Dr Sarah Burkhart - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Staff profile

Dr Sarah Burkhart

MSc Massey, BSc Massey., PhD Sunshine Coast.

  • Senior Lecturer, Nutrition & Dietetics
+61 7 5456 5046
Office location
Sunshine Coast
Dr Sarah Burkhart

Dr Sarah Burkhart is a Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics in the School of Health and Behavioural Sciences, and the Australian Centre for Pacific Islands Research at USC. Sarah’s research uses a food systems lens to explore food security and food choice in the Pacific Islands. Working with Pacific partners, academics and stakeholders, Sarah is interested in nutrition education and food provision in Pacific Island school settings and understanding determinants of food security across Pacific Island food systems, with a focus on food environments and consumer behaviour/food choice.

Sarah has extensive experience leading externally funded projects. Her recent projects have focused on the role of diets, food systems and policy in the prevention of obesity and non-communicable diseases in Fiji, and the current state and capacity for school food and nutrition education programmes across 14 Pacific Island countries. Sarah is a co-founder of the Pacific School Food Network, a group that advocates for and supports school food activities throughout the Pacific Islands region to eliminate hunger and improve food security. She also contributes to projects investigating the food environment in Samoa, nutrition impacts of climate change in Fiji, the impact of Covid-19 on food systems and food choice, dietary assessment methods and food literacy in the Pacific Islands region.

Sarah teaches into several courses across the Bachelor of Nutrition and the Bachelor of Dietetics, with a focus on improving the student experience and readiness for practice using blended learning and the flipped classroom approach. Sarah’s scholarship of learning and teaching interests include the integration of a food systems approach and sustainability within Nutrition and Dietetic curricula, the use of blended learning strategies and the flipped classroom approach. Sarah is also an advocate for involving students in overseas learning and research experiences and has travelled with, and supervised USC students undertaking projects in Samoa and the Solomon Islands.

Sarah is a Registered Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society of Australia (NSA) and a member of the Brisbane Regional NSA Group Committee. She is also a member of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) and is currently Chair-elect for the SNEB Division for International Nutrition Education and Secretary/Treasurer for the SNEB Sustainable Food Systems Division.



  • LearnX Live! Best Blended Learning Model Platinum Award Winner (with Dr Dana Craven and Dr Anita Hamilton), 2019
  • Advance Teaching Award: ABLE Award for Advancing the Blended Learning Experience, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2016
  • Commendation for Excellence: Advancing Quality Teaching, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2016

Professional Social Media

Research Grants

Project name

Project team

Funder, year

Enhanced fruit systems for Tonga and Samoa (Phase 2): Community based citrus production

Prof Steven Underhill (CI), A/Prof John Chapman, Dr Sarah Burkhart, Dr Dana Craven, Ms Tara McKenzie, Dr Yuchan Zhou, and researchers from the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa, Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovation, The University of Queensland, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Samoa, Fiji National University and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (2021 – 2024)

Gathering evidence and supporting multi-stakeholder engagement on the role of diets and food systems in the prevention of obesity and non-communicable diseases in Pacific Island Countries (Fiji).


Dr S Burkhart (lead), Prof. Steven Underhill, Ms Bridget Horsey, Ms Jenna Perry, Ms Tarli O’Connell, Dr Yuchan Zhou, Ms Tara Mackenzie, Dr Dana Craven.


UN/FAO (2020)

School Food Programmes in the Pacific Islands: Scoping Study and Capacity Needs Assessment.


Dr S Burkhart (lead), Dr Dana Craven, Ms Brianna Jones, Ms Bridget Horsey, Prof. Steven Underhill.

UN/FAO (2019)

School Nutrition Education Programmes in the Pacific Islands: Scoping Study and Capacity Needs Assessment.


Dr S Burkhart (lead), Ms Brianna Jones, Dr Libby Swanepoel, Prof. Steven Underhill.

UN/FAO (2018)

Designing a graduate e-portfolio:  the expectations of industry.


Dr A Hamilton (lead), T Downer, Dr B Flanagan, Dr S Burkhart, Dr A Villani, B Lucas, Dr A Henderson, Dr C Davis, M Small, and Dr J Taylor.


USC Commissioned Grant (2016/2017) $15,000

Learning, Teaching, Practice: A common understanding and integration of sustainability within Nutrition and Dietetics.


Dr S. Burkhart (lead), Dr Jude Maher, Dr Michele Verdonck and Dr Theresa Ashford.

USC Exploratory Grant (2015) $9996

Potential Research Projects for HDR & Honours Students

  • Food choice and food security in the Pacific region
  • Food provision in the school setting
  • Nutrition education in developing countries
  • Nutrition transition
  • Sustainable food systems

Research areas

  • Nutrition education and food provision in Pacific Island school settings
  • Determinants of food security in the Pacific Islands, with a focus on food environments and consumer behaviour/food choice
  • Incorporation and teaching of sustainability and sustainable food systems in Nutrition and Dietetics curricula
  • The use of blended learning strategies to engage Nutrition and Dietetic students

Teaching areas

  • NUT101 Introduction to Nutrition
  • NUT102 Food in Society
  • NUT303 Food, Nutrition and Menu Design
  • NUT305 Food and the Consumer

Research Publications

  • Burkhart, S. J., Verdonck, M., Ashford, T., Maher, J. Sustainability in nutrition: Potential guiding statements for education and practice. Accepted for publication in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
  • Kammholz, G., Craven, D. L., Boodoosingh, R., Akeli Ammama, S., Abraham, J., Burkhart, S. J. Exploring food literacy domains in an adult Samoan population. (2021). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18 (7), 3587.
  • Craven, D. C., Vogliano, C., Underhill, S. J. R., Horsey, B., Burkhart, S.J. Dietary assessment methodology and reporting in the Pacific Islands: A scoping review protocol. JBI Evidence Synthesis: November 12, 2020 - Volume Online First – Issue.
  • Underhill, S. J. R., Patolo, S., Zhou, Y., Burkhart, S. J. (2020). The agriculture-nutrition-income nexus: how efficient are the horticulture markets in Tonga?  Horticulturae, 6(4), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae6040061.
  • Butcher, H., Burkhart, S. J., N., Tiitii, U., Tamuera, K., Eria, T., Swanepoel, L. (2020). Exploring the role of Caulerpa (sea grapes) in the Samoan and i-Kiribati diet: current intake and key motivators for consumption. Sustainability, 12(18), 7356; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187356.
  • Medina Hidalgo, D., Witten, I., Nunn, P. D., Burkhart, S., Bogard, J. R., Beazley, H., & Herrero, M. (2020). Sustaining healthy diets in times of change: linking climate hazards, food systems and nutrition security in rural communities of the Fiji Islands. Regional Environmental Change, 20(3), 73. doi:10.1007/s10113-020-01653-2.
  • Bottcher, C., Underhill, S. J. R., Aliakbari, J., Burkhart, S. J. (2020). Food access and availability in Auki, Solomon Islands. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. DOI: 10.1080/19320248.2020.1739586.
  • Burkhart, S. J., Craven, D. L. (2020). Digital workbooks in flipped nutrition education: student perspectives. Education Sciences, 10 (1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10010022.
  • Burkhart, S. J., Taylor, J., Kynn, M. Craven, D., Swanepoel, L. (2020). Undergraduate nutrition students’ engagement with the flipped classroom: A descriptive cohort study. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour, 52 (4), 394. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2019.06.002.
  • Burkhart, S. J., Verdonck, M., Ashford, T., Maher, J. (2020). Sustainability: Nutrition and dietetic students’ perceptions. Sustainability, 12(3), 1072; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031072.
  • Bottcher, C., Underhill, S. J. R., Aliakbari, J., Burkhart, S. J. (2019). Food purchasing behaviours of a remote and rural adult Solomon Islander population. Foods, 8, 464.
  • Horsey, B., Swanepoel, L., Underhill, S. J. R., Aliakbari, J., Burkhart, S. J. (2019). Dietary diversity of an adult Solomon Island population. Nutrients, 11, 1622; doi:10.3390/nu11071622.
  • Burkhart, S. J., Jones, B., Underhill, S. Swanepoel, E. (2019). School nutrition education programmes scoping review and capacity needs assessment. Final report. Available from: http://www.fao.org/3/ca2935en/ca2935en.pdf.

Sarah's area in expertise includes, food studies, nutrition and dietetics and their application in many settings.

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