Nutrition research and education
Research and academia
Research forms a key element in the decisions made around human health. Just as studying nutrition can lead to a variety of different career paths, the opportunities to pursue research in a diversity of areas also exists.
Graduates who choose to work in research may gain employment with government and non-government organisations interested in how best to improve health.
Research careers in nutrition can be found in universities, hospitals, research institutes and in the food industry. In order to become an academic or work in a university, it is recommended that you complete stream B of the Master of Human Nutrition (H714) or an Honours degree which can then lead onto a research degree such as a Masters by Research or PhD. You can use your contact with lecturers and tutors to find out about possible research opportunities.
Most academics are usually engaged in either research-focused or teaching-focused roles.
There are a range of diverse roles for Nutritionists within the research and tertiary sector.
Senior Research Fellow
If you wish to complete the Master of Human Nutrition (H714) with a view to working in research it is recommended you undertake stream B as this has a far greater research focus than stream A. From there, it is up to you which electives you opt to choose.
Highly relevant electives
HSN741 Postgraduate Nutrition Practicum
Dr Susan Torres [PDF 18KB] Associate Head of School (Teaching and Learning, Food, Nutrition and Dietetics) and lecturer from the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University provides an insight into career opportunities for Nutritionists in research and tertiary education.
A. Prof Lynn Riddell [PDF 21KB] Deputy Head of School, Associate Professor Riddell provides insight into careers for Nutritionists in research and tertiary education.
graduated from Deakin: 2012
What course(s) did you complete at Deakin? Masters of Human Nutrition
Campus: Burwood (online)
Other qualifications: Diploma in Medical Laboratory Science, Bachelor of Science, Graduate Certificate in Public Health
What is your current job and what does it entail? My current title is Teaching Scholar. I am involved in teaching Nutrition units in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University. I deliver lectures, seminars and practical lab sessions, develop course materials, communicate with students and other admin tasks!
What are the things you enjoy most about your job and what have been your career highlights to date? I really enjoy the learning that teaching provides. It seems like it’s a bit of an oxymoron, but the students and situations really do provide great insight and challenge me as a teacher. I also really enjoy working with students and being a part of their educational and life journey. My career highlight to date would be getting this job. I was in a lot of casual and temporary jobs previous to this, which offered enormous variation as well as learning opportunities, however, this is the perfect job for me.
What do you intend to do in the future? I hope to be further developing myself as an educator in the tertiary education sector.
Why did you choose to study nutrition at Deakin? Deakin had a good reputation, as well as the flexibility it offered for myself in that I could study online.
How do you feel your Deakin course has helped your career – both in obtaining your current position, and in the future development of your career? The Masters in Human Nutrition definitely assisted me in obtaining my current job. Throughout my post graduate studies I was able to network with my lecturers, which enabled me to gain work in a casual role. This then led into a few years of academic work within the School, and now I am in an ongoing role doing what I love. Now that I am teaching into units I took as a student I feel I have some inside knowledge, from a student perspective and am able to offer insight into changes to some of the units.
graduated from Deakin: 2009
What course(s) did you complete at Deakin? I commenced the Graduate Certificate of Human Nutrition with the view of articulating into the (then new) Master of Dietetics but quickly realised how much I enjoyed a variety of different aspects of nutrition, so I ended up articulating into and completing the Master of Human Nutrition instead.
Campus: Off-campus (now called ‘Cloud’)
Other qualifications: Registered Nutritionist, Bachelor of Science
What is your current job and what does it entail? After previously working for several not for profits, for the past few years I have been primarily employed by Deakin University on a variety of projects both as a Casual Academic and Research Assistant and, for the last year and a half, as a Project Manager within IPAN. As much of it is project based, my tasks and workload are continually changing, so I’ve listed some examples of what these roles have entailed to date.
As a casual academic I have:
- tutored and marked student work at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels
- reviewed and developed online course delivery materials for several postgraduate units (primarily Food Policy and Public Health and Understanding Human Nutrition Research Studies)
- developed course promotional videos in conjunction with the School, unit chairs, past and present students of the postgraduate human nutrition courses and a cinematographer
- updated various online resources for ongoing engagement with current and past students
- produced concept maps of all postgraduate human nutrition, dietetics and undergraduate nutrition and food science units in conjunction with the e-Learning Educational Developer and all unit chairs in the School
- reviewed teaching materials across the postgraduate nutrition units for innovation and compliance with new assessment policies
When it comes to research, I am the project manager of the REVAMP Study – a natural experiment investigating the impact of park renewal on park usage and physical activity, as well as being involved in a range of other research projects, including:
- surveying and taking anthropometric measurements of school children for a number of different studies
- observational fieldwork and interviews with visitors to large urban parks, throughout the Melbourne CBD and at AFL games
- development of a phone app to assist new and first time parents to feed their infant according to best practice guidelines and to know what to expect in general
- assisting with a WHO scoping review into the evidence for the impact of different dietary patterns on a variety of health outcomes
- handling dietary data for the Women's Iron, Zinc and Energy (WIZE) Study, which is investigating iron and zinc status and the impact on cognition, mood and fatigue in pre-menopausal women
What are the things you enjoy most about your job and what have been your career highlights to date? Definitely the variety and flexibility, as well as working with such a diverse group of people who are all so knowledgeable and passionate about what they do! As for a career highlight, it’s hard to choose just one, although being involved in the team providing data to the WHO does rank quite highly. It also follows to say that research and academia may seem tedious at times but the rewards of seeing all your hard work pay off to produce interesting data that makes a real impact in the world or seeing how your assistance to students ultimately has large bearings for their futures, makes it worth sticking at.
What do you intend to do in the future? Good question! Many have asked when (not if) I will commence a PhD and although I like the idea of a PhD, I haven’t yet found something I am so passionate about that I wish to dedicate the next three years or more of my life to it. So, for the time being (and unless an offer too good to refuse comes my way) I am happy to continue being exposed to and involved with a variety of interesting projects by remaining within IPAN and SENS for as long as I’m welcome!
Why did you choose to study nutrition at Deakin? I initially wanted to become a dietitian as I thought this was the only way to pursue a career in nutrition. The DAA website provided me with details of universities where I could study dietetics, with Deakin being one of them. I was already aware that Deakin was well-respected for its nutrition courses, so I was delighted when the first response I received from the four universities I had contacted, came from Deakin. Although all the other universities also replied with information, the prompt and informative response I received from Deakin left a lasting impression with me. What sealed the deal was that I could study the Graduate Certificate of Human Nutrition online and in my own time (so I could then apply for the Master of Dietetics), which meant I didn’t need to quit my day job. Aside from later realising that I didn’t need to be a dietitian to follow a career in nutrition, the ability to continue on to complete the Master of Human Nutrition online was invaluable and definitely a big tick from my perspective!!
How do you feel your Deakin course has helped your career – both in obtaining your current position, and in the future development of your career? I obtained my first nutrition role within my first year of studying nutrition but I largely put this down to the encouragement I had received by one of my unit chairs (and who I still consider a positive influence on my nutrition career) to ‘get my foot in the nutrition door’. I subsequently applied to volunteer for Nutrition Australia and on my first day, my fellow volunteer said that her boss at her other job was looking for people and to give her my details if I was interested. Shortly afterwards, I was employed by Cancer Council Victoria as a research assistant on a calibration study for their new Food Frequency Questionnaire. I also undertook some informal volunteer work to help establish and launch the World Public Health Nutrition Association with the then Secretary General (who was another of my unit chairs). I’ve also continued to work for him in other areas since graduating.
My point? The teaching staff at Deakin are also respected leaders in their fields, which presented copious learning and development opportunities as a student. It also follows that the unit materials were always topical and wherever possible, the assessment tasks were authentic. This helped me to really appreciate what it was like to work in the field of nutrition rather than just write essays and sit exams for the sake of it. It also led to me putting in my own submissions to a variety of different Governmental reviews of personal interest, some even when I was still a student. I previously would never have considered doing this (or the confidence), had it not been for the experience and encouragement I gained through my studies.
Finally, and quite possibly even more importantly, studying at Deakin reinforced that learning never stops and has taught me to be forever a student, a quality that persists with me, throughout all aspects of my life.