Meet our graduate students

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.


Kara Beckman, BA
Program: PhD, Human Nutrition
Advisor: Barbara Strupp

Kara Beckman, PhD Candidate, is a fifth year student in the Choline Cognition Laboratory, under the mentorship of Drs. Barbara Strupp and Rick Canfield. Before her graduate studies, Kara received a B.A. in Biological Sciences from Cornell University, and chose to stay at the University to continue her research in the Choline Cognition lab and pursue a doctoral degree in Human Nutrition. Kara studies the intersection between biopsychology and nutrition, conducting a research project on how maternal prenatal choline supplementation affects infant physiological and behavioral regulation in response to stress. She is passionate about understanding determinants of mental health, and how prenatal nutrition may offer an effective early intervention to protect against environmental stress. 


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.

jesse brinkman

Jesse Brinkman, BS
Program: PhD, Human Nutrition
Advisor: Barbara Strupp

Jesse has a B.S. in Dietetics from the University of Vermont and is currently a third year Human Nutrition PhD student. She completed the Dietetic Internship earlier this year and is now a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Jesse works in the Strupp/Canfield investigating the role of prenatal choline supplementation on cognitive outcomes in infants. Ultimately, Jesse aspires to work as a NICU dietitian while congruently researching nutrition interventions aimed at optimizing health outcomes for premature neonates.


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.

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.



Allison Chang, RD, B.S.
Program: MS
Advisor: Martha Field

Allison Chang is a Master’s student originally from Houston, Texas. She graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences and completed the Cornell Dietetic Internship this past summer. Allison’s main research interest is understanding how gene-environment interactions and diet can impact disease risk. She is currently working with the Field Lab investigating the epigenetic mechanisms affecting genetic expression in a line of weight gain resistant mice. Allison hopes to become a pediatric dietitian specializing in inherited metabolic disorders. In her free time, Allison enjoys dancing, cooking, and playing mystery-themed games with friends.  


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.

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!

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!

heather falise

Heather Falise, BS, RDN
Program: MS
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

Heather is a second-year masters student in human nutrition with an epidemiology minor. She completed the Cornell dietetic internship in 2020 and is now a registered dietitian. In her spare time, she works with NYSAND on nutrition policy issues. Heather is working with the Mehta Research Group on a Cochrane diagnostic test accuracy review for Vitamin A biomarkers. She is interested in working with micronutrient research in the future.

amy fothergill

Amy Fothergill, MPH
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor: Julia Finkelstein

Prior to Cornell, Amy completed her BS in Biology at Gettysburg College and her MPH in Epidemiology at Emory University. At Cornell, Amy’s research focuses on micronutrient status in women of reproductive age in southern India. She is particularly interested in using surveillance data to inform public health interventions at the population level to improve maternal and child health.

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.

navika gangrade

Navika Gangrade, BS, RD
Program: PhD, Community Nutrition
Advisor: Tashara Leak

Navika is a 5th year PhD student working with Dr. Tashara Leak. She is originally from Delaware and attended the University of Delaware where she obtained a degree in Dietetics. She then started in the PhD/RD program at Cornell. Through this program, she completed the Cornell University dietetic internship and became a registered dietitian in 2018. Currently she is working on her dissertation research project, which focuses on designing and implementing a food justice & advocacy program for adolescents at the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem. After her training at Cornell, Navika hopes to pursue an academic career, where she can continue to leverage resources to allow marginalized populations to advocate and promote their own health, in turn dissolving systems that perpetuate health inequity.

jenna golan

Jenna Golan, BA
Program: PhD
Advisor: John Hoddinott

Jenna Golan is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Division of Nutritional Sciences focusing on International Nutrition.  Her advisor is Dr. John Hoddinott.  Jenna was supported by the NIH/NIDDK translational training grant.  She holds a B.A. in biological anthropology from Northwestern University, an M.S. in Nutrition from Columbia, and an M.S. in Epidemiology from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  Before starting her doctorate, Jenna worked as a research specialist for Harvard, PSI, and the International Food Policy Research Institute.  Her dissertation work focuses on the nutritional impact of a public works program in the rural Highland Region of Ethiopia.  In her spare time, she enjoys mountain biking and gardening.

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.

yitong he

Yitong He, BS.
Program: MS
Advisor: David A Levitsky

I am a second-year MS international student from a small town that the weather is always humid and warm. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, major in Nutrition, dietetics track. I worked in Dr. Levitsky’s lab, focusing on the effect of food priming on food intake or appetite in general. I am interested in the nutritional intervention that aims to help on managing obesity from an obesogenic environment. I plan to enroll in DI after I finish my MS program and get my RD certificate.

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.

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.

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. 

Jiye Lee

Jiye Lee, BS
Program: MS
Advisor: Zhenglong Gu

Jiye is a second year master’s student studying molecular nutrition. She is from South Korea, where she got her B.S in Food and Nutrition at Yonsei University. Jiye’s current research interest is in the role of mitochondria in immune responses.

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.

Seoyeon Lee

Seoyeon Lee, MS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor: Paul Soloway

Seoyeon Lee is a PhD candidate in Molecular Nutrition. Her main research interest is understanding the gene regulatory mechanisms of adipose tissue beiging and melanocyte stem cell activation using single cell methods. Her research interests include bioinformatics and computational biology.

Zhuoheng Li

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

Zhuoheng Li is a first-year Ph.D. student in Molecular Nutrition. He earned his BS in Food Science from UC Davis and his MS in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition from Tufts University. During his MS, he explored the role of sirtuin1 in hepatocellular carcinoma combining wet and dry lab approaches and he soon developed huge interests in bioinformatics. He hopes to continue learning and developing informatic tools to explore and extract new insights from omics data to tackle cancer diseases. He also enjoys hiking, doing road trips and spending time with his cat, Xiajiao.

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.

Yang Liu

Yang Liu, BS
Program: PhD, Molecular Nutrition
Advisor:  Joeva Barrow

I am a Ph.D. candidate (2018 - present) in Molecular Nutrition. I got my bachelor's degree in Pharmacological Science from Peking University. Then I acquired an M.S. degree in Biochemistry from Case Western Reserve University studying diabetic-related gene regulation with the ChIP pull-down technique. I worked at the Genetics department at Yale University after my master's as a research assistant developing the Single-Cell microRNA/mRNA co-sequencing technique. Currently, I am focusing on Obesity research, Adipose biology, and Thermogenesis regulation. I am developing a gene knock-out mice model with the LoxP-Cre system and conducting comprehensive metabolic evaluation on mice and trying to reveal the target gene's role in Non-Shivering Thermogenesis and metabolism.

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.

Rachel Nelson

Rachel Nelson, BS, RDN
Program: MS
Advisor: Laura Bellows

Rachel Nelson, BS, RDN is an MS student in Nutritional Sciences. In 2021 Rachel completed the Cornell Dietetic Internship and earned her Registered Dietitian credential. Working with Dr. Laura Bellows in the Health Behaviors Lab, Rachel’s research explores dietary assessment methods used in preschool age children. In addition to school, Rachel enjoys hiking, listening to podcasts, and cooking.

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.

Owoputi, Ibukun

Ibukun Owoputi, MS, BS
Program: PhD, International Nutrition
Advisor: Kate Dickin

Ibukun Owoputi is a PhD Candidate in international nutrition, working with Dr. Kate Dickin. Her research interests include maternal and child nutrition, and the influence of mental health on nutrition. Currently, her research explores gender and development, food security, and agriculture-nutrition linkages using both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

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.

Bonnie Patchen

Bonnie Patchen, RD
Program: PhD/RD, Human Nutrition
Advisor: Patricia Cassano

Bonnie completed her undergraduate degree at Williams College, where she studied biology and conducted research in muscle physiology.  She then worked as a research assistant at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, contributing to iron homeostasis research in genetic and dietary models of iron overload.  During this time she also completed the didactic program in dietetics at Simmons College, with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian.  Bonnie started her Ph.D. in 2016 as part of Cornell’s combined PhD-RD program.  She completed the dietetic internship portion of the program to become a registered dietitian in 2018 and is now focused on her dissertation research investigating relationships of anti-inflammatory nutrients, genetics, and lung health.  In her future career, Bonnie hopes to help advance the field of nutrition by researching and developing nutrition recommendations for different populations and states of health and disease, teaching nutrition to future health care professionals, and advocating for the integration of nutrition in primary health care.

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

Leslie Sawyer

Leslie Sawyer, B.S. R.D
Program: MS
Advisor: Laura Barre

Leslie is a second-year M.S. student in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. Leslie completed her Bachelors of Science with a double minor in Chemistry and Theatre at SUNY Oneonta, and completed her Dietetic Internship through Cornell University. Leslie is most interested in how clinical research outcomes can be translated into nutrition policy and programming. She is currently serving as the Project Manager for the Barré VideoDining lab, where she is examining the impact of social facilitation on caloric intake and diet adequacy in isolated older adults. 

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.

Nidhi Shrestha

Nidhi Shrestha, BS, DI
Program: MS
Advisor: Saurabh Mehta

Nidhi Shrestha is a second-year master’s student in the Mehta Research Group, pursuing the Human Nutrition Evidence for Policy Making track. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics with a minor in Public Health Policy and Administration from The University of Southern Mississippi. She is interested in learning about the global health aspect of nutrition and aims to work in marginalized communities for disease prevention and food security.

Benjamin Steiner

Benjamin Steiner, MS, BS
Program: PhD
Advisor: Daniel Berry

My research focuses on adipose tissue biology and the role of G-coupled-protein receptors on development, maintenance, and expansion of adipose tissue.


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, BS
Program: MS
Advisor: Joeva Barrow

Pei-Yin Tsai got her BS at Taipei Medical University and the RD license in Taiwan. Learning more about the association between diet and health, she feels more interested in metabolism and obesity. She pursues her master degree in the molecular nutrition field because she is attracted by the biochemistry and metabolic pathways. Her research focuses on adipocytes and looking for a potential method that could fight against obesity. She wishes that one-day people could enjoy the food they love without worry about calories and body weight.

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.

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