Q&A with Tara Diversi

December 2012

Tara Diversi

Tara Diversi has worked as a lecturer in the School of Molecular Bioscience for the past three years. She has made the recent decision to embark on a new stage in her career by moving to Queensland. We celebrate her contribution to our School with this academic spotlight.


1. Do you remember when the idea first crystallized that you would become an academic?

I was asked to do some sessional lecturing at James Cook University. It was there that I realised that I could help the health of Australians by empowering dietetic students (and therefore all of their clients) better than just consulting one on one. It was simply a co-incidence that the position within the Human Nutrition Unit came up.


2. Who do you think has been your most influential mentor(s) during your scientific career?

In academia, Brian Wansink. He is crazy and a bit of a risk taker, but I love the combination of consumer behaviour, marketing and health. He also makes nutrition fun which I like.


3. What discovery, related to your research, would you most want to be awarded the Nobel Prize for? That is, what do you think is the most pressing and exciting question in your field?

How we get people to change without compromising their life/beliefs/enjoyment. We have some good models for initiating change but the question still remains: Why do we do things that we know have negative long-term outcomes.

What are the most exciting things happening in your lab at the moment?

I am a teaching academic; so do not do a lot of research. So the most exciting thing is that grades for the year have been submitted. I am trying to organise lecturers for ‘my’ unit of study for next semester since I’ll have moved.

What do you enjoy most about being in academia?

Teaching. Seeing students achieve something at the end of semester that they didn’t believe was possible at the start of the semester.

What would you do differently in your academic career if you had your time over?

I am still quite young, and it has all seemed to go ok. However, if I did have to change something I would have probably started my PhD earlier. Although I have done a lot of other study, and am still yet to decide on what I would like to study with enough dedication to complete a PhD.

What are you most passionate about outside the laboratory?

Endurance Sports and Business. Personally and professionally I like to see how far bodies can go and I work with a lot of adventure athletes doing crazy things. They are as strange as scientists, so it is a good mix.

What achievement outside science are you most proud of?

In September I swam the English Channel in a relay (23rd September in 12:51) and as a solo (29th September in 9:45). I had only started swimming after an 11-year break and 7 joint operations in February, so was pretty stoked to have completed it in under 10 hours.

9. Rumour has it that you’re leaving SMB – is this correct? What are your plans for the future?

Yes. I am sad to be leaving SMB & USyd, but want more of the Queensland lifestyle. Work wise I am going to continue to consult to businesses, write and speak at conferences. For fun I am going to train to complete the Oceans 7, which are a group of 7 marathon swims throughout the world.