Synthetic or natural? How can we possibly think that we know all of the medical benefits of a single chemical when we have not discovered all of the elements that comprise the compound! It’s just not scientific!" Maria Kalliris laughed. But behind her light-hearted response is a deep respect for science and a strong desire to see natural health as the first port of call.Maria Kalliris is a lecturer in Naturopathic & Nutritional Medicine at Endeavour. She runs her practice, the Clinical Nutrition & Naturopathic Centre in Sydney’s northern beaches and until 2019, also worked in the corporate sector. Maria’s journey into science began with a chemistry degree, where she discovered a love for the organic. Years later, she studied health science and then, while she practised, Maria completed a Master of Health Science (Herbal Medicine) and more recently master’s degrees in Acupuncture and Neuroscience.In practice, Maria receives referrals from other health professionals who send on the cases in their too-hard basket. "I love the challenge," Maria said. "Somehow, I have developed a niche in helping athletes. They are people who have been searching for answers to their health concerns for three to four years. They’re very conscientious with their diet and lifestyle, so it is often a biochemistry puzzle that we sort out together, and usually within weeks.""I think it’s important to remember that as naturopaths and clinical nutritionists, we are scientists. We are always investigating, and we deal with unknown and known biochemical processes. I work with many health professionals and specialist medical services to get a holistic picture of someone’s health. People will always need natural medicine. To me, it’s an injustice that it’s not offered before the synthetics."While Maria never thought of herself as an educator, she loves teaching. "Supervising the students in the Wellness Clinic is where we thrive as lecturers," she said. "In this environment, we see the students grow, and we can contribute to their development. We challenge the students to look at the various mechanisms of action that are presented by their clients’ signs and symptoms, and we challenge their knowledge with formulations they may not have considered. By the time they complete their final year of intense clinical training, they are ready to practice. Endeavour prepares students well for practice."Maria said there’s a great camaraderie amongst the lecturers across all the departments at Endeavour. "The senior lecturers are open to change, and you can discuss your lesson plans and seek their feedback. Everyone’s focussed on what’s best for the students."Natural Leaders The Natural Leaders series features stories from current Endeavour Academics across our campuses. From where they started to where they are now, inspiring a new generation of Natural Health Heroes, we celebrate their unique stories and perspectives.Interested in reading more Natural Leaders stories? Head here for more.