Megan Larger

Making an impact: Meghan Hockey

Making an impact: Meghan Hockey

There are so many students doing important work here at Deakin, and we believe we should recognise students who are making an active contribution to society. Meghan Hockey, a PhD candidate with the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin is doing exactly that.

Meghan started her journey in the health and food industry as she ventured to complete her undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, soon after becoming an Accredited Practising Dietitian working as a clinical dietitian at a Melbourne Hospital. She soon realised that her field of interest was lacking a lot of research, which motivated her to enter the research space, undertaking a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) at Deakin.

Meghan’s area of interest lies within Nutritional Psychiatry, which explores the intersect between diet and mental health. She hopes her work will contribute to clinical knowledge, where her research could aid current working practices, particularly when it comes to consumers and patients with mental health issues. Currently in her research with the Food and Mood Centre, Meghan’s research focuses on the association between dairy intake and depression, where the findings of her work may be used to inform future dietary interventions and recommendations for individuals living with a mood disorder.

Like many of us, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Meghan had to learn how to pivot and be flexible. The recruitment process for her research had to come to a halt, and there was a lot of uncertainty and other issues experienced that made it harder for her to continue her work. However, she mentions that by embracing her ability to think on her feet, she was able to venture on quite smoothly.

Meghan says that she is so grateful for the opportunity to work in the research space, as it’s provided her with various key skills and opportunities. One of the best things about her PhD, was when she was able to attend international presentations held in Auckland and London and meet like-minded researchers from around the globe. For her, this degree was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to learn from researchers pioneering the field of Nutritional Psychiatry. She states that the course offers an immersive process where you’re able to focus on the one thing you’re interested in, with the added bonus of time and flexibility.

For anyone thinking of taking on the path of research, Meghan recommends thinking about the end goal, and what you want to get out of it, as this may shape the direction you take with your research training and projects. Be prepared to undergo intensive training to develop your skill set and to be met with (and say yes to) plentiful opportunities along the way – where you can continue to figure what you do and don’t like.

Meghan is on track to finish her PhD later this year. In the future, she looks forward to pursuing her passion, continuing on the path of research and combining this with her clinical skills as a dietitian. She hopes that dietitians and other clinicians will benefit from her research and that outcomes may influence the way they can help people with symptoms of depression. She also wants to work to educate adolescents and children on the importance of diet and mental health and help make nutrition education more accessible to those living with a mental disorder.

Learn more about Meghan here.

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