Research Supervisor Connect



The project will deal with connecting nutritional geometry principles developed by Profs Stephen Simpson and David Raubenheimer at the Charles Perkins Centre of the University of Sydney with sustainable development goals. The idea is to source, process and analyse food- and sustainability-related data, with the aim to portray and graph food items, meals and diets in the traditional nutritional geometry triangle, against proxy indicators for sustainable development goals. This novel way of connecting nutrition and sustainability will allow identifying win-wins and trade-offs when developing food- and nutrition-related sustainability policies.

The PhD will be supervised by Prof. Manfred Lenzen. The applicant will join the ISA Research Group at the School of Physics – The University of Sydney. ISA develops leading-edge research and applications for environmental and broader sustainability issues, bringing together expertise in environmental science, economics, technology, and social science. Prof. David Raubenheimer is also a supervisor for this project.


Professor David Raubenheimer.

Research location

School of Physics

Program type



Input-output analysis (IOA) allows the characterisation of food items in terms of any physical indicator, across the entire upstream supply-chain network, or life cycle, of food production systems. IOA thus enables the investigation of more sustainable diets. Using IOA, nutritional geometry principles can be established for a range of economic, social and environmental indicators, and these indicators can be linked to a sustainable development goal or planetary boundary.

More specifically, the strategy for portraying environmental and broader sustainability objectives of food items, meals and diets in nutritional geometry triangles would be to
a) characterise food items, meals and diets in terms of their carbohydrate, fat and protein content,
b) use IOA to establish economic, environmental and social impacts for each item, meal and diet, and
c) interpolate the cloud of observations into a colour map.

The overlay of nutritional geometry triangles for different sustainability indicators can assist in identifying trade-offs and win-win opportunities for policy design. Comparisons are aided by the fact that – due to their UN standardisation – IO-based quantities are accounted for with identical scope. This analysis can be carried out for any year between 1990 and 2015, and the results can support monitoring progress towards sustainable development goals. Time series data will inform about trends and will assist in identifying global drivers for changes in food and nutrition provision.

Additional information

Applicants need to satisfy the eligibility criteria for PhD enrolment at the University of Sydney. Interest and prior engagement in broader sustainability will be beneficial. Applications should be sent by email to Prof. Manfred Lenzen:
Further reading: Simpson and Raubenheimer 2005; Simpson et al. 2017; Xiao et al. 2017
Simpson, S.J., D.G. Le Couteur, D. Raubenheimer, S.M. Solon-Biet, G.J. Cooney, V.C. Cogger and L. Fontana (2017) Dietary protein, aging and nutritional geometry. Ageing Res Rev 39, 78-86.
Simpson, S.J. and D. Raubenheimer (2005) Obesity: the protein leverage hypothesis. Obes Rev 6, 133-42.

HDR Inherent Requirements
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2300

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