Greek Australian Professor Maria Makrides has been crowned 2022 Scientist of the Year in South Australia's Science Excellence and Innovation Awards which recognise the State's leading Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) professionals.
Professor Maria Makrides, Theme Leader for South Australian Health Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) Women and Deputy Director of SAHMRI, leads a team working to improve the lives of pregnant women and young children through nutrition.
She is National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Principal Research Fellow and a Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Adelaide.
Professor Maria Makrides explained her role, saying “My team works to improve the outcomes for pregnant women and young children using nutritional interventions.
“I had done a science degree and was looking for something more applied. I looked at nutrition and dietetics thinking that that was a way to combine good physiological and biochemical science with real-life application.
“My interest in infancy care was the focus on nutrition for optimal growth and development – not just maintenance. A baby will double its weight in the first four months of its life. In adult terms, it’s a little bit more straightforward. We don’t double our weight in four months, and if we did, we’d be in a lot of trouble!
“Most mothers are probably not deficient in nutrients because we have a great food supply in Australia. Often our issue is more about oversupply of nutrients, or nutrients being out of balance.
“What I’d love to see is for people to be more focused on quality, the balance of nutrition, and moving away from particular fad diets that tend to cut out specific nutrient groups—that can sometimes have unintended consequences.”