Jorja Collins


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects


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Personal profile


Jorja is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and Early Career Researcher. She has experience in clinical dietetic practice, foodservice and hospital based nutrition research. Her PhD explored the nutritional status of patients in subacute care and food-based strategies to prevent and treat malnutrition in this setting. Her current research area is environmental sustainability in hospital foodservices. In her role as Lecturer in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, Jorja coordinates and contributes to the teaching of a number of units in the Bachelor of Nutrition Science and Master of Dietetics. Alongside this role, Jorja also works as a foodservice dietitian at a large publically funded healthcare network. 


Current research projects underway: 

1. Eating green: Exploring environmental sustainability across the food supply chain in hospital foodservice

Team: Collins J, Porter J, Malekpour S, Carino S (PhD student). 

Progress: Systematic literature review completed, baseline waste audit completed, qualitative investigation of key stakeholder perspectives completed, qualitative investigation of institutional drivers underway. 

Summary: An essential part of healthcare is the provision of three meals a day, every day, to patients. This uses energy and water, and results in food and food related waste at all stages of the process from ‘paddock to plate’. In turn, this has negative consequences for the planet and the health of its people. Consequently individuals, organisations, governments and global agencies are demanding action as a priority. This systems-level research project aims to explore environmental sustainability across the food supply chain in hospital foodservice. It will involve a series of interrelated qualitative and quantitative studies engaging key stakeholders and end users. This comprehensive assessment of current practice will identify opportunities and strategies to improve the environmental sustainability of hospital foodservice. 


2. Strategies to reduce food waste in hospital foodservices

Team: Collins J, Porter J, Goodwin D, Cook N (PhD student)  

Progress: Systematic review of waste management strategies under way, systematic review of waste audit methods underway. 

Summary: Healthcare organisations generate more food waste than any other foodservice setting. Our preliminary research found that on average 322kg of food waste is generated across 3 hospitals every day. Extrapolated across all Australian hospitals, this is a staggering amount of food and money being wasted. At a time when environmental sustainability is consistently rated by the Australian public and one of the most important problems facing the world today, we must be looking for solutions to this problem. This  Our previous research has identified that waste avoidance and management is the area of the food supply chain where there is the greatest appetite and opportunity for further investigation and action. PhD will involve successive studies to explore waste management in hosptial foodservices. 


3. Reducing waste of unopened packets of non perishable food in hospital foodservice

Team: Collins J, Howard A, Tarrant I. 

Progress: Data collection complete. 

Summary: At our hospital over 2000 unopened packets of non perishable food are thrown in the bin each day. There is an opportunity to collect these items and reuse them or donate them to food rescue organisations. This would reduce waste sent to landfill and waste disposal costs. However, this is not currently what happens in our hospital, or most hospitals in Australia due to concerns about infection control risks, among other reasons. This project funded by a DHHS sustainability innovation grant aims to identify the safety and feasbility of collecting unopened packets of non perishable food in the hospital setting. Microbiological testing of food packets will be conducted, followed by a pilot study of a waste collection process. If proven safe and feasible, this research may result in a change in food waste practices in hospitals. 


4. Building capacity to teach climate change and environmental sustainability in health professions education.

Team: Brand G, Barbour L, Bonnamy J, Bedi G, Collins J, Carr B, Ilangakoon C, Schwerdtle P, Simmons M, Wotherspoon R. 

Progress: research published

Summary: The health sector is one of the biggest consumers of energy and water and generators of waste. It is essential that health professionals are aware of the issue and potential solutions and prepared to act. This requires effective education on climate change and environmental sustainability in health profession courses – nursing, midwifery, medicine,pharmacy and allied health. Content must have a place in the curriculum, and educators must be equipped to deliver that curriculum so that it is accurate and engaging. Our team are investigating and building capacity to teach environmental sustainability and climate change in health professions education. The work will include a survey of educators to provide a snapshot of the current situation, including appetite and opportunities for change. This will be followed by a Teach Green Hackathon’ to bring educators together to explore, share, generate and crystallise ideas on how to best teach students about climate change and environmental sustainability.

Read more here 


5. Churchill Fellowship: Strategies to improve the environmental sustainability of hospital food service. 

Progress: Travel to US completed in Feb 2020, report completed. 

Summary: Urgent action is needed to re-orientate our hospital foodservices (systems and processes for food provision) towards sustainable operations. The natural resources used, food miles, menu design and waste disposed to landfill are contributing to the environmental crisis. Hospitals in the US demonstrate leadership and innovation, with novel solutions (e.g. roof top gardens, composting, local procurement) in place. During this fellowship, I will observe these strategies and meet with key stakeholders to identify how they have been successfully implemented in a complex setting. This will directly enhance my work improving the sustainability of hospital foodservices in Australia.

Read report here and read blog post here



Recently completed research projects:  

1. Total energy expenditure in the elderly. 

Team: Porter J, Nguo K, Gibson SHuggins CECollins JKellow NJ, Truby H. 

Progress: Systematic literature review findings completed and published, analysis of literature findings completed and published, pilot study underway. 

Summary: In the last fifty years there has been a ninefold increase in the number of Australians aged 85 and over, to 456,600 in 2014. Accurately predicting the nutritional requirements of the elderly is essential to provide appropriate nutritional recommendations for individuals and populations to support health, wellbeing and longevity. Current equations to estimate the energy requirements of the elderly are historical and inappropriate for the contemporary aged population.

A series of studies will be undertaken that will advance knowledge and practice for estimating energy expenditure and energy requirements in older adults. A systematic literature review aims to collate and analyse the evidence for total energy expenditure in the elderly (65 years and older) measured by doubly-labelled water. Primary research will obtain pilot data on total energy expenditure in the older elderly (80 years and over) using the gold standard doubly-labelled water method. 

This research will fill a crucial gap and be of international importancein nutrition and dietetic practice. The expected outcome is a new equation for estimating energy requirements of older people, to better support nutrition status. 


Research interests

Malnutrition, foodservice, nutrition assessment, nutritional status of elderly and hospitalised populations, implementation science, sustainability, food waste, food systems

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

External positions

Dietitian, Eastern Health

16 Jan 2017 → …


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