Student & ECR Spotlight – Sarah Marshall shares insight into her PhD translating an evidence-based intervention into real-world context

Please tell us about your career pathway to date.

I studied Nutrition and Dietetics as Bachelor with Honours at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. I then held community-based roles as dietitian and health promotion project officer. After this, I took a different direction and moved to Timor-Leste where I worked as an advisor/mentor with the Ministry of Health Nutrition Department. To pursue the area of development and global nutrition, I went on to study a Master of Global Health with Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Through my early career exposure to a range of nutrition and public health projects, this led me to do my PhD in public health and health promotion. I am currently undertaking a translational research project with the University of Sydney and hope to complete my doctorate in 2-3 more years.



How would you briefly describe your current research to someone who is not familiar with your field of study? What is your main research interest?

My PhD project aims to culturally adapt Healthy Beginnings, an evidence-based intervention to promote healthy growth among infants living in Sydney, Australia. We are working to make the program more meaningful and accessible for new migrants from Chinese and Arabic speaking backgrounds. My main research interest is how we can translate evidence-based interventions and research into real world context, and better support families most in need.



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

One main barrier for me has been understanding the time and resources required to work cross-culturally. For me, working in English only, the steps required for conducting rigorous research in Mandarin and Arabic languages has required extended time-frames, a strong team and financial support. Without these resources, I would not have the project that I am fortunate to be part of.



What could help you as a student/ECR to further develop/grow in your current position?

I would like to develop and maintain connections beyond my PhD research. It feels easy to get immersed in my own project and potentially lose sight of the bigger picture. Networking and developing connections globally will strengthen my research and learnings.



What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition and/or physical activity field?

I think the next most important development will be enhancing how we move from novel research trials to real-word implementation. Implementation science and translational research is the way forward and will continue to develop and gain focus in the years ahead. I hope to see nutrition and physical activity fields continue to incorporate the strengths of diverse cultures from around the world.


You can get in touch with Sarah via email [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @ _SarahKMarshall