Dietetic Career Spotlight on Marie Dunford, PhD, RDN, Author
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on JUNE 22, 2015
Meet Marie Dunford, PhD, RDN, author of multiple books and publications including Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals. Her expertise in the sports nutrition field has paved the way for so many nutrition and dietetic professionals to excel in their coaching and counseling of athletes. I personally own most of her books and use them constantly as references and guides. Read on to learn about Marie’s career path. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
After one semester as a history major, I went to a college counselor for help picking a new major. He suggested that I consider fashion design. I went to speak with the fashion design advisor, who was in the Home Economics building. She was very kind, but she made it quite clear that fashion design was not a good fit for me (given my decided lack of artistic skills). I was trudging down the hall when I heard a faculty member talking to a group of students. She said, “if you can’t handle the chemistry, or the physiology, or the biochemistry, then this major is NOT for you.” I didn’t know which major she was talking about, but I went in and sat down. It turned out that she was the advisor for the dietetics program. It was the science side of nutrition that first attracted me, but along the way I found that I enjoyed most of the other aspects of dietetics.
Your Job Title:
Former Professor and Chair, Department of Food Science and Nutrition at California State University, Fresno (now retired from the university) and author
Company you are with now:
I’m a self-employed author
– LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-dunford-phd-rd/25/444/6a2
A typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you:
It depends entirely if I need to meet a deadline. Most of my writing now involves big projects—textbooks or shorter books—so it is important to break the work up into smaller chunks. If no immediate deadline is on the horizon then I try to read the research or write for about 3-4 hours a day, 3-4 days a week. Just plug along…On days that I am struggling to write, I make myself write at least 1,000 words. If a deadline is near then I will work longer days. When a book is in production the schedule is really hectic and I work every day, sometimes seven days a week because I have to respond to my editors and the production staff. At these times, the inbox of my email drives my schedule. I get done whatever has to be done that day. Since I’m a “morning” person, I usually start writing early and try to quit by 3:00 pm. After a big project is completed, I always take several weeks off to re-charge.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
In 2000, I left the university to pursue other projects. I wrote a proposal (with my co-author Andy Doyle) for a sports nutrition textbook and it was (eventually) accepted. I did small writing and educational projects and those led to more and bigger projects because editors knew that I was a dedicated writer and could meet deadlines.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
Like my mother, I loved learning and was very disciplined so I think those were skills that I was born with. Along the way I had to learn to budget my time—you can’t say yes to everything! Life is a balance and work is only one part of the equation.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Don’t be afraid to make a big change so that you can pursue another pathway. I was a tenured professor, but I wasn’t happy at the university. There were not enough resources to do my job and I found the bureaucracy and the politics frustrating. I also wanted more flexibility with my time and schedule and I had always wanted to write. I will acknowledge that I was not the sole income for my family and that it wouldn’t have been possible to switch gears without the support of my husband.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Comments from readers that something was more understandable because of the way I explained it.