Branches of science

Author: Leticia Nani Silva

Haleh Moravej is a registered nutritionist, a scientist and a founder of MetMUnch. She is also a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. Haleh’s contagious enthusiasm coupled up with creative teaching methods are extremely engaging, she oozes innovation while always thinking ‘outside the box’. Today, we speak about Haleh’s drive and motivation for teaching and changing lives.

An entrepreneur, a registered nutritionist, a senior lecturer… What made you branch out into so many different fields?

“I didn’t want to be put in a pigeonhole. I never saw myself as single dimensional like ‘Haleh the accountant’ or ‘Haleh the neuroscientist.’ Even though my BSc was in Biomedical Sciences and I hold a postgraduate degree in Nutrition, I do not really consider myself either of the two. Instead, I see my career as an umbrella for many professions. I think all the fields are interconnected into the web of creativity, and, by being extremely versatile, you end up learning about all the various fields of nutrition and science in general.

“The purpose is to pass the knowledge to people, engage and inspire them. How you do it matters, too. For me, it’s not only about one form of presentation, such as posters or PowerPoints, it is also about creative media such as embroideries, arts and crafts. As a scientist, I keep posing questions ‘How do I engage people?’ and ‘How do I help them learn?’. I don’t want to just attend conferences, I want to get up in the middle of a shopping centre and educate people, show them the reality of food and cooking, teach them about sustainability, the benefits of fibre, explain diabetes, and so on!” 

Your university classes are super fascinating and engaging. Where does the inspiration come from?

“We need life to be creative and we need to make education creative, especially for students who are spending hours working on a specific project. I never wanted a career without a purpose, I always needed the drive. I will continue to fight for this. I don’t want to clock in and then clock out 8 hours later. All my jobs have been with intention and passion.” 

What do you consider important while establishing oneself as a woman in science? 

“In every career, I believe, there should be a purpose. As soon as you start something, you need to find the meaning in it. What are you doing for the women in the field? What are you doing to increase the diversity in the field? When you get women and men working together and bringing collaboration from different fields, it gives a sense of hope and inspiration for the future generations. They watch, and learn, and get inspired to take it forward.  

“We should increase the number of women in science and promote diversity. This can be achieved by creating conducive environment and providing sponsorship for these females. Also, instead of questioning whether we have enough women in this lab (or enough diversity), we need to be asking whether we have enough talent to carry out the project’. There should be opportunities for everyone. It is all about fairness.” 

 What advice would you give to 16-year-old Haleh today? 

“Be patient with yourself. I am one of those overachieving people. At 16, I wanted to be in an office, I even had a briefcase to look professional and be taken seriously! It is fine to take time to grow into who and what you want to be. It is your race, and you are only competing against yourself. You do not need to be a 32 year-old at 16. Enjoy being young and stay in the present moment.”  

Haleh at MetMUnch’s nutrition and well-being event

Frontiers is a signatory of the United Nations Publishers COMPACT. This interview has been published in support of United Nations Sustainable Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.