PIRI Staff

PIRI Staff’s Expertise

Professor Jeannette Milgrom
Executive Director
Professor Milgrom has been involved in clinical practice and research on difficulties in the mother-infant interaction and postnatal depression (PND) since 1978, and has held a Harkness Fellowship in the USA as well as an O’Rouke Fellowship in Paris for work with families and infants. She has developed a model centre for families and infants, the “Infant Clinic”, and her signature programs include the HUGS intervention program targeting the parent-infant relationship and her postnatal depression treatments. Read more…
Dr Alan Gemmill
Deputy Director, Research and Senior Research Fellow

Dr Alan Gemmill has strong interests in reproductive biology, human health, psychology and biomedical statistics. His published work has modelled the reproductive ecology of infectious, disease-causing organisms in the light of modern evolutionary theory and has focussed on direct experimental tests of theoretical predictions. In recent years his interests have covered diverse biomedical topics from the genetics of malaria parasite to issues of mother-infant mental health. As Deputy Director Research of PIRI, Read more…

Dr Charlene Holt
Research Fellow

Dr Holt graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) at RMIT University, Melbourne in 2001 and a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology at the University of Melbourne in 2002. She completed her Doctor of Clinical Psychology degree at La Trobe University, Melbourne in 2007. Dr Holt joined the PIRI team in February 2006. Dr Holt is responsible for coordinating the Group-based treatment for PND study (including HUGS), the Motivational Interviewing project and the Community HUGS program.

Dr. Yafit Hershler
Research Officer

Dr Yafit Hirshler graduated with a Bachelor of Life Sciences at Bar-Ilan University, Israel in 2002. She completed her Doctor of Neuroscience degree at Bar-Ilan University, Israel in April 2010. Dr Hirshler joined the PIRI team in October 2018 and is responsible for coordinating the Beating the Blues Before Birth study.

Dr. Andre Rodrigues
Research Officer

Dr. Andre Rodrigues has a PhD with Monash University in Health Behaviour Change and Chronic Disease Prevention. He has worked at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and Monash IVF Group and is interest in chronic disease prevention, health behaviour change and maternal-fetal health. Andre joined the PIRI team in November working across various projects within the eMental Health space.

Mrs Sarah Maher
Research Assistant

Sarah has BSc (Behavioural Science), Grad Dip (Clinical Research) 10 years’ experience working in research at St Vincent’s Hospital, Department of Anaesthesia, where she coordinated projects investigating post-operative delirium and cognitive changes in elderly patients.

Ms Rachel Watts
Clinical Psychologist

Rachel graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor Science in 1990, and completed a Graduate Diploma in Applied at Science at RMIT in 1991. At PIRI, Rachel works as a Clinical Psychologist, and she coordinates the Getting Ahead of Postnatal Depression groups. Read more…

Ms Jennifer Ericksen
Appointed a Board Director in 2001 and Consultant Senior Clinical Psychologist

Jennifer Ericksen is a Consultant Senior Clinical Psychologist, Program and Training Manager at the Parent-Infant Research Institute, Austin Health. She has specialised in developing and evaluating clinical interventions for mothers and fathers experiencing anxiety and depression during the child bearing years. Jennie has provided training to Maternal and Child Health Nurses, Psychologists, General Practitioners and Midwives and was previously Manager of Perinatal Mental Read more…

Dr Carmel Ferretti
Clinical Psychologist

Dr Carmel Ferretti is part of the PIRI’s PremieStart team and completed a PhD in Psychology at the University of Melbourne in 2016. Her study evaluated a transactional model of factors predicting maternal sensitivity in a preterm population at 2 years of age and its relationship to child cognitive functioning at 2 years. She has extensive experience working developmentally with young children and in particular premature children and has been part of the PIRI team for the past 10 years.



Professor Helen Skouteris
Honorary Senior Research Fellow

Helen Skouteris is the Monash Warwick Alliance Professor of Healthcare Improvement and Implementation Science at Monash University. Helen is focused on establishing long term collaborative research and education/training programs in healthcare improvement, and implementation science/health services research. Helen has a strong track record in longitudinal multi-factorial research, randomised controlled trials, implementation research and higher degree research supervision. Her work has been focused extensively on maternal and child health, as well as on social service and educational sector improvement.

Ms Elizabeth Loughlin
Dance Therapist

Ms Loughlin is a professional dance therapist who has worked with mothers and infants in dance in the community, studio and clinical setting for many years. At the Austin Health Infant Clinic, she offers dance and movement with music as a therapeutic intervention for mothers with postnatal depression and their infants. The aim is to build on the mother’s intuitive processes that may have been dampened by postnatal depression and to encourage expressive communication between infant and mother.Read more…

Dr Melissa Buultjens
Honorary Research Fellow

Melissa Buultjens is a midwife who shares her time between working clinically, and as a lecturer in the School of Public Health at La Trobe University. Melissa’s recently completed her PhD which involved evaluating the efficacy of a multi-facet group programme for primiparous women making the transition to parenthood compared with routine primary care. The program combines information on mood/coping with nutritional, physiotherapy and lifestyle advice and aims to reduce the incidence of emotional distress 3 months postpartum and facilitate the transition to motherhood. Professor Milgrom was a co-supervisor for Melissa’s PhD and she continues to contribute to the work of PIRI.

Dr. Jessica Oliva

Dr. Jessica Oliva completed her PhD with Monash University in 2015. Since joining PIRI, Jessica has worked on several projects including our e-mental health treatment programs.

Ms Christine Loft
Ms Michele Burn


    Recent Staff Members

Dr Felicity Holmes
Clinical Psychologist

Felicity completed a Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) at Deakin University in 2014 and began working with PIRI in the same year. Her doctoral thesis focussed on the role of gender norms and communication behaviours in relationship wellbeing; however, she has a keen interest in perinatal and infant mental health. Felicity was involved in the Getting Ahead of Postnatal Depression/HUGS study, Mum Mood Booster, and PremieStart studies at PIRI.

Dr Chris Holt
Research Fellow

Dr Christopher Holt graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne in 2003. He has recently completed a PHD within the school of Psychology at Australian Catholic University. His interests include workplace engagement, mental health and positive psychology. In 2004 he joined the research team at the Infant Clinic (Austin Health, Melbourne) as a research assistant. He co-ordinates the PremieStart project, which is a research trial Read more…

Dr Natalie Rose
Senior Research Officer

Natalie completed a Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Teaching (Honours) at The University of Melbourne, and in 2003, she completed her PhD in Educational Psychology, also with Melbourne University. Natalie has worked as a Secondary school teacher of Psychology, Biology and Science for 10 years, and for 7 years as a Read more…

Ms Jo du Buisson
Senior Clinical Psychologist

Jo du Buisson is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice, and former Senior Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Austin Health. She has a background and qualifications in education and for many years ran the postnatal depression groups for the Parent-Infant Research Institute. She is an accomplished Therapist and Trainer. She is now a consultant to the Parent-Infant Research Institute and conducts training for postnatal depression treatment.

Dr Tamsin Kane
Clinical Psychologist

Tamsin completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree at Monash University majoring in Psychology and graduated with a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology from Deakin University in 2000. At PIRI, Tamsin is working as a Clinical Psychologist facilitating the Getting Ahead of Post Natal Depression groups.

Dr Jessica Ross
Clinical Psychologist

Jessica completed her Doctor of Psychology degree at the University of Melbourne in 2008. Her doctoral thesis, Toward Parenthood: an antenatal intervention for postnatal depression and parenting difficulties, was completed in conjunction with PIRI from 2004-2008. Read more…

Dr Carol Newnham
Neuropsychologist & Researcher

Dr Newnham trained as a neuropsychologist and her main area of interest is optimising the development of premature babies. She was a leader in PIRI’s research projects on prematurity, bringing her extensive knowledge to a number of programs. The first involved helping mothers understand the unique behaviours and needs of their still-hospitalised infants. The second is developed in which parents of premature babies are given a host of information about prematurity Read more…

Ms Sofia Galgut
Clinical Psychologist

Sofia Galgut graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) at Victoria University, Melbourne in 2003 and a Graduate Diploma in Psychology at Deakin University in 2004. She undertook her internship program, registered as a psychologist in 2007 and completed her Masters of Clinical Psychology degree at Deakin University in 2009. Sofia has worked in community mental health and private practice settings with children, youth, adults and families with diverse clinical presentation Read more…

Ms Meg Walsh
Provisional Psychologist

Meg is currently studying a Masters of Clinical Psychology at RMIT University, and is due to graduate mid next year. She has completed placements in range of mental health settings including the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Clinical and Health Psychology department at the Austin Hospital. Meg began working with PIRI in 2014 and is involved in the PremieStart project where she conducts psychological and developmental assessments.

Dr Fallon Cook
Research Fellow

Fallon completed her PhD in Psychophysiology at Swinburne University of Technology in 2011. Her interests and expertise centre on the prevention and management of infant sleep and cry problems, and the bidirectional impact these have on poor mental health outcomes for parents. Fallon has an interest in both the psychological and neurological impact of early life events and parenting practices, on child and parent wellbeing. She is passionate about evidence based practice and dissemination of research Read more…

Sofia Rallis_cropped
Dr Sofia Rallis
Clinical Psychologist

Sofia completed her Master of Clinical Psychology degree at RMIT University, Melbourne in 2007 a PhD in Psychology at Deakin University. Sofia’s research focused on exploring maternal and infant wellbeing across pregnancy and the first postpartum year, which investigated Read more…

Recently Graduated

Claire Corbett

Claire graduated from Melbourne University in 2014 with a Masters of Clinical Psychology. Her study explored the utility of measuring preterm mother-infant interactions in the early neonatal period. The aims of her research were: assessing the stability of maternal and infant behaviours between 300 weeks post-conceptual age to 40 weeks (term age equivalent); and examining whether these behaviours at 30 weeks post conceptual age predict maternal care-giving behaviours in the subsequent preterm period.

Dr Lisa Milne

Lisa Milne is a clinical child psychologist and academic. She has a background in community health, working with at-risk children and their families, and has worked as an independent consultant for child protection agencies. Lisa runs a private practice in clinical psychology for children and adolescents and psychotherapy for women and teaches in post-graduate clinical psychology programs. Her research interests include psychological assessment and infant mental health. Lisa recently completed her Read more…

Dr Soledad Coo Calcagni

Soledad is undertook a PhD in Psychology at the University of Melbourne with Professor Milgrom as co-supervisor. The focus of her research is exploring the subjective perception of women about their experiences of pregnancy and childbirth, through the assessment of cognitive vulnerability to depression and coping styles. In the context of this research, she is exploring how processing and coping strategies used by pregnant women vary from the waking to the non-waking state. Read more…

Student Placements

The Infant Clinic regularly accepts students on placement completing postgraduate degrees including masters or doctorate qualifications in clinical and health psychology.

Visiting international students and colleagues are also accommodated.

If you are interested in a placement with PIRI, please contact Rachel Watts by email: rachel.watts@austin.org.au