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The team

Dr Kirsten Peterson

Head of Discipline, Sport Psychologist

Kirsten has been heading up the AIS Performance Psychology Discipline since 2011.  Prior to that time, she worked for 14 years with the U.S. Olympic Committee as a senior sport psychologist.  She currently manages the discipline team and facilitates psychology support for the Australian High Performance Sport sector. 

Kirsten has worked across many Olympic and Paralympic sports over the course of her career, providing sport psychoeducation and assisting athletes, coaches, and teams to enhance the psychological aspects of their performances. 

Her current professional interests reside in the areas of brain-based performance enhancement, and better understanding the constructs underpinning the drive to mastery, mindfulness, and resilience as they relate to excellence in sport.

I discovered sport psychology when, as a university-level softball pitcher, I suddenly couldn’t throw strikes and literally did not know where to turn for help.  The idea that there were mental solutions out there for athletes like me was a revelation.  While I still can’t pitch and hit the side of a barn, I have been fascinated with the mental underpinnings of sport performance ever since.  Working at the AIS has allowed me to work with and learn from some of Australia’s top athletes, coaches, and teams.  I have also be privileged to work with an exceptional team of psychologists and sport scientists who are all similarly passionate, curious, and committed to the same journey of inquiry.”

Hear Kirsten's interview with Olympic Rio Rowing Gold Medallist, Kim Brennan 

Dr Renee Appaneal

Senior Sport Psychologist

Renee joined the AIS in early 2013 from the USA where she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 

Renee’s professional interests include performance excellence and sport injury. She works within the AIS Athlete Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) and on the multidisciplinary initiative, the AIS Stay Healthy Project.  Renee is a Registered and Endorsed Sport and Exercise Psychologist, and a Certified Consultant through the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (CC, AASP).

I enjoy working with the AIS Performance Psychology team, and our extended community of psychologists in high performance sport. It’s fun to interact with brilliant colleagues across sport science and medicine to help achieve performance outcomes for Australia. The AIS provides a variety of opportunities to apply and develop my expertise in support of athletes and coaches in the Canberra daily training environment as well as domestic and international competitions.”

Dr John Baranoff

Dr John Baranoff is a Senior Sport Psychologist working primarily with Cycling Australia. He is a Member of the Australian Psychological Society (MAPS) and is an endorsed, Sport and Exercise, Clinical, and Health Psychologist. 

Dr Kristine Dun

Kris joined the AIS Performance Psychology Team in 2015 after a five year stint working with the sportscotland institute of sport and she has worked directly with athletes and coaches, co-ordinated psychological services delivering at benchmark events, such as European Championships and Commonwealth Games.

Kris’ professional interests include the use of neurofeedback to enhance performance, personality and psychological assessments, and hypnosis.

I love working with exceptional people, be they athletes, coaches, practitioners, or administrators. Part of that is working with athletes to help them gain insight and use that insight to change. It’s also about working with the intelligent, creative, and determined staff at the AIS to find new ways to enhance performance. High performance sport is a complex environment with interesting challenges to solve and interesting people involved. It is all about people. That’s why I love it.”

Dr Tom Hammond


Tom is the lead clinical and performance psychologist for the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia. Before joining the AIS, he led a primary care mental health service in Western Sydney and was previously an official service provider for the Canadian Sport Centre - Manitoba. Tom is an honorary fellow at Deakin University and continues to conduct research in the area of clinical sport psychology, subjective wellbeing and happiness.

My workplace is a unique one, consisting of extreme performance environments scattered around the world. The stakes are high and trials are many, however such a setting challenges you to grow and adapt as a person and professional. I’d have it no other way”.

Jason Patchell

Jason is a Senior Sport Psychologist and has been a full-time member of the AIS Performance Psychology Team since 2006 working with a range of Olympic, Paralympic and Professional sports. He is currently based on the Gold Coast where he is working with a variety of National Sporting Organisations aiming to enhance individual and system-wide psychological functioning related to sustainable high performance outcomes. Jason values working both holistically and progressively and is passionate about building strong partnerships with high performance leaders given the important role these parties play in facilitating psychological growth within high performance environments. 

I enjoy using a broad skill set to explore and implement novel solutions to increase growth and functioning in individuals, groups, and organisations. These skills can range from those needed to sustain focus in critical situations and manage one’s emotions or those required to establish and maintain constructive relationships or the skills required to assess and partner with sport leaders to create high functioning environments. I enjoy the dynamic nature of this work and the valuable opportunities to learn from those that I work alongside who share similar goals.”        


Kate Wensley

Senior Psychologist

Kate is a senior psychologist who has been at the AIS for five years. Kate’s primary role is to maintain and promote the mental health and wellbeing of the athletes who are based at the AIS.

Kate works directly with athletes to help them navigate life’s challenges and reach their potential. She also drives projects that aim to improve our understanding of the role and relevance of mental health in high performance sport.

I love working in an environment like the AIS, which is all about supporting people to be the best that they can be. It’s very rewarding to help athletes tackle the inevitable curve balls that sport and life throws them, and then see them come out the other side mentally stronger than they were before.”

Hear Kate's podcast on Reflections and perspectives from Rio.

Maree Guthrie-Curran

Administrative Coordinator

Maree is the co-ordinator for Performance Psychology,  She has been at the AIS for 9 years in various roles; Maree’s role in Performance Psychology is to provide coordination and administrative support to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the discipline.

I love working in psychology as I see the good work the team do to ensure that athletes and coaches function best as humans and elite sports people.”

Umut Dogan

PhD Scholar

Umut has been with the AIS since August, 2016. Umut’s professional interests focus on mindfulness and commitment-based interventions, resilience, psychological skills training, and exercise dependence. Umut’s motivated by the role he can play to probe feasible ways of assessing and improving psychological resilience in high-level sport.
I feel excited to be part of a world-leading organization that homes a highly dynamic, motivating and supportive environment. High-level sport acts as a natural lab that is ideal for understanding human experience and mind under pressure. My major drive is to figure out how to measure and build psychological resilience through theory and evidence-based ways.”

Josh Sebbens

PhD Candidate

Josh is providing research support for our vision to create a mentally healthy high performance sport system.  Josh is also a registered psychologist and enjoys a diverse range of servicing opportunities at the AIS, including workshops for visiting groups and providing psychology services to sports based onsite. 

Josh’s professional interests include philosophy of mind, and mindfulness and acceptance based approaches to mental health, performance, and professional development.

For an early career researcher and practitioner, the AIS is an exciting and unique environment where research meets industry.  I’m passionate about the holistic approach to servicing offered by the AIS, and through our research projects working on solutions to the challenges facing our sports system.”

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