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Professor Mary Barker

NIHR BRC Theme Co-lead for Supporting Behaviour Change, Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Science

Mary’s research focusses on behaviour change approaches to improving diet, nutritional status and body composition in young men and women before, during and after pregnancy.

Mary co-leads the in-person, educational and digital intervention research of the Southampton NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Behavioural Sciences theme.

Her team has developed Healthy Conversation Skills, These evidence-based skills enable health and social care workers and teachers to motivate and support behaviour change in their patients, clients and students.

LifeLab is central to the team’s educational behaviour change approach. This state-of-the-art teaching laboratory aims to improve life-long health by engaging teenage school students with the science behind health messages. Mary’s £2.4million NIHR-funded EACH-B programme is developing an intervention using LifeLab, Healthy Conversation Skills and gaming to engage teenagers in eating better and being more active.

Mary is an investigator on behaviour change intervention studies to improve adolescent and maternal health in India, sub-Saharan Africa and Canada and a collaborator on the Canadian Institute for Health’s HeLTI programme of preconception intervention studies in Canada, India, South Africa and China.



  • Behavioural science theme co-lead
  • Professor of psychology and behavioural science, University of Southampton
  • Honorary professor of psychology, Institute for Women’s Health, University College London
  • Honorary Professor of Psychology, MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Adjunct Professor, University of Agder, Norway

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