Meet our new graduate students

katherine baker

Katherine Baker, Community Nutrition
Katherine is a PhD student in Community Nutrition. Originally from Milwaukee, she earned her BA from New York University and her MS in Human Nutrition from Columbia University, where she focused her thesis on using social media to improve nutrition knowledge and self-efficacy among college-aged students, and volunteered as a nutrition and cooking educator in New York City elementary schools. During her MS, Katherine became fascinated with the intersections of climate change, environmental health, and nutrition. She next got her MPH with a certificate in climate and health from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. Katherine is passionate about eliminating health disparities, helping communities prevent chronic disease, and hopes to integrate her environmental health science background towards creating sustainable, just, and nourishing solutions to nutrition-related problems. Katherine also loves to bake, write, and hang out with her rescue dog, Millie.

alexa barad

Alexa Barad, Molecular & Human Nutrition
Alexa Barad was born and raised in Costa Rica. In 2013, her desire to become an expert in nutrition led her to Texas A&M University’s undergraduate program in Nutrition and Dietetics, and later in 2017 to University of Florida’s Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetic Internship program. From rising to the level of international competition as a dancer to moving to a foreign country to pursue her studies in nutrition, Alexa has has always committed to the choices she makes in pursuit of excellence. Alexa is now pursuing a PhD in Nutrition with the ultimate goal of helping discover underlying mechanisms of disease processes that could lead to more effective therapies. She hopes to make valuable contributions to the field of nutrition as a competent and productive research scientist.

jesse brinkman

Jesse Brinkman, Human Nutrition
Jesse has a B.S. in Dietetics from the University of Vermont and is currently a first year student in the PhD-RD combined program at Cornell. She’ll be completing the Dietetic Internship next year. In lab Jesse works with Barb Strupp 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.

faith carter

Faith Carter, Molecular & Human Nutrition
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. Faith plans to apply her diversity in research experiences by using a unique approach to studying nutrition research. Outside of academics, Faith enjoys reading and taking her dog on trail walks.

luisa fernanda castillo

Luisa Fernanda Castillo, Molecular & Human Nutrition
Luisa was born in the border town of Juarez, Mexico to a lovely middle class family. She graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) with a BS. in Chemistry and a minor in Anthropology. Luisa's passion is to improve people's health and quality of life through nutrition. 



Reah Chiong

Reah Chiong, Community Nutrition
Reah is a PhD student in Community Nutrition and an aspiring dietitian. She recently completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics and Food Administration with a Minor in Child Development and Family Studies at California State University - Long Beach in the Spring of 2019. Her research career officially began two years prior when she was funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to undergo research training through the BUILD program. Through a formal mentorship, she developed, instructed, and used a mixed methods approach to evaluate a nutrition and physical activity curriculum for parents and children focused on food parenting. Since then, she has immersed herself in various research roles, settings, and projects – from the development of cooking class modules for community health workers to the data input of pediatric patient food records. Her current research interest involves the interplay between food behaviors, the environment, and health. She hopes to utilize her background in nutrition research and her passion for the community to implement healthy and sustainable food-related policies and practices to address nutrition needs of families and children. Reah’s favorite pastimes include reading at a coffee shop, cooking, and enhancing her calligraphy skills.

cristina guitron leal

Cristina Güitrón Leal, International Nutrition
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.

min ting lee

Min-Ting Lee, Molecular Nutrition
Min-Ting transferred to DNS in Fall 2019 from the Field of Animal Science. She used to study how to improve the immune system and alleviate oxidative stress in chicken models via dietary intervention. Nutrition is  fascinating to Min-Ting since nearly all organisms require it daily. Moreover, gut is kind of the start-point where nutrition being processed and utilized by both human and the tiny residents — microbiome— in it. Min-Ting's present research focuses on sphingolipids dependent host-microbe interactions and she finds it exciting to delve into this topic. On a personal note, Min-Ting is a mom to one chinchilla and two parrots.

pratiwi ridwan

Pratiwi Ridwan, International Nutrition
Pratiwi is a first-year doctorate student in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, with International Nutrition as a concentration. Her research interests include infectious disease and nutrition, especially in vulnerable population. Currently, she is a member of Mehta Research Group, whose current research focuses on Tuberculosis disease, micronutrients and the gut microbiome. During her free time, Pratiwi loves to travel, sleep and listening to the audiobook.

felicia setiono

Felicia Setiono, Community Nutrition
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.

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

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