Alumni

  • Lacey Baldiviez

Below are profiles of selected past students in the Graduate Group in Nutritional Biology.

Albert Aguilera

Albert Aguilera

Class of 2015
Major Professor: Lucia Kaiser

Research Interests: Alberto's research interests include obesity within the Latino community in California and child nutrition. He currently is involved in the USDA-AFRI Niños Sanos, Familia Sana (Healthy Kids, Healthy Family) with the nutrition component of the study aimed at reducing obesity in children in Fresno County.

Albert Aguilera is originally from Yuriria, Guanajuato, Mexico and was raised in Turlock, CA. He currently is a Ph.D. student in Nutritional Biology at UC Davis. He received a B.S. in Health Science from CSU, Fresno in 2009 and a Master of Public Health from UC Davis in 2011, and his Ph.D. in Nutritional Biology in 2015.

Lacey Baldiviez

Lacey Baldiviez

Class of 2013
Major Professor: Dr. Kathryn Dewey

Upon applying to UC Davis and entering graduate school, I was interested in Nutritional Biology for all of the usual domestic reasons; obesity seemed to be a never-ending battle, chronic diseases plaguing society, and a genuine concern about health, weight control, and improving the American diet. But once I immersed myself in the curriculum of UC Davis and the Program in International & Community Nutrition (PICN), I realized that the state of global malnutrition was a much more profound and under-recognized situation. The afflicted populations deal with simple obstacles that can easily be overlooked such as hand-washing, water sanitation, and exposure to devastating pathogens. It is our concern, as population nutritionists, to creatively attack these obstacles, cooperate with governments and foreign health systems, and to improve the lives and productivity of people we may never even see.

My research interests are in the area of oxidative effects of iron supplementation in pregnant and lactating women in malaria-endemic regions. We aim to analyze biomarkers of oxidative stress and DNA damage during pregnancy and lactation among women in Ghana comparing different quantities of iron as well as different forms of delivery. Iron-deficiency anemia, malarial infection, maternal morbidity and mortality, iron status of the infant and infant outcomes may all be affected by iron intervention strategies.

Alex Brito

Alex Brito

Class of 2015
Major Professor: Lindsay H. Allen


Dissertation Title: "Novel Approaches For Detecting Sub-clinical Effects Of Vitamin B-12 Deficiency And Its Interaction With Folate Status In The Elderly"

Dr. Brito's research interests include prevalence, causes and metabolic and functional consequences of micronutrient deficiencies, especially vitamin B12 deficiency and its interaction with folate status.

Publications

Dave Dallas

Dave Dallas

Class of 2012
Major Professor: J. Bruce German

Dr. Dallas received his Ph.D. in Nutritional Biology with a Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology and Area of Specialization in Analytical Chemistry from UC Davis in 2012.  After graduation Dr. Dallas worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology.  There he worked for Drs. Carlito B. Lebrilla, Daniela Barile, David Mills, and J. Bruce German with funding provided by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the NIH K99 Career Award.   His research focused on identifying the digestive products of breast milk in term and premature infants in order to determine improved feeding solutions for premature infants.  Through examining bioactivity of identified naturally-occurring peptides in milk and using cutting-edge liquid chromatography mass spectrometry and database searching, he identified thousands of novel endogenous milk peptides, many of which have antimicrobial or immunomodulatory actions. 

Beginning in January, 2016, Dr. David Dallas will be an Assistant Professor in the School of Biological and Population Health Sciences within the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.  The overall aim of Dr. Dallas’s research at OSU will be to improve the health of premature infants, a population that suffers greatly reduced health outcomes (including early mortality, developmental disorders, and high risk of infection) in comparison with term-delivered, breast milk-fed infants. The reduced digestive capacity of premature infants results in an inability break down milk proteins in the same way as term infants. This diminished digestive function may result in the premature infant's inability to take advantage of bioactive peptides and glycopeptides encrypted in human milk proteins. In essence, premature infants are not receiving the full and multi-faceted health benefits of milk. 

Daphna Dror

Daphna Dror

Class of 2009
Major Professor: Dr. Lindsay Allen

Before coming to UC Davis Dr. Dror received a B.S. degree in Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism from Case Western Reserve University and became a Registered Dietitian after completing her internship at the University of California, San Francisco.  Her research interests are in the area of vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and neonates.  Dr. Dror received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Biology in 2009.

Reina Engle-Stone

Reina Englestone

Class of 2011
Major Professor: Dr. Kenneth Brown

I was introduced to the field of international nutrition as an undergraduate student at Cornell and have been hooked ever since. Following completion of my Bachelor’s degree (biology; program of study in nutrition), I worked as a health educator through the AmeriCorps program at a community health center in a Latino neighborhood in Chicago. I hope to incorporate both teaching and applied research in future work.

My research interests focus on improving nutritional status and preventing disease in low-income populations. This includes primarily the etiology and prevention of micronutrient deficiencies (eg, vitamin A, iron, and zinc), but also the rising problem of coexisting over- and under-nutrition in less-developed countries. In particular, I am drawn to the interface between nutrition research and intervention programs and feel strongly that programs and policies should be developed and evaluated using strong research methods.

Currently, I am working with Helen Keller International in Cameroon to implement a baseline study in preparation for a national food fortification program. The results will guide the choice of food vehicles and the levels of micronutrients with which to fortify, and will also establish the baseline biochemical nutrient status of women and children for later program evaluation.

Publications

Brown, KH; Engle-Stone, R; Krebs, NF; Peerson, JM. Dietary intervention strategies to enhance zinc nutrition: Promotion and support of breast feeding for infants and young children. Food Nut. Bull.; 2009; 30(1 Suppl); S142-69.

Engle-Stone, R; Yeung, A; Welch, RM; Glahn, RP. Meat and ascorbic acid can promote Fe availability from Fe-phytate but not from Fe-tannic acid complexes. J. Agric. Food Chem.; 2005; 53 (26); 10276-84.

Gretchen George

Gretchen George

Class of 2014
Major Professor: Lucia Kaiser

Dr. George is currently an Assistant Professor in the Nutrition and Dietetics, Consumer and Family Studies/Dietetics Department at  San Francisco State University.  She is also the Communications Chair for California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics - Bay Area District and the Research Interest Section Chair Elect - Nutrition Education & Behavioral Science - American Society for Nutrition.

 LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gretchen-george-bbb92417

Andrea Hacker-Thompson

Andrea Hacker Thompson

Class of 2013
Major Professor: Dr. Janet King

Before coming to UC Davis  Dr. Hacker-Thompson received a B.S. degree in Nutrition from the University of Arkansas and an M.S. degree from the University of Kansas (where she also completed her dietetic internship and became a Registered Dietitian). While at UCD she worked with Dr. Janet King at CHORI, designing a study to look at the effects of calcium intake, vitamin D status and race on calcium metabolism in pregnant and lactating women.  Dr. Hacker-Thompson received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Biology in 2013

Mary Henderson

Mary Henderson

Class of 2012
Major Professor: Dr. Carl Keen / Dr. Louise Lanoue

Originally a Northern California native (Rocklin), I am currently entering my fourth year as a Ph.D. student in the Nutritional Biology program. Nutrition is and has been my major field of study for the past nine years! I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree here at UC Davis in Clinical Nutrition with a minor in Human Development and then went on to complete my Master of Science Degree in Nutrition at Tufts University in Boston, MA. While working on my Masters, I completed my Dietetic Internship at Tufts Medical Center and am currently a Registered Dietitian. I chose Nutrition because I have always felt that following a healthy lifestyle and eating pattern are very important and have always incorporated (as well as encourage) this philosophy into my own life as well as the life of others.  I am one who likes to have a little variety in my life so as of right now, my future plans include pursuing a career that involves research, clinical work, as well as teaching.

I am interested in investigating dietary patterns of women during pregnancy to observe (if any) persistent developmental effects of the fetus that may increase or decrease chronic disease risk later in life. I am particularly interested in investigating maternal-fetal nutrient interactions on a genetic/genomic level. My current research involves investigating any developmental effects of certain phytochemicals (flavonoids) on heart disease risk, utilizing various mouse models.

Md. Iqbal Hossain

Iqbal Hossain

Class of 2009
Major Professor: Kenneth Brown

Dr. Hossain received an M.B.B.S (graduate degree in medical science) from the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh, and a D.C.H. in Pediatric Medicine from Dhaka University, Bangladesh. His current position is Scientist, Center for Nutrition and Food Security & Clinical Lead, Nutrition Unit, at Dhaka Hospital, ICDDR, B.  His focus is on pediatric clinical services, hospital- and community-based clinical and nutritional research, and teaching about human nutrition, diarrheal diseases, research methodology, and biostatistics. His research interests include: management of severely malnourished children; long chain fatty acid in preterm and malnourished children; use of soy protein in malnourished children; and short chain fatty acid in diarrheal diseases.  He is also an Adjunct Faculty for the Public Health Nutrition Course of James P. Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Josh Jorgensen

Josh Jorgensen

Class of 2013
Major Professor: Dr. Kathryn Dewey

Before entering the Graduate Group in Nutritional Biology I received a B.S. degree in Nutrition Science from UC Davis as well as a M.P.H. from UC Davis. My thesis was titled "The Mommy and Me Assessment (MAMA) Project" (This was a breastfeeding rate and duration study of Yolo County mothers conducted at the Yolo County Health Department.)" My research interests are in the area of disease prevention in children in developing countries.

Alison Keenan

Alison Keenan

Class of 2012
Major Professor: Dr. John Newman

The research focus in the laboratory of my mentor is the development and application of targeted metabolomics to the study of obesity, its associated metabolic dysfunctions, and their response to nutritional intervention. Metabolomics data must be placed in a biological context for these profiles to improve our understanding of diet-disease interactions. Quantifying metabolic cascades of known compounds promotes our ability to translate findings into biological context. As a graduate student in the Newman laboratory, I seek not only to define metabolic phenotypes, but to also bridge these with their biological relevance at the cellular level. To do this, my dissertation research will examine omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the diet, and their impacts on adipose physiology in vivo and in vitro. Moreover, I believe that metabolic profiling will be a useful tool to elucidate individual variability in responses to nutritional stress, and exploring this tool to understand metabolic predispositions to nutritionally responsive diseases is a long term goal.

Before I came to UC Davis I studied analytical chemistry at City University of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In particular, I focused in forensic toxicology for my BS. In the long run, I’d like to create sustainable and long-term undergraduate research programs in underrepresented institutions.

Tim Matthiessen

Tim Matthiessen

Class of 2010
Major Professor: Dr. Lucia Kaiser

After completing my undergrad degree in Health Science from UC Santa Cruz, I wanted to continue learning about nutrition and how to help people live healthier lives by eating better. I am also completing courses that are part of the Didactic Program in Dietetics, which is a necessary step in my plans to become a Registered Dietitian.

I am researching methods of dietary assessment of children, specifically for its use to evaluate nutrition education programs. My current work involves the use of digital photography as a way to keep a photo record of the foods eaten. If done over time, it may be possible to observe changes in dietary patterns as a result of a curriculum or intervention.

Joy Pieper

Joy Pieper

Class of 2012
Major Professor: Dr. Lindsay Allen

Before coming to UC Davis I received my B.S. in Mathematics from Creighton University and taught Math and Science to gifted students for four years before returning to school. I then received my M.S. in Food Science from U.C. Davis in 2008. I am currently working with Dr. Kevin Laugero on a project examining the relationships between eating/activity behaviors and cognitive function and mood in preschool-aged children. I recently completed work with PHFE WIC analyzing relationships between the cognitive environment and eating behaviors in low-income preschool-aged children. I also hold a special place in my research heart for fruits and vegetables, and am particularly interested in how novel processed fruit and vegetable products play a role in meeting the Dietary Guidelines for these foods.

Publications

Rickman Pieper J.C. and D.M. Barrett. 2008. Effects of organic and conventional production systems on quality and nutritional parameters of processing tomatoes. J. Sci. Food Ag. 89, 177-194.

Rickman, J.C. and D.M. Barrett. Effects of organic and conventional production systems on quality and nutritional parameters of processing tomatoes. Poster, Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting, July 2007.

Rickman, J.C., D.M. Barrett and C.M. Bruhn. 2007. Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 1.Vitamins B and C and phenolic compounds. J. Sci. Food Ag. 87, 930-944.

Rickman, J.C., C.M. Bruhn and D.M. Barrett. 2007. Nutritional comparison of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. Part 2.Vitamin A and carotenoids, vitamin E, minerals and fiber. J. Sci. Food Ag. 87, 1185-1196.

Towfida Jahan Siddiquua

Towfida Jahan Siddiquua

Class of 2013
Major Professor: Lindsay H. Allen

My research interests include: causes, consequences and prevention of vitamin B12 deficiency. Effect of maternal supplementation on embryonic and fetal development and infant immune function

Mike La Frano

Mike La Frano

Class of 2012
Major Professor: Dr. Betty Burri

Dr. La Frano studied retinoid and carotenoid metabolism, including the conversion of beta-cryptoxanthin into vitamin A. Other research interests include the different forms of vitamin A found in fish and the development of new HPLC methods to optimally measure these compounds.

Before coming to UC Davis he became a Registered Dietitian and earned a B.S. in Nutrition & Dietetics from Loma Linda University. He received his Ph.D. in Nutritional Bioogy in 2012.

Ana Perez-Exposito

Ana Perez-Exposito

Class of 2009
Major Professor: Kenneth Brown

Dr. Perez-Exposito's research interests are related to strategies to combat undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries.  She received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Biology in 2009.

Jingyan Ren

Jingyan Ren

Class of 2015
Major Professor: Carl Keen

Jennifer Stern

Jennifer Stern

Class of 2011
Major Professors: Dr. Jon Ramsey and Dr. Chris Calvert

The aging process is dependent on a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Understanding this synergism at both the cellular and whole animal level is a central challenge in studying the mechanisms that contribute to age-related dysfunction and pathologies. Specifically, understanding the age-related perturbations in the maintenance of energy homeostasis and concomitant changes in body composition is of particular importance in promoting healthy aging. My research focuses on age-related changes in whole body energy metabolism in a mouse model. Currently, I am investigating the impact of cold stress and calorie restriction on energy expenditure and substrate utilization in mice at various stages of life (sexual maturity, middle-age, and old-age). I am also collaborating with several other labs to understand the function of the p66Shc protein as it relates to aging and glucose metabolism. Specifically, we are investigating the impact this protein has on perturbations to whole body energy metabolism, in response to aging and calorie restriction.

Before moving to Davis, I spent time in Evanston, IL where I earned a BS in Communication Studies at Northwestern University in 2000. I then returned to my hometown of Phoenix, AZ where I began a career as a hospice social worker. My work for several years in hospice care sparked my interest in the link between nutrition and the prevention of age-related diseases, and so began my studies in Human Nutrition at Arizona State University. I earned an MS in Human Nutrition at Arizona State University in 2007, where I studied the link between ascorbate status, body composition, and exercise induced oxidative stress in active adults.

Research Interests

Energy metabolism as it relates to aging, obesity, diabetes, and physical activity.  Regulation of energy expenditure, substrate utilization, and food intake

Publications

Rossow, H, and Stern, JH. Teaching comparative metabolism using a graphic computer model, Virtual Tissue . Advances in Physiology Education.  March 2011, vol. 35 no.1, 99-102.

Rebecca Tryon

Rebecca Tryon

Rebecca Tryon graduated with her BS in physiology from UC Davis in 1998. Since that time she spent several years as a biologist working on in-vivo behavior models of CNS disorders, as well as in-vivo models of diabetes. From there she worked as a Clinical Research Associate developing protocols for Phase I clinical trials for a major pharmaceutical company. Her life took a huge turn when she decided to open her own business teaching yoga and Pilates and facilitating "holistic fitness" classes and workshops. She added Massage therapy and whole food nutritional counseling to her  repertoire. She spent the following 3 years in Oregon working for a hospital-owned wellness center as a department manager, and health educator teaching nutrition-based lifestyle enhancement classes. She received her M.S. in Nutritional Biology in 2011.

Bineti Vitta

Bineti Vitta

Class of 2012
Major Professor: Dr. Kathryn Dewey

Before coming to UC Davis I received a B.S. degree in Biology from Brandeis University. My research interest is in the area of Nutrition in developing countries. My current research project is examining early lactation success in the Gambia. We will be looking for risk factors associated with the early cessation of breastfeeding in first-time mothers. Data collected in the Gambia will eventually be compared to data collected in Peru and California to allow for a cross-cultural comparison of delivery and breastfeeding practices.

Anne Williams

Anne Williams

Class of 2015
Major Professor: Dr. Caroline Chantry

Dr. Williams came to study Nutritional Biology with research interests related to women's health and international disparity issues. The program in international and community nutrition at UC Davis was appealing to me because of the faculty expertise with breastfeeding and breast milk research. Says Williams, "I have gained valuable field experience during my tenure at Davis, and the knowledge gained during coursework is invaluable. Upon graduation I will continue researching and working on programs committed to optimizing population health in resource-constrained environments, both domestically and internationally."  Williams received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Biology in 2015.