Current Students

GGNB Students

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

Sarah Burke

Sarah Burke

Major Professor: Janet King

Research Interests: Human zinc metabolism and exploring novel methods for zinc nutrition assessment.

Kendra Byrd

Kendra Byrd

Major Professor: Christine Stewart

Research Interests: Etiology of anemia, maternal and child nutrition

Publications: 

Byrd K., Silliman K., Neyman-Morris M. (2008). Impact of a Three-year Worksite Wellness Program on Employee Blood Lipid Levels. California Journal of Health Promotion, 6(1), 49

Gwen Chodur

Gwen Chodur

Class of 2020

Major Professor: Francene Steinberg

Research Interests: Nutrigenomic interactions between diet and disease pathophysiology

Publications:

Chodur GM, Shen Y, Kodish S, Oddo VM, Antiporta DA, Jock B, Jones-Smith JC. Food environments around American Indian reservations: a mixed methods study. PLoS One 2016; 11(8): e0161132.

Yousef Dashti

Dashti Yousef

Major Professor: Robert Hackman

Research Interests: The role of flavonoids in vascular function and health promotion

Debbie Fetter

Debbie Fetter

Class of 2018

Major Professor: Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr

Research Interests: I am interested in utilizing technology to increase engagement towards nutrition.

Bio:  I joined the Graduate Group in Nutritional Biology (GGNB) because I wanted to continue to pursue my interest in nutrition through researching nutrition education and the potential to utilize social media to promote longevity of healthy eating habits and behaviors. I like that the GGNB is a cooperative interdepartmental organization, which allows for the opportunity to learn from different areas of expertise. I aspire to use my love for writing and scientific background to develop nutrition education materials to teach people, particularly children, about nutrition and help promote a healthy lifestyle.

Caitlin French

Caitlin French

Major Professor: Carolyn Slupsky

Research Interests: Interactions in host and microbial metabolism, maternal/ early child nutrition, cognitive development and nutrition behavior

Juliana Haber

Juliana Haber

Major Professor: Lindsay H. Allen

Research Interests: Maternal and  infant nutrition, breast milk quality assessment, dietary assessment, micronutrient metabolism, agro-nutritional public heath interventions, food systems

Nazmul Huda

Nazmul Huda

Major professor: Charles B. Stephensen

Research interest: Effect of vitamin A supplementation on infants’ immunity 

Riley Hughes

Riley Hughes

Class of 2020

Major Professor: Angela Zivkovic

Research Interests: Personalized nutrition and the gut microbiome

Sika Kumordzie

Sika Kumordzie

Major Professor: Kathryn G. Dewey

Research interest: Maternal and child nutrition, Childhood obesity and chronic disease, Micronutrient malnutrition

Sarah Langdon

Sarah Langdon

Class of 2017

Major Professor: Francene Steinberg

Research Interests: The impact of nutrition on chronic diseases

Hanqi Luo

Haqui Luo

Major Professor: Christine Stewart

Research interests:  Maternal and Child Nutrition; Micronutrient Deficiency; Cost Effectiveness Analysis; Epidemiological and Mathematical Modeling; Nutritional Epidemiology

Publications

Alice Martinic

Alice Martinic

Class of 2019

Major Professor: Carolyn Slupsky 

Research Interests: I am interested in personalized health, particularly the interaction of the gut microbiota and diet. I study a particular bacterial strain to understand why it is beneficial. 

Bio: I got my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of New Mexico and came to UC Davis to apply my chemistry knowledge to one of my favorite topics- food. The interdisciplinary nature of this program allows me to explore metabolism, food science, and microbiology all in one place, through Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) metabolomics. I'm doing the Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology which has been a great way to discover all the career options with a PhD. 

Throughout my time in graduate school I've realized how much I love teaching and I plan to pursue a career focused on that. I'm currently a Teaching Assistant Consultant with the UC Davis Center for Educational Effectiveness- check out their website or contact me if you have teaching questions!

Andrew Matchado

Andrew Matchado

Class of 2019

Major Professor: Christine Stewart

Research Interests: Nutrition and non-communicable disease in low income setting

Bio: I come from a country where malnutrition rates are alarmingly very high. I have worked in a hospital ward looking after malnourished kids and so I have seen the health consequences of malnutrition. Additionally individuals have failed to realize their potentials be it economically because of the effects of malnutrition. These facts propelled me into singling out nutrition as my number one health priority.Despite my training as a medical doctor, my knowledge in nutrition is limited.To effectively contribute to the fight against malnutrition in my home country as well as other middle and low income settings I need to be equipped with essential knowledge and skills in nutrition. Hence my choice to study Nutritional Biology.

I intend to join University of Malawi, College of Medicine faculty of public health and family medicine so that I can teach medical undergraduate students nutrition courses. I also plan to design and conduct relevant nutrition research with emphasis on the interplay between nutrition and chronic disease. Additionally I would like to form an awareness club to sensitize the population on the interplay between nutrition and  chronic disease.

Tagreed Mazi

Tagreed Mazi

Major Professor: Valentina Medici

Research Interests: Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, and the cross talk between bone and energy metabolism.

Shannon McClorry

Shannon McClorry

Class of 2019

Major Professor: Carolyn Slupsky

Research Interests: The effects of iron status in infant development

Bio: I came to nutrition in a very round-about way. Nutrition has always been something that I read about in my spare time as a hobby. Initially, I had wanted to do completely different research using NMR. But, in the process of trying to find a professor that was interested in my ideas, I found Dr. Slupsky and became fascinated by her work with infant development and metabolomics. 

I plan to complete the DE in Host-Microbe Interactions, but haven’t officially signed up. I have chosen this DE because I think the fact that all of the bacteria within and on our bodies can have such significant impact on our health is fascinating.

Zhenzhen Mo

ZhenZhen Mo

Class of 2017

Major Professor: Daniel Hwang

Research Interests: Elucidate how fatty acid increases inflammation and whether a diet rich in antioxidant and omega fatty acid alleviates inflammation. 

Lori Nguyen

Lori Nguyen

Class of 2016

Major Professor: Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr

Research Interests: I am interested in the metabolic changes that occur during childhood obesity and how early efforts to change dietary behaviors can have an effect not only on weight, but on biomarkers of health.

Bio: Nutrition combines two of my favorite topics, biology and food. As an undergraduate Molecular Biology major at UC San Diego, studying intricate biological processes was an interest of mine, but it seemed to be lacking a human connection. After taking a Nutritional Biochemistry course, I was inspired to learn more about how our body processes and responds to nutrients. Eventually, that interest led me to pursue my PhD at UC Davis.  By combining these two topics, nutrition allows me to study biology as it relates to human health and gives me an opportunity to engage with people, since everyone eats and has something to say about it. 

I hope to complete a dietetic internship program and earn an RD credential, and then become involved with research aimed towards understanding and improving childhood obesity. I also hope to be in a position where I am able to translate scientific knowledge into real life application in order to teach and encourage people to make choices that will lead to longer, healthier lives. 

Eugenia Ocansey

Eugenia Ocansey

Major Professor: Kathryn G. Dewey

Research interests: Nutrition interventions for low income populations with special focus on maternal and child nutrition

Publications:

Adu-Afarwuah, S; Lartey, A; Okronipa, H; Ocansey, EM; Vosti, SA and Dewey, KG. (2012). Timing of initiation of antenatal care in two semi-rural districts in Ghana and factors influencing early initiation. Book of Abstracts, Africa Nutritional Epidemiology Conference (ANEC V) South Africa. Oct. 2012

Ocansey, Maku E., Lartey, Anna, Marquis, Grace S., Pérez-Escamilla, Rafael, Mazur, Robert E., and Sellen, Dan E. (2010). Maternal HIV status and motor milestone achievements among children living in the Yilo and Manya Krobo districts of Ghana. Book of Abstracts, Africa Nutritional Epidemiology Conference (ANEC IV) Oct. 2010

Harriet Okronipa

Major Professor: Kathryn G. Dewey

Research Interests: maternal and child nutrition, nutrition intervention programs using community-based participatory approaches, infant and young child feeding and dietary preference development, and Infant morbidity.

Publications

Zachary Pierce

Zachary Pierce

Class of 2018

Major Professor: Charles Stephensen

Research Interests:

I'm interested in the relationships between vitamin supplementation and immune responses.  More specifically, I'm interested in how vitamin A, and other retinoids, exert an influence on the developing immune system and intestinal microbiota of infants, especially in the context of vaccine responses.

Bio: When I left the military, I wanted to go into medicine.  But, while working at a health store, I became keen on the metabolism of vitamins and minerals and how they impact our health and development, and how we even came to know about these compounds.  Ultimately, I settled on nutrition because it explores so much of who we are - the metabolism of nutrients and how this affects our development; the psychology of eating and how this influences what and why we eat the things we do; the philosophical component of diet and dietary traditions and how they influence public health policy, for better or for worse.

Tara S. Rogers, M.S., R.D.

Tara Rogers

Class of 2015

Major Professor:  Marta Van Loan

Research Interests: inter-relationships among nutrition, hormones, inflammation and bone; the effects of nutritional interventions on bone metabolism in order to prevent and treat osteoporosis and other disorders

Bio: I worked as a clinical dietitian before coming to Davis and was thrilled to be able to work in Dr. Van Loan's lab. Many of my patients and both of my grandmothers had osteoporosis, so studying how to attenuate risk for this disease through nutrition has personal and professional significance for me. After graduating I hope to find a job in which I can combine clinical work with research.

Desiree Sigala

Desiree Sigala

Class of 2020

Major Professor:  Peter Havel 

Research Interests: The affects of sugar consumption on lipid metabolism in young adults. 

Allison Stevens

Allison Stevens

Class of 2018

Major Professor: Francene Steinberg

Research Interests: antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of bioactive food components; impact of dietary interventions on lipoprotein metabolism; applications of biotechnology in health and nutrition

Bio: Before entering the GGNB, I received a B.S. in chemistry from Tufts University and spent two years working as a clinical research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. I am studying nutritional biology at UC Davis in order to understand how bioactive food components impact human health at the molecular level. My hope is that this research will lead to new dietary strategies for health promotion and disease prevention.

Jennifer C. Taylor

Jennifer C. Taylor

Class of 2019

Major Professor: Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr

Research Interests: Child nutrition, school nutrition policy, dietary assessment, dietary behavior

Bio: I decided to attend UC Davis because I wanted to work with researchers well-versed in community and school-based nutrition programming, while also developing an integrative understanding of nutrition science. Before starting the PhD program at UC Davis, I completed my master's in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Vermont. My master's thesis focused on evaluating dietary assessment methods used to estimate children's food intake in the school environment. Interested in continuing with research in school nutrition programming, projects in Dr. Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr's, including ongoing evaluation of a school-based intervention called the Shaping Healthy Choices Program, made the GGNB a very natural fit.

My doctoral research focuses on understanding social and environmental factors that shape children's food choices at school. This includes the development and application of objective dietary assessment methods for measuring children's food intake. Most recently, this has included collaborations with researchers in Human Development to understand the roles of children's parents and peers on food availability and intake during school. After completing my PhD, I envision a career in either an academic or government setting that combines research, teaching, and community outreach.

Publications:

Taylor JC, Yon BA, Johnson RK. Digital imaging is a reliable and valid measure of school children’s fruit and vegetable consumption. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014;114(9):1359-66.

Amin SA, Yon BA, Taylor JC, Johnson RK. When fruits and vegetables are optional, elementary school children choose processed over whole offerings. J Child Nutr Manag. 2014;38(1).

Taylor JC, Johnson RK. Farm to School as a strategy to increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption: research and recommendations. Nutrition Bulletin. 2013;38:70-79.

Ashley Tovar

No Photo

Class of 2021

Major Professor: Gretchen Casazza

Research Interests: Endocrine, metabolic, and performance alterations occurring in athletes experiencing low energy availability.

Barkat Ullah

Barkat Ullah

Class of 2019

Major Professor: Katherine G. Dewey

Research Interests:  Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition. Infant and Young Child Feeding.

Bio: Under-nutrition is a major public health problem in my country, Bangladesh. Almost half of preschool children and one third of pregnant mothers suffer from under-nutrition, as well as nutritional deficiencies.  Since 1998, I have been working in the field of maternal and child health and nutrition after I completed my MBBS (Bachelor in Medicine and Bachelor in Surgery) and saw the nutritional deficiencies, under-nutrition, and their consequences on mothers and children of my country,  particularly in rural areas. My firsthand experiences motivated me to study nutrition so that I can help the people of my country achieve good nutrition. In December 2012, I  began working in a research project jointly implemented by UC Davis and ICDDR'B. During my work with this project, I had an opportunity to know more about the Nutritional Biology Department at UC Davis, interacting with Professor Kathryn Dewey, learning about her work with GGNB, many other research projects of others renowned scientists of this department in Bangladesh and other "so-called" developing countries. These research projects motivated me to apply to study nutrition at UC Davis at the doctoral level. 

I would like to continue working in research projects by writing research proposals and designing and implementing research projects to improve the nutritional status of mothers and children in Bangladesh while collaborating with UC Davis and the ICDDR'B. I would also like to work on prevention of obesity and chronic diseases as recently these two problems are increasing rapidly in my country.

Ziwei Wang

Ziwei Wang

Class of 2019

Major Professor: Patricia I. Oteiza

My interest in nutrition developed in high school and has never disappeared since. Therefore, I came to UC Davis to continue my graduate level studies in nutritional biology after receiving a B.S. degree in bio-pharmaceutics from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, China.

During my undergrad studies I became very interested in the idea that dietary bioactives could improve human health. For my Ph.D., I am studying the beneficial health effects of dietary flavonoids at the gastrointestinal tract.  Chronic inflammation and loss of intestinal barrier integrity are relevant to the pathogenesis of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, obesity-associated adverse effects (e.g. insulin resistance, NASH), and other conditions. I look forward to identify specific beneficial flavonoids, and their mechanism of action, which could help to design diets with a beneficial/preventive action on diseases of major public relevance.