Kathryn Dalrymple, a nutrition scientist with an inherent curiosity, works as a post-doctoral researcher at the prestigious King’s College London, which is ranked in the top 10 UK universities in the world and among the oldest in England. Her research focuses mainly on women's and children’s health, specifically the relationship between the pregnancy environment and childhood outcomes. Lia caught up with Kathryn to find out more about her journey, what fascinates her to be in academia, her inspiration, and her research topics.
Katie, you work as a researcher at King's College. What made you choose the academic path over a career in the industry? What fascinates you about academia?
Before I started my Ph.D. and following my masters in nutrition, my career began in the commercial sector with Danone Nutricia, which I joined through the company’s UK nutrition graduate scheme. As part of my role with Danone, I was involved with stakeholder management of UK-based healthcare professionals and I quickly realized that I was "sitting on the wrong side of the table" when it came to the academic and industry conversations. I thoroughly enjoyed my 4 years with Danone and I found the industry/pharmaceutical element of nutritional sciences fascinating, however, I was actively looking for a Ph.D. for the final 2-years of my time with the company as I knew that I wanted my career to be in academia. Whilst I was looking for a Ph.D. a friend of mine (who had already completed her Ph.D.), gave me two pieces of advice:
Choose a research topic which you are passionate about, as it will totally take over your life for 3-4 years.
Make sure you have a supervisor who you get on well with, as you will be spending a lot of time with them over the Ph.D. training program.
I have been very fortunate for both these accounts, as I love my area of research and my professor is awesome!
Your research focuses on prenatal lifestyle interventions of diet and physical activity. Why is this area of research important? How does it contribute to future generations eating healthier and more sustainable?
My research focuses on women's and children’s health, specifically the relationship between the pregnancy environment and childhood outcomes. I firmly believe that in pregnancy (or just before conception) health changes, regardless of how small they are, we can make a difference to the longer-term outcomes for mothers and children. I also believe that every child should have the best start in life – and this starts from conception, so by providing women (and their partners) with evidence-based advice on healthy lifestyle changes we are looking after the next generation before they are born.
How would you describe nutrition in one sentence?
Everything in moderation and variety is key.
- Kathryn Dalrymple
Do you have a favorite journal article or a favorite book that every nutrition expert should read?
I really enjoyed reading: Baby food matters by Clare Llewellyn and Hayley Syrad. The authors have summarized and critiqued all the conflicting advice on how to feed infants/toddlers and includes practical, easy-to-follow guidance. I recommend it to academics and soon to be parents as the authors have managed to convey their messages by bridging the gap between science and the general public.
Do you have a role model and how does this role model inspire you?
I would normally go for my professor but as she isn’t a nutritionist so I would have to say, Prof. Keith Godfrey. He is a wonderful scientist, researcher, and academic. He has also been a great support to me throughout my Ph.D. and I have the pleasure of working with him and his team for my first post-doctoral position.
This interview was carried out by Lia Schmökel, Co-Founder of NUTRITION HUB