Postdoctoral Fellow, Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit & Centre for Diet and Activity Research, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Health Science with Honours
Postgraduate Diploma in Health Science in Physical Activity and Nutrition
She chose AUT because of the calibre of her supervisor, says Dr Erika Ikeda who came to AUT as an international student from Japan.
“After I completed my bachelor’s degree in Japan, my research interest had shifted from exercise physiology to physical activity in children and youth.
“When I first contacted Professor Erica Hinckson from AUT’s School of Sport and Recreation and expressed my interest in studying at AUT, I had no doubt that I was going to have my postgraduate journey with her. Her professional knowledge, experience and kindness made my decision easy.”
Encouraging more active journeys
For Erika, this first encounter with AUT was only the start of her postgraduate experiences, and she has since gone on to complete a postgraduate diploma, master’s degree and a PhD.
For her doctoral research, she explored how children’s active travel to school is associated with environmental attributes in Auckland.
“After I completed my master’s degree, I worked as a research officer at the Human Potential Centre where I became familiar with active travel (eg walking and cycling) and the built environment. I was attracted to this topic because I was born and raised in Tokyo, and it was socially acceptable for Japanese children to walk or cycle around their neighbourhoods on their own. But when I moved to Auckland, it was the opposite – many Kiwi kids were driven to school and other places.
“New Zealand has one of the highest rates of child obesity, and one of the lowest rates of active travel to school internationally. Children’s active school travel is interrelated with multifaced factors including built and social environments, households and children. Shorter distances to school and higher safety perceptions are key for children actively travelling to school. My research may contribute to informing and measuring changes in children’s active school travel.”
After completing her PhD in 2019, Erika is building on her experience, knowledge and skills in behavioural epidemiology and interventions in children and young people as a postdoctoral fellow at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on understanding the patterns and determinants of physical activity as well as evaluating a policy intervention to promote physical activity in children and young people.
A supportive research culture
The opportunities for multidisciplinary research and collaboration are what she has enjoyed most about her studies at AUT, Erika says.
“One of the most enjoyable experiences and greatest advantages of studying at AUT was being able to conduct multidisciplinary research and collaborate with domestic and international researchers as well as private industries. These opportunities and experiences have broadened my horizons and provided me with a lot of motivation for my PhD research.”
She also appreciated having access to the Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ) and its fantastic facilities.
“I really liked the study environment. All students were self-motivated and supporting each other which brought positive energy into our postgraduate room and improved the culture at SPRINZ. Personally, this environment enabled me to maintain my mental and social wellbeing and the facilities at AUT Millennium – especially the swimming pools – helped me balance study, work and exercise life.”
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