Get to know our staff: Dr Priscila Machado

Dr Priscila Machado is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University.

She completed her PhD at the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) and the University of Melbourne, where she studied the impact of ultra-processed food consumption on diet quality and obesity in Australia.

Her research at IPAN focuses on understanding the role of food processing in the food system and human health, and on evidence synthesis and translation for food and nutrition policy.




  1. What sparked your interest in food and nutrition?

My parents have operated a restaurant of ‘homemade’ meals in Brazil since 1994, so I grew up in this atmosphere of food in the center of our lives. Learning that affection, memory and identity are shared values of a family business, along with real food. There are many people that have been eating in the restaurant every day for more than 15 years! When I realised that what people were eating there could affect their health, this was the moment that I put my love for food and nutrition together.  So after high school, I got accepted into a nutrition course in the Federal University in my hometown (Florianopolis, Brazil).

  1. Where was your first job?

My first job was in my parents’ restaurant writing down the prices. Their self-service per kilo style restaurant is very common in Brazil. Okay, so does that count as a real job?

My first nutrition job was many years later. When I finished the nutrition course I started my Masters Degree, then I started my PhD with scholarship one month after finishing Masters. When I finished my PhD I started my current job 7 days later. I am in my current position at IPAN since September 2019, so you could say that this is my very first job!

  1. What prompted you to be an academic?

I had the opportunity to do a two-year research project during my Bachelor in Nutrition with the Nutrition in Foodservice Research Centre on food labelling of processed and ultra-processed foods. It was a great opportunity to learn skills and be involved in a research group. When I was finishing my Bachelor I realised that I wanted to do research in Public Health Nutrition. Then I moved to Sao Paulo to do my Masters’ within the Center for Epidemiological Research in Nutrition and Health. They were supporting the Brazilian Ministry of Health in the development of the Dietary Guidelines, which was a great opportunity to see a high level research being translated into policies. That fascinated me!

  1. What are you doing now in your role?

I am currently a Research Fellow, and my main work is with the IPAN Food Policy Group in the project ‘Reforming evidence synthesis and translation for food and nutrition policy’. We are developing a ‘Fit-for-Purpose’ framework to strategically fit evidence use to food and nutrition policies. I am also supporting the team in different research projects, supervising one master student and co-supervising an Honours student.

  1. How would you briefly describe your current research to someone who is not familiar with your field of work?

My current research mainly looks at how the increased consumption of ultra-processed foods (industrialized products containing little if any whole food and several artificial ingredients) may affect health, and how this information can be used to guide governmental policies to create healthier environments.

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

We are currently facing one of the biggest challenges of our times with the COVID-19. The crisis is here and it blatantly shows the struggles of our food and health systems: they are not equitable, sustainable, or healthy. I hope the next most important development in the nutrition field will be a worldwide commitment regarding the human right to adequate food and rectifying the blatant issues in our food and health systems.

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

Enjoying the beautiful Australian landscapes and working surrounded by excellent, kind and passionate researchers!

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

Best: All advice from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book ‘Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions’ is excellent. But I especially like: [Women] It’s not your job to be likable. It’s your job to be yourself. 

Worst: Women should not talk about politics.

  1. What’s your favourite food?

A complete Brazilian feijoada (black beans, rice, collard greens, fried manioc flour with plantain and slices of orange), yummy!

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

Cape Town, in South Africa. The people, history, food, music and scenery are just amazing!

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