A Life-long learner – Dr Rebecca Lindberg

Our next blog is from Dr Rebecca Lindberg, a researcher and lecturer from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences.

Her research focuses on household food insecurity and nutrition inequities with an emphasis on the role of government, effective policy and prevention.

Rebecca has been invited to share her research journey.



We never stop learning. From our first step. Our first fall. To the first idea we heard that puzzled, inspired, or challenged us.

I’ve recently joined Deakin University as a lecturer and early-career researcher at IPAN to continue, in part, my learning journey.

I attended high school in beautiful Mt Macedon, Victoria, surrounded by nature. I moved to the city to study Political Science, French and modern History at the University of Melbourne in 2003. Like most Arts students I wanted to be a Diplomat. In my final year I took a contemporary Australian history subject and I elected food security as my essay topic and travelled to Alice Springs as part of the subject. It inspired me to apply to the Federal Department of Health’s graduate program.

Humans learn in a variety of ways: By listening and talking. By making mistakes. By gathering intelligence.

When I received graduate job offers in Federal Government roles, I considered relocating to Canberra to start my career. Instead, my intelligence gathering lead me to explore a different pathway.

I enrolled at RMIT in a Bachelor of Applied Science (Consumer and Food Science) and took a major in nutrition. I had no aptitude for science at high school! I had to learn chemistry and biochemistry, but I enjoyed statistics, research methods and food policy.

Learn on the job. Learn beyond the classroom. Learn things you never knew you needed to know.

In 2009, at SecondBite (a fresh food rescue not-for-profit) in my entry-level position as a Research and Development Officer, I proposed that I undertake an Honours year evaluating SecondBite’s work. Associate Professor Cate Burns, from Deakin, was on SecondBite’s Board of Directors and agreed to be a co-supervisor.  

In 2010 my research career really began in my Honours year, where I combined both my on-the-job knowledge and class-room learned research methods, to produce a community report called “Food Rescue: A Fresh Approach. Social and Nutritional Outcomes of Rescuing Food”. The Premier of Victoria launched this report, which remains one of my career highlights.

Learn with other learners.

After two more years at SecondBite in applied evaluation and program development roles (working on food literacy interventions, economic and environmental evaluations) I joined Professor Mark Lawrence for my PhD. Mark was a patient, intelligent and very supportive supervisor, SENS provided a rich environment for young researchers and I learned so much from my peers and senior staff.

My studies examined the experience of food insecurity, the role of food charities in a neo-liberal political environment, the role of General Practitioners in identifying food insecurity and I published more broadly in The Conversation, Parity and elsewhere to translate my work.

Some things you learn you cannot forget. These things change how we feel. How we think. How we act.

I learned through my PhD, and particularly from talking to community members experiencing food insecurity, that charity is not enough. After my PhD, I joined the Australian Health Policy Collaboration to learn how to influence governments, and others, to take action on chronic disease and health inequities.

My team and I developed Australia’s Health Tracker, Getting Australia’s Health on Track and Australia’s Health Tracker by Area. My mentor and Director Rosemary Calder, AO, lead this work after 30 years as a public servant. The learning curve was steep, but I have gained skills from my 2 years with Rosemary on evidence translation, consensus building, awareness raising, strategy and relationship management.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Six months in to my new position in SENS and IPAN, and I aim to make the above statement, my teaching philosophy.

It is a pleasure and privilege to be back at Deakin. Teaching. Researching. And always learning. 


Dr Rebecca Lindberg

Lecturer in Human Nutrition

School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University

Category list: Staff Profiles

Tag list: Tags: , , , ,

Join the conversation

back to top