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Dr. Alexia Murphy - Nutrition Specialist at the IAEA



Lina: Alexia, you work as a Nutrition Specialist with the Nutritional and Health-related Environmental Studies Section of the International Atomic Energy Agency. What did you study and at which university did you study? What specialization did you have?


Alexia: Bachelor of Applied Science-Human Movement Studies at Queensland University of Technology (specialised in physiology, functional anatomy and biomechanics) PhD in Pediatric Nutrition at University of Queensland (body composition of children with clinical conditions).


Did you like the studies and would you study the same again?


 I enjoyed my studies and would do them again if they lead me to my current position! My bachelor degree included 6 months of volunteer practical placement which was very beneficial because I did it in the Body Composition Lab where I eventually got my first position and developed my interest in research.


What was your PhD about? And what were your main tasks during your Post-Doc position at CNRC?


 My PhD involved 3 parts 1) developing a new way of interpreting total body potassium measurements to determine body cell mass (metabolically active component of fat free mass) in children 2) validating simple body composition methods in children with cystic fibrosis and cancer and 3) evaluating the body composition of children with cystic fibrosis and cancer.


How did you get to your new Job in Vienna and what is the new job about?


In 2013 I attended a consultants meeting at IAEA on the nuclear method of total body potassium counting, which introduced me to the work the Nutrition section of the IAEA did. When I saw a position advertised I jumped at the opportunity to apply and use my experience in body composition techniques to assist in international nutrition projects. 

The position is as a Nutrition Specialist with the Nutritional and Health-related Environmental Studies Section of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The tasks include designing and implementing research projects that utilise nuclear nutrition techniques,  provide technical assistance to nutrition projects supported by the IAEA technical cooperation programme, developing guidelines and distance learning modules on nuclear techniques in nutrition and organizing technical meetings and consultants meetings to review current knowledge in nutrition. 


How can we imagine a typical day at your work in Vienna?


A usual day may include replying to emails with project counterparts in a variety of countries on a variety of technical questions they may have about their project, reviewing an e-learning module that is being developed for a nuclear nutrition technique, evaluating reports that have been completed by experts returning from an expert mission, helping design a project for a new regional project, ordering a new piece of equipment for a project, meeting about a new international database that is being developed or preparing an agenda for upcoming consultants' meeting. It is very varied and there is always something exciting waiting to be done. 


What would you recommend nutrition scientists or students of nutrition science to do in order to have a successful career?


Seek out opportunities to train and volunteer in the areas of nutrition you are passionate about. Aim high and do what you love and the hard work is easy! 


Thank you for your time and for the very interesting insights in your job!

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