Johanna Bolinder completed her Summer Studentship at St. Mary’s University, London under the supervision of Liz Newling Ward. Johanna has her own website called Bolinder Nutrition and you can also find her on Twitter (@bolnutrition).
Title of project: A pilot study to determine the effectiveness the Change 4 Life Sugar Smart App (SSA) has on influencing sugar consumption and further investigating the affect the App has on motivating healthier eating habits in healthy adults.
About the project:
I looked at how habitual use of the Sugar Smart App (SSA) can influence healthy adults, to reduce their sugar intake and motivate them to make healthier food choices. The results of the pilot showed participants reduced their sugar intake by 32%, free sugar intake by 39.5% and overall energy (kcal) by 28.9% after using the Sugar Smart app daily for two weeks. I have since developed and shaped my dissertation from the results of the study, which I am currently researching.
What was the best aspect of your Summer studentship experience?
The opportunity to get a running start on my dissertation was invaluable. I enjoyed the challenge that came with independent research. Although I was supervised (by Liz Newling – Ward, the programme director for Nutrition, St. Mary’s University), I was strongly encouraged to get out of my comfort zone and fully embrace, the ups and downs, that come with research as independently as possible.
What was the most challenging part of your studentship?
I worked during my research scholarship. I was offered a position at Jamie Oliver, working on his Food Revolution campaign. It was a dream of mine to work for Jamie, and I couldn’t say no. Instead I decided I could do both, research and work. It was very demanding at times to juggle the responsibilities. However, it was completely manageable and it forced me to be slightly more disciplined in my time management and scheduling. Research comes with a lot of unforeseen challenges, you can prepare research in theory, however, in practice it usually pans out quite differently. I found it was during these times, research was difficult; you must have a can – do attitude and be flexible and creative when things do not go according to plan.
What’s the one thing you learnt that is transferable to future work you might do?
Time management will be the first thing that comes to mind, which in my opinion, is something you can never get too much experience in. I also learned to work independently, and seek ways to reach conclusions on my own, without relying on professionals. Critical thinking, report writing and data analysis are also skills I am much more confident in.
Tips for anyone who is interested in applying for the NS – SS or a similar fellowship:
My best advice would be to just go for it. Pick a topic which interests you, then brainstorm with someone (nutrition related) whom you respect, and can give you honest feedback. Develop the research methodology, and don’t rush it. This is such a golden chance, and you will not regret it. It sets you up for the future and you will gain confidence and momentum which you will need to complete your degree.
Would you be interested to do more research in the future and if so what topic(s) would interest you?
I would love to go on and do a PhD at some point in the future, possibly in something related to nutrigenomics which is another area of nutrition which fascinates me. However, right now I am ready to take my knowledge and experience and put it all into practice. I am currently looking for work within food tech, public health and/or industry for when I graduate this summer.
The Nutrition Society (NS) offers a unique funding opportunity to a limited number of students to undertake a research project during the summer months. The Summer Studentship Series is a collaboration with six students that took part in the 2016 NS Summer Studentship (NS-SS). I decided to ask everyone a couple of questions related to their projects and general experience, in an attempt to give you an idea of the variety of projects we completed and the interesting elements of each project. My hope is to inspire more students to do research and provide useful information and tips for those who may be interested in applying for the NS Summer Studentship or other similar research projects. I firmly believe research is the way forward in nutrition and I hope these series inspires more of you to get involved in research projects. This year’s Nutrition Society Summer Studentship application is now open and you can find it here.