PhD title: Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for Sustainable and Healthy Lifestyles
1 year through a 4-year study, funded by DAERA
Carried out at IGFS (joint SBS & Centre for Public Health - SMDBS)
What is your PhD about? My research is in sustainable diets and more specifically, the role that plant-based meat alternatives can play in sustainable and healthy diets. My PhD is part of a multi-site project being conducted in collaboration with University College Cork and University College Dublin. As part of this larger project, we will be carrying out a randomised controlled trial across the three study sites to test whether newly developed dietary guidelines specific to the Irish context, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, meet nutritional requirements, promote health and be considered acceptable to the public. The hope is that the findings from this research will feed into the development of public policy and food-based dietary guidelines for the Irish context which incorporate nutrition, health and sustainability.
It’s quite exciting as there are no other human intervention trials I’m aware of, that have tested the effectiveness of dietary recommendations which aim to reduce diet-related greenhouse gas emissions. A number of other countries have already incorporated sustainability into their national dietary guidelines so hopefully we will see Ireland move in this direction also.
How supported do you feel at Queen’s? My supervisors are incredibly supportive, especially given the particularly challenging circumstances of the past 18 months. Despite all working remotely, the Nutrition Research Group at CPH still managed to meet regularly and colleagues at CPH have been really prompt to respond to queries and point me in the right direction. I have also found the workshops and online events offered by the Graduate School a great resource for skills development, support and wellbeing.
I feel like Queen’s have also been really supportive in providing PhD students the opportunity to earn extra money and gain teaching and demonstrating experience. This is something I have started doing recently and am really enjoying so far. I have also recently taken on the position of the CPH PGR student rep and have realised from this role how much members of SMDBS PGR Research Board value student feedback and opinions and want to support PGR students in their research and development.
What are your hopes for the future? I think I would probably enjoy a Postdoc position directly after my PhD but I’m also drawn to opportunities outside of academia in the public sector. Luckily, the area I’m in is very topical and important right now, so I would certainly like to continue to pursue a career in sustainable nutrition.