Hometown: Beltsville, Maryland
Degree pursuing: PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry
Adviser: Dr. Dan Gallaher
Research focus: My research focus is studying the effects of wheat class and fraction on colon cancer prevention and inflammation. Our lab has previously found red wheat to be protective against colon cancer compared to white wheat, regardless of whether the wheat was whole or refined. This would mean that eating any type of wheat product made from red wheat could have a protective effect against colon cancer. Unfortunately, colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in both men and women worldwide, but most cases are preventable through lifestyle modifications. We hope to provide evidence of a simple dietary change that might decrease colon cancer risk.
Interest in nutrition: My undergraduate degree was in biology, and during that time I only took one nutrition course. I became a science teacher but decided I wanted to return to school to pursue research. While exploring my options, I read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I became fascinated by the idea of phytochemicals, such as polyphenols and carotenoids, which are bioactive compounds in food that aren't required as essential nutrients but may have positive effects on human health.
Why UMN: I chose the University of Minnesota because of its excellent reputation and renowned faculty within the field of nutrition science.
Research compatibility: Dr. Gallaher's research focuses heavily on dietary fiber and fiber-rich foods, phytochemicals, and the prevention of chronic disease, particularly colon cancer.
Future plans: After graduation, I hope to work at a research institution, continuing to study the role of phytochemicals in disease prevention.