Maria is a nutritionist with almost 20 years’ experience in the design and delivery of trials and related methodological research in the field of diet and obesity, with a special interest in early years and childhood. In addition to her academic role at the University of York, she is the Director of Nutrition Research for Born in Bradford, the lead for Diet and Obesity evaluation for a Better Start Bradford and the evaluation Chair of ‘ActEarly’, a MRC funded project aiming to promote a healthier, happier, and fairer future for children. Maria is also the Chair of the Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO).
- BSc (Hons) Nutrition, 1st Class Honours, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Kings College London
- PhD Nutrition and Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Leeds
- Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy
Maria is committed to deliver research and teaching that makes a substantial contribution to society. Her work includes a broad portfolio of obesity, food and nutrition research which spans across multiple systems. This systems based approach is inherent in public health and nutrition research, as behaviour is influenced not only by individual psychology, biology and behaviour factors, but also by wider systems including food production and distribution, environments and social influences.
A focus of Maria's work is with the design and delivery of evaluations for public health interventions. With this, she utilises her background in clinical trials to consider innovative methods for complex systems evaluations which are ethical and feasible, whilst ensuring minimal bias. Her specific topic expertise is within lifestyle and non-communicable disease, particularly related to childhood obesity and dietary health.
Maria is passionate about partnership working and is dedicated to ensuring meaningful engagement in all aspects of her work. Thus, she always work closely with key stakeholders and beneficiaries across the life of each project and has established strong relationships with local and national government, community leaders in early years and school settings, and members of the public.
- System wide influences on food choice within primary schools in the UK: Co-design of an implementation plan to maximise the impact of whole school approaches to food (Chief Investigator). MRC PHIND
- Understanding the impact of covid-19 on pregnant women and new parents: The Born in Bradford 2020 Families Study (Co-investigator). UKRI
- Air pollution, outdoor air quality and health (Co-Investigator (Lead for implementation evaluation)). NIHR PHR 18/14
- Peer2Peer: understanding ‘Raised in Yorkshire’: understanding its influence on health and life opportunities. (Named collaborator). Oral Health-White Rose Consortium (OH-WRC) (Sheffield and York).
- Influence of attendance at weight management interventions on offspring: WWChild feasibility study Chief Investigator:. WWInt. ON-HOLD.
- Better Start Bradford phase II Innovation Hub: Improving life chances of babies and children; to improve social and emotional development, nutrition, language and communication development; and to enact a system change (Co-investigator). Big Lottery
- NIHR Applied Research Collaboration: Yorkshire and Humber (Named collaborator).Early Life and Prevention theme. NIHR
- ActEarly: a City Collaboratory approach to early promotion of good health and wellbeing (Co-Investigator: (Evaluation Chair and Lead for Food theme)). NIHR PRP
- Creative community workshop to inform decision making for air quality interventions (Chief Investigator). University of Leeds Public Engagement fund (Wellcome Trust small grant award).
- Randomised Controlled Trial of Weight Watchers Flex: An international study to determine effectiveness on weight loss (UK Principal Investigator). WWInt.
- PhD contribution funds to support project: ‘Ethnography of a Better Start Bradford’ (Chief Investigator). Trident Community Partnership
- Talking Together: A feasibility study to evaluate a home-based language support programme for families of children aged 2 years (Co-investigator). Nuffield Foundation.
- Development of a video clip for public engagement in routine data. (Chief Investigator) Connected Health Cities (CHC) funds.
- Development and evaluation of a public engagement intervention (national definitive trial) and feasibility trial of clinical effectiveness of HENRY, a community based programme aimed at preventing obesity in preschool children (Chief Investigator). NIHR CDF
- 'Fix Our Food'; Transformation to Regenerative Food systems: Co-creation of regenerative food systems towards one that optimises health and the environment (Co-investigator (Work Package lead)). UKR
- Holidays Activities and Food (HAF) programme evaluation. Collaboration between the Food Foundation and Fix our Food (Co-investigator (evaluation lead))
- NIHR Development and Skills Enhancement Award, 2021 - Chief Investigator
Maria is interested in hearing from potential PhD candidates with an interest in Public health research in, particularly those considering obesity, food (and food systems), environmental or implementation research. Funding is currently not available and will need to be sought in advance.