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 second year MS student in Aydemir Lab. She obtained her bachelor's degree at Cornell studying Molecular & Cell biology in 2022. 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.

Alexa Barad

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

Alexa is a 5th year PhD candidate working with Dr. 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 Master of Science and Dietetic Internship and later became a Registered Dietitian. Alexa’s doctoral research aims to improve understanding of genetic, biochemical, and hormonal determinants underlying population differences in iron status and absorption. Additionally, Alexa was awarded a 2-year predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association. For this project, she is investigating the pathological role of iron in cardiovascular diseases.


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.


Renae Brown, MS, RD, LD
Program: PhD, Community Nutrition
Advisor: TBD

Renae Brown is a registered dietitian with interests in developing community interventions to reduce healthcare costs. She began her career as a sustainable farmer while completing undergraduate and Master of Science degrees at Case Western Reserve University. She served two years in clinical care at the Memphis VA Medical Center and thereafter served four years as a state policy writer as the Chief Dietitian of Georgia's Division of Aging Services. With experience in community, clinical, and public policy roles, her primary goal is to develop initiatives that promote optimal nutritional status and social connection across the lifespan.


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

Beatriz graduated with a BS in Nutrition/Dietetics and a minor in Statistics from Auburn University in the Spring of 2021. She joined the PhD program at Cornell that fall and has been working with Dr. Laura Bellows since then on a breadth of projects that evaluate the quality of the home food environment and examine the self-care behaviors of caregivers, all with an overarching aim to improve diet quality within, and across, the family unit. Her observance of health disparities while living in Mexico and rural Alabama has shaped her interests in improving food security and diet-related health behaviors within the larger context of comprehensive health equity for underserved populations.

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.

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.


Nicholas Cheng
Program: PhD, Molecular
Advisor: TBD

Originally from Irvine, California. I am fascinated by topics such as precision nutrition and the gut microbiome and hope to study the molecular mechanisms behind how nutrients and diet can modulate human health and disease. I have experience utilizing HPLC- Mass Spectrometry methods for proteomics as well as quantifying nutrients and metabolites within foods. My work at UC Davis focuses on understanding the mechanisms behind food fermentation through glycomic and metabolomic analyses. 


Francoise Cattaneo
Program: PhD, International
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

Françoise is a first year Ph.D. student in International Nutrition. She earned her Master’s at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in Nutritional Epidemiology and Public Health (The Netherlands, Kenta) with her BSC in Biomedical Sciences and International Public Health from Boston University (USA, Switzerland). She is Swiss-Italian-American and she is passionate about food safety in traditional markets, food choice motives, and systems science. Her former research focused on assessing diet quality and low-burden dietary assessment tools in (agro)pastoralist settings. Françoise has worked with multiple groups (academia, SMEs, policy, farmers, NGOs) through her work at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Alliance of Bioversity-CIAT on the Innovation for Health and Planet team and at PA Europe Brussels, building the One-Health Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) platform. In her personal time, she facilitates interactive workshops around participatory methodologies that trigger food systems thinking and she is co-founder of Freshi, a start-up tackling food waste for smallholder farmers in Tanzania.

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.  


Sharat Devulapalli
Program: PhD, International
Advisor: TBD

Dhruthi Devulapalli is a public health professional dedicated to improving healthcare delivery to mothers and children. She graduated as an academic topper in Nutrition from Symbiosis International University, India. She has worked with Tata Trusts and Clinton Health Access Initiative and led capacity building, demand generation, data-backed decision making, supportive supervision and millet-based interventions to improve the health outcomes of ~21 million individuals. She is a fitness enthusiast and cycles for 15 kilometres every day. Her passion for nutrition and public health encouraged her to pursue a PhD in International Nutrition at Cornell University. Her areas of interest include Anemia, Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) and Millet-based interventions. She aims to research sustainable and cost-effective strategies to reduce anemia, and micronutrient deficiencies and improve the RMNCH+A outcomes.

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 is a PhD Candidate in International Nutrition advised by Dr. John Hoddinott. Her research seeks to inform programs and policies that address food insecurity and malnutrition through poverty alleviation. Specifically, she conducts impact evaluations of nutrition-sensitive programs, including social safety net initiatives and agriculture programs in rural Bangladesh. Using advanced epidemiological and econometric methods, she examines how these programs affect individual health and nutrition and the household-level mechanisms that drive these effects, with a specific focus on intrahousehold food allocation. Fiona is also actively involved in designing a randomized controlled trial aimed at assessing innovations within school feeding programs. She co-led the formative work for this project, which involved developing implementation strategies tailored to the southeast of Madagascar.  Prior to her doctoral studies at Cornell, Fiona served as a food security specialist for Peace Corps Zambia.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Jacqueline Futch
Program: PhD, Community
Advisor: TBD

Originally from Miami, Florida but a proud global citizen who chases postcard views and loves sports, coloring, HGTV, exploring the world, and of course food. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics and Sociology from The Florida State University and a Master of Public Health (Nutrition) degree from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (SPHTM). Jacqueline is a public health nutrition practitioner, community advocate, and agent of change. She successfully navigates academic, nonprofit, and governmental spaces to better understand and address barriers and facilitators to eating behaviors; improve access to healthy foods; and reduce food insecurity among vulnerable and historically marginalized population subgroups. 


Kimberlea Gibbs
Program: PhD, International
Advisor: TBD

Kimberlea Gibbs is a PhD student in the Finkelstein Lab.  She completed her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from Auburn University, and continued her education at Howard University where she completed the Coordinated Program in Dietetics and became a Registered Dietitian. While practicing as a Community Dietitian, she earned a master’s degree in public health from Drexel University.  Kimberlea’s research interests include intersections between community and international nutrition programs, food systems, and pediatric and adolescent nutrition interventions. 

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.


Yue Jin
Program: MS, Dietetics
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

Originally from China, Yue earned dual degrees in Clinical Nutrition and Psychology from the University of California, Davis. She has recently acquired her registered dietitian credential, following the completion of her Dietetic Internship at Cornell. Currently, she works with Dr. Mehta to investigate the applications of data science and artificial intelligence in predicting diseases and advancing the field of precision nutrition. In the future, she hopes to pioneer an AI-powered app to make personalized nutritional advice accessible to everyone. She also has a keen interest in body image, eating disorders, and weight management.  In her free time, Yue enjoys capturing the beauty of the world through her lens and exploring diverse food and landscapes, feeding her passion for photography and travel.

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.


Naiwen Ji, BS                                                                            
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

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 research opportunities when she was an undergrad, where she developed her research interest in vulnerable populations and chronic diseases.  Before joining the Mehta Research Group, Naiwen was appointed as a research staff of the Center for Experimental Economics in Education at Shaanxi Normal University working on developing randomized controlled trials related to micronutrient supplementation on children’s development and virtual medical training for village doctors on healthcare quality.  Naiwen is passionate about understanding the dimension of diet-related factors and malnutrition in children, adolescents and women of reproductive age. During her free time, she loves singing, watching movies and baking Chinese pastries.

Lisa Larson

Elisabeth "Lisa" Anne Larson, Msc.
Program: PhD- human/molecular
Advisor: Dr. Barbara Strupp

Lisa is a former professional ballet dancer who earned her Bsc. in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, summa cum laude. While there, she engaged in the research and public health communities of New York City-- she spent time working in an eating disorder research unit at Columbia University, as well as working on nutrition education initiatives for formerly homeless new yorkers living with HIV. Subsequently, she worked on a breast cancer clinical trials team at Columbia University before earning her Msc. in Human Nutrition from Københavns Universitet in Denmark where her work focused on interventional prenatal diets. She is currently a NIH T32 trainee in maternal and child nutrition, studying the role of maternal choline supplementation on offspring development and the maternal immune system. She hopes to improve maternal health and child outcomes, particularly in low-income populations. When she is not in her office or in the lab, Lisa enjoys running, cooking, and spending time with her husband, her dog, and her cat.


Derek Lee, B.S. 
Program: PHD, Molecular
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. 

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 (Henry) Liang, B.E.
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Shu-Bing Qian

Hongrui (Henry) Liang, Homo Sapiens, is a second-year Ph.D student in molecular nutrition. He got his BE in Food Bio-engineering at China Agricultural University. Currently, he does research in Qian Laboratory and his research focuses on effects of amino acid starvation (i.e., phenylalanine) on protein translation in human cells. During his free time, he enjoys watching movies, working out, and spending time with family.

Ruyu Liu

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

Ru is a 3rd-year PhD candidate and a Registered Dietitian in Community Nutrition. She obtained her BS in Dietetics and MS in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her Master’s thesis work is published in The Journal of Nutrition and Current Developments in Nutrition. Her current research focuses on the effectiveness and implementation of nutrition interventions in the food pantry setting. Ru utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods in her work, collaborating with a New York City food pantry to evaluate community-supported agriculture and produce prescription programs. Her research aims to make meaningful contributions to the field by addressing food insecurity and improving access to nutritious foods in underserved communities. In her spare time, Ru enjoys running, hiking, and spending time with family (including her dog) and friends.

Ashley (Xinyi) Liu

Ashley (Xinyi) Liu, MS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Prof. Shu-Bing Qian

Ashley is a second-year PhD student in Molecular Nutrition. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry & Pharmacology from China Pharmaceutical University, and then completed her master’s degree at University College London focusing on Cancer research. Now at Cornell, Ashley aims to explore the etiology of diseases in the context of nutritional genomics and metabolic biochemistry.

Blake Mitchell

Blake Mitchell, AS, BS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Tolunay Beker Aydemir

Blake is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate 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 transporter-mediated zinc homeostasis in the development of chronic gastrointestinal disease.


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 from the University of Arizona. Passionate about communicating science visually, she pursued her MS in Biomedical Visualization from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She then had joint appointments in the Organismal Biology & Anatomy and Public Health departments at the University of Chicago as a Research Specialist, where she created 3D visualizations of fossils and worked on tobacco cessation curriculum development. Shariwa’s current work focuses on the design, development, and implementation of digital interventions, incorporating skills such as app design, curriculum development, and social marketing strategies.

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.


Caitlyn Pelletier, BA
Program: PHD, Molecular
Advisor: TBD

Caitlyn is from Wilbraham, MA. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Neuroscience and Nutrition Science with a minor in Anthropology. For her undergraduate research she studied the neural controls of feeding behaviors. Outside of the lab she enjoys cooking, hiking, and playing music.


Fatemeh Rahimi
Program: PHD, Human
Advisor: TBD

I am Fatemeh Rahimi, hold a master's in Nutritional Sciences, and am interested in chronic diseases and metabolic disorders. I conducted a clinical trial with 130 subjects to evaluate the effects of synbiotic supplementation and a healthy diet on individuals with metabolic syndrome. After my graduation, I started to work in an Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Center where I work with those who suffer from diabetes, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver, and somehow CVDs and cancer. 

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.

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. 


Elena Runfeldt
Program: PHD, International
Advisor: TBD

Elena is a PhD Student in International Nutrition with Mehta Research Group and Finkelstein Lab. She received her BS in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University in December 2021. In undergrad, she worked with MRG on a systematic review to assess the potential for transmission of COVID-19 through breastmilk. Prior to returning to Ithaca, she completed a Fulbright independent research award at the University of the West Indies and The Heart and Stroke Foundation's childhood obesity management program in Barbados. Her current research interests include interventions for mothers and children with micronutrient deficiencies. In her free time, she enjoys yoga and cooking new vegan recipes.


Lauren San Diego
Program: PHD, Community
Advisor: Tashara Leak

Lauren San Diego originally came to Cornell as part of the inaugural cohort for the Thomas Wyatt Turner fellowship during her master’s degree program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Florida International University where she was an NIGMS RISE fellow. She completed her dietetic internship through the University of Oklahoma. As a registered dietitian, she developed and implemented community nutrition programs and interventions in various populations through North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and worked with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program during COVID-19. Lauren aims to orient her career towards mitigating the causes and challenges of food insecurity through research, policy, and local community partnerships.


Savita Sastry
Program: PHD, Molecular
Advisor: TBD

Savita is a molecular biologist at fungal genomics startup, Hexagon Bio invested in creatively integrating experiment and computation to understand the molecular mechanisms of disease through studying gene-environment interactions, the gut microbiome, metabolomics, and/or other -omics techniques. She is convinced that diet and nutrition will more definitively lead preventative care efforts and lead us to answers that explain disproportionate disease burdens across our populations. She cares to leverage the priviledge of engaging in microbiome, genomic, transcriptomics, and bioinformatics research to study the effects of diet through a technical and scientific lens while keeping in mind that doing so can ultimately restore power back to those who have the potential to use nutrition as a healing modality.  

Victoria Qingyu Shao

Victoria Qingyu Shao
Program: TBD
Advisor: TBD

Bio coming soon!


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
Advisor: Shu-Bing Qian

Xincheng graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.
During his undergraduate years, he conducted research as an undergraduate researcher at the Plant
Genome Engineering and Plant Innate Immunity Lab, where his focus was on designing and testing a
novel CRISPR activation system. Currently, he is a part of Professor Shu-Bing Qian's research team,
where his work revolves around studying cell death induced by cysteine and nutrient starvation and its
potential applications in both cancer and non-cancer treatments.

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.

Sean Xiang

Shuyong (Sean) Xiang, BS
MS, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Shu-Bing Qian

I am a first-year MS student originally from China. I obtained a BS degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Nutrition at University of Washington, Seattle. I am currently working in the Qian Lab and I am passionate about the relationship between amino acids starvation and cell death as well as the application in tumor treatment.


Ruihan Xu, MPH, BA
Program: PHD, Human Nutrition
Advisor: Kimberly O'Brien

Ruihan is a 1st year Ph.D. student in Dr. Kimberly O’Brien’s lab. She obtained her BA in Food System Nutrition and Health at the University of Washington-Seattle. Her MPH degree in Nutrition and Dietetics was completed at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She was also trained in the MRT-TI international lactation consultant training program during her second year of MPH. After completing the Dietetic Internship and lactation clinical practice hours, she’s now ready to be seated for both the RDN and IBCLC exams. Ruihan had cell culture and mice work experiences when she worked on Obesity-Cancer research in Dr. Stephen Hursting's lab at UNC. Her research interests are focused on maternal and child nutrition as well as precision nutrition, specifically on how maternal diet impacts pregnancy outcomes and breastmilk compositions. Outside of academia, she enjoys watching TV series, traveling, baking, boxing, swimming, listening to music, and hanging out with friends.

Siwen Xue

Siwen Xue, PhD
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Dan Berry

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 zhang

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.

Jie Avery Zhang

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

Avery is a third-year PhD Candidate in Human Nutrition. 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. Currently, Avery is studying the impact of weight loss in women with overweight/obesity and PCOS. In her spare time, Avery enjoys watching movies, listening to music, and spending time with family and friends.

Jiaqi Zou

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

Jiaqi is a third year 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 her research focuses on the effect of excess manganese on the brain. Outside of research, she enjoys trying new foods, reading, and sports.

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