Date of Birth: 13th Aug 1959
What institutions did she attend?
- St Andrew Preparatory School, Jamaica
- St Andrew High School for Girls, Jamaica
- The International School of Geneva, Switzerland
- University of Bristol, UK- BSc in Biochemistry
- Queen Elizabeth College, University of London, UK- MSc and PhD in Nutrition
- The Principal’s Research Award for Most Outstanding Researcher, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Research Day 2007
- The Principal’s Research Award for Best Research Publication, Faculty of Medical Science, Research Day, 2007
- Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research, 2007
- The Principal’s Research Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Policy -presented to the Child Development Research Group, Research Day 2006
- Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) scholarship to complete an advanced research training fellowship in nutritional epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, USA
On most Fridays, she can be found on the court, indulging her passion for tennis.
She is a member of the Board of the Malnourished Children’s Foundation, which provides outreach to malnourished children and their families. One aspect of the outreach is play therapy for children, which is operated through a mobile toy library.
Caribbean Women in STI
Dr Susan Walker is Professor of Nutrition in the Tropical Medicine Research Institute (TMRI) at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica. She leads the Child Development Research Group at the TMRI, where they examine the effects of nutrition and early life experiences on children’s physical, mental and emotional development and well-being.
Her wide-ranging experience in the field of nutrition includes the supervision of field studies and the management of grant funded research projects. The Wellcome Trust, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank are among the sponsors of her research. She is also a consultant to the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute, and various organisations in Jamaica and internationally, including UNICEF and PAHO/ WHO. She has published extensively in prominent journals and presented her work at forums all over the world. She has also authored several books and chapters in books.
One of her most important studies has been on the effects of dietary supplementation, and psychological and social stimulation on children between 9 to 24 months, who were growth-stunted due to poor nutrition in early life. Supplementation included a milk-based formula, and the stimulations involved teaching mothers techniques to play constructively with their children. Both interventions benefited the children’s development. The stimulation lead to participants having better self-esteem, mental health, focus as adolescents and educational achievement, than who did not receive the intervention.
Dr Walker’s work influences the investment by governments in nutrition and other social programmes. She has participated in radio and television programmes on the topics of nutrition in early childhood, primary school feeding, adolescence, and child development. She hopes that her research will continue to influence policies to improve the lives and development of children.
Susan Walker was born on 13th August, 1959 in Kingston, Jamaica. She had a happy childhood with a lot of fun time playing outdoors. She first learnt of and thought about malnutrition in children when her Grade 6 teacher was collecting aid funds and spoke to the class about the Nigerian Civil War and the widespread starvation it caused in Biafra. She remembers always being interested in science, which led her to pursue her first degree in biochemistry. She switched to nutrition as she wanted a career in science that was more directly related to helping people through improving their health.
She advises young people to choose a career that they truly enjoy. She feels fulfilled to know that findings from her research have benefited children in Jamaica and around the world through deepening understanding of the importance of early nutrition and a stimulating home environment with reading and play.
What is a nutritionist?
A nutritionist is an expert on the nutrients in food; how nutrients are used in the body; and how they contribute to
health. Nutritionists use this knowledge to advise on disease prevention and healthy lifestyles.
Most nutritionists work in clinical, community, public health or food service settings. Others work as researchers, teachers or consultants in the food industry. Some are attached to fitness centers. They can be involved in a range of activities, such as assessing the nutritional needs of a patient, designing a community wellness programme, or researching the use of new technologies to promote nutrition. Hypertension, diabetes and obesity are some of the common health problems that they work to alleviate.
Areas of Specialisation
- Animal nutrition
- Clinical nutrition
- Oncology nutrition
- Pediatric nutrition
- Community/public health nutrition
- Sports nutrition
What do I need to study?
At CSEC and CAPE: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics
At university, at least a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, nutrition, food service systems management or a related field is needed. Some countries have licensure laws that define the requirements for becoming a public health nutritionist.
What skills and traits do I need?
- Ability to work in a team
- Aptitude for statistics
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Research and record-keeping skills
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