Professor of Nutrition
School of Sport and Recreation
Professor Elaine Rush has dedicated 30 years to scientific enquiry at the cutting edge of health and education. Currently, as Professor of Nutrition at AUT, her work is centered on the prevention of chronic disease across the lifecycle.
An internationally recognised research leader with expertise in nutrition, energy expenditure, physical activity and the measurement of body composition, Professor Rush is a champion for the multi-ethnic communities she works with.
She leads the AUT Food Network and is an associate investigator with the RIDDET, a premier national centre for fundamental and strategic scientific research in food and a government-funded Centre of Research Excellence.
Professor Rush's career began as a cardiopulmonary technologist at Greenlane Hospital, which lead to a PhD and a Master of Sciences First Class Honours in physiology from the University of Auckland. Since 2004 she has attracted $6.6M of research funding and has supervised 22 PhD and master's students.
Professor Rush provides academic leadership for Project Energize, a multimillion dollar regional health programme (244 schools, 44000 children) that has, through schools, improved nutrition and physical activity. In 2013 Energize was extended to include 5000 more children in New Zealand and a pilot study in Ireland. An Under 5’s Energize health service started in Waikato preschools in 2013.
Professor Rush also leads the nutrition and physical growth research arm of AUT's Pacific Island Families Study, a longitudinal study of the developmental health and well-being of more than 1000 Pacific children and their families. Other research interests include the acute and chronic interactions of different nutrients, including sugar, caffeine and vitamin B12, on metabolism and the development of disease.
She has served as the New Zealand representative for the International Association for the Study of Obesity, an expert consultant for the World Health Organisation and the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency in Nutrition and Health (1999‐present). She is also the Scientific Director of the New Zealand Nutrition.
In 2014 Professor Rush was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to health.