Meet our graduate students

Samiha Azgar

Samiha Azgar, BS
Program: PhD, Human Nutrition
Advisor: TBD

Samiha is a first year PhD student in Human Nutrition. She earned her BS in Psychology with a minor in Biochemistry from Hofstra University. A former science teacher, Samiha worked to empower young women from underserved communities through research, science communication, and reproductive health education. Her research interests include micronutrients, gut dysbiosis, and women's health. Outside of academics, she likes traveling, hiking, and learning new languages. 

rachel bai

Rachel Bai, BS
Program: MS, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Tolunay Beker Aydemir

Rachel is currently a first-year Master’s student in Aydemir Lab. She obtained her bachelor's degree at Cornell studying Molecular & Cell biology. Her current research focuses on investigating the potential signaling pathways between IBD and Zinc transport. Outside of the lab, she enjoys painting, traveling, photography and music.

katherine baker

Katherine Baker, MS, MPH
Program:  PhD, Community Nutrition
Advisor: Roger Figueroa

Katherine Baker is a Ph.D. student in Community Nutrition. Originally from Milwaukee, she earned her B.A from. New York University. She next earned her M.S. in Human Nutrition and her M.P.H. in Environmental Health Science with a certificate in Climate & Health for Columbia University. Katherine is passionate about health equity and her current work focused on neighborhood food environment and nutrition security in the Fig lab. In the future, Katherine hopes to continue working in public health nutrition, and to continue to explore her interest in the intersection of environmental health and nutrition.

alexa barad

Alexa Barad, MS, RD
Program: PhD, Human and Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Kimberly O’Brien

Alexa was born and raised in Costa Rica. She completed her undergraduate degree in nutrition at Texas A&M University and continued her education at the University of Florida where she completed her Masters of Science and Dietetic Internship and later on became a Registered Dietitian. Alexa began her PhD at Cornell in 2019 and officially joined the O’Brien lab early 2020. Her doctoral research aims to improve understanding of genetic and biochemical variations in iron absorption and how these differences affect iron homeostasis across different ethnicities. Alexa is also interested in understanding iron partitioning during pregnancy and how maternal iron status impacts iron transport to the fetus.


Abby Benvie, BS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Dr. Daniel Berry

Originally from Boston Massachusetts. Attended University of Rochester for undergrad where I majored in Biochemistry. Undergraduate research focused on the impact of obesity and type 2 diabetes on the body’s immunological and skeletal system. Came to Cornell immediately after undergrad where current work focuses on understanding stem cell regulation and dynamics in both adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. Outside of research, enjoy swimming, biking, running and forcing her cat toby to cuddle.


Beatriz Carmona, BS
Program: PhD, Community Nutrition
Advisor:  Laura Bellows

Beatriz graduated with a BS in Nutrition/Dietetics and a minor in Statistics from Auburn University in the Spring of 2021. She is a first-year PhD student in Community Nutrition working with Dr. Laura Bellows. Her observance of health disparities while living in Mexico and rural Alabama has shaped her interests in improving health literacy and food security within the larger context of comprehensive health equity for underserved populations.

Sara Catalina Carrillo

Sara Catalina Carrillo, B.S.
Program: PhD, Community Nutrition
Advisor: Angela Odoms-Young

Sara, the oldest and only daughter of six to Mexican immigrant parents, was born and raised in Brea, California. Despite dropping out of college in her early 20’s, she was inspired to return after observing the effect of nutrition on the cognitive development of her neurodivergent son. As a mother, proud Chicana, and first-generation student, she earned her A.A in Natural Sciences and A.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from Mt. San Antonio College in 2018, and then a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in May 2022. At Cal Poly Pomona, as a McNair Scholar and President’s Discovery Fellow, she researched the effects of omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics on adult selective attention. When she started the Nutrition PhD program at Cornell, in Fall 2022, she joined the Odoms-Young Nutrition Liberation, Food Sovereignty, and Justice Lab where she is currently looking at the multi-level determinants of diet-related behaviors in youth of color with autism and/or IDD. Her research interests include developing community nutrition programs for low-income Latine mothers of autistic children, using an intersectional and healing centered approach. She is drawn to building spaces in the community where Latine mothers of autistic children can connect, where they can feel safe, seen, heard, and understood, where they can release and heal and feel joy, where they can feel empowered and collaborate in community to reimagine this world for them and their children. During her free time, Sara reads, bird watches, and enjoys life with her son, Lucas, and her partner, Jonathan.

faith carter

Faith Carter, BS
Program: PhD, Human Nutrition
Advisor: Marla Lujan

Faith was born and raised in North Carolina. As an undergraduate, she attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where she obtained a B.S. in Chemistry with a Biology minor. Faith's undergraduate research focused on characterizing phospholipid and cholesterol interactions. Immediately after undergrad, Faith joined the NIH sponsored Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at Virginia Tech. As a post-bac student, she was given the opportunity to expand her skill set and studied how mitophagy influences adipocyte differentiation. Currently, Faith is studying the impact of weight loss on follicle dynamics in women with PCOS. Outside of academics, Faith enjoys reading and taking her dog on trail walks.

luisa fernanda castillo

Luisa Fernanda Castillo, BS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Martha Field

Luisa is a PhD student in Molecular Nutrition who seeks to improve people's health and quality of life through nutrition. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a minor in Anthropology at The University of Texas at El Paso and was an NIH-BUILDing scholars’ fellow. For her undergraduate research, Luisa focused on cancer biology, specifically the downstream effects of single nucleotide polymorphism in guiding the progression of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Currently, Luisa seeks to understand gene-nutrient interactions and mitochondrial function, specifically on the contributions of folate and enzyme expression on the de novo synthesis of thymidylate on mitochondrial health and disease. In her free time she loves to be involved in charity work, spending time with her friends and family, reading, and working out.

elizabeth centeno tablante

Elizabeth Centeno-Tablante, MS
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

Elizabeth is a 5th year PhD. Candidate Dr. Saurabh Mehta at the Division of Nutritional Sciences. She completed a Biology college degree at the University of Carabobo in Venezuela. She holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Trials from University of Seville, Spain and a Master’s in Biomedicine from University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain. Prior to joining the Mehta Research Group Elizabeth was working as full-time consultant for the World Health Organization conducting evidence assessment and systematic reviews for informing global guidelines related to nutrition policies, HIV/AIDS and child health. Elizabeth is currently developing research projects in Ecuador focusing on maternal and child health and the intersection between nutrition, inflammation, and infectious diseases. Additionally, Elizabeth is conducting systematic reviews to assess the potential transmission of infectious diseases through breastfeeding and contribute to the development of evidence-based public health guidelines.



Rachel Cheang, BS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: TBD

Rachel Cheang was born and raised in Macau, China. Her love for biological sciences led her to the United States, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Cell Biology and a minor in Nutritional Sciences from University of California, Berkeley. Post-graduation, she worked at the Diabetes Center at University of California, San Francisco as a lab technician where she investigated the impact of neonatal microglia on adult murine glucose homeostasis in the context of maternal high fat diet, intensifying her interest in immunometabolism. She is now a first-year molecular nutrition PhD student at the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. Rachel’s research interest includes looking at the intersection between health and disease in the context of nutrition and metabolism.  

tong chen

Tong Chen, BS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Nathaniel Vacanti

Tong is a 2nd year PhD student in molecular nutrition working with Dr. Nathaniel Vacanti. She earned her B.S. from Cornell University with a major in animal science and minor in food science. She now seeks to investigate proteomic response to pH change and amino acid metabolism in kidney. Outside of academics, Tong enjoys hiking, skiing, and cooking.

reah chiong

Reah Chiong, BS
Program: PhD, Community Nutrition
Advisor: Roger Figueroa

Reah is a third year PhD student in Community Nutrition working alongside Dr. Roger Figueroa. In the FIG lab, she contributes to many community-based projects including the evaluation of an online grocery shopping and nutrition education platform for SNAP-eligible families. Recently, she has grown interested in exploring the relationship between stigma and the use of food assistance programs. She hopes to utilize her background in nutrition research, her passion for the community, and her creativity to dismantle barriers to nutritious food and promote health equity across all levels of the socio-ecological model. In her free time, Reah enjoys reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, and taking care of her plants.

fiona coleman

Fiona Coleman, BS
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor: John Hoddinott

Fiona Coleman, B.S., is a third-year International Nutrition Ph.D. student working with Dr. John Hoddinott. Fiona has particular interest evaluating multi-sectoral programs’ impact on nutrition and improving their reach and effectiveness. Her current research attempts to disentangle the processes of change following a social protection intervention and an agriculture project in Bangladesh. Prior to Cornell, Fiona served as a food security specialist for Peace Corps Zambia and farm apprentice across three continents. Aside from academics, Fiona is an avid runner, acrylic painter, and amateur windsurfer.   


janine comrie

Janine Comrie, BA
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor:  Elizabeth Johnson

Janine Comrie is a Ph.D. student with a concentration in Molecular Nutrition. She grew up in South Florida, where her Jamaican family’s food culture greatly inspired her interest in food and nutrition. She now researches biochemical mechanisms underlying how microbiota mediate the effect of dietary compounds on host health. With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences, she hopes to continue investigating nutrition through a biological lens throughout her career, while contributing to other food-system-related causes, such as food justice.

Wenjun Deng

Wenjun Deng, BS
Program: MS
Advisor: TBD

Wenjun is a 1st year Masters student in Individualized Track. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Food, Nutrition, and Health at the University of British Columbia. She is interested in the development of healthy dietary pattern, eating disorders, as well as weight management and hopes to explore these topics in her research. Outside of academics, Wenjun enjoys jogging with her dog while listening to music.

sri Devarakonda

Sri Lakshmi Sravani Devarakonda, M.S. RDN
Program: PhD
Advisor: Angela Poole

Sri is a fifth year doctoral candidate and a registered dietitian. She is currently studying the interactions between dietary intake, gut microbiota and host genetics as a potential venue for formulating precision nutrition strategies to manage metabolic disorders. She is from Eluru, a small town in south India. Sri started her career as a clinical dietitian in a multi-specialty hospital understanding the nutritional needs of clients and helping meet their health and wellness goals. She also worked in maternal nutrition care educating new mothers about the importance of nutrition. Sri is passionate about teaching nutrition to aspiring students alongside clinical and translational research. In her free time, Sri enjoys singing Indian classical music and cooking new dishes!

jingjie du

Jingjie Du
Degrees obtained: Bachelor of Science in biotechnology from Sun Yat-sen University, China; Master of science in microbiology from Ohio State university.
Program: PhD
Concentration: Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: TBD

Research interests: I am interested in applying computational biology and data science to understanding the impacts of nutrients on human microbiome and metabolome. See publications at:

kaydine edwards

Kaydine Edwards, BS
Program: PhD, Human Nutrition
Advisor: Joeva Barrow

Kaydine is a 2nd year PhD student In Dr. Joeva Barrow's lab. She earned her bachelor's degree in Health and Nutrition Science. She is interested in pursuing her Registered Dietitian Credentials post PhD in an effort to bridge the gap between clinical concerns and research, with the ultimate goal of influencing health policy. Her dissertation project is focused on Mitochondrial Diseases. Outside of science, she enjoys hiking, gardening, skateboarding and taking naps!

Shah Mohammad Fahim

Shah Mohammad Fahim, MBBS, MPH
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

Shah Mohammad Fahim is a Ph.D. student in the Mehta Research Group. He is a physician and earned his MBBS from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. He next earned his M.P.H. in Epidemiology with Summa-Cum-Laude distinction from the American International University, Bangladesh. Prior to joining the Mehta Research Group, he was working for icddr,b conducting research on maternal and child nutrition. Fahim is passionate to understand the complex biological interplay between nutrition and infection and is keen to investigate the role of perturbed immune regulation and gut microbial dysbiosis on micronutrient impairments as well as growth failure during the early years of life. In the future, Fahim hopes to continue his works to develop effective solutions across cultures and societies to transform the landscapes of global public health nutrition.

darius fox

Darius Fox, BS
Program: PhD
Advisor: Nathaniel Vacanti

Darius is a second year PhD student in Dr. Vacanti’s lab. Darius, originally from Illinois, received his bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science from the University of Nebraska. Darius hopes to use his background exercise science, personal training, and undergraduate research experiences to help with his research focused on insulin resistance. In his free time Darius likes to weightlift, travel, cook, and play piano.


Gwyneth (Gwyn) Frederick, MPH
Program: PhD, Community Nutrition
Advisor: TBD

Gwyn is a first-year PhD student in Community Nutrition. She received her B.S. from the Ohio State University and her M.P.H. from the University at Albany. As a previous program evaluator for NYS SNAP-Ed, Gwyn enjoys learning about the practical methods of nutrition intervention research and implementation. She hopes to be interdisciplinary in her work and has interests in equitable food systems, farm-to-school programming, nutrition environment interventions, and mixed-methods research. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her cat, making block prints, and spending time outdoors with loved ones.

heather guetterman

Heather Guetterman, MS
Program: PhD, Human Nutrition
Advisor: Julia Finkelstein

Heather is a fourth year PhD student with a background in nutrition – earning her BS in Dietetics from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and her MS in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University. Pairing her passions for nutrition and maternal and child health, her research focuses on micronutrient status and health among women of reproductive age in Southern India. Outside of research, Heather enjoys running and painting.

Cristina Güitrón Leal

Cristina Güitrón Leal, MS
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor: Julia Finkelstein

Cristina studied human nutrition in Mexico City and, after a 1-year internship at Instituto Nacional de Perinatología, she chose Cornell for her graduate studies. She completed her Master's at Cornell in May 2019 and is thrilled to be part of the Finkelstein lab for her doctorate studies, where she focuses on maternal and child nutrition. Outside of academics, Cristina enjoys crochet, reading, and singing.

Bowen Hao

Bowen Hao, BS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: TBD

I am a Ph.D. student from China. I completed my BS degree in Nutrition Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. At UC Berkeley, I was an undergraduate assistant in Dr. Hei Sook Sul’s lab since January 2020. Currently, I am a rotation student in Dr. Daniel Berry’s lab.

Katarina Heyden

Katarina Heyden
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Martha Field

Katarina Heyden is a third-year PhD Candidate in Molecular Nutrition. Katarina attended Cornell University for her undergraduate education, majoring in Nutritional Science after being captivated by the intersection of biochemistry and nutrition. She works in Dr. Martha Field’s laboratory, studying folate and vitamin B12 metabolism. Katarina’s dissertation research focuses on identifying adverse molecular effects of excess folic acid exposure and the relationship to B12 status. She is a recent recipient of the 2021 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship.  Katarina’s research interests include micronutrient metabolism, nutrigenomics, and bioinformatics. With her PhD, she aims to discover new ways to prevent and ameliorate disease by altering nutrient intake. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and listening to true crime podcasts.

Sinwoo Hwang

Sinwoo Hwang, BS, MS
Program: PhD, Molecular
Advisor: Zhenglong Gu and Martha Field

Sinwoo Hwang is a PhD student in Molecular Nutrition working with Dr. Zhenglong Gu and Dr. Martha Field. She completed her BS and MS in Food and Nutrition at Yonsei University in South Korea. Her dissertation research focuses on understanding the effect of mitochondrial dysfunction on the immune system in muscle stem cells. Outside of research, Sinwoo enjoys ice hockey, snowboarding and singing. 

Saiful Islam

Saiful Islam, MS
Program: MS
Advisor: TBD

Saiful Islam  is a 1st year MSc student in the Human Nutrition Evidence for Policy Making track of specialization. He holds a Master’s degree in Implementation Science from King’s College London, England and a bachelor’s in Nutrition and Food Science from University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Saiful is interested in evidence synthesis methodology and implementation research in nutrition and he aspires to utilize his knowledge for effective real-world implementation of nutrition interventions in resource-limited settings.

Luna Jaya

Luna Jaya, BSc
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: TBD

Luna is a proud Indonesian with a BSc in Biotechnology from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She was involved in projects revolving around synthetic biology and neuroscience during her undergraduate years, and worked on cancer diagnosis R&D at a multinational company in Japan before she came to Cornell. Currently, she is fascinated by topics around host-microbiome interactions, their relation to food, and microbial engineering. She is also an avid scuba diver and loves underwater films/photography.

Heesoo Jeong

Heesoo Jeong, MS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Nathaniel Vacanti

My work focuses on analyzing metabolism of breast tumor cells with stable isotope tracing, proteomics, and bioinformatics. Outside of research, I enjoy watching baseball games and working out.

Naiwen Ji

Naiwen Ji, BS                                                                             
Program: PhD
Advisor: TBD

Naiwen was born and raised in Xi’an, China. She has a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from the Pennsylvania State University and Graduation with Distinction: Cum Laude.  Naiwen was given the research opportunities when she was an undergrad, where she developed her research interest in vulnerable populations and chronic diseases.  During her free time, she loves cooking, baking, and watching movies.   

camille elyse jones

Camille Jones, BS, MPH
Program: PhD, International
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

Camille joined the Division of Nutritional Sciences as a Dean’s Excellence Graduate Fellow, then became a Trainee with the National Institute of Health in Maternal and Child Nutrition. Before attending Cornell University, she earned a Bachelor of Science from Howard University with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and business administration. She earned a Masters in Public Health from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine while working as a Masters International Peace Corps Volunteer in Mochudi and Gaborone, Botswana. Continuing her Peace Corps service with the U.S. Agency for International Development, Camille pioneered program design in supply chain management, working with local health professionals to provide antiretroviral medications and health commodities to patients throughout the country. As a result of her time working in communities, Camille became increasingly interested in investigating the determinants of maternal and child health outcomes, and sought avenues to take an epidemiological approach to investigate relationships between nutrition and disease. Her dissertation research has been nested within a parent feeding trial in South India ( ID: NCT02648893). She is passionate about reproductive health justice, and currently serves as a Global Racial Justice Graduate Fellow with the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

Lisa Larson

Lisa Larson, Bsc, Msc
Program: PhD, Human Nutrition
Advisor: TBD

Lisa is a former professional ballet dancer who earned her Bsc. in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She worked in breast cancer research at Columbia University before earning her Msc. in Human Nutrition from Københavns Universitet in Denmark. She is passionate about maternal and child health and is interested in exploring how maternal micronutrient intakes impact offspring outcomes. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys running, baking, and doing crossword puzzles with her husband.

derek lee

Derek Lee, B.S. 
Program: M.S.
Advisor: Daniel Berry

Derek obtained his B.S. in Human Biology, Health and Society at Cornell University and is from Long Island, NY. He is currently a Master's student, focusing on molecular nutrition within the Berry Lab, and studying biochemical mechanisms and stem cell regulation within adipose tissue. Outside his research, he enjoys running/exercising, playing and listening to music, and watching movies. 

Min-Ting Lee

Min-Ting Lee, MS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Elizabeth Johnson

Min-Ting is a PhD candidate in the Liz Johnson’s lab. She completed her Bachelor and Master degree in National Chung-Hsing University in Taiwan with a major in Animal Science. During her Master, she investigated the antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects of medical fungi supplemented in broiler chicken’s diet, which motivated her to study deeper about how nutrients interact with microbiome, and how these interactions impact host physiology. She currently works with Liz to investigate how lipids modify the interactions between gut microbiome and host metabolism using genomic and metabolomics platforms. Moreover, she is especially passionate about learning and developing new skills and techniques in the lab.  In her free time, Min-Ting is a mother of two chinchillas and loves doing workout, traveling and eating for relaxing.

Muying Li

Muying Li, BA
Program, MS, Dietetic Track
Advisor: TBD

Muying Li (Li) is an aspiring registered dietitian who graduated from Cornell Dietetic Internship last year. Before that, she spent her undergraduate in New York University for Computer Science and Nutrition. Li’s curiosity about nutrition stems from her passion for culinary arts. In her junior year, she completed an intensive culinary arts program and worked at a Michelin-two-star restaurant in New York City. She is always impressed by how food embodies and connects individuals, communities, cultures, and beyond. 

From her past experiences and the trend she envisions, Li sees the future of nutrition is interweaved with and advanced by computer science technologies. Propelled by strong interest, she is going to explore and expand the intersection of these two fields such as NLP in qualitative research and AI for healthcare. Meanwhile, Li is eager to seek opportunities where she can apply cutting-edge research outcomes into clinical nutrition practice, as well as deliver evidence-based culinary nutrition education.

Zhuoheng Li

Zhuoheng Li, M.S.
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor:  Nathaniel Vacanti

Zhuoheng is a PhD student in Molecular Nutrition working with Dr. Nathaniel Vacanti. He earned his BS in Food Science from UC Davis and his MS in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition from Tufts University. His research focuses on protein localization prediction using omics data and deep learning. Outside of research, he is a road trip enthusiast and an avid hiker.

Hongrui(Henry) Liang

Hongrui Liang, B.E.
Program: Ph.D, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: TBD

Hongrui(Henry) Liang, Homo Sapiens, is a first-year Ph.D student in molecular nutrition. He got his BE in Food Bio-engineering at China Agricultural University. Although he studied engineering during his undergrad, he kept finding opportunities to participate in molecular biology and nutrition research. He has many research interests that he still has no idea what to focus on. Currently, he is doing the rotation in his favorite professors’ labs. Just wait for his decision and remember to see his profile update one year later.

Ruyu Liu

Ruyu Liu, MS, RD
Program: PhD, Community Nutrition
Advisor: Roger Figueroa

Ru is a first-year PhD student in Community Nutrition. Ru earned a BS in Food Science and Human Nutrition (with a concentration in Dietetics) and an MS in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also a registered dietitian. Prior to coming to Cornell, her research experience focused on human nutrition clinical trials, particularly in the context of cognition and obesity. Currently, Ru’s research interests lie in the environmental, social, and cultural determinants of food choices in historically marginalized populations. She is interested in food and nutrition security, and health equity. In her free time, Ru enjoys hiking, playing board games, and traveling. She hopes to visit every national park someday.

Ashley (Xinyi) Liu

Ashley (Xinyi) Liu, MS|
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: TBD

Ashley is a first-year PhD student in Molecular Nutrition. With her concern in human disease and health, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry & Pharmacology from China Pharmaceutical University, and then completed her master’s degree at University College London. Now at Cornell, Ashley aims to expolre the etiology of diseases in the context of nutritional genomics and metabolic biochemistry.  

Blake Mitchell

Blake Mitchell, A.S, B.S.
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Tolunay Beker Aydemir

Blake is a second year PhD student in molecular nutrition from Waco, Texas.  He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences.  His research focuses on the role of zinc transporter expression in gastrointestinal health and disease. 

Alyse C. Mizia

Alyse C. Mizia, MS, BS
Program: MS
Advisor: TBD

Alyse Mizia is a Masters student in Nutrition. Originally from western Massachusetts, she was the first graduate of Cornell’s Viticulture & Enology program. She received a graduate degree in Hospitality Management with a focus in Food & Beverage from Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland. Her career has taken her to both coasts, managing food & beverage programs for luxury hotels, eventually working her way to The Plaza in New York City. In 2014 she joined the team at Moet Hennessy as their Champagne Specialist. Alyse’s current interests and passions have driven her return to Cornell, where she is working with Professor David Levitsky to investigate various impacts of behavior change. Outside of academia, she is an avid equestrian, and enjoys exercising, cooking, and getting lost in a good book.

Yuuki Nakayachi

Yuuki Nakayachi, MS
Program: PhD, Community Nutrition
Advisor: David Pelletier

Yuuki Nakayachi is from the northwest Philadelphia suburbs, a Registered Dietitian, and entering his fifth year in DNS. His dissertation research centers focuses on community-scale public health coalitions, which are groups of organizations and individuals that collaborate around achieving common public health objectives. In particular, he is focused on the role of coordinators/facilitators in these groups and the ethics involved in coalition decision-making. Before beginning his studies in DNS, he was employed as a telehealth and home care dietitian working with clients in rural New Mexico.

Shariwa Oke

Shariwa Oke, MS
Program: PhD, Community Nutrition
Advisor: Laura Bellows

Shariwa was raised in Phoenix, AZ and received her undergraduate degrees in Physiology and Nutrition at the University of Arizona. Wanting to combine her love for art and science to make science more accessible to the masses, Shariwa pursued her MS in Biomedical Visualization from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She then worked at the University of Chicago for two years, where she created 3D visualizations of fossils for a paleoanthropology lab and worked on tobacco cessation curriculum development for a public health lab. She is passionate about using her nutrition, design, and research background for nutrition promotion and childhood obesity prevention in disadvantaged communities.

Semira Ortiz

Semira Ortiz, BS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Martha Field

Semira is a Ph.D. candidate in Molecular Nutrition. She completed her bachelors in Nutritional Science at Pepperdine University. Her research interests include mechanisms and interventions in obesity and type 2 diabetes development. Her PhD research focuses on characterizing the metabolism of erythritol, a novel human metabolite and biomarker of cardiometabolic disease risk. She is currently funded by the competitive USDA NIFA Predoctoral Fellowship.

ximena palma molina

Ximena Palma Molina, MS
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor: Julia Finkelstein

Ximena is a Doctoral student from Chile, where she did her undergraduate studies in Nutrition and Dietetics from Universidad de Valparaiso and earned her Master´s degree in Biological Sciences from Universidad de Chile. At Cornell, she is part of the Finkelstein Research Group, where she is focusing her research in maternal and child nutrition, particularly how maternal micronutrient deficiencies can impact growth and development in the offspring. During the summer, she was also part of the WHO/Cochrane/Cornell Summer Institute for Systematic Reviews in Nutrition for Global Policy Making, where she received training on how to conduct Cochrane Systematic Reviews. Her goals are to contribute with scientific evidence to improve nutritional recommendations and programs oriented to childbearing-age, pregnancy and early infancy.

krip rajagopalan

Kripa Rajagopalan, MSPH, M.Sc.
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

Kripa is a Ph.D. Candidate in International Nutrition working with Dr. Saurabh Mehta. She completed her undergraduate and graduate education in India (B.Sc. Life Sciences-Mumbai University; M.Sc. Food Science and Nutrition-S.N.D.T. Women’s University). Thereafter, she worked in India with marginalized communities and in the process identified gaps in both the system and her academic training and aimed to bridge the latter by pursuing an MS in Public Health (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) for which she moved to the United States. Her research interests include exploring risk factors of poor maternal and child health outcomes such as nutritional deficiencies, inflammation, infection, gut microbiome, etc. using an epidemiological lens. Outside of work, Kripa loves to dance and watch movies.

Pratiwi Ridwan

Pratiwi Ridwan, MD, MS
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

Pratiwi Ridwan is a third-year Ph.D. student with a concentration in International Nutrition. Before attending Cornell University, she earned a Bachelor of Medical Science and Medical Doctor from Universitas Padjadjaran in Indonesia. She worked at the community health center for three years in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, where she gained her interest in infectious diseases and malnutrition. Pratiwi earned a Master of Science from Cornell University in 2019.  Currently, she works with Mehta Research Group with the research focus on nutrition and immune response in different life stages, including women of reproductive age and early childhood. During her free time, Pratiwi loves to travel and enjoys film photography.

Mochammad Rizal

Mochammad Rizal, BS
Program: MS
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

Rizal completed his Diploma III and Bachelor Degree in Nutritional Sciences at Politeknik Kesehatan Surabaya and Universitas Airlangga, Indonesia, respectively. Before attending Cornell University, he worked in multiple nutrition-related fields, from national sports institutions to non-governmental organizations. Additionally, he loves to share nutrition tips engagingly through authoring books, blog writing (, and social media content (@rizalnutritionist). He is now pursuing an MS in Nutritional Sciences with a specialization track in Human Nutrition Evidence for Policy Making to gain perspectives on how policy plays a role in nutrition interventions

Andrea Robinson

Andrea Robinson, BS
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

Andrea Robinson is a graduate student in the Mehta Research group at Cornell University. She is working towards a PhD in Nutritional Sciences with concentrations in International Nutrition and Epidemiology. She was a National Cancer Institute Post-baccalaureate Fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she studied multi-drug resistance in cancer cells. Andrea received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology in 2016, cum laude, from the University of North Texas. As a graduate student, Andrea has received the Cornell Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and the Robert Mozia Graduate Distinguished Service Award. Her research interests are focused on examining the interaction of nutrition and the immune system in children. Outside of research, she enjoys working out, hanging out with friends, trying new foods, and spending time with her cat and dog. 

felicia setiono

Felicia Setiono, MSPH, BS
Program: Community Nutrition
Advisor:  Tashara Leak

Felicia earned an MSPH in Human Nutrition from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a BS in Biological Sciences from Cornell University. Her main research interest is understanding how environmental and social factors impact dietary behaviors, especially in low-income communities. Felicia has been involved in several nutrition education interventions in the US, including in Maryland, New Mexico, and New York. She also interested in the role of nutrition education and participatory research in shaping health policies at both the local and national levels. Moving forward, Felicia would like to combine her interest in nutritional research and public health to pursue a career in nutritional policy/communication. In her free time, Felicia likes to experiment with making new baked goods and dishes.

Dorothy Kim Superdock

Dorothy Kim Superdock, B.A.
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor:  Angela Poole

Dorothy completed her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College where she majored in Biology and minored in English Literature. She then worked at the University of Pennsylvania/Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Penn-CHOP Microbiome Program where she developed her laboratory skills and an interest in the relationship between the human microbiome and nutrition. Dorothy then began her PhD at Cornell in the Division of Nutritional Sciences where she is currently a fifth year PhD candidate in the Molecular Nutrition concentration in the laboratory of Dr. Angela Poole. Her dissertation focuses on the relationship between dietary intake, human genetics, and gut microbiota in human health. In her future career she hopes to continue conducting research in the field of nutrition and contribute to translational research that informs nutrition policy and guidelines. Outside of research Dorothy enjoys writing, cooking, and adding to her plant collection.

Kendra Tiani

Kendra Tiani, B.S.
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor(s): Patrick Stover, Martha Field

Kendra is a PhD candidate in Molecular Nutrition whose research focuses on the etiology of folate-dependent birth defects. She was born in Boston, MA and received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a minor in Nutrition. Currently, she is working as a visiting scholar in the lab of Dr. Patrick Stover at Texas A&M University. Outside of research, Kendra enjoys hiking, reading, and listening to podcasts.

Pei-Yin Tsai

Pei-Yin Tsai, MS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Joeva Barrow

Pei-Yin got her BS in Nutrition at Taipei Medical University and MS from Cornell University. The more she lePaloma Suárezarns about the association between nutrition and diseases, the more fascinated she becomes with metabolism. Her goal is to study more about how metabolic systems impact human health so that one-day people can enjoy their favorite foods without worrying about body weight and health status. In her free time, she likes cooking, eating, and painting.

Xincheng Wu

Xincheng Wu, BS
Program: PhD, Molecular
Advisor: TBD

In April 2021, I got my Bachelor of science degree from University of Maryland, College Park. While studying at UMD, I did researches as the undergraduate researcher at the Plant Genome Engineering and Plant Innate Immunity Lab. My preview research interest involves designing and testing a novel, powerful CRISPR activation system. Currently, I joined in Professor Shu-Bing Qian’s team and focused on cysteine and nutrient starvation causing cell death and its application for cancer or non-cancer treatment.

Yuanyuan Wu

Yuanyuan Wu, BS 
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor:  Zhenglong Gu

Yuanyuan Wu received her bachelor degree in Zhejiang University in 2017. During her undergraduate, she was a research assistant/intern in Dr.Ian Small's lab in Western Australia University for a summer, and in Dr.Zhimin Yuan's lab in Harvard Chan public health for 9 months. She is now in Dr.Zhenglong Gu's lab. And her thesis project focuses on mitochondrial genome manipulation.

Siwen Xue

Siwen Xue, PhD
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Joeva Barrow

Siwen is a PhD student in Molecular Nutrition, with special interests in mitochondria and obesity relevant studies. Although she has accomplished her first PhD training in Food Science in China, she insists that a comprehensive PhD training in Molecular Nutrition, which requires totally different background knowledge from her previous program, will be beneficial to her future career path in academia. She joined Dr. Joeva Barrow’s lab in fall, 2021, focusing on using high-throughput screening methods to identify potential compounds that can reduce mortality and morbidity of mitochondrial diseases. This final target of this project is to explore the underlying mechanism of the biological features of mitochondria in response to these compounds, leveraging the outcomes at molecular level to assist the uncovering of cures/treatments for mitochondrial diseases. Siwen has great enthusiasm in science and academia, but she also enjoys powerlifting in the gym and driving her Jeep Wrangler out for a break.


Chenyu (Charlotte) Zhang, BS
Program: MS, Community Nutrition
Advisor: Laura Bellows

Chenyu is currently a first-year master's student in Health Behavior Lab. She obtained her bachelor's degree at the University of Arizona double major in both Biology (Biomedical track) and Nutrition Science (Dietetic track). Her current research focused on community based engaged learning. She likes to listen to music, play with her dogs, hiking, skiing and traveling all over the world.

Hilary Zhang

Hilary Zhang, BSc
Program: MS, Dietetics
Advisor: TBD

Hilary Zhang was born and raised in New York City, which was also where she obtained her BSc in Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. She recently completed her Cornell Dietetic Internship and obtained her RD credential this summer. Currently, she is working with Dr. Lujan to explore reproductive factors of PCOS across ethnicities. To keep her creative and artistic expression alive, Hilary has 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.

Jie Avery Zhang

Jie Avery Zhang, BS
Program: PhD, Human and Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: TBD

Avery was born and raised in China. She obtained her B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition with a minor in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Avery is a first year PhD student and is currently on rotation.

Jiaqi Zou

Jiaqi Zou, BA, MSc
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Tolunay Beker Aydemir

Jiaqi is a PhD student originally from China. She completed her undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge and her masters degree in Clinical and Public Health Nutrition at University College London, UK. She is a current member of the Aydemir group, and she is passionate about the link between nutrition and neuroscience.

I am beyond appreciative for my mentors, research experiences and the URM initiative programs that have shaped my academic career and have led me to where I am today, both professionally and academically.  As a new current graduate student, I am extremely excited to be in the Nutritional Science program here at Cornell and I am looking forward to contributing to the nutrition field.

Faith Carter
PhD candidate in Molecular/Human/Community Nutrition