Get to know our academics: Dr Brenton Baguley
October 30, 2019
Our next blog is from Dr Brenton Baguley, a Lecturer in Dietetics in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, and a member of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University. Brenton collaborates with the Exercise and Nutrition for Cancer Research Group in IPAN, and is particularly interested in how diet and exercise can improve disease- and treatment-related symptoms in cancer survivors. We asked him 10 questions.
- What sparked your interest in food and nutrition?
I never thought I would be a dietitian, and it is beyond my wildest dreams that I am now teaching and researching nutrition and dietetics – something that I am so passionate about. I never really blossomed at school, I worked hard for what grades I got, but I grew up in a family where my father owned his own business, mum worked retail. We didn’t have much, but that upbringing taught me to be resourceful, to create, think outside the box and really believe the sky’s the limit, which underpins my teaching and research ideologies. Mum was always a self-acclaimed “hippy” she would encourage homemade foods over fast-foods, shop at the local markets for fresh produce, read up on spurious health claims about foods and nutrition, and I would also spend hours in the kitchen with her making fantastic food. When I moved out of home, she gave me a cookbook and told me to keep cooking, and little did I know the author/chef would be the pioneer he is today, Jamie Oliver. Following Jamie’s career, along with my mother’s “hippy” nutrition habits, in a way prompted me to start studying nutrition and dietetics and learn more. In truth I always had a passion for food and nutrition, I only just realised it later in life.
- Where was your first job(s)?
Looking back to somewhere between 15/16 years old, I had long shaggy hair, and I would always hang out in Byron Bay NSW, or somewhere along the Sunshine Coast of QLD, trying to surf and play guitar with friends. It was safe to say – the beach life encapsulated me at an early age. I heard a local surf shop were looking for a casual employee, so I handed in my CV, spoke to the manager, and the next week I had my first shift. A few years later, I cut my hair and started working at MYER selling televisions and computers during my tertiary studies.
- What prompted you to be an academic?
I have always learnt through doing. I worked clinically and in private practice after completing a Masters in Dietetics at The University of Queensland, and I would often see 8-10 patients per day to deliver individualised advice. I upskilled myself in oncology and started to be referred a lot of patients privately, but I also had a lot of questions internally about what is the most successful way to manage side effects from treatment? How can nutrition improve quality of life after treatment? How effective can both diet and exercise be when paired together for health-related outcomes? Importantly though, my patients at the time had similar questions that needed answering! I quickly realised there are many areas to which we need more clear, targeted and high quality nutrition evidence to better inform practice, so I knew that I wanted to start a PhD.
- What are you doing now in your role?
As a lecturer in dietetics at Deakin we have a diverse workload of teaching and research that is really attractive to me. I am either delivering a lecture, tutorial or workshop in front of students, preparing new content for the course, presenting at conferences, writing research papers, or engaging with research partners, such as Movember, to link my research to real world practice. Teaching gives me great gratitude and it is inspiring to teaching new graduate dietitians to prepare them for the vast roles and opportunities available for a dietitian. Additionally, I also enjoy creating research that can drive the scope of dietetics further in oncology, and support clinical dietetic practice through high quality research.
- How would you briefly describe your current research/job to someone who is not familiar with your field of study/work?
My research aims to improve treatment- and health-related outcomes for cancer patients through nutrition and exercise.
- What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition field?
Whilst there are other important developments that are starting to take place i.e. sustainability of our food system, to me, the use of technology in dietetics is an untapped resource! We are using our phones longer every day, and may be an appeasing way to integrate successful evidence-based nutrition support.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years-time?
I was ecstatic to be offered a Lecturing position at Deakin University. Having just finished my PhD, and moving from Brisbane to Melbourne, I am determined to make a good impression on both teaching and research fronts. I am passionate about supporting cancer patients through treatment, and after treatment, with evidence-based nutrition and exercise advice. So, I am excited to start my own body of research and collaborating with Deakin’s world leading Exercise and Nutrition for Cancer Research Group to make myself competitive in 5-years’ time to secure external funding, attract research students, and further progress evidence-based dietetic practice in oncology.
Just for fun…
- What’s the best and worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Best: be a “can do” person and not a “can’t do” person. I don’t value pessimism, I’d rather fail at doing something, than not even try at all.
Worst: I kind of disregard bad advice. I try to surround myself with positive people, but any advice that stops you from following your dreams, taking on a challenge, changing your life for the better, or traveling, I would consider bad advice.
- What’s your favourite food?
Gelato – pistachio 🙂
- Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
This is basic but Manhattan, New York. The city feels like it has 6 or 7 cities, and cultures, in one.