Advisory Board

Dr Christie Bennett is like the pocket rocket in our advisory team. She may be the youngest, but her ‘old soul’ negates her biological age. By day, she’s an Assistant Lecturer and Clinical Dietician; researching, teaching and consulting with clients to help improve the nutritional status of Australia. By night she problem solves in her sleep. You don’t think such a grand aim can be achieved in waking hours do you? Quite ironic really given her PhD research was all about sleep and nutrition in pregnancy.

Christie is the kind of Clinician who listens deeply to the concerns of her patients. She understands that influence comes from how you make people FEEL, not what you say. To achieve this, her modus operandi is to build people up with a clear intention of supporting them to change their life, through bringing awareness to their thoughts and behaviors. Her take on food? It has no moral value, so is neither good nor bad. What’s important is being in touch with how the food makes you feel.

Something she’d like you to know as you go about this pregnancy journey?

You’re growing a human! It’s hard. Be kind. Take help where it’s offered.

Before recruiting Dr Hannah Brown for your baby-making team, you’ll want her as your friend. She’s the kind of good hearted soul you could chat to for hours, getting led astray in the best kind of way. She was born to turn ideas into impact. Yep, she’s one of THOSE people. You hearing us?

As the Science Strategy and Operations Manager of the Victorian Heart Institute it’s her (important) job to build, maintain and grow the community of cardiovascular researchers, educators and clinicians to deliver research that will improve the lives of all Australians. No easy feat, to be honest. But there’s no better advocate to occupy this role, in our humble opinion. Hannah is the kind of person who wants to change the world.

What’s one thing she wants you to remember, as you go about this journey?

That the state of your health is not a conversation left for baby-making years. It’s about living well from birth to beyond. What are you waiting for?

Seriously, what Dr Mark Green doesn’t know about endocrine disruptors and toxicants in our environment is simply not worth knowing, in our humble opinion. As the Senior Lecturer & Group Leader in the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne, Mark spends his days looking at the ‘soup’ of man-made chemicals we live in. Mark’s big passion is helping you understand how lifestyle and environment are major influences on fertility.  

Because there are 25 hours in the day in Mark’s world, he also acts as Deputy Scientific Director at Monash IVF. Here, he teaches and conducts research on reproductive biology, translating what he discovers to his patients trying to start (or grow) a family.

British by birth, and certainly by humor, Dr Mark Green is our resident chatterbox. If you ever bump into him, be prepared for a learning feast!

What’s one thing he wants you to remember, as you go about this journey?

That the health of a child is determined WAY before conception. If both parents understood how their diet and environmental exposures influence the long term health of their children, then we would see healthier babies being born. Which means a healthier population. Which means a thriving species. Which means...ohhh, don’t get him started!

That’s our Dr Mark.

As far as connectors go, A/Prof Nicolette Hodyl is one of the best we’ve met. Technically, she’s a former research scientist who, like a lot of our team, worked to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies. Today, she’s a consultant health and medical research strategist. That’s a complicated way of saying her job is to bring together lots of different people with complementary skills, resources and experiences, so that the research they gather goes BOOM. Achieving impact is her thing. It’s important to her. She is the person who acts a bit like the Conductor of an orchestra; weaving together all the right people to form the perfect symphony so that the music you hear is clear and meaningful. It changes lives.

We love Nicolette for her ability to do this. It’s a special kind of skill.

Something she’d like you to know as you go about this pregnancy journey? 

Sometimes it goes right and sometimes it goes wrong, and for no real reason either way. Regardless, it is important to make the most and appreciate what you have. Oh, and try and recognise and then minimise stress. It’s not your friend. At any age or stage of your life. Wise words we all need to take heed of.

A/Prof Tim Moss is the kind of guy you want on your life making advisory team. Aside from being the coolest kid on the block, he has spent the last 3 decades studying the science of maternal and fetal health - in MICROSCOPIC detail. That’s right, he was the man dressed in the lab coat sporting the title of Medical Research Scientist, all in dedication to improving pregnancy outcomes for Mums and their babies.

If that wasn’t enough, Tim now works at Healthy Male - an Australian organisation that connects men with easy-to-understand information about their reproductive and sexual health. It’s Tim’s job to be the translator between the tricky language of Science and us normal people. Tim’s the whole package, if you ask us.

What’s one thing he wants you to remember, as you go about this journey?

Pregnancy, be it joyous or miserable, is temporary. Being a parent is forever, no matter the circumstances.

A/Prof Beverly Muhlhausler, as the Research Director of the Nutrition & Health Program at CSIRO, leads an amazing group of people who are working to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians. Can you imagine how big this is? They develop and test lifestyle programs, creating an easy to follow guide for Australians who need the help, to create positive change in their life.

Authentic leadership is her jam. She’s the kind of person you want to work for. If there’s anything her decades long career in medical research has taught her, it’s that you need to find your own style and stick with it. Advice that relates to many areas of our life, huh? You don’t need to be pregnant to hear that pearl.

If you were talking to Bev now, she would give you this one piece of advice and ask you to always remember it.

It’s about the way we treat ourselves, as women. It’s easy to put our own health and well-being behind that of others, but it’s essential to be kind to yourself and make your own physical and psychological health a priority. Ok, now it’s time to go do it! Dr Bev said so.

Dr Kirsten Palmer is the person you want to turn to for advice when there are complications in your pregnancy. As our resident Obstetrician in maternal fetal medicine, she is a doctor who cares for women before, during and following pregnancies that are accompanied by either pre-existing medical conditions in the mother or complications that arise during the pregnancy for either mother or baby.

As a Mother herself, she somehow draws on her superhuman powers to ALSO lead a research program at Monash University. In her role as Senior Research Fellow, she follows her passion for improving outcomes in mothers and babies impacted by a range of pregnancy issues.

There’s a lot to love about Dr Kirsten, particularly her candid response to anyone stuck on the script of ‘eating for two’ during pregnancy.

In case you didn’t know, it’s a myth. 

What’s one thing she wants you to remember?

Speak to your health care professional well before you embark upon your pregnancy journey. Do all the right things that you would do for optimal health, at ANY time of your life - because being truly well extends beyond your baby making years. And don’t delay! We know that’s a second thing but it’s just as important (and we should all listen to someone like Dr Kirsten).

Professor Beverley Vollenhoven is a straight shooter. She’s been around the baby making space for decades and as the leader of Gynaecology at Monash Health and Deputy Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Monash University, there’s not much about the topic she doesn’t know. Working as a Clinician at Monash IVF means Bev has literally seen it all. She’s like the carriage on a rollercoaster, holding the space for women as they experience the extraordinary highs and the devastating lows of creating a family.

What’s one thing Bev wants you to know, if you could ask her?

That IVF is not the magic cure for older women trying to get pregnant. Age for men and women MATTERS - start early and don’t wait.