Interview with Alumni Pia Varsamis PhD

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What was your area of focus within the Philosophy sector, and how did your research ultimately reflect this?

My PhD thesis addressed potential adverse health consequences of sugary drink consumption. Sugary drinks as a health issue piqued my interest as since there’s lots of data indicating how many sugary drinks Australians are consuming, there’s less known about the exact impact they’re having on metabolic health. This is a major concern because it raises our risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so why not get the message out initially to show that these are the effects. My PhD aimed to better understand the potential adverse health consequences of sugary drinks both at a population level (via analyses of national soft drink formulations and epidemiological studies), and an individual level (via clinical physiology studies performed in an acute setting).

What were the requirements for you to obtain your PhD?

A lot of hard work. Personally I completed a three year Bachelor Undergraduate Degree, followed by my Honours, and from that it was determined back in 2016 that I was a suitable candidate to complete a PhD.

What were your highlights throughout completing you PhD?

A highlight for me was publishing my clinical research paper, ‘Between-meal Sucrose-sweetened Beverage Consumption Impairs Glycaemia and Lipid Metabolism During Prolonged Sitting’, in the well-regarded Clinical Journal of Nutrition. It’s one of a string of achievements that I’ve made in my research pathway to date. As well as having also published in the Medical Journal of Australia and Nutrients Journal. Some of my other various achievements throughout my PhD include obtaining the Monash University Research Training Program scholarship, the Monash University Postgraduate Travel Grant Award, Praxis Research Essentials Scholarship Award, and various Baker Institute Travel Awards.

Now you have your PhD, what are your next steps?

I have become accustomed to answering big questions, however the next one I’ll have to answer is where I’d like to push my career, with a doctorate to my name. The Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute has made me a well-rounded researcher, but whether I continue in clinical research or work as a full time lecturer in a university where I can lecture and teach; that would be quite ideal for me because I do enjoy the teaching side of things, as well as the clinical research side of things. Currently I have been exposed to many tutoring and lecturing opportunities within universities around Melbourne, so I am very grateful.

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