HNRU Students 2016-2017

Elizabeth Miller-Bio PhotoElizabeth Miller, B.Sc, M.Sc Student

I have always believed that diet is the key element to both health and well-being, and that the foods we eat not only affect our physical health, but also our mental health, and the environment around us. These values have motivated me to pursue a bachelor of science and a masters’ degree in human health and nutrition here at the University of Guelph. I enjoy applying my education to my everyday life to not only benefit my own lifestyle, but those around me. Our society is constantly bombarded with conflicting nutrition information, in which it is of great importance to clarify this information to the public. Social media and blogs like NUTRInitiative are more popular than ever, and I believe that if done properly, are very beneficial forums for getting the right word out. With this in mind, I hope to one day devote my career to promoting healthy living while relaying accurate scientific information to the public.

emily-farrell-bio-pic-cropped-jan23_17Emily Farrell, B.Sc, USRA Winter 2016

I’ve always believed that scientific understanding is strengthened by taking an integrative approach. For this reason, I pursued a BSc degree in Biomedical Toxicology, an interdisciplinary program, and a minor in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences at the University of Guelph. During my undergraduate degree I was exposed to the interrelationship between toxicology and nutrition. This sparked the desire to explore functional foods/nutraceuticals and their effects on chronic disease-related endpoints. My interests primarily lie in the efficacy of dietary intervention as a first line approach for risk reduction and disease mitigation.

I spent last summer volunteering at a student-run organization called ‘Queen’s Good Times Diner’; where I was responsible for cooking and serving nutritious, hot, free meals twice weekly, to support less fortunate members of the Kingston community. It was there where I had the opportunity to experience first-hand the positive impact that nutrition can have on an individual. I also had the pleasure of spending the last month of my summer vacation channeling my inner mountain goat while hiking the Canadian Rockies.

Last fall I finished my undergraduate degree and I am now working as an undergraduate research assistant in the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit, where I hope to obtain invaluable knowledge before I begin my master’s degree here at the University of Guelph this summer.

High Tea

Laura Barnes, B.A.Sc. Student

Would you trust your mechanic for financial advice? Would you trust your accountant on how to fix your car? Your first response might be who has an accountant in the first place? Hopefully, no is the following response. Generally speaking, then why do people often do just that when it comes to nutrition advice? As a fourth year student in Applied Human Nutrition I have witnessed misleading advice firsthand. We are bombarded with new diets, health claims, super foods; and it is difficult to decipher what is true. I am passionate about human nutrition research because I believe this is the foundation of the field of dietetics. Credible research dictates who you can trust. So the next time you are using an accountant for your taxes, or a mechanic for an oil change, think to yourself… am I doing the same for by body?

HNRU Students 2014-2015

KR bio picKaitlin Roke M.Sc., Ph.D. Candidate

Throughout my time at the University of Guelph, my interest and passion in nutrition has continued to grow. I have learned how fun food and nutrition can really be, when trying new recipes and new foods. I am completing my PhD in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, closely studying omega-3 fats. To say that I am an omega-3 fanatic would be… accurate! Not only am I extremely motivated by the science, I am also personally connected to this topic and talk about omega-3 fats every chance I have.

As social media and the information available on the internet has grown, it has become increasingly difficult for people to know what to believe, often dealing with mixed messages. I believe in promoting good science and helping people to think critically about the information source that they are reading.

I have recently been brought into the world of nutrition and health on twitter, which I have found is a great way to learn new information in creative ways. You can follow me on twitter @kaitlin.roke

Emily van Niekerk, B.Sc. Student

As a student in the Nutritional and Nutraceutical Science program at the University of Guelph, one of the most frequent things I hear from people is, “you’re going to kill me, I had a cupcake today!” When really, I’ve probably had one today too! My extreme sweet tooth and my experience growing up vegetarian generated a deep interest in food and how diet affects the human body. This led to a desire to share what I know with others – for example, that having a cupcake every once in a while does not make you a bad person. Although I eventually caved to a juicy burger’s siren call, my love of nutrition has stuck with me and influenced my decision to choose this incredible program. This summer I am working as an undergraduate research assistant in the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit, and I’m hoping to absorb as much knowledge as I can from all of the wonderful people here.

HNRU Students 2013-2014

Katarina bio photoKatarina Smolkova, M.Sc. 

My interest in nutrition was sparked in my undergraduate studies, when I took a couple of nutrition courses as my electives at the University of Toronto. After a few years of working I decided to pursue my nutrition interest and landed at the University of Guelph in M.Sc. Program “Human Health and Nutritional Sciences” on a recommendation from a friend. The knowledge I have acquired through various courses and a clinical research project that focused on determination of glycaemic index and satiety of various millet products is tremendous. My initial conviction that nutrition can play a significant role in prevention and even management of number of chronic diseases has been confirmed. This gives me all the more reason to explore the large variety of nutritional choices we are faced with, yet seldom consider, as some of them can be quite removed from our traditional cuisines. I’m thrilled to contribute to the NUTRInitiative initiative and wish everyone a very enjoyable experience acquiring nutritional knowledge on this awesome blog!

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Caitlin Costello, M.Sc.

My interest in nutrition stemmed from becoming a vegetarian at a young age and learning how to replace essential vitamins, minerals and macronutrients in my diet. I have always been passionate about health and wellness and when I read the description of the Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences (NANS) undergraduate program in the University of Guelph admissions handbook, I knew I had found the right program for me. I loved the program so much that I decided to stay for graduate school and I have recently completed my Master’s degree in Human Health and Nutritional Sciences. My research project involved co-ordinating a human clinical trial investigating the effects of a vitamin D fortified cheese on markers of type 2 diabetes risk. I also worked on another trial looking at the effects of spearmint bioactives on osteoarthritis markers and symptoms. My experiences at the HNRU have taught me so much and I hope to find a career in the clinical research field so I can continue to learn in this dynamic, ever-evolving area of science!

HNRU Bio photo - Marron

Marron Law, B.Sc. candidate

I am currently completing the last year of my undergraduate degree in the Nutritional & Nutraceutical Sciences program. My interest in nutrition started right around the time I started getting really passionate about cooking and food, in grade 10. I began to realize that one of the biggest determinants of health is diet and really wanted to gain the nutritional knowledge to be able to cook and eat meals that not only taste good, but are good for you. I am happy to say that, so far, this program has given me so much more than that. Through this program, I have been introduced to the field of functional foods and human clinical trials, areas I am now very interested in pursuing further. I have gained clinical trial research experience with the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit through the undergraduate research assistantship program, and am continuing to complete a 4th year undergraduate research project helping with a clinical trial. These past 3 years, I have learned more than I ever thought I would, and I am really excited (and a little nervous) to see what my last year has in store for me!

HNRU Graduate Students 2012-2013

Sarah Blog bio- cropped

Sarah Heap, B.Sc.

I completed my undergraduate degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences at the University of Guelph. It was during that time, I was introduced to natural health products and discovered that my passion lies in nutrition and its intricate relationship with disease. During my fourth year of study, I assisted with a clinical trial at the HNRU. I enjoyed it so much that I have returned for a graduate degree where I am building on that previous human trial experience.  After completing my studies, I hope to enter the clinical research field and work on trials involving natural health products. The reason I am interested in nutrition is because it is relevant to everyday life and new knowledge is constantly emerging, which means there is always something new to learn and discover!

JessicaIngram bio photo

Jessica Ingram, B.A.

My undergraduate B.A. degree in Health Studies sparked a love for health and nutrition that led me to where I am today. The nutrition classes I took at Queen’s U were the most interesting of all, helping me understand more of how a person’s environment and food choices delicately interact to determine their health. HHNS at Guelph has given me the chance to specialize in an area that will never stop expanding, which is appropriate, as I never want to stop learning. There are so many opportunities that come along with being a student at Guelph – and I plan to take advantage of as many as I can, including contributing to this blog! I also enjoy applying what I learn in the classroom to my everyday life and it has helped me improve my cooking! I am interested to see what lies ahead in my career, but I have definitely picked a great place to continue my studies.

 Joycelyne Lai, B.Sc.

After completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph, I realized I wasn’t ready to leave the school and felt that there was so much more to learn. By combining two of my passions together (food and science), the Nutrition and Nutraceutical Science (NANS) undergraduate program opened my eyes to the growing field of food and nutrition. Now as I continue my studies in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, I hope to gain more knowledge on the importance of diet and its roles on health. I am currently working with the Project Mint Tea team on an ongoing study investigating the role of spearmint tea that is high in rosmarinic acid, and the effects on knee osteoarthritis. Following my studies, I hope to take what I have learned and apply it to the real world. Hopefully I will be prepared for whatever life throws at me!

HNRU Graduate Students 2011-2012

Megan Arppe-Robertson, B.Sc.

My Mom, a University of Guelph nutrition alumni, encouraged me to follow in her footsteps, i.e. “Meg you would love nutrition, you should go to Guelph”… In rebellion, I didn’t even apply.  Fast forward 5 years and here I am at the University of Guelph studying in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Science. And, I am loving it! (I guess Mom really does know best.)

I’ve always enjoyed opportunities to share nutrition information with others. But, even more, I enjoy when someone asks me a question I don’t know the answer to or tells me something I don’t already know.  These are opportunities for the enthusiastic inquisitor in me to come out. Communication and conversation are integral to make the ever-expanding realm of nutrition research meaningful.  I am excited to be part of the dialogue on the NUTRInitiative Blog.

A. Erin Connelly, B.Sc.

I received my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Toxicology from the University of Guelph in 2007 and am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences.  Before joining the HNRU, I spent 3 years working at Cantox Health Sciences as a Toxicologist in the Food and Nutrition Group. In the HNRU I am the lead graduate student on Project Mint Tea. This clinical trial is investigating the efficacy of daily consumption of a high rosmarinic acid tea on measures of disease activity, physical function, pain medication use and inflammation in osteoarthritis of the knee.  I am passionate about healthy living and actively volunteer with various health promotion programs for children, including Go Girls!, children’s soccer, and running programs. I am also a member of the Canadian Arthritis Trainee Association.

You can follow me on Twitter: @aerinconnelly

Jacey-Anne Jackson, B.Sc.

I joined the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences in September 2011 after completing my undergraduate degree in Biology at Laurentian University. My interest in adopting a holistic approach to health led me to pursue graduate studies in nutrition. I would like to incorporate my newfound nutrition knowledge in my future career as a physiotherapist, and hope to one day open my own practice in New Liskeard (my hometown :)).

Natasha Sheikh, B.Sc

I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at McMaster University. There my interest in nutrition was ignited by an undergraduate thesis project in neonatal nutrition. The project involved establishing methodology for macronutrient analysis of human breast milk.  Since Fall 2011, I have been working on a clinical trial evaluating the effects of a spearmint tea on markers of pain, physical disease activity, and physical function in individuals with knee osteoarthritis.

In my spare time, I enjoy running, watching movies, baking, (or rather eating the final products), and cooking. Since starting in the M.Sc. program, I have taken a greater interest in learning to cook healthier and more nutritious meals, although I still enjoy the occasional one, two (or three) cookies…

Svitlana Yurchenko, B.Sc.

My interest in nutrition and health was established while completing an undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto.  I majored in Nutritional Sciences, a program that effectively reflected the versatility and relevance of nutrition to a number of scientific disciplines.   Under the supervision of Dr. Harvey G. Anderson, I conducted a clinical trial that investigated the effects of resistant starch on glycaemic response and short-term food intake in young men.  From this practical experience, I gained an appreciation for the importance of research in establishing and evaluating relationships between food components and health outcomes.  Now, as a graduate student, I continue to enrich my knowledge about the role of nutrients in health and disease. With my advisor, Dr. Amanda J. Wright, and the rest of the dynamic Project Mint Tea team, I am investigating the effects of a rosmarinic acid-enriched spearmint on knee osteoarthritis.  Specifically, I have been focused on establishing methods to collect data and assess changes related to pain medication usage by our study participants.  In the future, I would like to fortify communication between the scientific community and the public to promote awareness about the importance of nutrition.

NUTRInitiative Blog Founding Contributor

Marisa Catapang, MSc, CCRP

My absolute favourite food growing up was ice cream. Hands down. I practically lived on it. If back then someone told me I would eventually aspire to be an advocate for health, I would have choked on my single scoop sugar cone.

For me, nutrition was never intuitive. It took a lot of personal exploration, conversation, and just plain old trial and error for me to realize and appreciate that over and above just simple consumption, nutrition encompasses social, psychological, and political components as well.

That being said, I hope to pay homage to the many contributing facets of nutrition by bringing a broad perspective to my research in general, and this blog in particular. Hopefully, my previous experience in clinical trials and mental health disorders (ADHD) will help me achieve that … in a pleasantly surprising and professionally fulfilling way.

If not, heck, at least I can’t say that I was bored doing the same old thing in the process 🙂

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