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Dr Nicky Ridgers has been on a journey of discovery since she left Liverpool in England to shift to Deakin University in Melbourne.
She has learned much about Australia’s second prime minister after whom Deakin – and the fellowship that brought her here – are named.
The Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellowships were inaugurated by the University to help build the next generation of researchers at Deakin.
And now Dr Ridgers has learned about an Australian government initiative that also promotes talented young researchers - the Australian Research Council’s DECRAs.
DECRA stand for Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards.
In November, and more than vindicating Deakin’s (the University) decision to award her that post doctoral fellowship in 2010, Dr Ridgers won a DECRA for her project titled: “Understanding patterns of physical activity in youth: exploring compensatory effects”.
Professor Lee Astheimer, Deakin’s DVC (Research) was quick to congratulate Dr Ridgers on her DECRA, coming as it does so close to her winning the Alfred Deakin fellowship.
"Nicky's award illustrates that the Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme is accurately targeting the next generation of researchers at Deakin," she said.
As for Dr Ridgers, an awful lot has been happening quickly since she came to Australia last year.
“I must admit I am still a little bit shocked about winning the DECRA,” she said. “It comes down to the great support I have had from my supervisors, Jo and Anna.”
Jo and Anna are Professor Jo Salmon and Dr Anna Timperio from Deakin’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN).
“I first found out about the Alfred Deakin fellowships through Jo over the phone,” Dr Ridgers said.
“After an exchange of emails with Jo and Anna, we built up an application.”
Dr Ridgers was more than happy to make the move from England’s north-west to Australia’s south-east, initially for two years, but now for another three following the winning of the DECRA.
“It is a great opportunity to work with some real experts in the field of physical activity,” she said.
C-PAN and its growing body of researchers are increasingly regarded as among the pre-eminent organisations in the sciences of physical activity and nutrition.
This was confirmed by C-PAN’s new Thinker in Residence, Professor Bob Jeffery on his arrival in October.
“Deakin’s research in this area is now very well known around the world,” said Professor Jeffery, who comes from the American mid-west.
Obviously word has reached Europe too.
Professor David Crawford, the director of C-PAN, Professor Salmon and Dr Clare Hume are taking part in a major program in Europe to help combat obesity – the ENERGY project which is receiving close to three million Euros in funding from the European Union.
And of course, there’s now Liverpool!
The aim of Dr Ridgers’ research is to assess the patterns of physical activity in young people, then to work out when interventions could be delivered to increase physical activity levels.
“Over the first two years, my work will be mainly explorative, I want to look at the patterns and see which parts of the day could be targeted to increase physical activity levels,” she said.
“From that we should be able to make the right sort of recommendations for intervention delivery.”
The journey of discovery continues.