I’m a passionate nutrition academic within the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University and also an Accredited Practising Dietitian. Prior to my career in nutrition and dietetics, I worked in medical research in the field of endocrinology, and was always fascinated about the role of diet in the prevention and management of various conditions, especially diabetes and obesity. This interest grew over time which led me to move from the world of laboratory research to return to study to undertake a dietetics degree which allowed me follow a career path in nutrition. I worked as a clinical dietitian in oncology which I loved, but with a research background and interest in teaching, it was always going to be an academic role that I would return to. I’ve been at Deakin now for 12 years and progressed from a lecturer position where I was initially establishing my nutrition research, and also teaching into large undergraduate nutrition subjects, to now be an associate professor with a well-developed research program and coordinating the dietetics program.
Tell me a little bit about your job and/or describe a typical day for you?
I love the variety and the flexibility of my work. On a daily basis I’ll have some level of involvement with clinical research studies through my honours and PhD students and collaborators. Dealing with student enquires regarding my teaching subjects or course enquires for dietetics is also a constant activity. On top of this there is working with course teams to improve the quality of our degree programs and some level of preparation for upcoming lectures. And just to add some extra interest, there are always media enquires seeking comment on a range of issues – sugar is currently THE hot topic!
What do you most enjoy about your role?
Most enjoyable aspect by far is the external work I do with the media, but also many writing opportunities with health magazines, corporate website, and consumer publications. I enjoy this because it’s possible to reach large audiences where you can distil complex science down to understandable messages that give an evidence-based rationale for why good nutrition is important in the face of so much misinformation.
My main research interests are firmly in the world of clinical dietetics. The use of specialised nutrition in the prevention of surgical complications; nutrition support in wound healing, especially pressure ulcers; and malnutrition identification and treatment all feature prominently and I’m lucky to have an excellent group of honours and PhD students who drive much of this.
How did you get into research?
From my early days after my BSc I could clearly see that research was what attracted me so it was an easy decision to move into honours and from there into a PhD. I knew I always wanted to be the one driving the research myself hence the higher degree pathway and research always been a feature of my career since.
Why do you undertake research?
I’ve always been fascinated by how research informs so much of health and medicine so following a research career was a natural progression. Wanting to always learn and add new knowledge and share this with students and the greater public has driven much of my career in terms of degrees undertaken and following an academic career path
What would be your number one tip to someone starting their career in dietetics?
Dietetics offers so many different career options with little to no barriers in moving between work areas because of our well-developed skill set that comes from our training. Graduate dietitians have a common knowledge base so I would recommend that graduates make use of their own unique skills, work history and experience they developed before or during their dietetics study to build on this and forge their own unique niche. Dietetics has great people in the profession that are dedicated and passionate to the cause and students should be tapping into this at an early stage through volunteer opportunities, interest groups, and attendance at seminars and conferences to develop their own professional network.
What is one interesting fact about you?
I’m a sadly obsessed marathon runner so fitting in running whenever possible during the week is a high priority and despite advancing age, am pleased the body can still handle the rigours of training and be able to clock in sub 3 hour marathon times!