Student & ECR Spotlight – Eloise Litterbach, a PhD Candidate at Deakin University’s IPAN

Please tell us about your career pathway to date (positions and institutes).

After graduating from my undergraduate degree in 2013, and during my Honours year in 2014, I worked on various Research Assistant and teaching roles at Deakin University. In 2018, after several career disruptions but building a lovely little family, I joined the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes (ACBRD) as a Research Assistant.
I commenced my PhD within IPAN, at Deakin University in 2019.
Although not officially recognised, 2020/21 provided experience as an at-home-teacher for my three children, during Melbourne’s long lockdown periods – by far my most challenging job to date!

What is your main research interest?

I explore mealtimes in families with young children. In particular, I am interested in the use of screens (TV’s, tablets, smart phones) during mealtimes and how this might influence health outcomes in children and families.

How do you explain your current research/job to friends and family?

It depends on who’s asking! When I tell people that I work in child and infant nutrition research, I am surprised at how many parents feel immediately judged! When I am attending a children’s party, I opt to tell people that I work at Deakin University. In which case, they tend to nod their heads in approval and carry on letting their kids eat the cake.

What are the main barriers you encounter/experience when conducting research, or what information/skills do you lack to conduct high quality research?

The main barrier I experience in my research is reaching the most vulnerable or underrepresented population groups. Often it is those with the least resources, those who are least interested in changing their behaviours or those who are most concerned about being judged, who can provide us with the most valuable insight into nutrition research. It is often these more vulnerable groups who would benefit most from tailored health interventions. However, if we do not have a rich understanding of people’s lived experience, it is almost impossible to tailor advice or interventions that attend to their needs and we cannot fulfill our goals as health professionals.

Given unlimited funding, what would your dream research project be?

I would create a meals hub where families of many diverse backgrounds could all come together to eat, and to learn lifelong skills for healthy and harmonious mealtimes. The hub would allow everyone (parents and children alike) to work together at mealtimes and develop skills in healthy meal preparation and cooking, healthy eating behaviours, age-appropriate mealtime expectations, connecting through mealtimes, and cleaning up together.


If you would like to get in touch with Eloise, you can do so via email [email protected], or Twitter @ELitterbach