From education to employment

Leeds Trinity graduate secures PhD place thanks to Student Internship scheme and groundbreaking research on overeating

@LeedsTrinity graduate Natalie Smith has co-authored research papers exploring the effect of electrical brain stimulation on eating behaviours.  

The 29-year-old worked on the research as part of the Student Internship scheme at Leeds Trinity University during her final year of study, graduating in July with a First-Class Degree in Exercise, Health and Nutrition.

The internship programme sees students undertake 100 hours of paid work alongside their studies. Natalie worked with lecturers and postgraduate researchers in the Faculty of Social and Health Sciences on a series of research papers, where she was subsequently named as a co-author.

The most recent paper Natalie worked on was released in November 2021 entitled Modulating eating behaviour with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS): a systematic literature review on the impact of eating behaviour traits.   

The reviews looked at the use of safely administered, non-invasive transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), to change the way people respond to food and related cues such as the smell and sight of foods.

Natalie is now working towards her PhD at the University, which will study the physiological and performance responses to different preparatory strategies for substitute soccer players.

Natalie said: “It was really rewarding to be named as co-author on these papers, the main study we worked on looked at people’s perceptions on the use of transcranial direct current stimulation to modulate eating behaviour.

“I enjoyed getting involved throughout the research process and it was good fun collecting and analysing the data in real-time. We also got the opportunity to present this study at the postgraduate research conference at Leeds Trinity earlier this year which was a great experience.

“Being a part of the Student Internship scheme helped me build so much invaluable experience, which I think was one of the main factors in securing my PhD position at the University.”

Jordan Beaumont, PhD candidate at Leeds Trinity University, worked with Natalie on the research.

He said: “The initial findings show tDCS as a promising tool for those who struggle to maintain healthy eating patterns, however, this is a relatively novel area of research and there are many questions still to be answered.

“Although it is early days, this research could be potentially life-changing for people in future, especially set against the context of rising obesity levels in the UK and globally.” 

The Student Internship scheme, which Natalie completed, involved students participating in a full recruitment process including application and interview, before being employed by the University.

The programme was first introduced in November 2020, then named the Enhancing Graduate Outcomes Scheme.

The University has made an investment to be able to recruit and support students on 12-week paid internships to help with their future career ambitions.

Tim Feather, Graduate Employment Manager and Programme Co-ordinator, said: “The generosity of budget and the determination from staff across different departments within the University to make the internships happen demonstrates the commitment Leeds Trinity has towards developing employable graduates.”

Next year’s Student Internship scheme will be open to final-year students, who will be able to complete their projects between 21 February and 1 July 2022.

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