Prestigious fellowship for Deakin public health expert

Research news

12 October 2016

Professor Kylie Ball has been elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Tackling the epidemics of inactivity, poor diet and obesity has been one of the prime goals of Alfred Deakin Professor Kylie Ball, one of Australia's leading public health experts, who has recently been inducted as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS).

Based within the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Professor Ball has joined an elite group of only 272 Fellows at the new Academy, which was established in 2014. Its 50 new Fellows were announced on October 6 at its second scientific meeting in Brisbane.

Professor Ball is the third Deakin academic to be elected an AAHMS Fellow, joining IPAN Director Alfred Deakin Professor David Crawford and IMPACT Director Alfred Deakin Professor Michael Berk, who were both elected in 2015.

Professor Crawford congratulated her on her achievement.

"Kylie has made an enormous contribution to the development of our world class research profile at IPAN," he said.

"She has had an extraordinary career since joining us as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in 1999, and we are very proud of her success. She has also played a key role in mentoring and developing early- and mid-career researchers, and she is a passionate advocate for gender equity in research."

An NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, Professor Ball's research focus is on understanding the individual, social and environmental influences on eating and physical activity behaviours and obesity risk; and intervening to promote healthier eating and activity behaviours, particularly amongst disadvantaged groups.

She has received numerous awards, including the 2010 Deakin University Researcher of the Year Award and the 2008/9 Victorian Young Tall Poppy of the Year Award (Overall Winner), as well as many other awards and four national competitive research fellowships.

A highlight of her career was recognition, with three other members of IPAN, as a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher in 2015. This listing represents the world's most influential scientific minds. It is held by around 3000 researchers in the world, who make up the top one per cent most cited for their subject field.

She is a Past-President and Fellow of the International Society for Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, and a founder and past convenor of the ISBNPA Special Interest Group "Socioeconomic inequalities in nutrition, physical activity and sedentary behaviours."

"I am thrilled and honoured to be elected to the Academy," she said.

"With this Fellowship, I am most excited to have a voice and the opportunity to promote health and medical research that will benefit Australia and the world. Being a Fellow will allow me to contribute particularly to advocating for research with a focus on population health. It is promising that people like myself, with expertise in public health, are being elected alongside researchers with clinical and medical expertise. This bodes well for a strong multidisciplinary Academy."

"Also, the Academy has a strong focus on supporting the next generation of researchers through mentoring. This is something I think is very important and am passionate about."

She noted that the nature of health problems globally has changed significantly over the past 100 years, with the greatest challenges coming less from communicable diseases and more from lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

"These are being caused by epidemics of inactivity, poor diet and obesity, but I am optimistic that the tide can be turned. We have some very bright minds working to find ways to combat them," she said.

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New Fellow: Professor Kylie Ball, with AAHMS President Professor Ian Frazer.

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New Fellow: Professor Kylie Ball, with AAHMS President Professor Ian Frazer.

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