ESSA Research Committee

The Research Committee has been established to oversee and define ESSA’s research priorities and activities, as well as assist with the translation and dissemination of Australian exercise and sports science research.

Research Committee Members

  • Chair – Associate Professor Ria Arnold  
  • Deputy Chair - 
  • Members – Dr Carolina Sandler, Associate Professor Naroa Etxebarria, Dr Peter Edwards, Professor Sandi Hayes, Associate Professor Brendan Scott, Dr Suzi Edwards, Associate Professor Maarten A Immink, Dr Matthew Wallen, Associate Professor Brett Gordon  

Associate Professor Ria Arnold, PhD, BSc, AES, AEP

Ria Arnold is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Associate Professor at the University of Wollongong. Her research is focused on reducing the impact of complications and multimorbidity for people chronic kidney disease and diabetes through exercise and physical activity interventions. This research includes health services research to support continuity of care and quantify the value of Exercise Physiology in multidisciplinary teams. She holds a clinical appointment with NSW Health and adjunct appointment with UNSW Sydney.

Dr Carolina Sandler, PhD, BSc, AES, AEP

Dr Sandler is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, clinical-researcher, and Lecturer at Western Sydney University. Her program of research focuses on understanding the pathophysiology, management (incl. physical activity & multidisciplinary interventions), clinician and patient education of fatigue as a sequalae of acute infection (post-infective fatigue) and cancer (post-cancer fatigue). Her other program of research focuses on the role of physical activity in cancer survivors. She holds adjunct positions at The Kirby Institute UNSW, Menzies Health Institute Queensland at Griffith University, and The University of Queensland. She was awarded a Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Fellowship (2022-2025).

Associate Professor Naroa Etxebarria, ASpS 2

Associate Professor Naroa Etxebarria is an Accredited Sports Scientist (II) from the Research Institute for Sport & Exercise at the University of Canberra. She has more than 15 years of experience in applied sports physiology in triathlon performance and endurance physiology. A/Prof. Etxebarria’s research focuses on translating research and applying it to the everyday training and competition environment for athletes and coaches to improve performance in elite and sub-elite sport.

Associate Professor Maarten A Immink

Maarten is the Academic Lead for Exercise Science and Clinical Exercise Physiology at Flinders University.  As a motor learning and control expert, he leads research aimed at furthering our understanding of the neurocognitive processes that contribute to skilled movement acquisition and performance.  Translation of his research informs development of optimised training programs in exercise, sport, industry, Defence and clinical movement rehabilitation settings. He also leads cognitive enhancement research aimed at identifying effective exercise and mindfulness approaches to optimising individual human performance capacity.  Maarten is a member of the Sport, Health, Activity, Performance and Exercise (SHAPE) Research Centre at Flinders University and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of South Australia.  He is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Motor Learning and Development and an editorial board member for the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement.

Associate Professor Brendan Scott ASpS2

Brendan is a NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow at Murdoch University’ Centre for Healthy Ageing. His research is primarily focused on using hypoxia and blood flow restriction methods to enhance exercise training responses in cohorts ranging from older adults to high-performance athletes. Brendan has consulted with allied health practitioners and elite sporting organisations, including on the AIS guidelines for blood flow restriction training. 

Dr Suzi Edwards, ASpS2
Suzi is an expert in the biomechanics and motor control and learning of complex human motion at The University of Sydney. She leads two research programs on sporting injury mechanisms. 1) ‘Tackling Re-Education’ Program. Concussion in collision sports is a prominent community health concern, occurring mostly during tackles. To make such sports safer for all players, her research program is elucidating how tackles in rugby affect the forces on a player’s head and how retraining tackle technique can reduce the concussion risk. 2) ‘National Basketball Association (NBA) Injury Mechanisms’ Program. This program in collaboration with the NBA addresses the mechanisms of injuries to identify the best athlete management practice for injuries in future and current NBA players.


Professor Sandi Hayes 

Professor Sandi Hayes is a Senior Research Fellow within Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University. Professor Hayes uses her expertise in exercise oncology science and epidemiology to improve cancer survivorship. Prof Hayes undertakes research to better understand the concerns faced as a consequence of cancer and its treatment (with a particular interest in lymphoedema), and explores the role of healthy lifestyles (in particular, physical activity including exercise) in preventing and alleviating cancer-related burden. Prof Hayes is committed to using research findings to improve policy, workforce capacity and clinical practice, which in turn will improve the lives of those diagnosed with cancer.

Dr Matthew Wallen  

Dr Matt Wallen is a Senior Research Fellow in Cancer Survivorship, the Deputy Lead of the Cancer Survivorship Program, and a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Science and Clinical Exercise Physiology within the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University. His main research area involves investigating the effects of exercise and other lifestyle interventions in people living with and beyond a diagnosis of cancer, as well as solid-organ transplant candidates and recipients. Matt is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Exercise Scientist and is the current Course Coordinator for the Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology at Flinders University.

Associate Professor Brett Gordon 

Brett is Associate Professor of Exercise Physiology in the Rural Health School at La Trobe University. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the sport, health, and academic industries and has been an accredited exercise physiologist for 20 years. Brett is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of individuals in regional and rural Australia, and his ongoing research is investigating how exercise can be prescribed to optimise various health recommendations if a range of health care and community settings where resources are typically lower than in metropolitan areas. He is currently Head, Department of Rural Clinical sciences and Lead of the Active Rural Individuals stream of the Holsworth Research Initiative and regularly contributes to a range of community initiatives.

For more information about the Research Committee, please contact Jess Muir, ESSA's Research & Project Support Officer: [email protected]