Research Spotlight: Dr. Catherine Morley

Research Spotlight aims to shed light on the diverse research culture of Acadia University by celebrating the work and interests of our researchers. Each profile features six questions: five about research, one just for fun. Learn about what’s happening across campus and get to know the faces you see every day.

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Catherine Morley, PhD, PDt, FDC (Fellow of Dietitians of Canada)

School of Nutrition and Dietetics

Faculty of Pure and Applied Science

In terms of research, what are you working on right now?

Based on findings from numerous research studies on the lived experience of eating with changed health status:

  • a book for carers on feeding a loved one who is sick about the experience of feeding and why it can be so challenging and emotionally charged
  • an ethnodrama script on the same topic for use in teaching in the health professions, and by self-help groups, individuals, and families

How do those fit with your broader research interests?

My program of research is rooted in the experience of how eating and feeding change with changed health status. This can mean living with a chronic illness, one or more disabilities, the effects of an accident or injury, life-threatening illness, dementias, and end of life.

From this root, I explore lived experiences and needs and preferences for nutrition education and support; nutrition education program/resource appropriateness and effectiveness including arts-informed approaches; the history of diet therapy and nutrition education approaches (so we can better understand the evolution of practice that has lead to present day approaches); and, implications for nutrition and dietetics education and training.

What most motivates you to do research?

My primary motivation is humanizing nutrition and dietetics services; learning through research how to optimize quality of life for individuals, families, and communities through food and nutrition.

What tips do you give your students when they embark on a new research project?

Focus on “Getting to the question”; without a well articulated, relevant research question, there can be no study.

I have found that Getting to the question, and planning the method and analyses takes about 90% of the time spent on a research project. The actual information gathering and analysis takes relatively less time and is enjoyable once one has sorted through the myriad of questions and decisions to be made during the planning phase.

Getting to the question is the focus for the Research Methods course I teach.

Do you have any forthcoming publications, events, or talks we should look out for?

  1. Dietitians of Canada conference, June 2018 (Vancouver): ‘Trans-friendly and appropriate dietetic practice’
  2. Canadian History of Nursing History conference, June 2018 (Halifax): ‘Medical nutrition therapy’s importance over time: The interconnected history of nurses, dieticians, and dietitians’
  3. ‘Feeding Someone Who is Sick’ (working title): the book I’m writing as described above
  4. ‘Critical perspectives in clinical nutrition practice’ in Critical Dietetics and Critical Nutrition Studies: Springer (2019)

Tell me, what are you reading, watching, or listening to for fun these days?

If This is Freedom (Gloria Ann Wesley, 2013) for Hantsport Book Club

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Reza Aslan, 2013); recommended by my brother

Audiorecordings on Librivox (free audiorecordings by volunteer readers of publications in the public domain – older than 75 years - at

Contact Dr. Morley:

Research Spotlight is an initiative of the Research & Graduate Studies office. If you would like to suggest someone to be featured in this series, or if you would like to be featured yourself, please contact Deborah Hemming, Research & Innovation Coordinator:

You can also download the form below, fill in your responses, and return it to Deborah by email.


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