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Meet the team


Professor Jason Halford, Head of School of Psychology

Professor Jason Halford is the Head of the School of Psychology, with a background in Appetite and Obesity. He is an expert in mechanisms underpinning appetite regulation, eating behaviour and energy intake. He has worked on the impact of commercial determinants of health in Children for 20 years and more recently has studied the barriers to supporting adolescents living with obesity. He is the current president of the European Association for the Study of Obesity and leads large multidiscriplinary projects such as SATIN, SWEET, the SWITCH intervention trial, and My First 1000 Days.

Dr Kristine Beaulieu, Lecturer in Appetite & Obesity

Dr Kristine Beaulieu is a lecturer/assistant professor and dietitian with an interest in the influence of physical activity and diet on appetite control. After her PhD on physical activity and appetite, in her postdoc, she examined the impact continuous or intermittent energy restriction (alternate day fasting) on appetite control and eating behaviour in women with overweight/obesity. She subsequently completed a visiting fellowship at Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen to gain new skills and knowledge in clinical diabetes prevention in the context of time-restricted eating in adults at risk of type 2 diabetes.

Dr Catherine Gibbons, Associate Professor

Dr Catherine Gibbons is an exercise physiologist interested in the role of tonic and episodic peptides in the control of appetite and obesity. Catherine's research expertise and reputation falls under two main themes 1) the measurement, analysis and interpretation of gut peptides in appetite control and energy balance and 2) sedentary behaviour and physical activity and their implications for body composition and energy balance.

Dr Alison Fildes, University Academic Fellow

Dr Alison Fildes is Deputy Director of the Gemini study, a large UK twin cohort established to advance understanding of the genetic and environmental contributions to growth, energy balance behaviours and wellbeing from infancy to early adulthood. She is interested in the aetiology and modification of obesogenic health behaviours and has expertise in appetite, food preferences, feeding practices, the food environment, and consumer behaviour. Alison has contributed to several randomised controlled trials targeting diet and obesity prevention. She is part of a multidisciplinary team based at the university of Leeds which utilises consumer data to test interventions that promote healthy and sustainable diets.

Professor Graham Finlayson, Chair in Psychobiology

Professor Graham Finlayson has a sustained international reputation for leading innovative research on human appetite, food choice, and the relationship between eating and physical activity behaviour. He has over 15 years’ experience in collaborative multidisciplinary research, effective PhD supervision and knowledge exchange through his work with organisations, industry, government, public and third sectors.

Dr Stuart W. Flint, Associate Professor

Dr Stuart W. Flint is Associate Professor at the University of Leeds, President of Scaled Insights and an Honorary Academic for the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), with a specific interest and expertise in attitude and behaviour change, psychosocial aspects of obesity, health-related stigma and discrimination – particularly weight stigma and discrimination - and health inequalities, leading work internationally, nationally and regionally with governments, health systems, education, media, patient advocacy groups and the general population. Flint has led and contributed to public health policy and the development of healthcare education in countries including the UK, US, Mexico and across Europe. He has developed guidelines to address stigma towards people with obesity in media portrayal and obesity and public health policy and is working with Local Authorities to address stigma within public health services and delivery.

Dr Alice Kininmonth, Research Fellow in Appetite Research

Dr Alice Kininmonth is a Research Fellow, with expertise in child eating behaviours, feeding practices and childhood obesity research. She has a particular interest in psychosocial, environmental and socioeconomic determinants of food choice and health. She is an Honorary Research fellow in the Department of Behavioural Science and Health at University College London and a core member of the Gemini birth cohort, a large population based cohort of 2402 twins born in the UK in 2007. Alice has worked on the a range of large scale multidisciplinary research projects including: My First 1000 Days, the APPETItE project (Appetite in Preschoolers: Producing Evidence for Tailoring Interventions Effectively), the Family Food Experience Study-London and MQ Mental Health: Appetite, Parental feeding practices & Eating Disorders project.

James Stubbs, Professor of Appetite and Energy Balance

Professor James Stubbs has 35 years research experience in appetite and energy balance including human behaviour, physiology and psychology of food intake, diet composition and obesity. He has 10 years of industry experience and academic collaborations in developing applied solutions to weight control in the general population, with a special interest in sustained weight loss, relapse prevention and weight maintenance strategies. James has extensive experience in research-intensive environments, conducting integrated human trials and interventions, concerned with diet composition, physical activity, energy balance, weight control and obesity. Current focus: (i) develop the Psychobiology of Appetite and Energy balance through existing collaborations and new developments in theory, methods, funding, publication and infrastructure, (ii) strategically develop whole-body energy balance and behavioural studies that relate biological mechanisms to real-world solutions and help address key issues in obesity, sustainable behaviour change, health and well-being.

Postgraduate Researchers

Clarissa Dakin, PhD Student

Clarissa Dakin is a third year PhD student at the University of Leeds who is dedicated to understanding the theoretical constructs and individual differences that underlie complex eating patterns and behaviours. Her thesis is focused on defining and refining measures for different motivations to eat and examining how these motivations predict objective outcomes including food intake and weight change. Clarissa is currently working on several projects including EU Horizon funded SWEET, and NoHoW, as well as her own research interests developing the “SatMap,” a reference system to map the satiety value of commonly consumed foods. Clarissa is also in the process of co-writing grant applications to continue her current PhD research into post-doc study.

Emma Young, PhD Student

Emma Young is a PhD student at the University of Leeds. Emma completed her BSc Psychology degree at the University of Leeds in 2022, and worked as a research assistant at the University of Bradford in the field of childhood physical activity, before starting her PhD in October 2023. Emma's PhD uses data from the large prospective birth cohort called Gemini to understand the interplay between psychological wellbeing and growth across childhood and adolescence.

Yue Wang, PhD Student

Yue Wang is a PhD student at the University of Leeds, with a BSc in Applied Psychology and an MSc in Psychology of Education (BPS). Before beginning her doctoral studies, Yue gained practical experience at a mental health centre at a Chinese university. Her current research at the University of Leeds focuses on understanding and addressing weight stigma and disordered eating behaviours among young people.

Matthew Button, PhD Student

Matt Button is a PhD student at the University of Leeds. Matt has developed in an interest in psychology and in particular parenting interventions through his experience working as a GP. He took some time out from medicine to undertake and complete a Psychology MSc in 2021 before returning to practice. Matt’s PhD relates to the Leeds University based My First 1000 Days project. He exploring the needs and challenges of families living in Leeds with children at risk of obesity, with a particular focus on social and ethnicity-based inequalities, and the role of fathers. 

Emeritus Professors

Professor John Blundell

Professor John Blundell is Professor Emeritus in PsychoBiology in the School of Psychology. John's initial research concerned the relationship among brain mechanisms, foods and appetite control, and led to the development of the Satiety Cascade. Currently, the research is focussed upon the study of human appetite within an energy balance framework and has demonstrated that Energy Expenditure is a strong determinant of the Drive to Eat. Other research has included genetic studies on anorexia nervosa, the impact of physical activity on appetite, and mechanisms of action of anti-obesity drugs. In 1990, John established the Human Appetite Research Unit (HARU) at the University of Leeds.

Professor Marion Hetherington

Professor Marion Hetherington is Professor Emeritus in Biopsychology, University of Leeds, and is Affiliate Professor in Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University. An experimental psychologist by background with more than 30 years of experience researching human appetite across the life span, she is a specialist in the psychology of food choice and the development of food acceptance in early life.