beans in hand

Image: Nestle (Flickr)

Call for PhD applications on food, equity and health governance

14th August 2015

The Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet) is seeking PhD students to be part of the NHMRC-funded “HE2: A systems approach to healthy and equitable eating” study. The successful applicant(s) will be based within RegNet, with Professor Sharon Friel as the primary supervisor.

Project Summary and Aims

The prevention of diet-related non-communicable diseases requires policies and actions that improve dietary behaviours by improving the availability, affordability, physical accessibility and acceptability of healthy diets. The “HE2: A systems approach to healthy and equitable eating” study aims to understand how the food system, people’s daily living conditions, and individual level factors interact through different policy domains. Through understanding the whole system’s behaviour, the Study will elucidate key leverage points or places to intervene most effectively in relation to the pursuit of equity in healthy eating. The study will provide an evidence base for what can be done to improve nutrition equitably, and how to create and implement nutrition-sensitive and pro-equity public policy.

The study has five aims:

  1. Develop a systems-based framework to clarify and communicate the interconnections between different policy domains and HE2
  2. Explore the quantitative modelling of the interconnections between key policy subsystems and HE2
  3. Establish the HE2 rating of key Australian National / State & Territory level policy actions
  4. Based on international good practice, recommend policy actions that will advance Australian public health nutrition in an equitable way
  5. Identify barriers and opportunities to cross-government action that takes a systems approach to the pursuit of HE2 goals

PhD Project Areas/Topics

  1. Can a responsive regulatory approach help food systems be health equity focused?
  2. Seeing dietary health equity and policy from a systems based perspective.
  3. Complex adaptive policy: navigating intersectoral action for healthy and equitable eating. Other topic areas are also welcomed.

For further information or to discuss a prospective project contact Dr Melanie Pescud on or (02) 6125 1506.


To be eligible for the position a student must:

  • Be enrolled, or be seeking to enrol, as a full-time student in a research higher degree program at the Australian National University; and
  • Have completed an Australian university honours degree (at the level honours 2A or above), or equivalent prior studies in Australia or elsewhere (for example a bachelor’s degree plus a graduate diploma or a master’s degree) that includes some research work in the field of public health and/or social sciences.

For funding, the candidate will be considered for the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship round. In order to be eligible, we recommend that prospective candidates expressing an interest in applying before 1 October 2015.

To apply

For guidelines regarding how to apply, please consult RegNet’s website at After doing so, submit the following materials to RegNet’s Head of Postgraduate Programs, Dr Kathryn Henne (

  1. Completed expression of interest form
  2. Curriculum vitae (CV)
  3. Academic transcripts
  4. Thesis proposal (5-10 pages)

Please note that the full ANU application requires the additional steps outlined on our website.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet