Dr Christina Zorbas

Degree – PhD in public health nutrition

Graduation year – 2021

Campus – Geelong Waterfront Campus

Current position – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, GLOBE

Firsthand experience in the dietetics industry inspired Christina to supercharge her career with a Higher Degree by Research (HDR).

PhD path and career highlights

As a graduate dietitian, Christina was keen to dive into the world of public health and health equity. Christina had found previously these fields weren’t as valued as clinical work. She says that all changed with Deakin. Chatting with her PhD supervisor was the inspirational tipping point for Christina to pursue a PhD in public health nutrition at Deakin University.

“As a prospective PhD student, often you just need someone to give you a chance and that’s what my supervisor at Deakin did for me. Our values immediately aligned. I found a place and people that have since inspired and supported me in every way. Studying at Deakin is probably the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Most people eat what they can afford, especially those who experience socioeconomic disadvantage. Christina’s PhD research works to improve population nutrition for everyone. Her research sheds insight on how governments can demonstrate better leadership by monitoring and leveling out food and drink prices so that they promote healthy over unhealthy options. This includes regulating industry-led specials that currently favour unhealthy options.

Christina worked with leading experts during her PhD at the Institute for Health Transformation’s, Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE). Working within the centre, Christina felt a part of something bigger than just her research pathway.

“I got to work alongside world-leading supervisors and collaborators who are trying to create healthier food systems around the world. They welcomed me with open arms, mentored and helped me (even when they didn’t have to), provided me with a safe space to think and be heard, shared many words of wisdom, and showed me what it truly meant to be a team. At GLOBE, there is a feeling that I’m part of something bigger and will always be supported to achieve my goals.”

During her Deakin studies, Christina had a bucket-list moment completing a two-month internship at the World Health Organization office in Suva, Fiji. While overseas, Christina helped develop culturally appropriate food policy communication materials which boosted her passion for communications.

“I was lucky enough to learn from and work alongside world-leading technical staff and communications experts. There’s no doubt that this experience shaped my understanding of the importance of interdisciplinary work and effective research communications.”

Studying a PhD allowed Christina to reimagine her career in public health and led her to become a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at GLOBE. In this role, Christina is working in partnership with community members and organisations to find the best ways to include the voices and values of people who experience socioeconomic disadvantage in food policymaking processes.

In the future, she hopes to become one of the next generation’s international research leaders and share her knowledge locally and globally. She attributes her PhD at Deakin to making this dream become a potential reality.

“My PhD enabled me to develop skills in leading collaborative, policy-relevant and equity-focused research that will help me work towards realising this vision.”

Interestingly, Christina recently received a 3-year VicHealth Research Fellowship to support her work to improve the wellbeing of Victorians facing disadvantage and inequity.

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