About twenty years into my dietetics career, I wanted to better understand parents’ perspectives about feeding children, and joined a rural researcher development program to investigate the topic. My research mentor, Clare Collins urged me to undertake a PhD and my mid-career research involvement grew from there. While I never thought I had an aptitude for research, I do have a very enquiring mind, diverse interests (as highlighted by my research interests), a strong sense of social justice and determination stemming from my early years as an athlete, and I think that combination of characteristics is actually very well suited to a research career.
My dream would be for our team’s gastrointestinal research to change and vastly improve the management of ‘functional’ type disorders that impact on the quality of life of so many people in Australia and across the globe. If we can better assess the relationships between dietary intake (both food and nutrients) on the gut and how the gut deals with food and nutrients, this may be possible. How good would it be if a simple ‘poo test’ could tell us not only what bacteria are living in the gut, but what we ate yesterday, and what can be changed to improve gut health and reduce gut pain?
Dr Kerith Duncanson is an Accredited Practising Dietitian by profession and works in roles as a Research Dietitian for the University of Newcastle and Rural Research Program Manager for NSW Health. In her diverse career Kerith has worked for 30 years across the public and private sectors in nutrition and dietetics. Her passion for community nutrition led to an interest in childhood nutrition research and subsequent completion of a PhD investigating the child feeding practices of parents. The finding that child feeding practices of parents are substantially influenced by nutrition knowledge and behaviours within their peer group has resulted in the development of a peer education approach to dissemination of child feeding and nutrition information (PICNIC project) on the Mid North Coast of NSW.
Kerith is currently a Senior Research Fellow in Gastrointestinal Nutrition at The University of Newcastle, focusing on understanding the relationship between food, gut health and gastrointestinal health and disorder. Kerith brings a strong background in dietary assessment to this role, having worked as the Project Manager for the University of Newcastle VISIDA project, which is aimed at improving the assessment of dietary intake of mothers and young children in Lower Middle Income Countries. In this role, Kerith worked in a team comprising dietary and technology experts, working with in-country partners in Cambodia and Tanzania to determine whether technology approaches to dietary assessment are feasible, with the intention of informing future interventions where areas of dietary inadequacy are identified.
Kerith has 20 peer-reviewed publications and has presented her work on child nutrition and functional gastrointestinal nutrition nationally and internationally. Dr Duncanson was the 2008 prize winner for best report in the Rural Research Capacity Building Program, and a finalist in the 2011 and 2014 University of Newcastle 3 minute thesis competitions.
To better understand the complex relationship between food, gut bacteria and gastrointestinal health, by improving dietary assessment in gastrointestinal research.