Our people

Our people

Members of Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise and Training (CEPET) have a combined record of productivity that is exceptional, with complementary strengths in psychology, cognitive science, philosophy, music, sports science, methodology, applied practice, and analysis. They are distinguished by top tier publications, HDR supervisors, community engagement, and research funding success.

Core members

Professor Bill Thompson

Centre Director

Professor Bill Thompson

Department of Psychology

Professor Bill Thompson is professor in psychology at the Department of Psychology and Chief Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders. He is also the Director of the Music, Sound and Performance Lab. His research interests include music perception and cognition, music and emotion, violence and music, music and language, disorders of music, and music-based treatments.


Professor Mark Wiggins

Centre Deputy Director

Professor Mark Wiggins

Department of Psychology

Professor Mark Wiggins is a registered psychologist with an endorsed area of practice in organisational psychology. His research and teaching interests lie in the assessment and development of expert performance, particularly in the context of cognitive skills such as diagnosis and decision-making.



More core members

Professor John Sutton

Professor John Sutton

Department of Cognitive Science

John Sutton is Professor in cognitive science and Associate Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders. His research covers memory, skill, and distributed cognition, seeking to integrate philosophical, psychological, and historical ideas and methods in areas such as autobiographical and social memory, point of view in personal memory, and mindful bodies in action.


Prof. Mark Williams

Professor Mark Williams

Department of Cognitive Science

Mark Williams is Professor in psychology and Associate Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders. Mark investigates the way the brain generates the perceptual reality we ‘see’. He uses both novel objects and more familiar stimuli such as faces and scenes to examine areas of the brain involved in perception. He implements novel analysis techniques such as multi-voxel pattern analysis to 'read-out' how the brain perceives the world.


Associate Professor Barbara Griffin

Associate Professor Barbara Griffin

Department of Psychology

Associate Professor Barbara Griffin is an organisational psychologist and Program Director of Organisational Psychology. She has led a substantial research program investigating adaptive processes across the employee career cycle, including projects on selection, incivility, career transition, and organisational culture, with research conducted in many Australian and multinational companies across the public and private sectors.


Associate Professor Greg Downey

Associate Professor Greg Downey

Department of Anthropology

Associate Professor Greg Downey is Head of Department in Anthropology and his research focuses on studying the effects of skill acquisition, especially on cognitive and sensory learning, from a biocultural and neuroanthropological perspective. He has significant secondary research projects in areas like service-based learning, human rights, and evolutionary theory.


A/Prof. Catherine McMahon

Associate Professor Catherine McMahon

Department of Linguistics

Associate Professor Catherine McMahon is a researcher, clinical audiologist, Head of Audiology and Associate Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders. Catherine's research has a strong clinical focus that aims to better understand the effects of adult-onset hearing loss and its associations (such as tinnitus) on the individual, the family and community. It focuses on older adults, where sensory disorders, such as hearing loss, and cognitive decline is highly prevalent.


A/Prof. Anina Rich

Associate Professor Anina Rich

Department of Cognitive Science

Anina Rich is an Associate Professor in cognitive science and Associate Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders. Anina's research focuses primarily on two different aspects of sensory processing: the mechanisms and influences of selective attention, and the way in which the brain integrates information, including unusual occurrences of integration such as Synaesthesia. An additional interest lies in the way in which the brain changes and adapts to injury or modified input.


Dr. Manolya Kavakli

Associate Professor Manolya Kavakli

Department of Computing

Associate Professor Manolya Kavakli is currently the Director of Postgraduate Coursework Program at the Department of Computing and the Director of Virtual Reality Lab at the Simulation Hub. Manolya has been working on Human Computer Interaction for 25 years. She is currently using virtual reality hardware and software, focusing on gesture recognition, and designing ubiquitous systems to improve learning outcomes, as well as motion tracking in the field of computer games and training simulations to contribute to expertise building.


Dr. Kim Curby

Dr. Kim Curby

Department of Psychology

Dr. Kim Curby focuses on questions such as: How does visual learning alter the way we see and remember? What happens to the brain when we become perceptual experts? And how can understanding such processes inform us about why people can sometimes fail to develop the kinds of perceptual expertise that most of us take for granted (for example, face recognition)?


Dr. Melanie Taylor

Dr. Melanie Taylor

Department of Psychology

Dr. Melanie Taylor has worked in the areas of psychosocial impacts of disasters and emergencies and related preparedness and response behaviour. She has also specialised in the optimization of human performance. For example, the assessment of human performance and human error in safety-critical systems, e.g. aviation, military operations, and she has experience in using a wide range of research methodologies. Many projects have investigated human performance and limitations in stressful environments, or in the presence of stressors.


Glenn WarryMr. Glenn Warry

Sports and Recreation

Mr. Glenn Warry is a specialist in Learning, Development & Wellbeing Strategies for talent within sporting organisations, corporations and learning institutes. He is contracted by Macquarie University to manage the EAFU program, supporting up to 125 elite & emerging sport scholars annually to integrate university study with their elite amateur/ professional sporting careers. In addition he facilitates national sporting organisation research partnerships for the Centre of Elite Performance, Expertise and Training. (CEPET).

Associate members

Dr. Kirk Olsen

CEPET Centre Manager: Research and Engagement

Dr. Kirk Olsen

Department of Psychology

Dr. Kirk Olsen is CEPET Centre Manager and postdoctoral researcher in psychology. Kirk's research investigates cognitive and sensory mechanisms that underpin perception of complex and dynamic real-world acoustic stimuli such as music. Recent work investigates auditory attention and motion perception in the context of spatial hearing; the social, psychological, and neurological implications of violent music; and the neuroscience of creativity through expert musical performance.


Dr. Waldo Garrido

Dr. Waldo Garrido

Artist, Producer, Composer, and Songwriter
HIGHRESAUDIO, Berlin, Germany and BMG Music

Dr. Waldo Garrido has research interests that include: music psychology (cultural memory and nostalgia), music performance (improvisation, guitar, bass and jazz), music production (digital technologies), music industry (publishing and independent musicians), and world popular music (cross-cultural music making).


Maria KangasAssociate Professor Maria Kangas

Department of Psychology

Associate Professor Maria Kangas is a clinical psychologist and the Program Director of the Master of Clinical Psychology program in the Department of Psychology at Macquarie University. Her clinical research focuses on examining the symptom profile, course and treatment of anxiety, PTSD, mood and somatic disorders in individuals experiencing traumatic life stressors, medical and benign health problems. Most recently, she is also supervising postgraduate research students who are investigating the impact of physical activity/exercise and its association with emotion regulatory processes in modulating the impact of executive functioning in healthy and clinical samples.

Doctoral student members

Ms. Ann CarriganAnn Carrigan

Department of Cognitive Science

Supervisor: A/Prof. Anina Rich

Visual search and attention are required to attain our goals in all aspects of life. Previous studies including those investigating participants who have an expertise in a specific domain, such as medical imaging, show that these tasks are prone to error. If one has a cancer screening scan, somebody “searches” that image for an abnormality. Ann’s project focuses on how this attentionally-demanding visual search process works, and the features that separate naive observers and experienced radiologists. Ann studies factors such as attentional bias and the effect of visual clutter on error rates using psychophysical experiments. The outcomes will make a contribution by providing new insights into visual search and attention, within an applied setting, along with strategies to reduce errors in diagnosis and informing training of radiologists.


T.MartinMs. Teresa Martin

Department of Psychology

Supervisor: A/Prof. Maria Kangas

Teresa Martin is a provisional psychologist and a Master of Clinical Psychology candidate. Teresa is being supervised by associate professor Maria Kangas in the area of emotion regulation and physical activity. 


Aydin AnicMr. Aydin Anic

Department of Psychology

Supervisors: Prof. Bill Thompson and Dr. Kirk Olsen

Aydin Anic is a PhD candidate whose research primarily focuses on the neuroscience of creative cognition in musical improvisations. He uses transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to alter the neural activation patterns in specific parts of the brain to assess their role in creative behavioural outputs. Aydin’s research will have significant implications for the domains of expertise and creativity, and whether creativity can be induced artificially.


Ms. Sue Brouwers

Department of Psychology

Supervisor: Prof. Mark Wiggins

Sue Brouwers is an Organisational Psychology PhD candidate at Macquarie University. Her research has incorporated the use of EXPERTise (Driving: V. 1.0 and 2.0) to examine how cue utilisation reduces the demands on cognitive resources (cognitive load) and impacts the performance of individuals in learning-related contexts. The performance-related impacts of cue utilisation have been examined with the use of aircraft and rail control simulations.


Ms. Eva Gacasan

Department of Psychology

Supervisor: Prof. Mark Wiggins

Eva Marie Gacasan's PhD project examines sensemaking as a cognitive construct in project management, in particular, focusing on the disaster recovery context. The aim of her research is to understand how project managers make sense of complex situations by examining the key features that they acquire from the environment, and the way they acquire them, or the cue utilisation process involved. Her research methodology included cognitive task analysis/ critical incident technique, cross-sectional survey, and experimental study using EXPERTise, a diagnostic software. The outcomes of this research are intended to provide an empirical basis of cue-based training and assessment systems in both the project management and the disaster management fields.  Her research is under the supervision of Prof. Mark Wiggins.


Mr. Peter Renshaw

Department of Psychology

Supervisor: Prof. Mark Wiggins

Peter Renshaw is a Registered Psychologist and Member of the Australian Psychological Society. He also holds conventional pilot licences for fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft with various ratings and endorsements, including a helicopter flight instructor rating. He is undertaking a PhD examining technical skill acquisition and performance within the context of remotely-piloted aircraft operations. He has extensive experience as an aircraft accident investigator and airline safety manager.


Mr. Daniel Yee

Department of Psychology

Supervisor: Prof. Mark Wiggins

Previous research has focused on the role of cue utilisation in technical environments which involve highly domain-specific cues and environments. Daniel's program of research seeks to examine whether the utilisation of more broad social cues predicts performance in transient and dynamic settings, and whether social cue utilisation provides incremental validity over more traditional, technical forms of cue utilisation.


  • Sarah Pini (Supervised by Prof. John Sutton): PhD topic is on expert dance cognition.
  • Dorothea O’Conor & James Wood (Supervised by Prof. Mark Wiggins)
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