Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

With the global human population now rising past 8 billion and beyond, local food systems will be tested like never before. Recent system-level disruptions – flood, drought, bushfires, pandemics – raise many questions about the ability of local food systems to continue to provide. In short, is the Canberra food system sufficiently resilient to adapt to future disruption? If not, how can we make it so?

1983 …2022

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

  • International Development and Health
  • Nutrition in marginalised communities
  • Clinical Nutrition/Dietetics (Cystic Fibrosis and Coronary Heart Disease)
  • Chronic disease prevention (Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome) throughout the Lifespan (Cradle to Cradle)
  • Community-based health promotion
  • Environmentally sustainable living
  • Food and nutrition policy analysis and development
  • The future of food



Shawn Somerset is Professor of Public Health and Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics in the Faculty of Health at the University of Canberra. He has worked in government, industry, community and university sectors on food and nutrition-related projects in Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. His general field of interest relates to environmental aspects of food choice, the various controls, barriers and facilitators involved, and how the expanding world population will ensure food security into the future. Answers to these issues span a range of research contexts, from community-based school and urban garden initiatives, through to population-based studies on determinants of food consumption – issues that are central across the world, in countries both rich and poor. 


Student Projects Available

Public Health
  • The Future of Food in the Canberra region - enhancing local food system resilience to major social and physical disruption
  • Development of a Food Basket Survey for ethnic diversity
  • Evaluation of a school-based garden intervention program
  • Historical accounts of indigenous diets at first contact
Clinical Nutrition
  • Pre-conception weight loss - when is the right time to conceive?
  • Plant-based dietary interventions to reduce diabetes risk
  • Associations between flavonoid consumption and health outcomes
  • Why mothers with undernourished children in developing country settings don't seek care earlier
  • Bariatric Surgery - under-reported diet-related adverse outcomes

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Queensland


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