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Interior of Charles Perkins Centre

What is Nutrition Science and what could it be?

Help to shape a new understanding of human nutrition
Work with leading researchers in the history and philosophy of biomedicine and in nutrition science to understand the changing relationship between humanity, science, and the food supply and the impact of this on lifestyle disease.

The research will use philosophical and historical perspectives on nutrition and related sciences to contribute to efforts to create an integrated multidisciplinary approach to nutrition.

Nutrition science has been transformed in recent years into something broader and more theoretically grounded than the traditional discipline of human nutrition. As such it is a new and contested disciplinary formation and offers many potential lines of investigation for historians and philosophers of science. Reflection on the history and development of the field, and its relationship to other fields, such as the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) and evolutionary medicine, has the potential to assist practitioners in achieving a stable and functional disciplinary identity.

Nutrition science also has an uneasy relationship to broader societal interest in nutrition and to the worldwide obesity crisis. The very idea that our relationship to food should be mediated by science is controversial in some circles and has been slighted as ‘nutritionism’. The relationship between nutrition science and multiple conceptions of a ‘natural’ diet and its relationship to health is also in urgent need of analysis.

The research will be jointly supervised by ARC Laureate Fellow and Professor of Philosophy Paul Griffiths and Charles Perkins Centre Nutrition Theme Leader Professor David Raubenheimer. The University of Sydney is ranked equal first in the world as a destination for postgraduate study in the philosophy of the biological sciences.

The Charles Perkins Centre and the Sydney Food and Nutrition Network, headed by Prof. Raubenheimer, are world-leaders in nutrition science. Prof Raubenheimer was a member of the expert working group who produced the Australian Academy of Science’s 2019 report Nourishing Australia: A decadal plan for the science of nutrition.

To understand and shape the development of nutrition science and thereby contribute to easing the burden of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, and their related conditions.

The successful candidate will join the Charles Perkins Centre, a flagship interdisciplinary research centre with exceptional opportunities and support for early career researchers. They will be a member of the Theory and Methods in Bioscience group, headed by Prof. Griffiths, where postdoctoral fellows and PhD students work closely with one another and with a local and international network of collaborators. In addition, they will be integrated into the activities of the Sydney Food and Nutrition Network, headed by Prof. Raubenheimer, and will have access to many leading researchers in the field of the project. 

Applicants are invited to submit a proposal for PhD research that aligns directly to this project.

Prospective candidates may qualify for direct entry into the PhD program if their research proposal (see above) is accepted and they satisfy at least one of the criteria listed below.

  • Bachelor's degree with first- or second-class honours in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis based on primary data not literature review
  • Master's degree by research in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis that draws on primary data
  • Master's degree by coursework, with a research thesis or dissertation of 12,000–15,000 words that draws on primary data not literature review, with a grade-point average of at least 80 per cent in the degree.
  • Demonstrated appropriate professional experience and alternative qualifications in the field of study.

For more information regarding applying for a PhD refer to the course details for Doctor of Philosophy (Arts and Social Sciences).

Please also refer to guidelines for preparing a research proposal.

A number of scholarships are available to support your studies.

These scholarships will provide a stipend allowance of $35,629 per annum for up to 3.5 years. Successful international students will also receive a tuition fee scholarship for up to 3.5 years.

For other scholarship opportunities refer to Faculty Research Scholarships (Domestic) or Faculty Research Scholarships (International).

For further details about the PhD project, contact Professor Paul E. Griffiths at

Paul Griffiths

ARC Laureate Fellow
  • +61 2 9036 6265 (Quad)
  • +61 2 9351 7027 (CPC)
  • +61 2 9351 3918
  • Room N492 - A14 - Quadrangle Room 6N77 - Charles Perkins Centre - D17 Charles Perkins Centre D17