Dedicated experts who share our passion


The Fernwood Foundation has partnered with Deakin University. 100% of money raised by the Foundation funds research at Deakin University, exploring how diet and nutrition can reduce risk, prevent and treat mental disorders (through the Food and Mood Centre), and the development of scientific-based mental wellbeing program (through a psychologist at the University).

Professor Felice Jacka and Dr Tetyana Rocks at the Food and Mood Centre provide evidence-based research and resources to the Foundation, informing the nutrition and wellness components of all Fernwood programs. They also  develop the nutrition components of the wellness program, focusing on Mediterranean diet-style meal plans for mental health. Dr Subhadra Evans and Dr Mandy O’Connor at Deakin University develop the mindset components of the wellness program, focusing on emotional intelligence and coping mechanisms. The aim of the Wellness Program will be to equip all women with information and practical strategies for good mental health.   


Professor Felice Jacka


Professor Jacka is the Director of Deakin University’s Food and Mood Centre. Professor Jacka has pioneered a highly innovative program of research that examines how individuals’ diets, and other lifestyle behaviours, interact with the risk for mental health problems. This research is being carried out with the ultimate goal of developing an evidence-based public health message for the primary prevention of the common mental disorders.

As the Director of the Food and Mood Centre, Felice supervises Dr Tetyana Rocks, Fernwood Post-Doc Research Fellow, providing direction and support into further research on the brain and gut axis. She also holds Honorary Principal Research Fellow appointments at the Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Centre; The University of Melbourne; and the Black Dog Institute in NSW.

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Dr Tetyana Rocks


Dr Rocks was recently appointed the Fernwood Fitness Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Food and Mood Centre, Deakin University.  Tetyana is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian who competed her PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). Funded by the Australian Postgraduate Award, Tetyana’s PhD focused on eating, exercise, and body attitudes and how these factors are influenced by nutrition knowledge.

During her PhD, Tetyana also lectured in Nutrition and Dietetics at the USC, covering the areas of general nutrition, food, society and culture, and food sciences. Currently, Tetyana is developing her post-doctoral research in the area of nutrition and the role it plays in mental health. Her specific interests include every-day simple nutrition for a healthy body and mind throughout the life stages.

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Dr Subhadra Evans


Dr Evans is the lead research supervisor developing the Fernwood Foundation Wellness Program tailored for women with anxiety and depression. Dr Evans brings years of research experience in psychology, mind and body to inform the design of this program. Dr Evans has recently moved to Deakin University, where she teaches Developmental Psychology, and is continuing her research in the field of mindfulness for wellbeing.

Dr Subhadra Evans obtained her PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University in Canterbury. At the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr Evans undertook research into the use of mind body interventions, including yoga, mindfulness and hypnosis for addressing chronic pain and improving wellness.

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Dr Mandy O'Conner


Dr O'Connor is a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at Deakin University. She is an expert in intervention and program development using implementation science methodologies.

Her research interests include women’s health and wellbeing, parent-child relationships, children’s health and early education and care. Mandy has worked collaboratively with industry partners, intermediary research organisations and multiple academic research centres.