Professor Julie Lovegrove
"I'm Head of the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition at the University of Reading and I sit on a number of government advisory committees, including the Scientific Advisory Committee for Nutrition (SACN)."
Why I chose Surrey
My curiosity in science began at an early age, as did my interest in food and I was intrigued by the idea of nutrition research. My first impressions of the University of Surrey were excellent. The staff I met were very friendly and interested, and the campus created a welcoming and homely environment. Surrey was always my first choice.
My course, now known as BSc (Hons) Nutrition and Dietetics, provided me with a perfect combination of my interests in the influence of diet on health and disease. It was extremely varied and the staff supportive. I thoroughly enjoyed practical classes in physiology and nutrition, and have fond memories of dietetic food practicals and the inability to make edible low salt bread! I was fascinated by biochemistry and the impact of nutrition in health and disease. My final-year project involved a small human dietary intervention study and sample analysis, which fuelled my interest in a future career in human nutrition research.
I have fond memories of times spent in practical classes, making, amongst other things, gluten free biscuits, undertaking my final-year project and especially Friday nights at the Students’ Union with great friends.
My clinical placements
My clinical placement was at Leeds General Infirmary, which I enjoyed despite its very traditional outlook and the bright yellow elasticated belt all student dietitians were forced to wear. Observing gastric surgery and working on the dialysis unit particularly fascinated me. I was also offered an additional placement working as a nutritionist in Nutricia in Trowbridge for 6 months. This experience was enjoyable, although in stark contrast to my clinical placement, and opened my eyes to the varied roles on offer to nutritionists in the professional workplace.
"After graduating, I completed a PhD at Surrey on infant milk allergy. I continued as a post-doctoral research fellow at Surrey, broadening my research interests by investigating the impacts of dietary fats on lipid metabolism and cardiovascular risk."
My career and development
My course played a major role in establishing my future career in nutrition research and in forming life-long friendships. It had a strong science evidence base and was extremely broad. The integrative nature of food and nutrition was key and essential for translation of nutrition to health promotion. It inspired my interest in the importance of diet-related disease, and made me aware of the scientific rigor required to make a real contribution to nutritional research.
After graduating, I completed a PhD at Surrey on infant milk allergy. I continued as a post-doctoral research fellow at Surrey, broadening my research interests by investigating the impacts of dietary fats on lipid metabolism and cardiovascular risk, a theme that has been at the centre of my career ever since. In 1996, I moved to the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition at the University of Reading, where I helped to develop a rapidly expanding centre of excellence in nutrition research and teaching within a strong food science department.
I've since been appointed Head of the Unit and hold the Hugh Sinclair Chair in Human Nutrition. I sit on a number of government advisory committees including the Scientific Advisory Committee for Nutrition (SACN), and Association for Nutrition (AfN).
I recommend that you take full advantage of all opportunities offered, however varied. Application of nutrition and dietetic practice is of major importance to the health of our nation and is therefore an invaluable science to study. We go to university with the expectation of gaining knowledge in a particular field of study and a good degree, but having fun is essential as is forming strong friendships, which often last a lifetime. Enjoy!