Anna's nutrition passions put her on a path into research – and the world

10 February 2022

Anna Rea's decision to study a Bachelor of Medical Science at CQUniversity came from a combination of following a curiosity about the human body and a genuine desire to help others.

The Cairns-based student' who is majoring in Nutrition' is taking what she's learned even further' by conducting research into food systems.

"Health and medicine underlined my childhood' growing up with my father and sister managing health conditions. In hindsight' it is no surprise that studying medical science piqued my interest' and it's deeply rewarding to pursue a career that helps others'" she said.

"However' it took years of working as an accountant before finding my passion for health and nutrition and considering it as a career pathway. I was thrilled to find more university options available in Cairns compared to when I graduated high school in 2009' meaning I didn't have uproot my life to pursue my newfound passion."

In 2020' Anna joined CQU's Motivation of Health Behaviours laboratory and hit the ground running. Her study into the health habits of Fly-In-Fly-Out (FIFO) workers earned her an award for 'Best In Session' at the Online Conference for Undergraduate Research in Australasia.

She subsequently assisted research projects with CQU's Sports and Exercise Science team.

Other research projects included looking into the accuracy of food nutrition labels and an international study on food security and accessibility for middle-to-low-income earners and expectant mothers.

"Food labels convey nutrition information to help us make informed choices. CQU's Summer Scholarship research is exploring the accuracy of nutrition information as a public health interest to prevent diet-related health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Our findings have the potential to inform policy and assist in empowering consumers to make healthy food choices'" she said.

"Research has enabled me to engage in international development while home-bound by travel restrictions. Food and nutrition security has been a persistent global challenge' further exacerbated by COVID disruptions to food supply chains.

"Among a collaborative team of international researchers' I'm working with a CQU alumnus and Cairns local' Lydia O'Meara' to assess the nutrition adequacy of mothers in Sub-Saharan Africa' which will inform healthy and sustainable recommendations."

Anna's passion for nutrition has also connected her with the CQUni Nutrition Network and other scholarship opportunities' including a Global Voices Scholarship to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Spain and an Australian Government New Colombo Plan Scholarship' under which she hopes to study and intern in Japan later this year.

"After completing my undergraduate degree' I plan to pursue my Honours and PhD in international nutrition research. With my exposure to food systems research and pending NCP experience' it's exciting to imagine where my post-graduate journey may lead'" she said.

"Working in clinical or laboratory settings are the typical pathways for a medical science degree' but there is capacity to take a different journey. The beauty of studying with CQU is the flexibility it offers' and the insurmountable support to realise your career aspirations.

"Although it's taking me twice as long to complete my degree part-time' the experiences and networks gained have helped me establish solid foundations for my career before graduation. In my opinion' making the most out of your CQU experience means branching out from your coursework and plant the seeds that will grow into a fruitful career."