Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Duika Burges Watson



Dr Duika L.Burges Watson core research interests are in inter-disciplinary approaches to food and well-being – from source to senses. From the ‘source’, her research focus is the impact of neoliberal globalisation, ‘big food’ and alternative food networks; with a concern for how a changing food environment is understood in public health and policy. With the ‘senses’ she draws on insights from sensory ethnography and new neurological and scientific approaches to multi-modal flavour perception, she considers the implications and potential benefits of applying new understandings in health fields. She leads an expanding research network investigating the lived experience of ‘altered eating’. Altered eating (AE) refers to a “changed state of any combination of physical, emotional and social interactions with food and eating that has a negative impact on health and wellbeing” (Burges Watson et al, 2018). She was principle investigator on the NIHR/RfPB funded project Resources for Living which was the first major investigation into the effect of living long term with eating difficulties for survivors of head and neck cancer. 


Altered Eating Research Network

Altered eating on Twitter and instagram @alteredeating

Personal research blog: Health and Society Twitter Feed: Debedub

Duika on Research Gate, ORCID and Linked-in

Roles and Responsibilities 

Duika is Lecturer at Newcastle University based in the Institute of Health and Society and leads Master’s modules on Global Health in the Anthropocene and Health and Society.


PhD Health Geography: Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia.

Previous Positions

  • 2008- 2017  Lecturer in the Evaluation of Policy Interventions, Centre for Public Policy and Health, Durham University
  • 2005-2008  Research Associate/Senior Research Associate, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University
  • 2003 –2005  School of Geography, Sociology and Politics, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK: Tutor
  • 2001 Department of Asian Languages and Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia: Teaching assistant                                  
  • 2000- 2001 Program Co-ordinator, Ten Days on the Island, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Australia
  • 1995- 2000  Program Co-ordinator, Salamanca Arts Centre,  Tasmania, Australia
  • 1990-1991 Intern, United Nations, Geneva and New York

Area of expertise

  • Food: from source to senses


  • Fellow, Institute of British Geographers/Royal Geographical Society
  • RGS-IBG Food Geographies Working Group


  • Indonesian (working proficiency)

Postgraduate Supervision

  • PhD Helen Carter, Altered Eating and Primary Sjögren's Syndrome: co-supervision with Vincent Deary (Northumbria University)
  • PhD Marjolaine Ryley, Time, Image, Archive: Auto-ethnographic Photographic Practice in the Investigation of North East Gardening Communities: co-supervision with Uta Kogelsberger
  • PhD Jemma Mcready, Altered Eating and Autism in children: co-supervision with Vincent Deary (Northumbria University)

Esteem Indicators

Duika is a Director of the Station Masters' Community Wildlife Garden and Yoga Station: not for profit community initiatives that promote health and well-being through social innovation.

With Johanna Wadsley she was recipient of the 2012 Neville Schulman Challenge Award with the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers for the project Hugging the Coast - exploring liminal living and seaweed farming in the Sanghei archipelago (because she is fascinated by seaweed). The project was documented in photograph, film , in curriculum resources for teachers and as a case study on the impact of climate change on the coast as part of Openlearn at Open University.

Funding Received 

  • 2017 ESRC Impact Accelerator Award additional funding £750, Resources for living with altered eating difficulties 
  • 2016 Head of School Award, £880, Travel bursary for Smell/Taste Training Workshop, Prof Thomas Hummel, Dresden, Germany
  • 2016 ESRC Impact Accelerator Award, £10,000, Resources for living with altered eating difficulties 
  • 2016 Wolfson small grant, Culinary Innovation, the Senses and Health special interest group, £2000
  • 2015 Wolfson small grant, Culinary Innovation, the Senses and Health special interest group, £2000
  • 2013 -2016 NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme, £249562 Resources for Living (R4L) Pilot: Exploring the Potential of Progressive Cuisine for Quality of Life Improvement for Head and Cancer Survivors 
  • 2014 Wolfson small grant, Culinary Innovation, the Senses and Health special interest group, £2000
  • 2012 Unltd Social Enterprise Award: Star People, £15,000. The Yoga Station, Whitley Bay (Director) Not for profit.
  • 2012 Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers Neville Schulman Challenge Award, £10,000, Hugging the Coast:  An exploration by sea kayak of liminal living in the Sangihe Archipelago, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Burges Watson D (PI) and Wadsley J 
  • 2011 Beacon £5000  For: Playing with food: patient and public involvement in head and neck cancer research, Burges Watson D (PI),  and Dr Sue Lewis
  • 2011 Wolfson Blue Skies Award £2000 For: Development of  a patient and public involvement strategy for head and neck cancer research, Burges Watson D (PI),  and Dr Sue Lewis 
  • 2011 Community Spaces, National Lottery award £50,000. Station Master's Community Wildlife Garden (Chair 2011-2017)


Altered eating

A core focus of my current research is on 'altered eating' which we have defined as ' a changed state of any combination of physical, emotional and social interactions with food and eating that has a negative impact on health and wellbeing”. With Professor Vincent Deary at Northumbria University we lead a research network aiming to test and develop our Altered Eating (AE) framework, tool and interventions as a trans-diagnostic approach across areas where eating difficulties go almost unrecognised as a chronic concern. The AE approach was  developed through NIHR-funded research with head and neck cancer survivors. We are now looking to assess the approach in other ‘exemplar conditions’: upper and lower GI cancers, for edentulous patients, in Sjogren’s syndrome and Parkinson’s disease. 

Altered Eating Research Network

Open access paper on Altered Eating

Research specialties

Alternative food networks, food and flavour research, food policy, knowledge exchange, wider engagement and patient and public involvement, critical geographies and qualitative methods in health research.


HSC8047 : Health and Society

  • Module Leader: Dr Duika Burges Watson
  • Lecturers:  Prof Ted Shrecker, Dr Suzanne Moffat, Professor Simon Forrest, Professor Janice McLaughlin, Dr Ruth Graham, Dr Gethin Rees
This module will introduce students to some the ways in which the social sciences challenge and supplement dominant biomedical approaches to health and illness. Using a variety of perspectives that demonstrate how social scientists have contributed, in different ways, to broader understandings of health and society. The course invites students to consider a range of concepts, theories and methods employed in the social sciences, as ways of thinking about health and wellbeing. The module will address three questions.  Firstly, what can social science add to the study of health, illness and medicine and how does this make us rethink a biomedical approach?  Secondly, how do political, environmental, economic, social and cultural factors influence society and health? Thirdly, what is the value of a diversity of social science approaches to this endeavour? With a range of guest lecturers, the course covers a variety of methodological approaches to the study of health and illness as well as topical areas that include gender, disability, chronic illness, ageing and later life and genetic risk. There will be a focus on the social and environmental determinants of health and inequalities throughout.