her research has focused on the analysis of administrative and routinely collected data to examine health outcomes.

Professor Joseph  Tucci

Associate Professor Joseph Tucci is a registered practicing pharmacist. He is also Associate Professor in Clinical Pharmacy, and Pharmacy Discipline Lead in the Department of Rural Clinical Sciences, La Trobe Rural Health School. He has a background in developmental biology, having completed his PhD at the Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine, Melbourne, and subsequently taken up a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Leicester, U.K. His past research work has included the generation of transgenic animal models for the study of homeobox genes and other developmental factors. Some of his current research interests include:

  • Bacteriophage as alternatives to antibiotics
  • Personalising medicines for HIV/TB patients in Papua New Guinea
  • How medicines “fit into” the lifestyles of Indigenous Australians
  • Optimising the health of older Australians in rural areas by the implementation of Aged Care Pharmaceutical Stewardship

Dr Emma Zadow

Dr Emma Zadow is an academic in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University, with a background in Exercise Science and Haematology. Dr Zadow in an Exercise Scientist and completed her PhD investigating the role of haemostatic changes in response to exercise. Her research focuses on improving overall health outcomes via reducing blood clot risk associated with physical inactivity, rural and regional travel, and more recently, COVID-19 associated coagulopathies.

Higher Degree Candidates

Dalya Alzard is a Master of Applied Science candidate exploring "Knowledge, attitude and the practice of Victorian general  medical practitioners toward common adult and paediatric dental problems."

Sudheer Babu Balla is a PhD candidate exploring "Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) oral needs of migrant children in the City of Bendigo ."

Mehak Batra is a PhD candidate working on the "role of aeroallergen exposure on childhood asthma at the time of a thunderstorm event."

Rebecca Blake is a Doctor of Clinical Science candidate, and an occupational therapist at Assumption College in Kilmore. Her research focuses on evaluating the School-based Occupational Therapy AWARE program. This research closely relates to her work as an occupational therapist in supporting students and building teacher capacity to identify, and appropriately respond to student needs across all domains of students’ social, emotional, academic, physical and spiritual educational occupations within the secondary school environment.

Siann Bowman is a PhD candidate and experienced youth mental health clinician. She has worked with adults who have ongoing mental illness. She has extensive experience in case management, crisis intervention, group therapy, young people with complex presentations, post-traumatic stress disorder in young people and family interventions. Her PhD examines the impact of mental illness on secondary school participation and completion in rural and regional Victoria, Australia.

Yvonne Burns is a PhD candidate working developing a data platform that collects and stores accurate, consistent and reliable data, essential for supporting staff, tailoring services and enhancing client outcomes long-term.

Dr Rahila Ummer-Christian is a PhD candidate. She holds a Master of Public Health and has undertaken dental public health training at the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization, USA. Her PhD focuses on researching access to dental services for children with intellectual and developmental and disabilities in Loddon Mallee region.

Cassandra Cianciarulo is a PhD candidate working on "repurposing drugs to modulate immune response."

Michele Conlin is a PhD candidate who is working on "new approaches to health promotion in the Wimmera."

Sandra Connor is a PhD candidate at the Mildura campus and her project is titled “Adolescent Rural Males' Health: In the context of Emergent Masculinities”.

Emma Cordon is a PhD candidate whose thesis title is "Investigation into Rural Healthcare Workforce Pandemic and Crisis Preparedness Through  a Salutogenic Response."

Anushka Date is a PhD candidate  working on "modulating the innate immune response."

Maureen Dillon is a registered nurse and PhD candidate. Her project is titled “The impact of notification on the personal and professional lives of nurses and midwives”.

Karly Edgar is a PhD candidate in the Palliative Care Unit within the Dept. of Public health. Her research is a joint project between La Trobe and Eastern Palliative Care Inc. (EPC) researching EPC’s award-winning Biography Program. Her research is focused on the experience of the Biography Program from the perspective of the four key groups involved (patients who write their biography, their carers, the volunteer biographers, and EPC staff). As a narrative researcher her focus is on exploring their experience and telling their stories, and is working to develop integrative, creative research that includes poetry and script writing.

Tracey Farrell is professional Doctorate candidate "exploring the impact of an attachment focused trauma informed critical setting reflection model in a rural setting."

Jarrah Fitzgerald is a PhD candidate at the Australian Institute of Primary Care and Ageing, in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. He has a particular interest in qualitative research methods as a way of understanding the unique experiences of individuals and translating these into policy and practice. Research relating to older age and the experience(s) of ageing is a primary focus.

Gigi Guan is a Master of Applied Science candidate looking at the "comparison of early warning system scores for detection of clinical deterioration for patients in hospital emergency departments."

Setho Hadisuyatmana is a PhD candidate and his thesis title is " Reinventing health care delivery for Indonesian men living with diabetes mellitus and sexual dysfunction: Mixed method study."

Christopher Harvey is a Professional Doctorate candidate who is looking into the effect of assertive holistic aftercare on suicidality rates in a regional location.

Kimberley Hitchens is a PhD candidate who is looking at "diversity in undergraduate nursing curriculum: impacts on students' perception and ability to provide inclusive healthcare."

Michelle Hood is a PhD candidate wanting to find out "who cares for the carer and the caregiver's perspective, supporting regional Victorian caregivers during end of life care and post loss."

Aurlene Jayadhas is a PhD candidate looking at "Developing a behaviour change intervention to improve oral health among older people residing in residential aged care facilities in rural Victoria" and she is using a framework called the Behaviour Change Wheel to develop a health promotion intervention for improving oral health among older people in RACFs in rural Victoria.

Yangama Jokwiro is a PhD candidate and a registered general nurse with over 19 years nursing experience. He has worked in a variety of clinical settings progressing to leadership roles in community nursing and acute care nursing. He has spent most of his clinical nursing in an emergency department. In the last 8 years, he has concentrated on teaching undergraduate nursing students and developing his academic career. He worked for a major community care provider managing community care programs that include the Veterans Nursing Program, Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH), Community Aged Care Package (CACP) and Home and Community Care (HACC).

Alexandra Kitching is a Professional Doctorate candidate investigating the  "impact of providing advice on modifiable lifestyle factors  to people  with multiple sclerosis and how this information can affect their long-term health outcomes."

Soorya Kumar is a Professional Doctorate candidate who is looking into "post operative pain management  and surgical nurses' knowledge and attitude towards pain management."

Richard Larsen is a Professional Doctorate candidate investigating "climate change , air quality and human health."

Nicola Lloyd is a part-time PhD candidate and a physiotherapist at Barwon Health. She has worked clinically in rural and metropolitan settings in Australia and in the United Kingdom, as well as working in a number of project and service redesign roles. Her PhD research is about evaluating the impacts of public involvement in health service design.

Philip Lyristakis is a PhD candidate whose thesis title is, "Manipulating the resistance training prescription to optimally restore function."

Jill Maglio is a PhD candidate and occupational therapist who uses circus in her daily practice. She works as a private occupational therapist in New York, working in a number of schools with students who may be disengaged and/or have learning difficulties. Her doctoral research explores how occupational therapists are using circus in their practice. She is also the force behind the charity CircusAid, which promotes positive social and emotional health for political and environmental refugees in Europe and Asia.

Rachael McAleer is a PhD candidate and physiotherapist and has been a part-time lecturer at the La Trobe Rural Health School, La Trobe University, for 10 years, whilst working clinically as a cystic fibrosis specialist at Monash Medical Centre and in her own private practice. Rachael now lectures one day per week whilst completing her PhD full time with the support of a VVM scholarship. Her research interests are in cardiothoracic physiotherapy, rural health and rural education.

Gayle McKenzie is a Professional Doctorate candidate and is looking into the impact of the pandemic on the nursing workforce. The question is, are school leavers still choosing nursing as a profession?

Lorraine Michael is a PhD candidate and her thesis is titled. "Becoming human :A transdisciplinary consideration of a practitioner's narratives."

Rebecca Millar is a PhD candidate and her work explores the clinical practice competencies required in forensic mental health nursing. The results of her study will be used to develop a Forensic Mental Health Nurse Competency Assessment Tool (FHMN-CAT) that can be used to evaluate these competencies.

Sowmya Nagappa Malamardi is a PhD candidate and her work revolves around the role of air pollution in Mysore India.

Cheryl Neilson is a PhD candidate and a lecturer based in the Latrobe Rural Health School in Bendigo. Teaching within core subjects of the Occupational Therapy MOT Prac program with clinical expertise focusing on neurological rehabilitation and paediatrics. I am interested in knowledge translation in the stroke rehabilitation area of practice. I have recently enrolled in a PHD where I am exploring "Sustainable translation of knowledge to practice in regional Australia" as part of the multi-site SENSe Implement study. In addition I am involved in in research in teaching and learning with current project involving a co-design approach with students as partners in curriculum design.

Salatiel Ngezi is a Professional Doctorate candidate researching experiences and practices among sub-Saharan African refugee and migrant communities living in the Goulburn valley  region accessing end of life care services.

Susan O’Neill is a PhD candidate with an educational background in Master of Science in International Health and Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion. Her research is focused on the high incidence of Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) hospitalisations in the Murray Primary Health Network (PHN) region of Victoria. She has previously worked in remote communities throughout Western Australia delivering community health promotion programs, and prior to her PhD research managed a women’s and children’s refuge.

Nicole Preston is a Clinical Doctorate candidate in the field of occupational therapy. Her areas of interest are social inclusion, human rights, community development and policy. Her research project aims to explore the concept of social inclusion across policy and practice.

Cathryn Street is a registered nurse and PhD candidate. Her project is titled “The impact of notification on the personal and professional lives of nurses and midwives”.

Tara Williams is a registered nurse and PhD candidate located at the Mildura campus. Her doctoral work focuses on the health impacts of loneliness and social isolation in rural populations.