Get to know our students – Emily Denniss

Our next blog is from Emily Denniss, a PhD student at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (IPAN) in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences. Her research is focused on the quality and accuracy of nutrition communication on social media. Emily moved to Melbourne from Hobart, Tasmania almost 8 years ago to start her studies at Deakin. She fell in love with Melbourne, it’s laid back atmosphere and amazing food. Emily started her PhD in 2019. 

1. What sparked your interest in food and nutrition?

My mother’s passion for food and nutrition has always been a huge inspiration for me. Mum is a home economics teacher and at home there was always an emphasis on creating and sharing fresh, delicious and nutritious meals. She taught my siblings and I that food is about much more than flavour – it’s also about community and bringing people together.

The more I learned about food and nutrition, the more interesting and important it became to me. Food and nutrition’s profound impact on the health and wellbeing of all people is one of the many reasons I’m so passionate about it.


2. What has been the most enjoyable part of studying food and nutrition?

Being able to study a diverse range of topics within the field of food and nutrition has definitely been the most enjoyable part of my studies. I love that everything from biochemistry and human physiology to public health policy are important and relevant to the study of food and nutrition.


3. What advice would you give to someone considering study in this area?

My advice would be to go for it! It’s such an interesting field and one with many opportunities to help improve people’s health outcomes. There’s also a really diverse variety of career pathways, which is fantastic if you’re interested in nutrition but not quite sure about what kind of job you want. When I started my undergraduate studies at Deakin my goal was to become a dietitian but my Honours year sparked my interest in research and public health nutrition and my career plans changed.


4. What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition field?

I think that advances in environmentally sustainable food systems will be incredibly important in the field of nutrition. Developments in policy and advocacy to promote healthy and sustainable eating patterns and advances in the sustainable production of healthy food are essential to securing food security and population health.


5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years-time?

With any luck, in five years-time I’ll have finished my PhD. I also hope to be continuing my career in food and nutrition research as a Post Doctorate Research Fellow. I hope that my research helps to inform and promote accurate and credible nutrition communication and advocate healthy and sustainable eating patterns.


Just for fun…

6. What’s the best and worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Worst piece of advice: “carbs are bad for you.” Sadly, I’ve heard this one many, many times. It’s simply not true and a life without carbs would be a sad one, indeed!

Best piece of advice: “be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” And “today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Both of these are wonderful wisdoms from Dr. Suess and remind me that the best thing I can do is to simply be myself.


7. What’s your favourite food?

I couldn’t possibly choose one! I love most food and most cuisines and being able to eat a wide variety of foods and flavours is one of my favourite things about being alive, not to mention the importance of balance and variety in the diet for health! Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Indian and French cuisines are some of my absolute favourites. I could take or leave cake and many other deserts but I don’t think I could last a week without chocolate or ice-cream.


8. Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?

My partner and I spent three weeks in Japan late in 2019. We really enjoyed learning about Japanese history and culture and eating the traditional cuisine. I had a bowl of ramen almost every day that we were there. One of the other highlights was going to a sumo wrestling tournament in Fukuoka, the atmosphere was incredible. It’s a very entertaining sport.


Click here for more information about Deakin IPAN’s research into physical activity and nutrition or follow us on Twitter @DeakinIPAN

Twitter: @denniss_emily

Email: [email protected] 

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