Juggling family life with research commitments is no easy task for dietitian Chelsea Mauch – especially when it comes to finding time to prepare a healthy and nutritious meal.
What made you decide to work in the research field?
My first job as a Dietitian at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital sparked my passion for paediatric nutrition, and I became very concerned about the dietary intake of Aussie kids. I wanted to be involved in innovations and discoveries that address our high rates of overweight and obesity, so I made the leap into research. I worked as Project Coordinator for one of Australia’s largest early obesity prevention trials (NOURISH), then starting my PhD in 2017.
What is your current research about?
My PhD project looks at how mobile apps can be used to provide real-time support for families when they are planning, buying and cooking meals. The final stage of my PhD project, which is currently underway, involves testing some existing mobile apps with working families. I want to know what families think of these apps and their features, and whether they help in preparing healthy meals. Anyone wanting to be involved in this study can visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/appyfamilymeals
How will it benefit the wider community?
I aim to develop an innovative new mobile app that can be integrated into everyday life, to overcome some of the modern-day barriers to healthy eating. I believe it will have the potential to improve the dietary intake and health of the next generation.
What has been your proudest moment as a researcher?
Publishing the results of eight years of research with hundreds of wonderful families, and contributing to obesity prevention in Australian children. I also made the top 10 of 58 students representing universities throughout Australia and Asia in the 3 Minute Thesis final in Brisbane last year.
What has been your most challenging moment as a researcher?
I feel like I am challenged constantly with new learning, but that’s what I love about research. It’s the opportunity to learn and grow every day through your studies or job, and to become a better researcher for it.
What does a normal day look like for you?
I’m managing a study that involves checking survey completions, contacting parents to get them started in my study, and tracking participant progress. I’m also undertaking data analysis describing what two-year-olds eat. Then reading, writing, reading, writing – for my thesis and for manuscripts to be published in scientific journals. Then emails, lots of emails, followed by cooking a healthy dinner for my family (and yes, dietitians cook spag bol).
If there is one piece of advice you could impart on future researchers and university students, what would it be?
Embrace and take advantage of every challenge and set-back. Don’t just expect to pick yourself up and carry on as usual, but use those challenges as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop.