When Tailane Scapin began on her health-related study pathway, she felt like she’d won the lotto, as the first person in her family to secure a prestigious funded position at the Federal University of Santa Catarina.
“It’s a very competitive process to get one of these government-funded university places,” she explained of the process in her native Brazil.
The course was a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics (Honours) at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (2009-2013), which she followed with a Master of Nutrition Sciences (2014-2016).
During the PhD studies, she was presented with the opportunity to study abroad. At the time, her Brazilian partner had followed his academic pursuits – and his love of waves – to Australia, so the direction was set.
But it was all a little different than Tailane had imagined.
“I was thinking Crocodile Dundee, big hats, snakes everywhere…I had a whole outback picture.
“I arrived in July of 2019, in the middle of winter, and all I had were summer clothes. It was tricky to understand what people were saying and the Uber driver couldn’t understand me and took me to the wrong place; it’s very uncommon to speak English in Brazil.”
Despite the challenges, Tailane persevered, taking an English language course while continuing her PhD at The George Institute on ‘Sugar labelling formats to support consumer food choices: a multi-methods study in Brazil.’
The COVID lockdowns threw in an extra layer of challenge, with Tailane living in Sydney while her partner Benny was based on the Gold Coast for his PhD studies related to environmental engineering. In a turn of luck after completing her PhD, the pair both secured employment with Deakin University in Geelong.
Since moving South in 2021, Tailane has been working with A/Prof. Adrian Cameron as a Research Fellow on a partnership project with UNICEF titled ‘Reshaping Urban Food Retail Food Environments for prevention of childhood overweight in East Asia and the Pacific’ and has embraced the role.
“It’s been a blessing to find Adrian. He’s very inclusive and he has made me feel comfortable and supported. He’s given me a lot of confidence; it’s a very welcoming team.
“It’s so interesting to learn about countries in Asia that are so close to Australia, but with a totally different situation in relation to their food environments.
“And working with UNICEF, it’s a powerful partner to be able to make change, with real voice in the region.”
She said she was thrilled to be to working in the ‘prevention’ space and hoped her research could make a difference in the lives of many people.
In addition to this role, Tailane has been co-chairing RE-FRESH’s Best Practice Working Group during 2022, which aims to enhance the methods of research and practice for the conduct and reporting of healthy food retail research, for researchers, practitioners and retailers.
Her PhD thesis was also recognised with an Honourable Mention at the 2022 Brazilian National best PhD Thesis Awards.
A/Prof. Cameron described Tailane as the perfect fit for the project and the team.
“Tailane brings amazing energy, organisation and broad nutrition knowledge to the project. She is always willing to think outside the box and find new and better ways to achieve our research goals and communicate the results. Our collaborators are loving Tailane’s work”.
Meet more of RE-FRESH’S Early-to-Mid-Career Researchers: