Student & ECR spotlights – Meet Lee Ashton, a postdoctoral researcher working on personalised nutrition platforms

Please tell us about your career pathway to date.

I completed my Undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Science at Leeds Beckett University (UK) followed by a MSc in Nutritional Epidemiology at University of Leeds (UK). I then worked as Research Assistant for the Clinical Trial Research Unit at the University of Leeds. This position lead me to do my PhD at the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition (University of Newcastle, Australia) where I developed and evaluated a gender-tailored healthy lifestyle program for young adult men. Currently, I work as a Postdoctoral project manager at the University of Newcastle, Australia with Prof Clare Collins where I am developing a personalised nutrition platform for young Australian adults.

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

I aim to improve the health of young adults aged 18-25 years. There are many key transitions which occur during young adulthood such as changes to living arrangements, employment status and relationships. These changes can negatively impact on health behaviours and research has shown that unhealthy habits in young adulthood commonly track into mid-adulthood and worsen.  I investigate the best ways to optimise eating habits, activity levels, mental health and body weight in young adults to help prevent/delay chronic disease risk in later life.

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

Taking research to the next level. I have conducted small and successful pilot research projects but I lack the experience and management of conducting larger scale projects. I would also like to improve my research translation skills and implement my research in everyday, real-world settings.


What could help you as an ECR to further grow in your current position?

Greater opportunities to build and consolidate collaborations with researchers who have expertise in physical activity and/or nutrition interventions with young adults.


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

With the ongoing technological advances there is a lot of potential in incorporating innovative approaches such as augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence into dietary and PA assessment and personalised support.


Email address: [email protected]

Twitter: @DrLeeAshton