Maria Westerståhl

Maria Westerståhl

Lecturer senior

About me

I am a senior lecturer at the Karolinska institutet (KI) and have a BSc in nutrition and a PhD in Physiology. I have an assignement as the director of undergraduate studies at the deparment of laboratory medicine and I am an elected member of the KI Pedagogical Academy. I teach physiology at several courses and programs at the KI.  In my research I focus on the health effects (mainly on the cardiovascular system) of physical capacity, physical activity, body-composition and lifestyle habits.

Research description

My research focuses on health effects of lifestyle. In collaboration with collegues at the Umeå University I am responsible for a longitudinal study examining the life changes in and predictors of physical fitness and physical activity from adolescence to middle age. Also, I am involved in an intervention study examining the effect of physical activity or medication on cardiovascular risk in severely obese children. I our research we use methods for assessing physical capacity (e.g submaximal oxygen uptake, maximal strength), physical activity (e.g questionnaires and accelerometers), body composition (e.g. skinfold), lifestyle habits (questionnaires) and function of the cardiovascular system (e.g. ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, endothelial function). I supervise PhD-students in their projects concerning cardiovascular risk in obese children and early prevention of obesity.


My vision for teaching and learning is that the education should be student centred. The teacher should provide learning activities that, in addition to the course learning outcomes will develop the students´ critical thinking and problem solving. In my role as a pedagogical developer I want to stimulate the teachers at the department to work scholarly with teaching and learning.

I participated in a research project with the aim to study how teachers at KI interpreted the governmental educational policy that put focus on outcome-based education (the European Bologna reform).  I have been reviewing applications for pedagogical project grants and applications for the Pedagogical academy at KI and an external university.

I use various pedagogical methods in my teaching and I have developed learning activities for both distance- and campus-based education.I teach students at the nursing-, occupational therapy-, physiotherapy-, nutritionist-, and biomedical scientist programs at KI. I am a teacher, course leader and examiner for various courses in e.g. anatomy and physiology, nutrition, nutritional assessment, obesity prevention and treatment and teach both at campus- and web based courses. I have designed courses in nutrition and physiology by defining the curriculum, creating the learning activities and the examinations. I am involved in continuous course development in my role as Director of Undergraduate studies at the department. I examine and/or supervise students at the undergraduate, master and doctoral level.   

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Elected member of the KI Pedagogical Academy 2011

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