Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Ashleigh Smith

Main Campus
City East

Applications Close
28 Feb 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$29,863 available for both domestic and international applicants

About this project

Develop strategies to reduce dementia risk

Are you passionate about a career in health promotion and keen to develop personalised dementia prevention strategies? The University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering an important project-based PhD with real-world impact in our Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity Centre (ARENA).

How people use their time, and what/when they eat, can affect their future dementia risk. For example, excessive screen time, inappropriate sleep, insufficient physical activity, few social connections and inadequate cognitive engagement, all independently increase dementia risk. 

An increased consumption of protein in the diet may lead to compensatory changes across other macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates), also important for cognition/dementia risk. A relatively unexplored area in dementia prevention is the timing of food consumption, not just the food itself.

In a research first, you will explore the interdependencies between what and when foods are eaten and future dementia risk. Joining a cohort of leading dementia researchers, nutritionists, time use epidemiologists and biostatisticians, you will have the unique opportunity to lead the data collection of a large first-of-its-kind longitudinal dementia prevention study – the ACTIVate study.

The ACTIVate project team involves researchers from across Australia, including neuroimaging experts (Brisbane and Newcastle), dieticians (Adelaide and Newcastle), psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists (Adelaide, Newcastle), epidemiologists and statisticians (Adelaide), and knowledge translation experts (Adelaide). 

Beyond the immediate research team, you will have the opportunity to liaise with the wider ACTIVate team, and potentially undertake a placement for data analysis and interpretation at other ACTIVate sites. Located within the Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA) research centre, you will enjoy peer support from other students working on the study. 

With dementia currently the second leading cause of death in Australian adults, your work could have significant repercussions in the community. The expertise you develop in this area will also give you a competitive edge in an important employment area.  

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will be involved in leading large-scale clinical research as part of a interdisciplinary team. Data collection will take place in Adelaide at UniSA’s world class clinical trials facility; however, you will also get the opportunity to travel to the other ACTIVate study sites as part of your research training.

Upon completion, you will possess excellent skills in large-scale clinical data collection, good clinical practice, quantitative data analysis, advanced statistical modelling and presenting findings.

There are opportunities for you to engage in both national and international conferences, at which you can start to build a strong professional and industry network.  

Where you’ll be based

You’ll be based in the ARENA research centre. ARENA investigates the role of exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle activities in improving clinical and health outcomes. Physical, psychological and sports performance in populations is studied across a wide cross-section of society, ranging from children to elite athletes and people with chronic disease.

Our research focus ‘Healthy lives through healthy living’ centres around the grand challenge of tackling the growing epidemic of chronic diseases. We focus on real-world issues and bring bold ideas to create solutions which optimise health, function and wellbeing.

Our mission is to be the leading Australian voice on a global stage by championing research in exercise, nutrition, preventative health and other lifestyle behaviours across the lifespan. In fact, we are well on the way to achieving this – currently ranked in the World Top 50 for Sport Science.*

We work with diverse research partners, end-users and our communities to identify and evaluate solutions, and translate these outcomes into products and changes in policy and practice.

*Ranked #35, 2021Shanghai Global Ranking of Sport Science Schools and Departments.

Supervisory Team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $29,863 per annum is available to eligible applicants. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from both domestic and international applicants. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. 

All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and be based at our City East campus in the heart of Adelaide.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close Tuesday 28 February 2023.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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