About Us

The SABII research group are a team of researchers who build knowledge and capacity in social and behavioural science to strengthen vaccination programs around the world.  We:

  • Apply a broad range of social sciences to improving vaccine uptake, systems, programs and process;
  • Empower people to make quality decisions at an individual, community and population level;
  • Illuminate the value and contribution of social science to immunisation programmes
  • Embed social science expertise in decision making.

Professor Julie Leask, Co-lead

Julie (PhD, MPH, Dip Health Sci) is a professor and social scientist at the School of Public Health. She has academic qualifications in nursing and midwifery, a Master of Public Health (USYD, 1998) and PhD in public health (USYD, 2002). Julie's research focuses on the behavioural and social aspects of vaccination and vaccine-preventable diseases for which she currently holds an NHMRC Investigator Leadership Fellowship. She is member of the Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases and visiting professorial fellow at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance. She was chair of the World Health Organization/UNICEF Behavioural and Social Drivers of Vaccination working group (2018-2022). She currently sits on advisory committees for the World Health Organization, UNICEF, National Health and Medical Research Council, and Australian national and state governments. She has won several awards for her research and impact, including overall winner of the Australian Financial Review 100 Woman of Influence in 2019 and the Public Health Association of Australia NSW branch Public Health Impact Award and the Sax Institute Research Action Award in 2015.

Kerrie Wiley portrait

Dr Kerrie Wiley, Co-lead

Kerrie is a Senior Lecturer, Sydney Horizons Fellow and NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow in the School of Public Health and is a member of Sydney Infectious Diseases Institute. Kerrie’s research focuses on the social and behavioural aspects of immunisation and other preventive health behaviours, and their implications for policy and practice. Kerrie is a member of the South East Asia Regional Immunization Technical Advisory Group, a steering committee member of the Australian Regional Immunisation Alliance and a founding steering committee member of the Collaboration of Social Science in Immunisation (COSSI). She was also a core member of the World Health Organization ‘Measuring Behavioural and Social Drivers of Vaccination’ (BeSD) Working Group (2018-2022).

Dr Agness Tembo

Agness is a registered nurse, researcher and academic in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. She focuses on the impact of innovative strategies and treatment on the experience of patients in intensive care and beyond. She is recognised for her research on the experience of critically ill patients in ICU and beyond in the context of daily sedation interruption. Her goal is to understand patients' experience of critical illness and therapies to improve their outcomes.

Dr Penelope Robinson

Pen is a Senior Research Officer in the School of Public Health. She has a PhD in Sociology and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and has worked in the university sector as a researcher and project officer for fifteen years on a broad range of projects in public health, sociology, education and social policy. Her research interests include vaccination communication, feminism, and popular culture studies. She recently finished a graphic design qualification and is editor of the SABII website.

Madeleine Randell

Madeleine is a research coordinator and PhD candidate in the School of Public Health. She is currently working on research examining perceptions and demand for routine immunisation and other maternal and child health services during the COVID-19 pandemic, among caregivers and healthcare workers in Indonesia. She graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) in 2011 and obtained a Master of International Public Health from the University of Sydney in 2014.

Maria Christou-Ergos

Maria is a senior research officer and a PhD candidate in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. She holds a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) and a Master of Public Health and has worked as a research officer for twelve years. She has been involved in a variety of projects researching developmental psychology, psycholinguistics and public health. She is currently investigating the role of psychological trauma in shaping vaccination decisions.

Adeline Tinessia

Adeline is a research assistant in the School of Public Health. She holds a Bachelor of International Security Studies (Honours) and a Master of Global Health. She is guided by her passion for studying the intersection of culture, society, and health in the Southeast Asia region. She is currently working with the team to create accessible information for interventions to increase vaccination.

photograph of Nicole Batten

Nicole Batten

Nicole is a PhD candidate and Wentworth Fellowship holder in Government and International Relations and European Studies at the University of Sydney. She is also a visiting recognised research student in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University. Her research is an interdisciplinary examination on the functionality and impact of EU health and national vaccination laws and policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nicole has a Bachelor of Science in Immunobiology and Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in European Studies and Government and International Relations from the University of Sydney. She is also a student representative on the Collaboration on Social Science and Immunisation (COSSI) steering committee, focused on increasing student and early career researcher engagement with COSSI.

Rebika Nepali

Rebika is a PhD candidate and Research Assistant in the School of Public Health. She is from Nepal and has four years of experience working in health fields in Nepal. She was a UN-Trainee at the World Health Organization Country Office Nepal, Program for Immunization Preventable Diseases. She has a bachelor's degree in public health and recently graduated from Central Queensland University Sydney with a Master of Public Health. Her fields of research interests include immunisation and epidemiology.

Dr Majdi Sabahelzain

Majdi works as a Research Fellow at the School of Public Health. He has a PhD in Public Health from CAPHRI at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. His research focuses on the social and behavioral determinants of vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccination acceptance, and access to immunization services. He worked as a Researcher and Director of the Nutrition and Health Center for Training and Research at Ahfad University for Women in Sudan. He also served as a national consultant on social and behavioral change for UNICEF in Sudan, where he co-led the development of the National Strategy for Risk Communication and Community Engagement. His role in SABII is to co-investigate the Social and Behavioural Drivers of Vaccination in low- and middle-income settings.

Emma Campbell

Emma is a research assistant within the Sydney School of Public Health. She holds a Bachelor of Health Science. She has a passion for the continuous improvement of public health systems and how that can benefit individuals, communities and societies. She is currently researching how to best include social science in the structure and function of the emerging Australian Centre for Disease Control.

Dr Ikram Abdi

Ikram is a Research Fellow in the School of Public Health. Her research aims to understand the social context of health behaviours, to help inform the development of interventions and programs both in Australia and globally. She holds a PhD from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Public Health from the University of Sydney. She has a passion for health equity and conducting research that drives policy change for vulnerable and marginalised populations to improve health outcomes for these groups. As part of her work, she has also collaborated with organisations such as the CDC, Voices for Vaccines and the Taskforce for Global Health. She is currently investigating the policy and program level barriers to implementing vaccination strategies for refugee and migrant populations.