A moment with Early-Career Researcher Dr Vanessa Shrewsbury

Tia Haralabakos Uncategorised

Dietitian, Early-Career Researcher, Co-Chair for HIPP EMR-C, and mum of four (including a puppy), Dr Vanessa Shrewsbury’s day-to-day is a juggling act.  

The challenges of finding balance between working from home and tending to her family has inspired new motivations to get through the day, like making the most of being outside.

Without commute times and in-person obligations, the outdoors is more than just a space to pass through as a means of getting from one place to the next.

For Dr Shrewsbury, time outdoors is spent on fitness, cultivating the veggie patch out back and taking care of Monte, the family’s eight-month-old puppy.    

“As a dietitian, I feel like I have the food bit covered, and now it is focusing on fitness,” she said.

“That has been one of the advantages of the COVID lockdowns, having a bit more time for things like that.”

Whilst Dr Shrewsbury’s professional specialisation covers prevention and management of child, adolescent, and parental overweight obesity, in her spare time Dr Shrewsbury pursues interests that are not central to her line of research, like history.  

Recently, Dr Shrewsbury read Isabel Allende’s A Long Petal of the Sea, an epic novel following two young people fleeing the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, a book she recommends.

“I love delving into history… from historical dramas to documentaries,” she said.

Alongside being a history buff, Dr Shrewsbury is creative at heart.

She reflects on growing up on a farm, and the influence this had on her imagination and creativity.

“I grew up on a farm and often we would be loose ends during school holidays, “she said.

 I think that enabled me to develop my creative side.” 

Dr Shrewsbury taps into this creative side when time permits, whether that be crocheting a blanket or making homemade COVID-masks.

Inspiration has never been more important in a time of mundanity, and for Dr Shrewsbury, this stimulation comes from her supervisors.

“I’ve been fortunate in my career that at every stage I have had wonderful supervisors who have been my mentors,” she said.

“I am just soaking everything up from them. So that in turn, I can pass this on to my students and mentees.”

To students considering a research career, Dr Shrewsbury recommends not rushing into the decision.

Having finished her dietetics degree, Dr Shrewsbury engaged in locum work and research assistant positions in Australia and the UK, before recognising the academic life was her calling.

“I always knew I wanted to work in prevention of chronic disease,” she said.

“It’s about talking to lots of people and trying a few things before you commit.

That being said, there are usually opportunities to pivot your career along the way so being open to new directions can be rewarding.”