This week Dr Ekta Agarwal from Queensland University of Techonology (QUT) interviews fellow Senior Lecturer of Edith Cowan University (ECU), Therese O’Sullivan about teaching and research. 

Tell me a little bit about your job…

My primary role is teaching, and I also do some research. I get to teach lots of different concepts, from why an apple and a potato taste the same when you hold your nose, to why Jewish people don’t eat shellfish.

Nutrition is such a diverse and thought-provoking topic! But some aspects can be a bit dry, so it can be necessary to liven things up a bit. For example, when teaching fatty acid nomenclature, we might get the students to become carbon and oxygen molecules, gather hydrogens (balloons) and link together to create human fatty acid chains.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

What I love about nutrition is that it is an evolving area. There is always a piece of new research coming out that is interesting and one more piece in the health puzzle. I enjoy being able to do some research to help contribute to this better understanding – at the moment I’m interested in whether regular fat dairy products may have a role in a healthy diet for youngsters.

Why did you choose dietetics as a career?

One of Rosemary Stanton’s early nutrition books captured my interest as a school kid, so I went on to study home economics and biology. I also enjoy experimental cooking – the experiment being how to make healthy food taste good. I now know the real test is whether a toddler will eat it or not!

What is one interesting fact about you?

One of my more unusual food experiences was fishing for piranha from a small canoe in the Amazon. We managed to get a couple and they are actually pretty good eating!