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Meet our 2021 - 2022 Dietetic Interns

christina cao

Christina Cao: Auckland, New Zealand | BS: Purdue University | Community Nutrition Rotation: Food Bank of Central NY | Clinical and Management Rotations: University of Rochester Medical Center

Christina was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. Eager to expand her global perspective on health and nutrition, she attended Purdue University, where she graduated with a B.S. in Nutrition Science and Dietetics in May 2020. For Christina's undergraduate research, she combined her interests in sustainability and nutrition to evaluate the effectiveness of climate-smart agriculture in developing countries to improve nutrition in vulnerable communities. 

In the past, Christina has worked on separate research projects associated with nutrition policy in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Her role at Consensus Action on Sugar, Salt, and Health of Queen Mary University of London included collecting and analyzing data to formulate written reports, which served to raise awareness about the high salt content found in traditional British foods. In the past year, Christina interned at the National Institute for Health Innovation at the University of Auckland. During her time as an intern, Christina partook in various projects that monitored and evaluated the nutrition content of foods available at supermarkets across New Zealand.

Ultimately, with a background in dietetics, Christina aspires to help sustainably feed our growing planet through implementing evidence-based food and nutrition policies on a local and global scale.

Cecilia Chen

Zhijun (Cecilia) Chen: Suzhou, China | Ed.M: Harvard Graduate School of Education | BS: University of California, Davis| Community Nutrition Rotation: Ithaca School District| Clinical and Management Rotations: University of Rochester Medical Center

Zhijun Chen, who also goes by Cecilia, was born and raised in Suzhou, China. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Clinical Nutrition and Psychology from the University of California, Davis, and Master of Education in Human Development Psychology from Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her undergraduate studies, she was involved with research in infant cognitive development, gut microbiome, and nutrition, and presented her findings in infant cognitive development differences between Malawi and the U.S. at Undergraduate Research Conference in 2019 and 2020. Cecilia has experience with nutrition education and nutrition counseling from working with the Chinese Nutrition Society and UC Davis Student Recreation Center. In her graduate studies, she works remotely with an eating disorder research group at Boston Children’s Hospital and closely witnessed patient-centered care. 

She is strongly interested in the intersection of nutrition and psychology and delivering evidence-based nutrition education and designing community nutrition programs to support families’ mental and physical health development. She aspires to work as a future leader in the dietetic profession and a professor who mainly focuses on research, teaching, doing program evaluation using her qualitative, quantitative, and clinical skills.

Beyond nutrition, Cecilia is interested in photography and shooting daily vlogs to transmit a healthy lifestyle through online media. In her free time, she likes to traveling and exploring various ethnic or cultural foods. 

Taegan Gandolfi

Taegan Gandolfi: San Diego, California | BS: San Diego University | Community Nutrition Rotation: Wayne County CCE | Clinical and Management Rotations: University of Rochester Medical Center

Taegan Gandolfi was born and raised in a small suburb of the Chicago area, and she has always had a fascination for the sciences. She took classes in kinesiology, biology, genetics, chemistry, and biochemistry before ultimately deciding that Foods and Nutrition were what she was most passionate about. Receiving her
B.S in Foods & Nutrition allowed her to combine her love of science while working with people who wish or need help to get better.

For experience, Taegan started a fitness club that worked on proper diet, strength, and endurance training and worked on valuable everyday skills like self-discipline and knowledge about maintaining a general healthful lifestyle. In college, Taegan worked as a research assistant in two clinical studies. Taegan also did volunteer work at the Antioch Senior Center, where she prepared and distributed the lunches and coordinated the weekly sing-along.

In her free time, Taegan likes to maintain a healthy lifestyle with exercise and eating great food. Taegan spends a considerable amount of time with her second interest; music. Since she was seven years old, Taegan has played violin, performing her first TED Talk at age 16. In her free time on Sundays, she helps manage the largest market in the San Diego area; the Hillcrest Farmer's Market.

Robert Guard

Robert Guard: Parma Heights, Ohio | BS: Kent State University | Community Nutrition Rotation: Victor Central School District | Clinical and Management Rotations: University of Rochester Medical Center

Entrance into Dietetics began with Robert’s curiosity of the human body. When realizing how vastly integral food was to health, curiosity became a change in major. This pivot took form as a B.S. in Nutrition at Kent State University. 
During this time, he gained an appreciation for a couple portions of Dietetics starting with community nutrition as manager of Kent State’s Campus Kitchen. His team recovered 100,000 pounds of almost expired donated food turning what would have been wasted into meals and supplement groceries for students and community members. This changed the way he viewed the world as suddenly the fight against hunger became clear. This became ever clearer as he both studied abroad in Uganda and later came back to collect data on how malnutrition is ravaging the health of those affected. Though the fight looked different, hunger remained the same. Robert’s interest in Dietetics now have manifested themselves in a combination resulting in aspirations of being involved in organizations designed to relieve food insecurities specific to an international community. 
Through his involvement in several organizations, projects, and programs that all aimed to relieve hunger, he has become interested in discovering the creative community nutrition interventions that work best through research methods. Other interest biproducts of his work he has enjoyed over the years and is hopeful to continue in future projects is teaching, mentoring, leading, and collaborative networking. 

Molly Jean Henebury

Molly Jean Henebury: Weymouth, Massachusetts | BS: Simmons University | Community Nutrition Rotation: BOCES | Clinical and Management Rotations: University of Rochester Medical Center

Molly Jean (Molly or MJ) Henebury is a recent Simmons University graduate, completing both her BS and MS in Nutrition. While attending school, she worked in the Boston Children’s Hospital Clinical Nutrition Department as a dietetic technician. Working with children and their families to provide empathetic care is MJ’s number one goal; her motto being “Spread smiles like butter.” Outside of school and work, she loves to bake, knit, and hike. This past summer she tried her hand at the technical challenges from the Great British Baking Show, some were more successful than others. Her choux buns definitely need some work. 

Muying Li (Lee)

Muying Li (Lee): Changsha, China | BS: New York University | Community Nutrition Rotation: Ithaca City School District | Clinical and Management Rotations: University of Rochester Medical Center

Muying Li (Li) graduated from New York University with a Bachelor degree in Computer Science and minored in Nutrition. Then she completed the remaining DPD courses in a year. In her past nutrition-related internships, Li was delighted to apply her computer science skills to deliver better performance. During her undergraduate, she also completed an intensive culinary arts program and worked at a Michelin-two-star restaurant in New York. She is always impressed by how food embodies and connects people, community, culture, and beyond. With a passion for cooking and a curiosity in food and well-being, she found a right cooperation between chef and RDN could make immeasurable progress towards public health promotion by educating how to make delicious and nutritious dishes.
Back in her home country China, there is no individualized and systematic nutrition system. Li has an ambition to devote herself to building a standard one tailored to the people of China in the future. This summer, she interns at a Chinese restaurant that aims to change the stereotypes of American Chinese food where she got inspired that she can also bring the public's attention to the nutrition profession by sharing her DI experiences with more people.
With limited exposure to clinicals and research before, Li is particularly looking to gain a wide range of experience in the dietetics field during the rotations. Everything in the clinical settings like nutrition assessment, diet analysis, client counseling and interdisciplinary teamwork excites her. She believes the DI will start to define what type of RDN she becomes and refine her professional skills.

Elizabeth McCurrach

Elizabeth McCurrach: New York, New York | BS: Cornell University | Community Nutrition Rotation: Syracuse City School District | Clinical and Management Rotations: University of Rochester Medical Center

Elizabeth McCurrach was born and spent her early years in Melbourne, Australia. When her family moved back to the United States, Elizabeth grew up in Ridgewood, NJ. She graduated from Cornell University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Art’s degree and a double major in history and philosophy. 

After graduation, Elizabeth worked in the educational field and her experiences there sparked her interest in pediatric diet and nutrition. She spent a few years working in finance but didn’t really enjoy what she was doing. She decided that she wanted a career more directly helping people, so she changed career paths to become a registered dietitian. She is currently enrolled in New York University’s DPD and MS programs. Elizabeth has combined interests in clinical work, community outreach and research and that made the Cornell Dietetic Internship an ideal placement for her.

Elizabeth is interested in becoming a Clinical Pediatric Dietitian with a focus on food allergies. During her time at NYU, she worked with a school lunch vendor in NYC. Once COVID hit NYC, she spent her time volunteering at God’s Love We Deliver helping to cook and deliver medically tailored nutritious meals to people in need. 

Outside of her interest in nutrition and dietetics Elizabeth is passionate about helping others, reading and spending time with her friends and family. She is also an avid crafter who enjoys working with her hands.

Caprice Pierre

Caprice Pierre: Montclair, New Jersey | BS: Cornell University | Community Nutrition Rotation: Foodbank of the Southern Tier | Clinical and Management Rotations: University of Rochester Medical Center

Caprice Pierre was born in Georgetown, Guyana and raised in Montclair, New Jersey. She attended Cornell University where she graduated with a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences.  Caprice was also on the premedical tract and plans on attending medical school in 2022. 
 
As an undergraduate, Caprice volunteered at Southside Community Center and created and led a weekly nutrition program for elementary and middle school students, alongside her nutrition professor and three other college students. Some activities included using food models to explain portion sizes and games in the gymnasium to explain the different food groups. Caprice and her team helped their students plan an after school meal menu, which they used to cook tasty and nutritious meals with their center leaders.
 
Caprice also had a summer internship at Meals on Wheels where she helped cook, package, and deliver meals across the county, amongst other responsibilities. This internship opened her eyes to the needs of a new demographic and she hopes to work with an older adult population as a dietitian.

Hilary Zhang

Hilary Zhang: Staten Island, New York | BS: New York University | Community Nutrition Rotation: Onondaga County Office of Aging | Clinical and Management Rotations: University of Rochester Medical Center

Hilary’s journey with nutrition started with a book and has continued to transform into her passion. 

Her experience in the medical field started back in high school when she began volunteering at a pediatrics office and is now a current employee. Through this experience, her fascination with maternal/obstetrics and pediatric nutrition blossomed. She hopes to work with this specific population in the future through a WIC in her community or researching nutrition’s role in maternal and infant interactions, from pre to post pregnancy.

During her undergraduate career at New York University, she sought ways to expand her knowledge through her involvement as a student research assistant conducting geriatric nutrition research alongside a dear professor. She specifically enjoyed her time as a food lab assistant as she helped students find their inner chef and cook up some impressive dishes. She is extremely grateful for all her experiences to date.

To keep her creative and artistic expression alive, Hilary has started a food blog (ig:@purelyplated) with her sister, where they share basic nutrition information and delicious recipes they whip up in their small family kitchen.

Besides cooking and baking, she finds joy in starting paintings she can’t seem to finish, playing the only 5 songs she knows on the ukulele, engaging in a daily yogic practice and spending her time in nature!

Yingyi (Wing) Zhong

Yingyi (Wing) Zhong: Guangzhou, China | BS: Oklahoma State University | Community Nutrition Rotation: Rural Health Network of SCNY | Clinical and Management Rotations: University of Rochester Medical Center

Yingyi Zhong, who also goes by Wing, is interested in a variety of areas in nutrition and dietetics and looks forward to the experiences in the dietetic internship. Wing will graduate from her Ph.D. program this August, and she has enjoyed her graduate research in self-weighing, weight gain prevention, obesity, and behavioral science. Currently, she is very excited to learn more about community nutrition and clinical nutrition practices in the upcoming dietetic internship. Wing believes she will learn a lot and enjoy the entire process. Her current areas of interest are obesity and weight management, renal nutrition, and disease prevention. 

Wing started her undergraduate degree in hospitality and restaurant administration at Oklahoma State University. During the first semester, she took an introductory nutrition course and fell in love with nutrition. She then decided to become a registered dietitian and enroll in the DPD program in her college. In her senior year, she presented her undergraduate research at the Experimental Biology conference in 2016. With an enormous interest in nutrition, dietetics, and behavior science, Wing applied for the Ph.D. program at Cornell University, where she started her four-year fascinating and unique journal in graduate school. She conducted a few independent research projects, where she developed many skills, including critical thinking, organization, writing, data analyses. She also presented her research at many conferences, such as the Obesity Society, New York Regional Obesity Forum, and American Society of Nutrition. She received great feedback and had interesting and valuable conversations with researchers and practitioners in the nutrition world. 

During her free time, she loves reading novels, running, painting, and enjoying good food. She loves having potluck dinners and playing board games with her friends. 

Yibing Zhou

Yibing Zhou: Zhengzhou, China | MS: Case Western Reserve University | Community Nutrition Rotation: Seneca County CCE | Clinical and Management Rotations: University of Rochester Medical Center

Yibing Zhou recently graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a M.S. in Nutrition. During her graduate studies, she enjoyed spending time in the lab and volunteering in her local community. In her spare time, she likes to cook and taking photographs. She also likes to travel, but unfortunately hasn’t been visiting any new places in the past year.
Yibing is originally from Zhengzhou, Henan, China, and has been studying in the U.S. since high school. She majored in Biology and minored in Visual Arts at Fordham University during her undergraduate time. She gradually developed interests in human nutrition and dietetics. After she worked for a registered dietitian in private practice as an intern, she decided to continue her education in this field. During her time in the graduate program, she especially enjoyed learning about topics like policies affecting public health and human nutrition, international nutrition, nutritional care for patients with eating disorders, and more. She is excited to start her internship at Cornell University and ready for the next step in her academic and professional career! 

Contact the Dietetic Internship at dietetics@cornell.edu.

Cornell Dietetic Internship
Division of Nutritional Sciences
108 Savage Hall Ithaca, NY 14853
607-255-2690

Emily Gier, MBA, RD, CDN, FAND
Associate Professor of Practice & Dietetic Internship Director

Diana Wixson, Dietetics Program Support