PeerJ Award Winners at ACS 2023

by | Nov 23, 2023 | Award Winner Interviews

The Australasian Chronobiology Society was founded in early 2004. The ACS aims to generate and discuss research in all areas of Chronobiology, including both animal and human work to examine specific areas such as sleep and circadian biology in Australia and New Zealand. Our annual scientific meeting brings together both local and international researchers interested in the influence of circadian rhythms on behaviour, cognition, sleep and health. The 20th meeting was held on the 7th of November, 2023, at Ayers House, Adelaide. Ayers House was a wonderful venue filled with lots of natural light, the perfect location for us to hear all about the importance of light, the circadian system, and sleep for our health and functioning.

The day included a range of talks across all areas in chronobiology from pre-clinical work in circadian rhythms during pregnancy, to sleep and circadian rhythms in elite athletes, and circadian interventions for mood disorders. Our keynote speaker for this year was Dr David Cunnington. Dr Cunnington is a specialist sleep physician at Sunshine Coast Respiratory and Sleep, and co-founder of the online sleep resource ‘‘. David trained in sleep medicine both in Australia and at Harvard Medical School. In addition to training in sleep medicine, David has also completed training and achieved qualifications as an International Sleep Specialist, Fellow of American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and Diplomat of Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Dr Cunnington’s talk “Transitioning to the clinic: Is circadian medicine ready for prime time?” was a fascinating case-series in the realities of working with circadian rhythm disorders in the clinic, with reflections on where innovative research technologies can aid in the diagnosis and treatment of complex cases, and where we might be falling short.

Dr Elise McGlashan, ACS Conference Organiser


Luis Mascaro PhD candidate at Monash University, Australia. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?

I am a final year student enrolled in a PhD (Clinical Psychology). I am training as a provisional psychologist while working on my research. My research interests include understanding sex differences among elite athletes and these relationships among sleep, circadian rhythms, well-being, and performance.

What first interested you in this field of research?

I have been involved in sleep research since 2016, initially working on a project understanding treatments for insomnia. I decided to use my PhD (commenced in 2020) to investigate sex differences among elite athletes, as I was interested in understanding if sleep and circadian rhythms maintain their relationships with outcomes in such a high-performing population, and to bridge a gap in research regarding working with female athletes and considering sex as a moderator in my relationships of interest.

Can you briefly explain the research you presented at ACS 2023?

At ACS 2023, I presented preliminary insights into cognitive performance data we collected in male and female elite athletes during their actual timing of team-sports training. The results are still to be finalised, but it appears that, when using computerised cognitive tasks, male athletes may be more risk-taking than female athletes but show no sex difference in reaction speed. Additionally, male athletes may differ in reaction speed depending on time of testing, and athletes may benefit from sleep that is of sufficient duration and consistent timing on the night prior to performance testing.

How will you continue to build on this research?

In the near future, I aim to finish and submit my doctoral thesis and hopefully publish some other papers I’ve been working on. I hope to continue building on my research interests by working closer with female elite athletes to further examine sleep and circadian-related risk factors for well-being and performance, and to use my clinical training to inform potential sleep, circadian, or well-being interventions for athletes.

For more from Luis, you can see his Twitter and ResearchGate profiles.


Charlotte Gupta Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Central Queensland University, Australia. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?

I completed her PhD in 2020, and since then I have become a emerging leader in the field of food timing for shiftworkers. I focus on optimising the timing of health behaviours for shiftworkers through conducting laboratory studies, field studies with shiftworkers, and conducting reviews of the literature. My research on the impacts of meal timing at night on work performance has informed practice and policy for shiftworkers.

What first interested you in this field of research?

Shiftwork is so critical for our world and is present in almost every industry – yet can have such huge impacts on the health and safety of the workers. I think of it as a privilege to spend my time researching ways to improve the health and safety of workers. I focus on eating behaviours, as what and when we eat has big impacts on our health and wellbeing and from talking to workers, people are wanting to know about eating on-shift. Plus, as an academic who does shiftwork when I’m running lab studies – I can relate to wanting to eat chocolate to get through the nightshift!

Can you briefly explain the research you presented at ACS 2023?

At ACS 2023 I presented work from a feasibility study on the relationship between the time of last meal and sleep timing in overweight Australians. This novel research found that to improve the sleep of overweight Australians, the timing of the last meal before bed should be considered, with a longer break between eating and sleep.

What are your next steps?

This is the first part of the project, and I’m currently working on the second part – which is using time-restricted eating (shortening the time between our first and last meal of the day) to have our participants try a longer break between last meal and sleep timing and see the impact on sleep. From talking to participants so far – they are finding subjective improvements to sleep! I hope to further this research in shiftwork populations as the next phase.

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