HBIC Award 2021 Winners


The Health and Behavior International Collaborative (HBIC) Award committee, along with our six sponsoring organisations, are pleased to announce the 2021 Health and Behavior International Collaborative Award winners.

The winners and their sponsoring organisations are:

The purpose of the award is to facilitate a mentorship collaboration with an international laboratory or research group under the guidance of an identified international mentor. The proposed mentorship collaboration will be based on aims to pursue a specific research project or a specific program development project in the areas of health research, clinical behavioral health, behavioral medicine, or health promotion. Winners are each awarded USD$1,000 to offset costs of virtual activities that contribute to the building of a mentor partnership.

The quality of the applications was excellent, and applicants included individuals at various career stages including graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and early career faculty members. Applicants were from 8 countries including Australia, Canada, India, Venezuela, China, Brazil, Tunisia, USA, and mentors were from 6 different host countries, highlighting the international reach of the award. Two winners are from low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

Details about each winner, their home institution, mentor institution, and project are provided below. Winner photos available upon request.

Key contacts:



Isabela Roque Marçal – Brazil

Winner – Sponsored by the International Behavioural Trials Network

Home institution: Sao Paulo State University (UNESP), Brazil
Host name and institution:
Dr Jennifer Reed; University of Ottawa, Canada

Project: Sex-gender effect of exercise on the physical and mental health in patients with atrial fibrillation

Project outline:  Isabela Roque Marçal has a BSc in physical education and will soon commence her PhD investigating exercise in cardiac rehabilitation, how it can prevent and manage primary and secondary cardiovascular events, improve health and well-being, and be accessible for all individuals. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart arrhythmia and exercise training is an effective non-pharmacological behavioural intervention to improve physical and mental health in this population. Females and women demonstrate more symptoms (eg: shortness of breath), lower level of fitness when compared to males and men. Sex- and gender-based analyses of the responses to exercise training in adults with AF are lacking. Isabela will be collaborating with Dr Jennifer Reed to systematically review the evidence of the impact of sex and gender on the effects of exercise interventions on physical and mental health in patients with AF.

Connor Gleadhill – Australia

Winner – Sponsored by the International Behavioural Trials Network

Home institution: Hunter New England Population Health, Australia
Host name and institution: Dr Hopin Lee; University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Project: Improving the co-design of research through causal inference and trial transportability

Project outline: Connor Gleadhill is an experienced physiotherapist and early career researcher. His research involves working with clinicians to optimise long-term health outcomes for people with musculoskeletal pain. This collaboration will link Connor and a unique network of clinicians actively engaged in generating high quality research (a practice-based research network for physiotherapists​) with Dr Hopin Lee (an international leader in health research methods). The award will enable capacity building for clinicians performing a trial on a lifestyle behavioural approach in a regional primary care setting.

Delfin Lovelina – India

Winner – Sponsored by the International Society of Behavioral Medicine

Home institution: Tagore Dental College and Hospital, Tamil Nadu DR MGR Medical University, Chennai, India
Host name and institution: Mark Parascandola, National Cancer Institute, USA

Project: Smokeless tobacco consumption patterns and oral cancer awareness in rural India

Project outline:  Dr Delfin Lovelina is an Associate Professor at the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University, in Chennai, India. This award will allow Delfin to collaborate with Mark Parascandola, Program Director, Tobacco Control Research Branch, with the National Cancer Institute. The aim of this collaboration is to assess the pattern and prevalence of smokeless tobacco consumption, its associated factors for its consumption, oral cancer awareness and to derive effective cessation strategy among the users. The collaboration will generate evidence regarding communicating the health hazards of tobacco use and facilitating behavioral change in rural populations.

Arwa Ben Salah – Tunisia

Winner – Sponsored by the American Psychosomatic Society

Home institution: University of Monastir, Faculty of Medicine of Monastir, Tunisia
Host name and institution: Prof. Mustafa al’Absi, University of Minnesota Medical School, USA

Project: The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental and behavioral health in North Africa

Project outline:  Dr. Arwa Ben Salah is a medical doctor and an assistant professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Monastir (Tunisia). Her research interests focus on mental health, resilience, sleep, and addictive behaviors. Her project will involve co-leading a global study conducted by Dr. Mustafa al’Absi’s team at the University of Minnesota. Her specific focus will be to analyze data and develop a publication based on results from the North African region. She will investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on stress, mental health, and substance use behaviors with specific attention to regional challenges, and will also focus on identifying factors that may buffer the impact of CIVID-19 related stress. Her hope is that findings from this project will stimulate future research to help inform efforts toward implementing appropriate public health responses and interventions for this and future pandemics.

Michelle Pebole – USA

Winner – Sponsored by the Society for Behavioral Medicine

Home institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Host name and institution: Dr Simon Rosenbaum, University of New South Wales, Australia

Project: Assessing Exercise Physiologists’ Knowledge & Confidence working with Survivors of Sexual Violence

Project outline:  Michelle is a PhD Candidate in the department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her current research focuses on understanding the complex relationships between sexual violence and physical activity. For this award, Michelle will be collaborating with A/Prof Simon Rosenbaum and his colleagues at the University of New South Wales – Sydney to assess experiences with and perceptions of Australian accredited exercise physiologists (AEPs) about the impact of sexual violence on individuals accessing their care. The team will use mixed methods to evaluate AEPs’ (1) attitudes about how understanding sexual violence fits into their scope of practice, (2) confidence working with individuals who may have a background of sexual violence, (3) knowledge about the health impact of sexual violence, and (4) knowledge about the ways in which they can actively seek to provide safe exercise environments for individuals with histories of sexual violence.

Brett Messman – USA

Winner – Sponsored by the Society for Health Psychology

Home institution: University of North Texas, USA
Host name and institution: Dr Joshua Wiley, Monash University, Australia

Project: No Two Nights are the same: Quantifying Demographic and Health Correlates of Variability in Sleep

Project outline:  Brett Messman is a doctoral candidate at the University of North Texas, where he conducts research examining the dynamics of daily sleep patterns on health outcomes such as insomnia, stress and PTSD, depression, and sports injury recovery. Brett will be using the award funding to virtually collaborate with Dr. Joshua Wiley at the University of Monash, Australia. Brett and Dr. Wiley will collaborate on a series of studies exploring the psychometric properties of sleep variability, sociodemographic differences in sleep variability, and the dynamics between sleep variability and mental health outcomes (e.g., insomnia, stress, anxiety, and depression). Through the virtual collaboration experience, Brett will receive training in synthetization of intensive longitudinal sleep data using pooled independent sampling, advanced statistical techniques in R, and computation of metrics of variability.

Carley O’Neill – Canada

Winner – Sponsored by the German Society for Behavioral Medicine – DGVM

Home institution: University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Canada
Host name and institution: Billy Sperlich, University of Wurzburg, Germany

Project: Sex and Gender Difference in the Impact of Wearable Devices in Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs

Project outline:  With the support of the HBIC Dr Carley O’Neill will collaborate with Dr Billy Sperlich to undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis examining sex and gender differences among cardiovascular disease patients on the impact of wearable devices on physical activity levels, usability of such devices, and adherence to cardiac rehabilitation programs. Females and women are often excluded or under-represented in cardiovascular research and as such, this work will help to highlight potential differences between sexes and genders regarding the usage and impact of wearable devices in cardiac rehabilitation settings. Results from this work will be shared widely to help improve physical activity levels and cardiac rehabilitation programs for both sexes and all genders.

Rossmary Marquez-Lameda – USA

Winner – Sponsored by the German Society for Behavioral Medicine – DGVM

Home institution: Indiana University, USA
Host name and institution: Ricarda Nater-Mewes, University of Vienna, Austria

Project: Understanding Venezuelan Immigrant Women’s Access to Contraception in Peru

Project outline:  Rossmary Márquez-Lameda is a PhD student in the Health Behavior program at Indiana University School of Public Health in the United States.  Her work focuses on forced migration, refugee health and reproductive health with a particular emphasis on the recent displacement of Venezuelans across Latin America. As part of the HBIC Award, Rossmary will be conducting a qualitative study to understand Venezuelan displaced women’s access to family planning services in Peru, including contraception. The study will be conducted remotely and is meant to fulfill her current doctoral program’s requirements to advance to PhD candidacy. Rossmary will also be receiving training from her mentor that is relevant to her doctoral training on refugee health research.

View Rossmary’s presentation video