This research is led by Sharon Kirkpatrick and supported by a team of WICI graduate student members. Understanding people’s eating patterns—including what they eat and drink and the contextual factors that influence diet—is essential to better elucidating how diet influences health, as well as how to support eating patterns consistent with disease prevention. The main focus of Dr. Kirkpatrick's work is on improving and disseminating strategies for appropriately collecting, analyzing, and interpreting dietary data. Current areas of focus include novel methods for characterizing the complexity of eating patterns and their associations with health, with an emphasis on the potential for deep learning to overcome the limitations of current dietary patterns research.
Dr. Kirkpatrick's work also explores the utility of systems thinking and methods to better understand the array of factors that influence major nutrition challenges and the effectiveness of interventions to address these challenges. Together with her graduate students, she is currently examining the implications of policies such as calorie labelling for nutrition and health, with a consideration of possible unintended consequences. This work involves quasi-experimental and mixed-methods research.