I am a Senior Research Fellow within The George Institute for Global Health’s Food Policy division. My work supports the Public Health Advocacy and Policy Impact team, and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Population Salt Reduction. I consider myself to be a ‘pracademic’ with a passion for real life impact, which really aligns well with everything we do at The George Institute.
My expertise spans different disciplines, with a core focus on consumer research, health & nutrition behaviour change, and innovation in policy, services and products. I typically work across different disciplines and enjoy connecting different people and ideas together – I firmly believe this leads to new and better health solutions.
My varied background and training started in the Netherlands, where I was born and raised in a small coastal town at the North Sea. With a STEM high school package and a creative mind, I went to Delft University to study Industrial Design (diploma). I was also actively involved with race rowing, and because of that my interest gradually moved from products to people- and what determines health. I went on to study Biological Sciences in Leiden (MSc) and Human Nutrition at the University of Sheffield (distance learning, MMedSci). This was followed by PhD at Wageningen University in Consumer & Sensory Research and Eating behaviour, with a particular focus on meat consumption and environmentally sustainable meat alternatives.
In the Netherlands I gained a lot of food industry and policy experience, working with or for food industry, NGO’s and the Dutch Government. This included R&D in the area of medical nutrition for vulnerable groups, for which we worked towards more consumer-oriented product development. As a Nutrition & Health manager, I set up a nutrition labelling program, which resulted in the first industry-wide calorie logo front-of-pack scheme for food products in Europe (2007).
I fell in love with Australia during previous travels, and we moved to Adelaide in 2011, where I first worked as a lecturer in Nutrition & Food Sciences. Besides my independent research & consulting practice, I continued research in one of my key interest areas; healthy and sustainable food behaviours and systems. This was for a Australian Research Council grant and later at the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (Monash University).
I joined The George Institute in 2019, and am currently leading or involved with various salt-reduction projects, such as in Vietnam and India. I now apply the industry and governments insights “for good”, and work alongside great team members and collaborators.