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Let's Talk SciComm

49 EpisodesProduced by Unimelb SciCommWebsite

Hosted by Associate Professor Jen Martin and Dr Michael Wheeler, Let’s Talk SciComm is a podcast from the University of Melbourne’s Science Communication Teaching Program. Listen for advice, tips and interviews about how to communicate science in effective and engaging ways.Show notes, transcripts a… read more


34. Interview with nutrition and mental health researchers Dr Helen Macpherson and Sara Dingle

This week we’re so pleased to have had the opportunity to talk with Deakin University researchers Dr Helen Macpherson and Sara Dingle about a topic we’re fascinated by: the intersection of mental health and nutrition.

Helen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), at Deakin where she co-leads the Exercise and Nutrition for Brain Health group. She has a background in cognitive neuroscience and completed her postdoctoral training at Swinburne University, Australia. Helen is the recipient of a National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Council Dementia Training fellowship. Her work examines the potential for modifiable lifestyle factors to optimise cognition and brain health in older people at risk of dementia. She has extensive experience conducting randomised controlled trials investigating the impact of diet and physical activity on cognition, neuroimaging markers of brain health and dementia risk factors. She has worked with large scale population data sets including the UK biobank to examine nutritional determinants of brain health.

Helen supervises a range of PhD students looking at the links between healthy ageing, lifestyle factors, cognition and mental health. And one of her PhD students is Sara Dingle!

Sara is in the final stages of her candidature exploring the association between lifestyle patterns and brain health in adults. Prior to her PhD she completed a Bachelor of Science (majoring in Physiology) at The University of Melbourne, followed by a Master of Human Nutrition at Deakin. Alongside her PhD research, Sara is also actively engaged in teaching across the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin, and has been involved as a research assistant in large-scale Deakin-based projects (Transform-Us! and Healthy Together Children’s Evaluation Study). Sara endeavours to pursue a career in academia post-PhD, continuing her passion for teaching and research in the space of lifestyle behaviours and important health outcomes such as reducing risk for dementia. Sara is also actively engaged in communicating the findings of her research through conference presentations, short-form presentations such as the three-minute-thesis competition, and any other opportunities that present themselves. Sara’s interest in all things healthy lifestyle also extends beyond her professional life, being heavily involved in surf boat rowing through Surf Life Saving Victoria and having a passion for running; along with sharing her passion for healthy eating and cooking with her husband and 2-year-old (or at least attempting in the case of the toddler!)

You call follow Helen and Sara and find out more about their work here:


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