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Meet the VegKIT Leads

David Cox

BA (Hons), MSc, PhD
Project Leader of VegKIT and Activity Leader of the Vegetable Intake Strategic Alliance

Behavioural Nutritionist with more than thirty years’ experience in sensory and psychological drivers of food choice and acceptance.  David has worked for CSIRO for 25 years, after previous employment at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Institute of Food Research in the UK. David was instrumental in strategic investment and implementation plans that resulted in the VegKIT project and led the project over five years.  David is a member of the South Australian Public Health Council and the Fruit and Vegetable Consortium.  He has published over 100 papers in scientific journals, four book chapters and has an H-index of 33.


Dr Astrid Poelman

Principal Research Consultant, Public Health & Wellbeing, CSIRO, Westmead. BSc (Nutr & Diet), MSc (Nutr), PhD, RNutr

Dr Astrid Poelman is a behavioural nutritionist in the Public Health and Wellbeing Group in CSIRO, and is based in Westmead, Sydney. Her research focuses on the interface of the person, their environment and the product to generate insights that support healthy eating behaviours. As part of this research, she develops behavioural interventions and educational resources for community settings. A specific area of interest is increasing children’s enjoyment and consumption of vegetables, with evidence-based interventions developed for classrooms, canteens, childcare and parents. Astrid is passionate about conducting translational research that makes a difference.

Astrid was responsible for leading a research activity to develop and evaluate an intervention for primary school canteens to increase children’s vegetable consumption, and also for the development of a product development model and novel vegetable-based product concepts for industry supply chain partners and growers. She also led the development of a curriculum resource for Early Years, Taste & Learn™ for Early Years, and was involved in the evaluation of an early years package of initiatives.

Gilly Hendrie

PhD, B Sc (Dietetics), B Sc (Human Movement – Hons)

Dr Gilly Hendrie is a Research Scientist within the CSIRO Human Health Program. Her expertise is in understanding dietary intake patterns and developing novel ways to improve our food choices. Gilly has designed many technology based interventions to change, support, and monitor dietary behaviour change for health and obesity.

Gilly led the team in the development of best practice guidelines. This process include a review of scientific literature, translation to best practice guidelines, and the development of tools and resources for a range of stakeholders that influence what children eat.

Amber Kelaart

Adv APD, Bachelor (Health Sciences/Nutrition & Dietetics), Masters (Health Services Management), Executive MBA (current)

Project Leader of VegKIT registry and website.

Amber Kelaart is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian (Adv APD) who is a passionate and dynamic leader with extensive experience in the healthcare, primary care and not for profit settings. Amber is committed to optimising person-centred outcomes by supporting the uptake of innovative, tailored and evidence-based initiatives. She has led numerous large-scale state government funded projects of varying complexity and is particularly skilled at problem solving, strategic planning, program evaluation and stakeholder engagement. Amber has extensive experiencing in providing multi-modal education solutions to a range of health professionals.

Professor Rebecca Golley

Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics and Deputy Director of the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University

VegKIT lead for Flinders University and  member of the Consortium Management Team.

Rebecca leads a program of applied research to inform, develop, test and disseminate public health initiatives to improve children’s diet quality, prevent obesity and support children’s growth, learning and development. Her research spans the life course and the range of settings where children and families live, eat, work, learn and play. Rebecca has a strong track record in behavioural nutrition, nutritional epidemiology, dietary assessment, intervention trials and evaluation research.



Claire Gardner

Claire Gardner is a qualified dietitian and Research Manager at Flinders University Caring Futures Institute, as part of a research program focusing on the early years.

Claire is passionate about supporting families and children to improve their diet quality and healthy growth and development. She has successfully worked with a diverse range of sectors across government, education, planning, agriculture, charity and not-for-profit on a number of state and national initiatives aimed at translating research and evidence-based strategies into lifestyle and behaviour change.

Claire led the review and development of early years advice for effective behavioural and sensory strategies to increase children liking and intake of vegetables, she also led interventions assessing the effectiveness of best practice initiatives for the long day care setting, and is a member of the Consortium Management Team.