News about the nutrition science and dietetics programs at Syracuse University.
Contributors: Michele Barrett, BreeAnna Beach, Nicole Beckwith, Lynn Brann, Kay Stearns Bruening, Valerie Pietra, Kim Desmond, Jessica Garay Cassie Graves, Tanya Horacek, Hannah Juliano, Louis Platt, Sudha Raj, Nancy Rindfuss, Donna Sparkes, Margaret Voss.
Design by: Robert Wonders, Executive Art, Inc.
Please note: Photography throughout the original publication were taken prior to the closure of the Syracuse University campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and does not reflect current public health guidelines, including social distancing and masking.
Facebook Alumni Group link: SU Nutrition Science and Dietetics Alumni.
In This Edition:
Resilience and resolve: A year we will never forget.
Along with the rest of the world, our Syracuse community is focused on the global health crisis. Our attention is also focused on racial justice and positive social action. We are up to meeting these challenges. Together, we are stronger.
What many have learned, but we have always known here in Falk College, is that essential workers truly are everyday heroes. Many of these heroes working tirelessly behind the scenes have connections to our nutrition program. As they have always done, our faculty, students, alumni, and staff continue to rise to the challenge under extraordinary circumstances.
To illustrate this point, I’d like to share what Dr. Jessica Garay learned when she requested a roll call on our Syracuse University Nutrition Science and Dietetics Alumni Facebook page asking members how and where they were and what they were doing shortly after the pandemic began.
About 60 alumni members posted news.
Some were working from home, making phone and virtual visits with patients and clients. Many in long-term care and acute care were still working in person at their facilities. Some expressed concern for their immunocompromised, elderly, and otherwise vulnerable patients. One member reported converting her multi-dietitian private practice to 100 percent virtual delivery. Another reported working remotely in maternal-child health, including virtual lactation counseling. Other professional activities included outpatient diabetes education via telemedicine from the office and dialysis nutrition services. Some members were devoting themselves to continuing professional education.
Three Syracuse-area nutrition alumni merit a very special mention. Rachel Plewak Murphy and Carrie Kane, director and assistant director, respectively, of the Syracuse City School District School Nutrition Program, reported delivering 200,000 meals to school children in the first month of New York State on PAUSE, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Maria Mahar is responsible for the senior nutrition program, including congregate meals that had to be cancelled, within the Onondaga County Health Department. Her staff continued to prepare and deliver nutritious meals to older adults all over the community, including establishing a senior nutrition hotline that was included in the county executive’s daily televised briefings. She worked every day for weeks, with some help from Syracuse University dietetic interns, to accomplish her mission.
We plan ahead with optimism and resolve in these times of uncertainty. During the fall semester, Dr. Tanya Horacek led a search for two tenure-track and one teaching professor that included over 30 phone interviews and ten in-person, all-day visits to campus for candidates. Each of these visits included a research or teaching presentation in one of our courses, engaging many students in the search process (related story in this issue).
In March, before spring break, I began taking disinfectant wipes to class to wipe down door handles and the teaching station, then passing them around so that students could wipe down the areas around their seats. Little did we know, when the students left for spring break, that we would see them only on a screen for the rest of the semester.
Abrupt change is always uncomfortable. However, it breeds creativity, flexibility, and resilience, of necessity. The N.S.D. faculty worked very hard to deliver our accustomed high quality of instruction remotely, supported by the Falk College and S.U. information technology staff. ACEND, our accrediting body, aware that dietetic interns across the U.S. were banned from being physically present in many health care facilities, modified the usual requirements so that the 2020 cohort could successfully complete their programs and qualify for the registration examination by completing virtual work, projects, and simulations.
Our students completed research and honors projects on schedule and presented them virtually. Our staff redesigned our annual spring awards ceremony so that we could hold it on Zoom. In addition to their academic work, a number of our students began volunteering to support their own communities during the pandemic. Some students living in off-campus housing opted to remain near campus to protect their families from spread of the virus.
We felt very badly for our graduating seniors and second-year grad students who did not have the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and say goodbye to each other, the faculty, and staff in the usual way. We were also deeply saddened by the sudden death of Associate Professor of Food Studies Dr. Evan Weissman in April (see related story).
Without a doubt, this past year is one we will never forget. The resilience and resolve of those around us make progress possible in the most challenging and difficult of times. For that fact, and for them, we are most grateful. In the meantime, a heartfelt thank you to all who continue to faithfully serve the needs of the communities where you live and work.
Kay Stearns Bruening, Ph.D., R.D.N., F.A.N.D.
Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director.
Continuing our history of social responsibility in action.
During the 1960s, Professor Bettye Caldwell and others in the College for Human Development (a precursor to Falk College) led pioneering work at the Children’s Center in Syracuse. These internationally recognized efforts provided the foundation for what became one of the most important components of the Great Society programs known today as Head Start. As I read the student account about Head Start Cafeteria Days as a transition to kindergarten in this newsletter, plus the other first-hand experiences detailed through the eyes of our students, it reaffirmed for me in these difficult times, there is strength and inspiration knowing what we’ve always stood for in Falk College continues today.
Along with student stories, throughout these pages you will read about social responsibility in action. As it has always done, the Nutrition programs at Syracuse University are preparing a socially responsible workforce, which is evident by our students, faculty, staff and alumni leading the way in the communities where they live and work.
We continue to support one another and serve our communities as together we focus on public health, racial justice, and positive social action for change. Falk College is built on the values of social justice, and I have every confidence that in our Falk family—students, alumni, faculty, staff, board members, and friends—we will be active and using our voices for good in the days to come.
Please stay safe and take care of yourselves and those around you.
Diane Lyden Murphy, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D.
Dean, Falk College.
Thank you to our generous donors.
Falk College gratefully acknowledges the following gifts recorded during the 2019-2020 academic year. Every effort is made to be as accurate as possible in reporting our donors’ generosity. If there is an error or omission, please contact us at 315.443.8989 or via email at email@example.com.
Anonymous Donor, Catherine Meier Asher, Catherine H. Bastian, Nicole Marie Beckwith, Stacey R. Bialow, Kelly A. Boswell, Lynn S. Brann, Marsha Brower, Kay Stearns Bruening, Joan M. Christy, Cara Noelle Cortazzo, Teri L. Crisp, Maria B. Erdman, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Susan M. Fukes, Jessica Garay, Sharon Gerber, Paul Greenberg, Bertha Gross, Dorothy Wrase Hares, Kelly Nicole Heuer, Tanya Marie Horacek, Susan R. Klenk, Elizabeth Anne Lemon, Jordan M. Litt, Karen A. Mahoney, Kathleen J. McArdle, Rhoda D. Morrisroe, Elizabeth S. Noterman, Doris L. Paul, Susan L. Peverly, Donald P. Rindfuss, Erika Rosendahl, Sandelman Foundation, Arlene O. Sanoy, The Schifrin Foundation Inc., Lois A. Schroeder, Jane V. Slabowski, Deirdre Smith, Donna Jeanne Sparkes, Timothy J. VanGelder, Kimberly B. Vespi, Constance E. Vickery, Margaret Althea Voss, Wellsboro Pediatric Health Care Associates, Jennifer Lynn Zuercher.
Nutrition Program News & Notes.
Rob Skinner featured at 2020 Ann Litt Distinguished Lecture.
By Jessica Garay.
In February 2020, our department was honored to host legendary sports dietitian Rob Skinner for the Fifth Annual Ann Litt Distinguished Lecture. Rob has a unique connection to Ann Litt, having also worked for the Washington Redskins as their sports dietitian for two years. Rob’s career has spanned collegiate athletics, professional football, the military, and his current position as Senior Sports Dietitian for Acrobat & Combat Sports at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He is also one of the founding members of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (C.P.S.D.A.). Rob is one of the most accomplished sports dietitians in our field. It was truly an honor to host him at Syracuse University and hear first-hand about his various experiences. I am thrilled that so many of our students were able to interact with Rob and gain a better appreciation for the amazing work done by the team of dietitians at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Rob’s talk was titled, “From the Military to the Olympics: Nutrition for Sport Performance Enhancement.” One of the most well-attended Ann Litt lectures to date, audience members included Syracuse University students, faculty, and staff, as well as coaches, registered dietitian nutritionists, and allied health professionals from the greater Syracuse area. Rob’s key messages focused on the importance of building a professional network, and the value of regularly setting goals to further your career in any field.
In addition to his lecture, Rob also presented to students in N.S.D. 425/625: Nutrition for Fitness and Sports and P.P.E. 483: Scientific Principles of Strength and Conditioning. His guest lecture focused on strategies for weight control sports. Given his work with members of the U.S. Olympic wrestling, boxing, judo, and Taekwondo teams, Rob shared a unique perspective on how to approach safe weight loss while maintaining a high level of sport performance.
During his campus visit, Rob was also invited to speak with coaches, athletic trainers, and strength and conditioning coaches from the Syracuse University Athletics Department. He offered key observations from his work in collegiate and professional sports and answered a wide range of questions about how best to fuel college athletes.
Photos with captions in this section include: Lynn Brann, Jessica Garay, Jordan Litt, Rob Skinner, Kay Stearns Bruening, Maria Erdman are posed in a room. Eva Scott, Rachel Bonner at Ann Litt Lecture. N.S.D. students attending the Ann Litt Lecture. Eileen Lantier, Rob Skinner, Jordan Litt, Susan Klenk are posed. Audience attending the Ann Litt Lecture.
South Asia – Family, Food and Healthcare Systems cultural immersion in India.
By Sudha Raj.
The South Asia course is a fall semester course with travel in January. Objectives for the course are to stimulate learners’ interest in the Indian culture that is distinctly different from what the students are familiar with, build cultural competence, and expand critical and comparative thinking skills.
The course was designed in alignment with the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) standards and competencies enumerated for dietetics education. The goal was to build students’ cultural competence and more importantly start them on a journey of appreciating how to be more open to other cultures unlike their own. As a full semester offering, this course provided both didactic content and a guided ten-day cultural immersion experience. Throughout the online segment, the students were engaged and enthusiastic about the course and curious to learn more about the Asian Indian culture that is distinctly different from what the students are familiar with. The didactic online portion consisted of seven modules with 20 recorded webinars and a significant number of readings along with a textbook.
To make the cross-cultural experience meaningful for students and to prepare them, additional activities related to the Asian Indian immigrant experience were designed in the U.S. on five Sunday afternoons. These included a visit to the local Hindu temple in Syracuse, a visit to an Indian home to learn about the textiles and artifacts from India, two classical music concerts, and an Indian dance program. These experiential activities during the semester provided the students a glimpse of the sociocultural context and lifestyle of the ethnic South Asian Indian population that lives in the U.S.
Seven undergraduate and graduate students, the instructor and four faculty/preceptor guests participated in the ten-day cultural immersion experience. In India, the largest country in the South Asian sub-continent, the group visited three major cities: New Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai. The instructor developed the cultural immersion experience through networking and collaborating with colleagues in Indian universities as well as a tour company in India to design visits to iconic cultural sites such as the Taj Mahal and create other experiential activities. The latter included:
- lectures and presentations on public health nutrition, sustainability, and disability-related initiatives from faculty colleagues at universities and organizations like the Public Health Institute in India;
- opportunities for cross-cultural exchanges with students and professionals in India;
- a community-based, non-government organization-directed food project that students prepared during the semester, then met face-to-face with the person in the community for whom they had designed nutrition recommendations;
- food walks and cooking demonstrations;
- visits to low-and high-resource hospitals, and a visit to an Ayurvedic hospital to learn about traditional medical systems complementing allopathic care;
- visit to Asia’s largest slum where a variety of products are created for domestic and international markets, and;
visits to spice markets and an organic farm to learn about sustainable, biodynamic agriculture initiatives.
The immersion segment of the visit to India is best described in students’ reflections that show the lasting impact that such a course and trip can have in molding their perspectives at all levels – personal, professional and philosophical.
Students’ reflections about their visit to India showed that the shared experiences were meaningful and inspirational. The trip closed the loop of learning by reading, experiencing what was read, and a desire to learn more.
The Nutrition programs plan to offer the course again, so if a guided trip to India interests you, please stay in touch!
Watch the videos at:
Syracuse University in India 2020 on Vimeo.
Syracuse University in India 2020 on YouTube.
Two faculty members collaborate with alumna on nutrition elective for medical students.
By Kay Stearns Bruening.
In spring 2019, third-year medical student Natalie Antosh realized that as a future physician, she would need to understand nutrition, and she felt that she was not getting much of it, beyond biochemistry, in the medical curriculum. She surveyed 103 medical students at Upstate Medical University (U.M.U.) and learned that 95 percent of her classmates agreed. She approached the academic administrator for the medical school, who asked her to partner with Syracuse University nutrition alumna, Elizabeth (Queen) Nelsen, M.D. (M.A. 2001) to develop a Food as Medicine elective course for the medical school. Dr. Nelsen, who is Associate Professor and Director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Upstate University Hospital, referred Natalie to N.S.D. professors Sudha Raj and Kay Stearns Bruening.
The result was an eight-part elective course for U.M.U. medical students that was at capacity within two hours of open course registration. “The course is an inter-institutional collaboration focusing on both the basics and disease-specific nutrition. I am amazed by all the different nutrition and medicine professionals that came together to make this happen,” wrote Dr. Nelsen. Barbara Feuerstein, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine and endocrinologist at the Joslin Diabetes Center, was the course director. The course included a Culinary Medicine Day in the Falk College Experimental Foods Lab on October 30 and culminated in a potluck dinner at the end of the fall semester.
The need for, and lack of, nutrition education in medical curricula in the U.S. has been recognized for decades. The current recommendation is that medical students receive 27 hours of instruction in nutrition, and the last article I read on this topic reported that less than half of the medical schools in the country achieve this goal. Our vision for the Falk Nutrition ACE Center and Susan Klenk Teaching Kitchens was to promote nutrition beyond the university via community collaborations.
The first learning module I prepared provided three introductory Nutrition in Medicine lectures, emphasizing a whole foods approach, the relationships among nutrition/ diet, inflammation, and chronic disease, and comparisons of dietary and nutrient recommendations for health with the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) as identified in the N.H.A.N.E.S.-What We Eat in America Study. The first module discussed specific foods and any related clinical issues, like whole grains and celiac disease, deep green leafy vegetables and anticoagulant therapy, and dietary considerations for weight management, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. For a module on fad diets, we focused on evidenced-based eating patterns, such as the D.A.S.H. and Mediterranean Diets and the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate.
Dr. Sudha Raj created a module on Functional Nutrition, which uses a systems biology approach to integrate diet, genetics, and lifestyle to address underlying causes of chronic disease. Integrative and functional nutrition is a parallel discipline to integrative medicine, an area of medicine recognized by the National Institutes of Health. Her lecture examined chronic diseases associated with inflammation, oxidative stress, and intestinal permeability, and nutritional approaches including elimination diets, prebiotics, and probiotics. Dr. Raj integrated the principles with a case study.
Other modules for the Food as Medicine elective, provided by U.M.U. faculty, addressed obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, pregnancy, pediatrics, oncology and cancer prevention, and vegetarian diets. All nonlaboratory and non-clinical courses at Upstate are asynchronous, with lectures recorded in the Educational Communications studio on their campus.
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and medical director of Integrative Therapy at U.M.U., Kaushal Nanavati, M.D., provided grant funding to support the Culinary Medicine experience in the Falk College food labs. Dr. Nanavati has been a guest lecturer for the our nutrition programs in the past. Chef instructor Bill Collins led the 20 medical students in the preparation of ten healthy recipes with the support of then-senior and Klenk Scholar, Kelsie Wilson (B.S. 2020).
Food as Medicine will be offered again in the Fall 2020 semester, but reconfigured from a full-day, in-person event to food demonstration videos created during summer 2020. Upstate plans to expand the enrollment so that more medical students can participate.
Photos with captions in this section include: Medical students making healthy foods during Culinary Medicine Day. Natalie Antosh, fourth-year med student who advocated for the nutrition elective.
Joan Christy Lecture Series presents culinary demonstration with the Iroquois White Corn Project.
Falk College and its Department of Nutrition and Food Studies hosted the Iroquois White Corn Project for a culinary demonstration in November 2019.
The Iroquois White Corn Project aims to bring Iroquois White Corn back as a staple of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) diet through the production of hand grown, picked, and processed products from heirloom seeds dating back at least 1,400 years in Haudenosaunee communities. Iroquois White Corn products are nutritious, non-G.M.O., gluten-free, and have a low glycemic index.
Lauren Jimerson, Seneca, Heron clan, resides with her son Angel Jimerson in ancestral Seneca territory near Victor, New York. With her passion for cooking and nutrition, Lauren developed several plant-based recipes during her time as the Interim Project Manager for the Iroquois White Corn Project. Lauren currently provides outreach and Angel works as the Iroquois White Corn Project Coordinator.
The Joan Christy lecture series is made possible by The Christy Food and Culture Fund, established in 2005 through the generosity of Syracuse University nutrition alumna Joan Christy ’78, G’81 to provide support for a lecture series in the nutrition program at the University.
Nutrition program, Summer College offer pre-med, pre-health professions sessions for high school students.
Dr. Kay Stearns Bruening and Dr. Margaret Voss again participated in Syracuse University’s Summer College for High School Students Pre-Med and Health Professions Program in July. This year was entirely online. It allowed for higher enrollment and greater student access to the ACE Center facilities through virtual interactions.
This year’s program focused on COVID-19 and the pandemic’s healthcare challenges. Students explored the spectrum of healthcare occupations with faculty and staff from four of Syracuse University’s schools and colleges, as well as professionals outside the University. This program was designed to help students consider what their journey will look like as they work towards becoming a healthcare professional. Dr. Bruening and Dr. Voss offered online discussion sessions to help students understand the path toward becoming a registered dietitian and how nutrition and nutrition science degrees can be used in preparation for post-graduate training for other allied health careers. Students also participated in several asynchronous activities, including simulated patient counseling sessions, a food demo session in which they were asked to prepare a recipe for their family, and a virtual tour of the ACE Center demonstration kitchen and physical assessment facilities. The tour specifically highlighted the ACE Center’s patient simulation manikin, as well as body composition, metabolic rate, and point of care blood analysis equipment. To make these recipes and see more reaction from the students who cooked them, please see this story.
“I chose to make the overnight oats recipe because I wanted to change up my breakfast a little bit and it was such a quick and easy recipe! After making it last night, I tried it this morning and it definitely lived up to my expectations. It was delicious, and I made enough to eat tomorrow as well.”
“I decided to make the Black Bean-Sweet Potato Chili Recipe. I wanted to make something healthy that my entire family could eat together at dinnertime. I added some avocados on the side and some shredded cheese on the top for a little extra favor. My family really enjoyed this meal as it was flavorful, filling, and healthier than our traditional chili recipe. T his meal provides a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and calories that a recovering patient would need.”
“I love eating oatmeal and usually I eat the one that takes five minutes and has so much sugar and many calories. I loved this recipe because it was not only easy to make, it tasted really good too. Now I have a new, healthier, recipe for oatmeal.”
Nutrition faculty, student travel to El Salvador.
In February, two members of the Nutrition Program, Dr. Lynn Brann and Ashley Young (B.S. 2020), traveled to El Salvador for a mission trip with Young Life Syracuse. Approximately 100 volunteers from the Syracuse area, mostly high schoolers (including Dr. Brann’s son, Nolen, and Nancy Rindfuss’ son, Nate), descended upon the Bajo Lempa region. During the week-long trip, volunteers worked in the temporary medical clinic, cleared a field for the construction of a greenhouse to facilitate an increased production of local crops, and moved and rebuilt a house for one of the villagers. The villagers have very limited access to medical care, so this annual mission trip is important for necessary care and supplies.
Photos with captions in this section include: Lynn Brann and Ashley Young in El Salvador.
Welcome new students.
Falk College is pleased to welcome 29 transfer and Class of 2024 students starting Fall 2020. In addition, nine students will start in the master’s program. Welcome to our newest students!
Nutrition Honor Roll.
Students maintaining greater than 3.4 G.P.A. at the end of June 2018. Bold indicates students maintaining greater than 3.8 G.P.A.
2020: Elizabeth Helen Gardner, Emily Louise Gibbs, April M. Hill, Sarah Elizabeth Lease, Jiayun Li, Madeline Hayes Peck, Jamie Rae Weisenberg, Kelsie Wilson.
2021: Nicole Antoinette Brennan, Taylor Fairman, Sophia Gertz, Chelsea Hart, Felicia Lee Showers.
2022: Zachary M. Allard, Madison M. Baker, Sarina Blake Bialow, Julia Christine Fickenscher, Justus S. Holden-Betts, Eleni Karakasi, Yael C. Larios, Gwen E. Mercer, Chad Michael Miller, Alana Jade Spiro, Olivia Florence Templeton.
2023: Alexandra E. Baio, Rachel Taylor Barrow, Hailey Lynn Bitters, Isabelle Qiuli Haeberly, Julia Langer, Kaitlyn Paige Meissner.
Nutrition Science B.S.:
2020: Emma Susan Asher, Victoria-Marie Berlandi-Short, Sarah Genevieve Koutana, Justin Pascual, Mary Mackenzie Proud.
2021: Alexandra Katherine Borza, Jack Hartley Kaftan, Caitlin M. Murphy, Jessica Lynn Neidel, Haomou Pu, Mackenzie Lilan Swanson.
2022: Taylor Martha Fein, Epiphany A. Jesequel, Samantha T. Jezak, Ava S. Nejad.
2023: Sivan Leana Avramovich, James S. Clements, Atallia Elliston.
Nutrition Science Graduate Students:
2020: Nicholas Joseph Marino, Stephanie Rothschild Sall, Amanda Shultz.
2021: Alex Aivazian, Grace Leigh Cesarini, Rebecca Leigh Garofano, April Elizabeth Pelkey.
Dietetic Internship Graduate Students:
2020: BreeAnna L. Beach, Gregory M. Belzak, Julianna Blake, Valerie Brugmann, Daria Bryja, Kristen Marie Jevis, Eva Li, Natalie Noble, Sofia Analise Sepulveda, Catherine Shamlian, Jillian Lynn Wilson, Jingtian Xie.
Nutrition science and dietetics students COVID efforts.
Victoria Berlandi-Short (B.S. 2020) is virtually running across New York State for COVID relief as part of the ONE.N.Y. challenge. The registration fee and additional donations both went to the DirectRelief fund. There are several thousand runners, and they have raised “a ton of money,” according to Victoria. As of June 1, Victoria was 60 miles in, with 560 to go!
MacKenzie Swanson (Class of 2021) volunteered at SUNY Upstate Hospital this summer at the COVID screening station, taking temperatures and asking screening questions of each person that enters the building. She also worked at S.U. Ambulance this summer as an E.M.T.
Jessica Neidel (Class of 2021) worked at Newton Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts as a patient care associate on the telemetry floor (inpatient cardiac floor). They have recently converted this floor into a step-down I.C.U. due to the number of critical patients with COVID -19 in the Boston area. Her job included monitoring vitals and assisting with the routine care of these patients. Emily Gibbs (B.S. 2020) sewed masks for others.
Sarah Koutana (B.S. 2020) worked at the COVID hotline at Crouse Hospital during the spring semester before graduation.
Melisa Navarro (B.S. 2020) signed up for the “VolunteerC.N.Y.” website that sends daily volunteer opportunities to participants. The site has recently been focused on COVID-19 related issues. She has done Meals on Wheels deliveries in response to the website’s volunteer needs.
Lucy Pearce (B.S. 2020) is a first responder aide in her hometown in Australia. She has participated in COVID-related presentations to help the public understand social distancing guidelines and to help people understand why washing hands is important, as well as demonstrations on proper hand-washing technique.
Pandemic shifts intern’s focus to trauma-informed care opportunity.
By BreeAnna Beach.
I completed my dietetic internship amidst the unique circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. To fulfill all 1,200 required supervised practice hours, rotations were shifted to an online, remote format. This change allowed me to become involved with a rotation site that I would not have experienced otherwise. Working remotely with the Food Bank of Central New York’s Community Nutrition Educator, Heather Brubaker (M.S. 2018), R.D., and Community Nutrition Manager, Debra Mimaroglu, R.D.N., C.D.N. (B.S. 2014, C.A.S. 2015), I had the opportunity to learn about trauma-informed care and its application in nutrition education and programs.
Trauma-informed care is practiced in other fields, but it is a new concept in nutrition. When we think of trauma in nutrition, we often think of trauma patients suffering from severe physical injuries. However, the trauma in trauma-informed care refers to psychological trauma that is not always considered in nutrition. As defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “trauma results from an event, series of events or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social or emotional well-being.”
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE ) Study conducted by the C.D.C. and Kaiser Permanente Health Care Company explored sources of trauma experienced during childhood including abuse, neglect and exposure to household dysfunction and their impacts on later-life health and well-being. Repeated exposure to trauma in young children can impact their brain development and re-wire the brain’s response to stressors. As these children grow up, many struggle with emotional regulation including anxiety and depression and face cognitive and social difficulties.
Findings from the ACE Study concluded that individuals exposed to adverse childhood experiences are substantially more likely to engage in health-risk behaviors, develop chronic conditions and face premature death. On average, individuals with six or more ACEs died nearly 20 years earlier than individuals without exposure to childhood adversity. The study also concluded that an individual is more likely than not to have a history of trauma. Two thirds of study participants had experienced at least one ACE . Almost 60 percent of individuals with at least one ACE reported exposure to two or more.
High ACE scores are strongly correlated with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, eating disorders, smoking, alcoholism, obesity, I.B.S., and cancer. These conditions are common reasons why a person would be referred to a dietitian or seek out nutrition education. Trauma impacts a person’s metabolic health regardless of their diet or activity levels. Current dietetic practices place emphasis on lifestyle change as a means to improve health and nutrition status, but by failing to recognize the physical implications of trauma, we misrepresent the role of lifestyle in determining health outcomes. A trauma-informed care approach acknowledges that other factors should be taken into consideration.
ACEs occur across all socioeconomic groups but are more prevalent in low income and minority populations. Systemic trauma “refers to the contextual features of environments and institutions that give rise to trauma, maintain it, and impact post-traumatic responses.” Systemic trauma is a consequence of long-standing, historical oppression. Certain groups of people are at a higher risk of food insecurity and unfavorable health conditions due to social, economic, and environmental disadvantage. Racism and discrimination are proven root causes of hunger and poverty in the United States. Households of color experience hunger at twice the rate of white households. Food insecurity rates are exacerbated by unfair housing practices, wage gaps and discrimination in hiring for employment as well as limited access to foods in low-income and minority neighborhoods. People of color are disproportionately surrounded by food deserts, face higher unemployment rates, and receive lower wages than their white counterparts. Systemic trauma is a cycle that continues throughout generations.
Adverse Childhood Experiences and systemic trauma and oppression have lasting, devastating impacts on health and nutrition. Understanding trauma and its implications is essential to providing the highest level of nutrition care. A person with a history of trauma may have difficulty regulating stress and other emotions, decreased ability to trust and benefit from interpersonal relationships, impaired memory, concentration, and self-regulation. These difficulties impact an individual’s ability to fully benefit from a nutrition education or counseling session.
Becoming aware of the prevalence of trauma and understanding the impact of trauma on health are the first steps to taking on a trauma informed approach to nutrition care.
Trauma-informed nutrition professionals assume everyone they work with has a history of trauma, are mindful of their language and the nature of interpersonal interactions, honor the client’s autonomy, communicate clearly and consistently, employ cultural competency, avoid judgement or stigmatization and explore each individual’s needs, strengths, barriers and goals. By practicing trauma-informed care, nutrition professionals can contribute to the healing and recovery of individuals affected by trauma by opposing inadvertent re-traumatization embedded in the policies and procedures of traditional healthcare.
Alumni networking project completed by dietetics seniors.
By Nancy Rindfuss.
This past spring, the senior nutrition students I led in the N.S.D. 477 Senior Seminar II class completed a new assignment that involved networking with our alumni! The assignment was two-fold in that it required students to reach out to and interview alumna/alumnus of our nutrition program who operates his or her own business, and it allowed our alumni to learn what our current seniors are doing and get updates on our nutrition programs and college. This was a huge hit as the feedback from our seniors was very positive. They were very inspired to hear the great things our alumni are doing in the field of dietetics.
We recognize that our alumni are busy managing their job responsibilities and deeply appreciated them taking time from their busy schedules to offer suggestions and advice. These interviews allowed the students to find out what their experience was like setting up their own business and learning about the daily logistics. If you would be willing to speak with one of our current S.U. nutrition students during the upcoming year, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to connect you with a student. Our students can learn so much from our alumni who have paved the way and benefit greatly from these conversations.
Thank you to Roni Roth Beshears (B.S. 1974), Monica Schiller (B.S. 2008), Sara Quinteros-Fernandez (M.S. 2015), Cynthia Sass (B.S. 1992), Jessica Garay (Ph.D. 2019), Carolyn Allen (B.S. 2012), Brittany (Chin) Jones (B.S. 2010), Anna Riverso (M.A. 2015), Kristen Davis (M.A. 2013), and Lauren (Sausmer) Carey (B.S. 2007) and anyone we may have missed!
Nutrition students launch Body Positive Project.
By Hannah Juliano (B.S. 2020).
In May 2019, Maddie Peck (B.S. 2020) and I began a three-month Body Positivity Workshop program hosted by Ophelia’s Place.* Included in the workshop curriculum was a seven-hour training program to teach participants how to facilitate The Body Project to other groups. The Body Project, a series of workshops developed by The National Eating Disorder Association (N.E.D.A. ), serves to empower and encourage participants to challenge the beauty ideal. Maddie and I were so moved by what we learned that we made it a priority to provide The Body Project experience to our peers on Syracuse University’s campus when we returned in the fall. If sharing this workshop could help just one other person, we felt it was worth it, but it turned out our results were so much more than we originally hoped.
We facilitated the program for the first time at Kappa Alpha Theta Panhellenic sorority. We had anticipated we would have about five attendees genuinely interested – if we were lucky. However, the turnout was practically four times that! We were shocked at the number of our classmates that harbored similar feelings about being held hostage by societal beauty standards. Next was the Delta Gamma Panhellenic sorority. This session went even better than the first with a turnout of close to 30 female students. Maddie and I had plans to run the program at the Panhellenic sororities Alpha Phi and Alpha Xi Delta in April, however these sessions were inevitably canceled due to the pandemic-related university closure.
In each workshop we discussed the beauty ideal and the ways it contradicts itself (e.g., be strong, but not too strong. be tan, but not too tan). We also covered the oceans of false information in circulation about the connection between “healthy” diets and buying into an unachievable ideal. This led us into an activity where we discussed ways in which we buy into this ideal. So many participants indicated they felt captive to these ideals and shared emotional and honest stories of struggles and perseverance.
Our biggest take-away as workshop leaders was that so many people feel as though they have to look a certain way – but they never discuss it, until now. Maddie and I would like to think we helped to change that dynamic of the “beauty ideal” for these participants by giving them a different lens to view their bodies, a new way to consider the choices they make for their bodies and a voice for asking questions about if those choices are in fact healthy or unhealthy.
I hope to run the program again soon, ideally with young women in high school. I was deeply inspired by the change we saw in the participants as they began to understand the connection between their own inner workings and the impact of unrealistic beauty goals. I hope more conversations like this can help fight diet culture and reduce incidences of disordered eating and eating disorders.
*Ophelia’s Place is a Syracuse, New York based non-profit that provides resources and support for people with eating disorders, disordered eating and issues arising from negative body image.
Transition to kindergarten: A program for Head Start.
By Cassie Graves, C.A.S. 2021.
The Transition to Kindergarten Cafeteria Day idea began over 30 years ago for Janet Connors, the Transition Coordinator at P.E.A.C.E. Inc. Head Start, when she noticed her son was not eating his lunch. When he got off the bus, he was exhausted and more mischievous, getting into trouble during lunchtime in the school cafeteria. Looking back now and connecting the dots, many of the Head Start staff recalled their own bus story with their children. Discussions began on why the lunchroom is the most disruptive in school. The collaboration between the Head Start staff propelled the program from an idea to an event with three separate mock lunches set to begin March 25, 2020.
Syracuse University Dietetic Intern Kristen Jevis (C.A.S. 2020) and Syracuse University Dietetic Intern Cassie Graves (C.A.S. 2021), along with Jill Hayes, M.P.H., R.D.N., C.D.N., Nutrition Coordinator for P.E.A.C.E./Head Start, developed three Cafeteria Days at one of the nine P.E.A.C.E./Head Start sites. The first year was anticipated to be a pilot test aimed at discovering ways to implement this program successfully across all sites for the children entering kindergarten the following fall.
Since the children move from Head Start to attend numerous kindergarten programs across Onondaga County, creating one universal menu would be myopic. Tailoring the Cafeteria Day to meet the Head Start children’s needs was the goal for this event. Sifting through each district’s elementary school cafeteria menu was tedious and required an understanding of difficult-to-open foods for children entering kindergarten in the fall. Observing Head Start sites during mealtimes and meeting with the Syracuse City School District proved to be invaluable for Kristen and Cassie as they created their plans for the event. Collectively, Kristen and Cassie presented their findings and a blueprint for the event to the P.E.A.C.E./Head Start staff, Onondaga County Health Department, and Syracuse University representatives.
The presentation included ways to implement this event, who would be involved, what would be needed, and the timeline to achieve the goal of improving both the fine motor skills of the children as well as mitigating any poor behavior that may occur due to frustration. The understanding behind Cafeteria Day has been that by creating an environment where the children are confident and self-sufficient, they will be able to nourish their body with nutrients. This will improve cognition, and thus will allow them to be successful in the classroom. Findings revealed that children get into trouble in the cafeteria due to the lack of structure and large number of people in one room. This can be both shocking and intimidating for a child entering this type of environment for the first time. As part of Cafeteria Day, Head Start plans to implement difficult-to-open foods into their classroom curriculum. Preparing each child for kindergarten goes beyond the classroom and has now entered the cafeteria. The hope is for Cafeteria Day to become a staple in Head Start’s transition program.
Dietetic interns Class of 2020.
BreeAnna Beach accepted a position with Oswego County Opportunities WIC program as a nutritionist.
Gregory Belzak accepted a position as a clinical dietitian at Van Duyn Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Syracuse. He passed the registration exam shortly after program completion.
Julianna Blake passed the R.D. exam shortly after program completion. She plans to enter the M.S. program in Applied Nutrition at Russell Sage College. She also accepted a position as a registered dietitian at Creekview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rochester, New York.
Valerie Brugmann will be working as a clinical dietitian for NutraSource R.D.
Daria Bryja passed the R.D. exam shortly after program completion.
Catherine Shamlian passed the R.D. exam.
Jillian Wilson accepted a position as a dietitian at Elderwood in Liverpool, New York.
Jingtian Xie plans to enter the M.S. program in nutrition at Boston University.
100 percent match rate for D.P.D. Program.
By Nancy Rindfuss.
This past April we had ten undergraduate students and three graduate students apply to dietetic internships. We are happy to report that all of them successfully matched to an internship! This is the first time that we have had a match rate of 100 percent. As D.P.D. Director, I lead the D.I. application and match process. We also had three past graduates apply to internships and successfully match. We are proud of every one of our students and their hard work completing the rigorous application and interview process.
Our D.I. match rate is considerably higher than this year’s national match rate of 65 percent. A total of 3,800 students applied to internships throughout the U.S. this spring. The match process occurs twice per year (fall and spring) but the spring match period has the largest pool of internship options for the students. Five of the students will continue in our own dietetic internship here at Syracuse University. Some of these programs are traditional, free-standing internships, while others are combined with a master’s degree. The programs have a variety of concentrations such as Medical Nutrition Therapy, Public Health or Communications. Many students attended open houses and had formal in-person or remote interviews (via Skype or phone) as part of the selection process. The list below indicates where students matched and will continue on to next year.
Elizabeth Gardner: Accepted a position with Willis Towers Watson, Washington, D.C.
Emily Gibbs: Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Nicole Gray: N.D.T.R. exam.
Caitlyn Harley: The Sage Colleges, Troy, New York.
April Hill: National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
Katie Klingerman: Geisinger, Danville, Pennsylvania.
Devan Larson: Graduate school.
Sarah Lease: Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
Jiayun Li: Graduate school.
Amber Liong: Employment with a health promotion company.
Lucy Pearce: Syracuse University graduate program.
Madeline Peck: New York Presbyterian.
Sophia Rizzuto: Graduate school.
Erika Rosendahl: Lehman College.
Noelle Semrau: Cedar Crest College, Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Kasey Thomas: Graduate school.
Jamie Weisenberg: Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts.
Kelsie Wilson: Syracuse University.
Ashley Young: SUNY Cortland graduate program.
Travis Cudlin: (Grad) Syracuse University.
Stephanie Sall: (Grad) Syracuse University.
Amanda Shultz: (Grad) Syracuse University.
Shachar Amsalem: (2014) Priority Nutrition Care (Distance), Hingham, Massachusetts.
Katie Cosco: (2018) Virginia WIC Dietetic Internship, Virginia.
Olivia Dubois: (2019) University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.
Alexis Maier: (2019) Syracuse University.
N.S.D. 326 Practice of Dietetics, Food Demo Lab.
The students in this course have a four-week lab that allows them to develop their skills to deliver effective and professional food demonstrations. This hands-on lab allows them to use and combine their food service, nutrition, and public speaking knowledge to convey an effective message related to food and health to their audience.
Photos with captions in this section include: Madison Baker (B.S. 2022), Julia Fickenscher (B.S. 2022), Weiting Wang (Minor 2020), and Samantha Sutton (B.S. 2022) during a food demo in the N.S.D. 326 Practice of Dietetics class. Chad Miller (B.S. 2022) and Zachary Allard (B.S. 2022) during a food demo in the N.S.D. 326 Practice of Dietetics class.
Nutrition research group update.
Three years ago, Drs. Lynn Brann and Margaret Voss initiated a research group within the nutrition programs. Initially, the group was made up of nutrition faculty and a few graduate students but evolved into an active group of faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students. The group meets bi-weekly to discuss student research questions and progress on research projects. Students who are new to the group receive mentoring from faculty and also from upper-level undergraduate and graduate students who previously participated in the group. We look forward to welcoming our new faculty as well as new and returning students to the group this fall.
Highlights from our McNair Scholars.
Victoria Berlandi-Short (B.S. 2020) completed her Honors Thesis research in Dr. Jeffrey Amack’s Cell and Developmental Biology lab at Upstate Medical University on zebrafish. She studied the effects of pH regulation on a proton pump known as V-ATPase, located in the inner ear hair cells of the zebrafish. When this pump is ineffective or even mildly dysfunctional, it becomes a lethal mutation in zebrafish and leads to deafness in humans. Her McNair capstone reviewed the current literature that seeks to find a method to reverse this mutation in humans.
Sarah Koutana (B.S. 2020) worked in one of the biomedical research labs at Upstate Medical College. Sarah worked as a research assistant to Dr. Lynn Brann (Nutrition & Food Studies) for two different projects (Nutrition Serious Games and the Syracuse Lead Study). For her McNair research, Sarah completed an evaluation of the differences in commonly consumed foods among African American and Caucasian children from Syracuse. Sarah completed her program of study in Nutrition Science in only three years and has been accepted to St. Louis University’s Medical School for Fall 2020.
Justin Pasqual (B.S. 2020) completed his McNair capstone project titled “Endocrine Disruptors in Athletic Performance: B.P.A.’s Impact on Recovery in Endurance Athletes.” His work is part of a larger research project to determine the source of bisphenol A in drinking water. That project is a collaborative effort that includes Laura Markley, a doctoral student in Civil & Environmental Engineering, Dr. Charles Driscoll (Civil & Environmental Engineering), Mario Montesdeoca (Civil & Environmental Engineering), Dr. Eric Finkelstein (Syracuse Biomaterials Institute) and Dr. Margaret Voss (Nutrition & Food Studies). Justin also completed a second project with SOURCE funding entitled “Spaceflight Nutrition: Vitamin D’s role as Immunoregulator in Microgravity Environments.” He presented this research at the SOURCE Virtual Undergraduate Research & Creative Work Symposium this past May. He hopes to use this work as a starting point for his M.S. thesis research in nutrition science in the upcoming year.
Graduate student news.
Nicholas Marino defended his master’s thesis this summer. It is entitled “The Role of Diet Quality and Micronutrient Content on Sleep Parameters in Children Aged 9 through 11.” Nick plans to pursue his Ph.D. in the near future.
Travis Cullen, Stephanie Sall, and Amanda Shultz will enter the Syracuse University Dietetic Internship Program.
Dietetic internship update.
By Nicole Beckwith.
We welcomed twelve enthusiastic dietetic interns in August 2019 who were busy with activities including a visit to Thorpe Farms in Lafayette, New York. Here, we learned about beef farming practices and beef nutrition. The visit was hosted by New York State Beef Council and alumna Cindy Chan Phillips, M.B.A., R.D., (M.S. 2011).
In October, we traveled to Philadelphia to attend the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (F.N.C.E.). F.N.C.E. is a four-day conference with endless opportunities to learn, network with the ~10,000 attendees, and be inspired by dietetics professionals. Most interns agreed this was the highlight of their year!
In the spring, the interns attended the Ann Litt Memorial Lecture with Olympic Dietitian Rob Skinner. They even had a special dinner opportunity with Rob where they could gain insight into his career path.
The rapid onset of COVID-19 in March 2019 caused commotion unlike anything we have experienced before. Some interns could not return to their internship rotations in order to protect vulnerable populations. We were fortunate that our committed preceptors supported the interns by providing some nontraditional experiences. Several community nutrition sites allowed the interns to work remotely creating nutrition curricula, education materials, and presentations. Others provided the opportunity to plan and distribute emergency meal services in our Syracuse community.
The interns expected to present their final outcomes management projects for N.S.D. 658, Participatory Program Planning, in April at the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Annual Meeting and Expo in Saratoga Springs. The conference was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the interns presented their work in a virtual presentation attended by nutrition faculty and Central New York colleagues.
We concluded our year in a non-traditional manner due to restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our last interactions were over web-cams, but the interns learned so much about how to be creative with resources, step further out of their comfort zones, and ultimately rise as the young dietetics professionals that bring pride to our Orange community.
Given the status of the country, our accrediting agency, ACEND, made two unprecedented revisions: reduced required supervised practice hours from 1,200 to 1,000 hours and increased the number of hours allowable as alternate learning, such as case studies and simulations. Program directors across the country were generous in sharing resources to accomplish the greater goal of helping interns complete their programs. In addition, dietitians were deemed an essential part of the health care team and have been approved to utilize testing centers in order to take their credentialing exams and become R.D.N.s.
We will use these same strategies to plan for the next academic year should the pandemic continue to impose restrictions.
For the coming academic year, the dietetic internship matched nine candidates. Five are Syracuse University graduates and four are from other universities.
Photos with captions in this section include: Dietetic Interns BreeAnna Beach, Sophia Sepulveda, and Oliver Xie with Olympic Dietitian Rob Skinner. Dietetic Interns at F.N.C.E. 2019.
Dietetic internship trains 34 preceptors in nutrition-focused physical examination.
By Nicole Beckwith.
The identification of malnutrition is a skill that has been a part of the R.D.N.’s scope of practice for over ten years. However, it is often not integrated into clinical nutrition practice as part of the nutrition care process. Practitioners report barriers such as lack of formal training, time constraints, and underdeveloped facility policies. Yet the 2017 ACEND Accreditation Standards requires graduates of dietetic internships to demonstrate ability to conduct nutrition focused physical exams.
Nutrition focused physical exam (N.F.P.E.) is the hands-on assessment of the body to determine abnormalities that may be caused by nutritional deficiencies. It is part of the comprehensive nutrition assessment, and as the only valid and reliable way to identify malnutrition in the absence of a specific laboratory marker, is a unique skill of R.D.N.s. N.F.P.E. promotes whole body evaluation to determine potential vitamin or mineral deficiencies, fat loss, muscle wasting, and fluid imbalances. N.F.P.E. drives nutrition interventions to improve nutritional status and quality of life for patients.
N.F.P.E. can lead to the identification, diagnosis, and documentation of malnutrition in clinical settings, when the doctor verifies the evidence provided by the R.D.N.. Malnutrition is associated with higher mortality rates, increased hospital length of stay and readmission, and impaired physical function. In addition, the diagnosis of malnutrition can increase reimbursement by more than $10,000 for each patient in some cases.
Syracuse University’s dietetic interns learn N.F.P.E. in a three-part workshop. They develop and practice hands-on assessment that can be applied in supervised practice rotations, and eventually in their career setting.
Over the past year, 34 internship preceptors have participated in N.F.P.E. training at Syracuse University. Associate Professor of Nutrition Dr. Kay Stearns Bruening and Dietetic Internship Director Nikki Beckwith offered the training in the Falk ACE Center in summer 2019 as a three-part workshop concluding with a validation of skills. The program was approved by the Commission on Dietetic Registration for four continuing education units (C.E.U.). The program will be offered again when social distancing allows the opportunity to welcome these visitors back to campus.
Photos with captions in this section include: Intern Oliver Xie conducts an oral cavity assessment on volunteer Evan Beckwith as part of a pediatric assessment day.
The Food Busters volunteer group, under the leadership of Nicole Brennan, Nicole Gray, Liz Gardener, Mia Walton, Madison Baker, and Sarah Lease, overcame many obstacles to raise the standards of the program. Their hard work and dedication resulted in an Orange Circle Award this past spring. The N.S.D. programs are very proud of all the leaders and volunteers who made this happen. Dr. Margaret Voss is the faculty advisor for Food Busters.
Slow Food Syracuse 2019-2020.
By Louis Platt (Newhouse 2021), Treasurer, Slow Food Syracuse.
In its second year of operation, Slow Food Syracuse University picked right back up where the founding executive board left off in Spring 2019. With an entirely new e-board of sophomores, we started the year with a fundamental event to Slow Food S.U.: a potluck. In September, we rallied our returning members and new members together for a potluck dinner that was reminiscent of a Food Studies 304 Farm-to-Fork class. Potlucks give members the opportunity to share their favorite meal from home and show off their cooking talent. For many members, the potlucks are an induction into Slow Food S.U. and the wonderful events we host throughout the rest of the school year.
Part of our organization’s mission is to promote local food businesses and connect students with them. We filled our event schedule with educational and memorable visits to Abbott Farm, Café Kubal to learn how to make espresso and cappuccino, and to Scratch Bakehouse for a lesson on baking sourdough bread. Even though our time on campus was cut short, we accomplished so much this school year, including managing the Fall C.S.A. program for the first time and successfully organizing a farmer’s market set to be held on campus for Fall 2020 semester. As well, we hosted two Syracuse-based entrepreneurs on campus. One was a food (toast specifically) photography event with professional photographer, Alyssa Flood. Each member designed their own toast and Scratch Bakehouse donated the bread. Of course, we composted our scraps, which went to the S.U. garden. We also had a visit from chocolatier, Tyler Cagwin, of Nostalgia Chocolates. We learned everything from sourcing, how he became passionate about it, and the baking process. We sampled chocolate and had the opportunity to purchase our own bars. Every year we hold a bake sale fundraiser to support a local food bank. This year we raised over $200, from which we donated half to the Syracuse food bank and used the other half to take members to Apizza Regionale for a snowy-evening dinner before Thanksgiving Break.
Each event becomes more than we could have ever imagined. Café Kubal was an espresso brewing event, but we became even more fascinated with the conversations we held with the baristas. “What were the farms like in Columbia? How do you ensure the farms you source from are ethical?” The more we learn, the greater our perspectives become. We are excited for what the fall of 2020 has to offer, and we are fulfilled with the success from the past academic year.
Emma Asher (B.S. 2020) received a SOURCE grant for the 2019-2020 academic year to work with Assistant Professor Jessica Garay on a research project funded by the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. Emma participated in data collection, entry, and statistical analysis for the study “Diet quality of vegetarian versus non-vegetarian female collegiate athletes.”
Greg Belzak (B.S. 2019, C.A.S. 2020) will serve as President-Elect of the Central New York Dietetic Association for 2020-2021. Elizabeth Gardner (B.S. 2020) accepted a position as a Health and Benefits Analyst with Willis Towers Watson in Washington, D.C., where she consults with employers to provide benefits coverage for employees.
Sarah Koutana (B.S. 2020) collaborated with Associate Professor Lynn Brann on a research project entitled “Differences in Commonly Consumed Foods Among African American and Caucasian Children in Syracuse.” The poster was presented at the Falk College Student Research Celebration, April 2020.
Jessica Neidel (2021) and Emma Asher (B.S. 2020) collaborated with Assistant Professor Jessica Garay on a research poster for the Falk Student Research Celebration in Spring 2020. Jessica’s poster, “Energy Availability in Female Collegiate Athletes: A Pilot Study” was selected as one of four undergraduate winners.
Jessica Neidel (2021), Samantha Jezak (2022) and Olivia Templeton (2022) have all been selected to receive SOURCE grants for the 2020-2021 academic year. They will be working with Assistant Professor Jessica Garay. Jessica’s project, “Measuring Energy Availability in Adolescent Gymnasts,” which will investigate the link between dietary intake, body composition, and exercise energy expenditure in determining the risk for relative energy deficiency. This term (RED-S) is a new concept in the field of sports nutrition and extends beyond the female athlete triad. Samantha and Olivia’s project, “The Effect of a 3-month Lacto-ovo Vegetarian Diet Intervention on Inflammation and Diet Quality”, will recruit middle-aged adults to switch to a vegetarian diet for 3 months. The goal of this research is to determine how long one needs to adhere to a vegetarian diet before seeing physical health benefits.
Justin Pascual (B.S. 2020) received a Fall 2019 SOURCE Grant for his project “Spaceflight Nutrition: Vitamin D as an Immunoregulator in Microgravity Environments,” supervised by Professor Margaret Voss.
Stephanie Sall (M.A. 2020) was named the Outstanding Dietetic Student for didactic programs in dietetics by the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Stephanie entered the Syracuse University dietetic internship program in August.
Mackenzie Swanson (2021) was awarded a Fall 2019 SOURCE Grant for “’Corrination’ of a G.L.P-1 Receptor Agonist for Glycemic Control Without Emesis,” supervised by Professor Robert Doyle, Meredith Professor of Chemistry at S.U. and adjunct associate professor of medicine at SUNY-Upstate Medical University.
Jamie Weisenberg (2020) worked with Dr. Sudha Raj to create a cookbook geared toward college students as her Honors Program Capstone. It was published in Issuu. Jamie’s favorite recipe in the book is the stuffed peppers.
Kelsie Wilson (B.S. 2020) collaborated with Dr. Tanya Horacek on a research project entitled “Relation Between Study Abroad and Students Dietary Habits while Abroad.” Studying abroad is an opportunity for students to gain knowledge about foreign countries’ cultures and traditions. Time spent in another country can lead to the adoption of local dietary habits for temporary and long-term practice. This review analyzed the relationship between time participants spent abroad and change in normal dietary habits both short and long-term. Using a systematic review process, Wilson identified three peer-reviewed studies. Half examined North Americans on short-term trips to Italy, and half studied Chinese students in the U.S. or Korea. Short-term abroad experiences had modest effects on increasing fruit, grains, dairy, and seafood for two-thirds of the studies, with mixed results for vegetables, and significant increases in alcohol and snacking. For Chinese students’ long-term abroad experiences, fruit and vegetable intake decreased below the recommended amounts, but grain consumption increased. The studies also revealed that the participants’ attitude towards their eating habits improved after their study abroad experience.
Dietetic intern outcomes management participatory program project.
By Tanya M. Horacek and the dietetic interns.
It was a pleasure to teach N.S.D. 658 and supervise the interns through their Outcomes Management concentration this year, as this was historically in my wheelhouse. We made some exciting changes to the Outcomes Management concentration to help facilitate the dietetic interns’ success.
First instead of starting mid-November, we started in August during their two-week on campus orientation, which then gave them a full seven months for their project. Second, we adopted Cornell University’s Policy Systems and Environment (P.S.E.) framework, which is similar to the PRECEDE PROCEED model. Cornell offers a rigorous 12-credit online training program to help practitioners make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice. The interns completed the modules and were able to use the robust system, worksheets, and resources to guide their program development process. Finally, instead of three or four projects we have historically completed, all 12 interns worked on one large project for the Syracuse Housing Authority (S.H.A.). The interns were divided into sub-teams to develop and refine their portion, but all interns worked on all parts of the process.
Group one: Breanna Beach, Greg Belzak, Catherine Shamlian, and Jill Wilson completed the Needs Assessment of Low-Income Seniors Living in Syracuse Housing Authority Residences. Guided by Cornell’s P.S.E. framework, the group assessed food security, nutrition knowledge and food environments of low-income older adults in S.H.A. residences. They reviewed national health data, surveyed the residents, and audited twelve convenience stores near four S.H.A. residences. A total of 23 older adults completed surveys.
While 100% of them prepared their own food, many struggled with cooking meals due to disability or a lack of equipment or cooking skills. Some of the respondents reported having a chronic disease and many (65%) wanted to learn more about reading nutrition labels and how diseases could be better managed with appropriate nutrition. Half of the respondents ate three meals/day, and the other half struggled to eat 1-2 meals/day. Forty-three percent of respondents reported using S.H.A.-provided transportation to grocery shop. The majority of respondents (95%) reported shopping for food at grocery stores and some (17%) had difficulty grocery shopping. With the audit, a majority of these convenience stores sold foods of the least healthy variety and none of the stores scored high in having support for making healthy food decisions.
The implications of these results are that low-income older adults in Syracuse City neighborhoods, many of whom have health and/or mobility issues that could contribute to increased food insecurity, are eating fewer nutrient-dense meals and potentially have less access to healthy foods close in proximity to their homes. Cornell’s P.S.E. framework provided a cohesive guide for research and needs assessment of our population.
Group two: Eva Li, Darya Bryja, Natalie Noble, Oliver Xie organized and led the intervention development and implementation Increasing the consumption and knowledge of high nutrient density foods among low-income seniors living in Syracuse Housing Authority residences. The prevalence of low-income seniors in Syracuse, who struggle with food security and nutritional knowledge, continues to rise. Guided by the Cornell P.S.E. framework and needs assessment, we implemented interventions to increase nutritional knowledge, access to and intake of nutritionally dense foods for low-income senior S.H.A. residents.
We designed, pilot-tested and implemented two education sessions (nutrition BINGO and food demonstrations) for three S.H.A. residences, and wrote a booklet regarding the shopping transportation options. Nutrition BINGO taught the seniors about the nutritional benefits of different fruits and vegetables using their favorite game to win prizes. The food demonstrations presented cost-effective, disease preventive, healthy recipes. Marketing materials were posted to attract participants to attend the sessions. A process evaluation tool was used to track the interventions: collecting intern feedback, level of audience engagement/satisfaction and resource utilization at each session. An average of eight participants attended each of the six sessions. The two education sessions were successfully implemented with significant participant engagement and positive feedback such as their gratitude towards presenters for providing the activities. During the first BINGO/ food demonstration, a few minor challenges occurred, such as running out of food, but were improved for the next sessions.
The interns formed a collaboration with the S.H.A. to access/interact with the residents and implement the transportation booklet, and with Falk College for incentives/ingredient costs. The participants were actively engaged and attentive during the two education sessions. All three interventions were successfully implemented, and we anticipate an increase in consumption and knowledge of high nutrient-dense foods in low-income seniors living in S.H.A..
Group three: Julianna Blake, Valerie Brugmann, Kristen Jevis, Sophia Sepulveda designed and completed the Process and Outcomes Evaluation of Low-Income Seniors Living in Syracuse Housing Authority Residences. The group used the Cornell P.S.E. model to evaluate the outcome of nutrition education interventions implemented to target behavior change by increasing knowledge and intake of nutrient dense foods among low-income seniors. The evaluation of P.S.E. efforts allows researchers to analyze the impact of the objectives and how the process aligned with the intended plan. A process evaluation tool was created to track the intervention. It examined level of audience engagement/satisfaction and resource utilization for Nutrition Bingo and Food Demonstrations (as reported in the intervention poster). Outcome effectiveness was evaluated with a pre-/post survey created for this study. The survey assessed fruit and vegetable (F/V) purchases, intake, and attitudes. Participants completed pre- (n=23) and post- (n=26) assessments.
Results conveyed that participants moved from a contemplation stage of change to either a preparation or action stage post-intervention. The percentage of participants planning to increase F/V intake increased from 10% to 23%. Participants trying to eat more F/V increased from 35% to 43%. While there was an increase in F/V purchased per week by 1-2 servings, daily consumption of F/V remained consistent at an average of two servings/day. Overall, these results provide evidence for an effective intervention. The Cornell P.S.E. model proved a useful tool in evaluating community-based interventions as the groups utilized each strategy and guideline provided in the model. Based on P.S.E. intervention literature to improve this evaluation, we would incorporate self-reported intakes of F/V per meal, knowledge of recommended intakes, and barriers to intake into the outcomes evaluation.
The interns’ abstracts were accepted for the N.Y.S.A.N.D. Annual Meeting but due to COVID-19, the meeting was cancelled. They still produced their posters and in early May presented their work via a C.E.U. session in collaboration with the Syracuse Dietetic Association.
Faculty and Staff.
Faculty and staff updates.
Brann L S. The Relationship between Emotional Regulation and Diet Quality in Children. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2019;119:A78. Selected Poster Presentation at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 2019.
Brown K, Clark B, Brubaker H, Brown L, Carroll B, Gardner E, Hill A, Mihalko S, Obojkovits K, Peck M, Horacek T, Process Evaluation of the Healthy Campus Environmental Audits. Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo October 2019 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 119, Issue 9, A45.
Cullen O, Peck M, Horacek T, Assessing Food Insecurity Rates and Effects on a Sample of Students at Syracuse University. Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo October 2019 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 119, Issue 9, A76.
Beach B, Belzak G, Shamlian, C, Wilson J, Horacek T, Needs Assessment of Low-Income Seniors Living in Syracuse Housing Authority Residences. Accepted to present at the N.Y.S.A.N.D. A.M.E in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Blake J, Brugmann V, Jevis K, Sepulveda S, Horacek T, Outcomes Evaluation of Low-Income Seniors Living in Syracuse Housing Authority Residences. Accepted to present at the N.Y.S.A.N.D. A.M.E. in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Li E, Bryja D, Noble N, Xie J, Increasing the consumption and knowledge of high nutrient density foods among low-income seniors living in Syracuse Housing Authority Residences. Accepted to present at the N.Y.S.A.N.D. A.M.E. in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Wilson K, & Horacek T, Relation Between Study Abroad and Students Dietary Habits while Abroad. Accepted to present at the N.Y.S.A.N.D. A.M.E. in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Gump B B, Hruska B, Parsons PJ, Palmer C D, MacKenzie J A, Bendinskas K, Brann L, Dietary Contributions to High Normal Lead, Mercury, and Cadmium in 9 through 11-Year-Old Children: Accounting for Racial Differences. Environmental Research. 2020.185:109308.
Olfert M D, Barr M L, Mathews A E, Horacek T M, Riggsbee K, Zhou W, Colby S E, Life of a vegetarian college student: Health, lifestyle, and environmental perceptions, Journal of American College Health, 2020 D.O.I.: 10.1080/07448481.2020.1740231.
Olfert M D, Barr M L, Hagedorn R L, Wattick R A , Zhou W, Horacek T, Mathews A E, Kattelmann K K, Kidd T, White A A, Brown O, Morrell J, Franzen-Castle L, Shelnutt K, Byrd-Bredbenner C, Mosby T, Greene G W , Colby S. eB4CAST, infographics improve science communication with stakeholders in college-based health program Front. Public Health 2020;8:158. d.o.i.: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.00158.
Santella M E, Hagedorn R L, Wattick R A , Barr M L, Horacek T M, Olfert M D, Learn first, practice second approach to increase health professionals’ nutrition-related knowledge, attitudes and self-efficacy, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 2019; 71(3) D.O.I.: 10.1080/09637486.2019.1661977.
McNamara J, Olfert M D, Faulk M, Colby S, White A, Byrd-Bredbenner C, Kattelmann K, Franzen-Castle L, Brown O, Kidd T, Shelnutt K, Horacek T M, Greene G, Development of an Instrument Measuring Perceived Environmental Healthfulness: Behavior Environment Perception Survey (B.E.P.S.). Journal of Nutrition Education Behavior 2020;52(2): 152 – 161.
Staub D, Colby S E, Olfert M D, Kattelmann K K, Zhou W, Horacek T M, Greene G W, Radosavljevic I, Franzen-Castle L, Mathews A E, A Multi-Year Examination of Gardening Experience and Fruit and Vegetable Intake During College. Nutrients 2019, 11(9), 2088.
Hanson A J, Kattelmann K K, McCormack L A, Zhou W, Brown O N, Horacek T M, Shelnutt K P, Kidd T, Opoku-Acheampong A, Franzen- Castle L D, Olfert M D, Colby S E, Cooking and Meal Planning as Predictors of Fruit and Vegetable Intake and B.M.I. in First-Year College Students. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2019, 16(14), 2462.
Horacek T M, Dede Yildirim E, Seidman D, Byrd-Bredbenner C, Colby S, White A, Shelnutt K, Olfert M D, Mathews A E, Riggsbee K, Franzen-Castle, Morrell J S, Redesign and Validation of the Physical Activity for Campuses Environmental Supports (P.A.C.E.S.) Audit. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2019, Article ID 5819752, 13 pages, 2019.
Horacek T M, Simon M, Dede Yildirim E, Byrd-Bredbenner C, Colby S, White A, Shelnutt K, Olfert M D, Mathews A E, Riggsbee K, Franzen-Castle, Morrell J S, College Campuses lack Policy Support for Health Promotion. Design and Validation of Policies Opportunities, Interventions and Notable Topics (POINTS ) Audit. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2019, 16(5),778.
Dr. Tanya Horacek’s regional research team, with whom she has worked her entire career, won a regional research award which was entered into the national competition in May 2020. The North Central Regional Experiment Station Section Excellence in Multistate Research Award for 2020 recognized NC1193: Using Behavioral and Environmental Tools to Identify Weight-Related Factors Associated with Health in Communities of Young Adults. The team includes Brown O, Auburn University; Byrd-Bredbenner C, Rutgers University; Colby S E, University of Tennessee; Franzen-Castle L, University of Nebraska; Greene G, University of Rhode Island; Horacek T M, Syracuse University; Kattelmann K, South Dakota State University; Kidd T, Kansas State University; McNamara J, University of Maine; Morrell J, University of New Hampshire; Olfert M D, West Virginia University; Shelnutt K P, University of Florida; Tolar-Peterson T, Mississippi State University.
Congratulations to Dr. Horacek and her team!
A warm welcome to three new N.S.D. faculty.
Latha Ramalingam, Ph.D.:
We are pleased to welcome Dr. Latha Ramalingam as an Assistant Professor of Integrative and Functional Nutrition to N.S.D. for Fall 2020. Dr. Ramalingam was a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University. She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2014. She completed a short postdoctoral fellowship at Indiana University before moving to Texas Tech. She has more than a decade of experience in developing and using animal models for her research in obesity and diabetes. Dr. Ramalingam has 32 publications, is first author on six, and has over 50 invited presentations or conference presentations. Her current research interests include strategies to investigate the effects of bioactive food compounds, such as omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D, in maternal obesity. She also has several on-going projects concerning the mechanism/s underpinning the role of the Renin Angiotensin System (R.A.S.) in beta cells. She is a co-principal investigator on several grants: two N.I.H. N.C.C.I.H. R15, and one from U.S.D.A . In the past she received funding from the American Heart Association and The Obesity Society. She has also won a number of research awards.
Dr. Ramalingam will strengthen N.S.D. collaborations both within and outside the department (e.g., exercise science and biology). She is also interested in possible collaborations in the Aging Studies Institute. Dr. Ramalingam is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring students through the research process. She is moving from west Texas where it is flat and hot, so she is thrilled to enjoy the beautiful outdoors in coming summers and not so thrilled about facing the frigid temperatures. She is very excited to be joining the amazing warm group in N.S.D. and learn all about central New York. We are very pleased Dr. Ramalingam has joined N.S.D .
Maryam Yuhas, Ph.D., R.D.N.:
We are pleased to have Dr. Maryam Yuhas, R.D.N. join the faculty in Fall 2020 as an Assistant Professor of Community Nutrition. Dr. Yuhas earned her R.D.N. and M.S. in Nutritional Sciences from Oklahoma State. She earned a Ph.D. in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise from Virginia Tech. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate within the Community-Based Health Equity Research Program at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Her research seeks to improve public health through changing behaviors that lead to the development of obesity and chronic diseases, particularly in low-income and medically underserved children and families. She is currently involved in two large community-based randomized controlled trials, one aimed at reducing childhood obesity in the Dan River region of Virginia and the other aimed at decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage intake in adolescents in the predominantly rural southwest Virginia region. Dr. Yuhas is interested in using technology and novel research methods to design and optimize health behavior interventions for effectiveness and sustainability. She already has a number of publications and a dozen conference presentations. Her passion and skills for using technology to enhance interventions will be an addition that our faculty currently is lacking.
Dr. Yuhas envisions herself as a social justice warrior with her focus on improving health equity for low income populations. She sees Syracuse University as being the logical next step in her career, given our college mission, department configuration and needs in the upstate New York region. She has enjoyed her research focused career to date but is excited to engage students in the classroom and her research. Maryam is moving to Central New York with her husband, Jon, who is also a registered dietitian, and daughter, Nyla. They are looking forward to many waterfall hikes, visiting the Adirondacks, summers on the Finger Lakes, and S.U. sporting events! She has high energy and will be a great complement to the N.S.D. faculty.
Maria Erdman, M.S., R.D.N.:
We are pleased to welcome Maria Erdman back to the department, this time in official capacity as an Assistant Teaching Professor. Holding a B.S. in Genetics, Maria was a research technician/ lab manager at U.C. Davis, Yale College and Syracuse University. A graduate of both our master’s and dietetic internship programs, Maria worked for Upstate University Hospital for the past nine years, first as a clinical inpatient dietitian and most recently as an oncology outpatient R.D.N . She was a Board Certified Nutrition Support Clinician and is currently a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition. She has developed expertise in oncology medical nutrition therapy, counseling and education and enjoyed mentoring dietetic interns for eight-week rotations. Through her position or as a volunteer, Maria has provided extensive lectures and education series to a variety of audiences. For example, Maria collaborated with Dr. Tanya Horacek to implement the first ACE Center food demonstration class and presentation for oncology patients. During the coming year, Maria will be teaching Nutrition Counseling and Practice of Dietetics. She will also support the dietetic interns’ community-based participatory nutrition projects in the spring. Maria loves learning and is excited to transition in the academic setting.
Maria is mom to two wonderful children, Sarabeth, who graduated from college last year and works in Washington D.C., and James, a Junior at S.U . Her husband Scott is a biology professor at S.U . Her hobbies include cooking, running, hiking, and reading. She hopes to be able to run the Philadelphia Marathon on November 22, 2020. She also loves to travel, having seen much of Europe and the U.S., in addition to New Zealand. She lived in France for a year abroad in college and in Spain for six months during her husband’s sabbatical leave in 2008. She is very much looking forward to teaching in the Nutrition programs this fall. Maria will be an excellent addition to the department.
A salute to Dr. Tanya Horacek.
At the end of the spring semester, we said “Cheers, until we meet again!” to Professor Emerita Tanya Horacek, who retired from Syracuse University after 23 years of dedicated service. She has relocated with her husband to Colorado, to be closer to family and where they built their dream home.
With a previous background in student residential life and services, Tanya was exactly the person the nutrition programs needed to assume leadership of the didactic program in dietetics when she arrived in 1997. She studied the data on dietetic internship admissions and implemented advising standards, used by the faculty to this day, and minimum requirements for dietetics verification. Those standards enabled the nutrition faculty to provide consistent recommendations to all students on how to obtain dietetics-related experience to make themselves strong candidates in the dietetic internship admissions process, contributing to our ongoing success in that area. She recommended changes to class scheduling that ultimately enabled more nutrition students to study abroad. According to Dr. Kay Stearns Bruening, “When Tanya and I joined the faculty, it was unusual for dietetics students to study abroad for an entire semester, because of the sequencing of required science courses and annual offering of required nutrition courses. Now, at our very first advising meeting with new nutrition students, we explore whether the student hopes to study abroad and create an individualized academic plan that will allow them to do so and still complete their degree in four years.” One of our program goals for the D.P.D. is that at least 30% of our program graduates will study abroad, a goal we have met consistently for more than a decade.
While spending a fall semester teaching at S.U.’s campus in Florence, Dr. Horacek built the Mediterranean Food, Culture, and Health course. In its present format, the course meets during the spring semester, followed by a two-week trip to Tuscany. This has also been helpful to our pre-med nutrition science majors, as they must complete three years of sciences to prepare for the M.C.A.T., typically during summer between junior and senior year. The present course format allows those students to have a short-term study abroad experience and on-time degree and M.C.A.T. completion.
Dr. Horacek built our very strong Nutrition Counseling course. In the late 1990s, we had a single three-credit course entitled Nutrition Education and Counseling. After leading a comprehensive review of the D.P.D. curriculum, the faculty decided that it was in the best interest of students to separate those topics into two separate courses so that we could incorporate experiential learning in both. S.U. nutrition students studied intuitive eating and mindfulness approaches in nutrition counseling, using a whole-person-focused model, long before these were frequent topics for continuing professional education. While videotaped counseling sessions are often used in similar courses at other universities, Tanya extended assessment of students’ counseling skills to an objective structured clinical exam with a standardized patient (a person trained to act as a client seeking nutrition counseling). Under the Future Education Model, this type of assessment is highly desirable, so she was ahead of her time.
Following her legacy, the Nutrition Education course, although she has not personally taught it in a number of years, now includes a service learning component, in which students conduct a needs assessment with a community group, and then plan, implement, and evaluate an appropriate educational program. Related to this, it was under Tanya’s mentoring that the student nutrition group, Nutrition Education and Promotion Association (NEPA) and two of our ongoing programs with the Shaw Center began (Books and Cooks and Cooking on the Hillside).
While at Syracuse University, Tanya built a strong research portfolio. She was able to continue a collaboration that began as part of her doctoral dissertation work and for 25 years she was an active member of a ten-state regional research group. Tanya and her colleagues consistently secured external funding from sources, such as the U.S.D.A., to explore interventions to improve the dietary intake and environments of young adults. Her research has been consistently grounded in theory and implemented a non-diet approach to behavior change. Most recently, Tanya led the development and validation of the Healthy Campus Environment Audit tool. This tool can translate across different worksites and will be of great value to the nutrition and health community.
In addition to her ten-state research collaboration, Tanya also conducted research to explore the effectiveness of the nutrition counseling model that she developed. She has been generous with funding and time to mentor both undergraduate and graduate students in related research projects and theses. According to Dr. Lynn Brann, “Tanya was passionate about her research and always approached her work through the lens of a researcher. She inspired her colleagues and students with her desire to discover creative ways to help individuals lead healthier lives.” As a result of her leadership and mentoring, many S.U. nutrition students have conducted research and presented it at national conferences. Tanya has also been a very effective mentor for tenure-track faculty.
When the S.U. Dietetic Internship began its concentration in outcomes assessment and management, Tanya designed the community-based participatory program planning course using the Precede-Proceed model that her research group employed for several of their projects. Dr. Rick Welsh, Falk Family Endowed Professor of Food Studies and chair of the department, summarized Tanya’s contributions. “Dr. Horacek is the prototypical academic: scholar, teacher and colleague. She is adept at research, teaching, mentoring and advising, and administration, and dedicated to her students, program, department and profession.”
We will miss Dr. Horacek. She leaves big shoes to fill in the nutrition programs. We look forward to a reunion with her in 2023, when the Food & Nutrition Conference will be in Denver, if not sooner.
Photos with captions in this section included: Tanya Horacek during the Mediterranean Food, Culture, and Health course she built.
Faculty and staff highlights.
Donna Foley Sparkes, administrative assistant for the Nutrition Science and Dietetics programs, completed the M.S. in Business Analytics through the Whitman School of Management this summer.
Assistant Professor Jessica Garay has been selected to serve on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Council on Research’s Regulatory Topics subcommittee for a three-year term.
Garay also received the 2020 Excellence in Legislative Advocacy Award from the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for her work as the association’s Public Policy Coordinator, a role she has filled for three years. Additionally she was appointed to the Agricultural Advisory Committee for U.S. House of Representatives member Anthony Brindisi.
Remembering nutrition professor Jean Bowering.
By Valerie Pietra.
Jean L. Bowering, Ph.D., retired Syracuse University Professor of nutrition, passed away April 1 in Ithaca, New York.
Born in 1939 in Yonkers, New York, Dr. Bowering completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University in 1960. There, she was a member of the sorority Chi Gamma, banned by the national organization for pledging a Black member. She worked two years as a research chemist before returning to Cornell to earn her master’s degree in nutrition. One summer during her graduate studies, Dr. Bowering traveled to Guatemala to study nutrition and malnutrition in a developing nation. She later earned her Ph.D. in 1969 at the University of California Berkeley, where from her laboratory she experienced the 1968 tear gassing of anti-war demonstrators. She spent one year at Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. as a post-doctoral research nutritionist before returning to Cornell to serve as an Assistant Professor teaching biochemistry and other nutrition subjects and doing important research on human iron requirements. Another research project involved numerous trips to New York City, as a leader of the East Harlem Nutrition Education Program. She was a member of the “Friends of the Cornell 11” action to sue the University for not equally granting tenure to women.
In 1977, Dr. Bowering left Cornell to join Syracuse University as an Associate Professor, later promoted to full Professor. During her time at Syracuse, she served as director of the graduate program in nutrition and enjoyed two-semester assignments at Syracuse University’s London program, where one of her courses was World Cuisine. A highlight of her research was the first survey in New York State to include both upstate and downstate cities to ascertain the economic situation and food program usage of clients of food pantries and soup kitchens. Dr. Bowering and her friend and colleague, Kate Clancy, Ph.D., oversaw the work and analyzed the data.
“Jean was a wonderful friend for 54 years,” says Dr. Clancy, former Syracuse University professor of nutrition. “She was a devoted teacher and guided many students through their doctoral and master’s degrees on a wide variety of topics. She stayed in touch with most of them over many years, and I’m sure they will continue to remember her as a mentor and a friend.”
Dr. Bowering retired from Syracuse University in 2002. In retirement, she was active as an advisor for Health and Nutrition Studies at the Tompkins County office of Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Besides food and cooking, Dr. Bowering had many other hobbies and skills, including gardening, sewing, woodworking, photography, and reading. As an avid outdoors person, camping was a favorite vacation activity for Dr. Bowering and her husband, often combined with canoeing. She also enjoyed snorkeling and sailing, as well as winter sports such as cross-country skiing. She traveled to all seven continents. Especially enjoyable was the company of distant Australian relatives discovered through genealogical searching.
Remembering the life of Professor Evan Weissman.
By Michele J. Barrett.
Evan L. Weissman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Food Studies, passed away unexpectedly while at home with his family on April 9. Professor Weissman touched the Syracuse community where he lived, and that he loved deeply, with his kindness, his energy, and his passion for social justice.
Professor Weissman joined Falk College in 2012 and was instrumental in working as part of the collaborative team that successfully launched a Bachelor of Science in Food Studies in 2014 and additional academic programs since that time. The undergraduate director of the Food Studies program, he was an affiliated faculty member in Syracuse University’s Aging Studies Institute and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs’ Department of Geography.
He was a highly approachable, committed teacher who was equally comfortable in a classroom and working with students on a compost pile. Whether it was an introductory food studies course or advanced-level offering, Professor Weissman engaged students in community-based work to advance social change. During his popular Farm to Fork course, students explored culinary theory and practice of alternative food networks through cooking laboratories and field trips.
A partnership he created with My Lucky Tummy, a pop-up food court celebrating the refugee and New American community in Syracuse, helped students develop tangible, transferrable skills while making an impact on the community. Students worked side-by-side with chefs from Eritrea, Japan, South Sudan, Iraq, and Bhutan, learning about different cultural foodways and developing related competencies. Students’ deep interest in this particular learning opportunity, and the many hours they volunteered for no pay or credit, exemplified the commitment to making communities stronger that he fostered in his students.
His numerous honors include the Syracuse University Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Recognition Award, the Falk College Faculty of the Year Award for Teaching Excellence, the Syracuse University Faculty Sustainability Fellowship and a Teaching Recognition Award as part of the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professorship Program, which he received in 2015. That same year, students in his Feeding the City course were honored with a Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship, an award Evan and his students received on multiple occasions in recognition of meaningful and sustained engagement.
As a professor and researcher, Evan Weissman connected his students to the causes of inequality to food access and the many ways to address it. His unwavering dedication to these causes led to him to be a co-founder of Syracuse Grows, an organization that supports urban food production through community gardening. His research examined grassroots efforts to address food disparities in urban America. His specializations in local food policy, food deserts, community food systems, food justice, food system inequality, urban agriculture, and community gardens made him an often sought-out expert for national and local media, including W.A.E.R.’s City Limits project focusing on poverty in Syracuse where he discussed how proposed changes to the SNAP food and nutrition program would impact local families, food security, and agriculture in our region.
With scholarship that was directly and consistently focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion through community-engaged, participatory teaching, his research sites often became hosts for students fulfilling practicum requirements, and many of his journal publications included student co-authors.
A collaborator who reached across the Syracuse University and SUNY E.S.F. campuses and beyond, he was the recipient of numerous research grants and awards. Most recently he served as principal investigator of the project, Increasing Demand for Local Foods in Cortland County School Meal Program, funded by Cornell Cooperative Extension / New York State Farm to School to raise awareness of and demand for local foods in schools. He was a co-principal investigator on the CUSE Grant, Turbulent Tenancy: Evictions in Syracuse, further illustrating a life-long commitment to interdisciplinary innovation to build and strengthen communities.
Professor Weissman was a founding member and served on the board of Syracuse Grows, a grassroots network that cultivates food justice through advocacy, education, and resources in support of urban food production, and served on the Onondaga County Agricultural Council. His unwavering dedication to these causes also helped launch the newly formed Syracuse-Onondaga Food Systems Alliance (S.O.F.S.A.), a multi-sector coalition of stakeholders from across the food system in Onondaga County.
His many professional affiliations included the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society, the Association for the Study of Food and Society, and the Association of American Geographers where he often chaired conferences and presented at them.
An associate editor of Urban Agriculture and Regional Food Systems he was also an ad hoc reviewer for Agriculture, Food and Human Values; Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Ethics; Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, and; Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, among others.
Professor Weissman earned his Ph.D. in geography from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. His dissertation, “Cultivating the City: Urban Agriculture and Agrarian Questions in Brooklyn, NY,” explored the tensions between the stated goals and outcomes of urban cultivation. He earned a Master of Arts in sociology and minor in environmental policy from the University of Tennessee, and a Bachelor of Arts in environmental policy, administration and law from Binghamton University.
As an educator, mentor, scholar, and friend, Professor Weissman was committed to the human condition, always problem-solving to build better communities. He inspired those around him to advocate for equity in the food system and beyond. Along with his family, the Falk College community, including current students and countless alumni working for food justice and social justice, will continue the work he believed in so deeply.
We welcome your support!
We continually strive to offer a variety of opportunities to support students in our Nutrition programs in Falk College. From scholarships and financial assistance to immersion programs and experiential field trips, along with inviting distinguished guest lectures to campus and hosting relevant symposiums, Falk College’s nutrition education goes beyond the textbooks and the walls of our classrooms. We would welcome the opportunity to talk and/or meet with you to discuss program support and student learning opportunities.
Please contact Assistant Dean for Advancement, David Salanger, at 315.443.4588, email@example.com or Assistant Director of Development, Megan Myers, at 315.443.1817, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recipes from Pre-Health Summer Camp.
The nutrition part of the pre-health summer camp this year addressed the nutrition concerns around COVID , and how to help patients meet their nutritional needs for recovery with nutrient-dense foods. Campers watched recorded food demonstrations of these recipes, then made one of them and submitted a photo or video and commentary (see related story). Here are recipes and some additional campers’ reactions.
Overnight Oats with Greek Yogurt.
Ingredients (One serving):
1 third cup (80 milliliters) Milk.
1 fourth cup (60 milliliters) Old-fashioned oats.
1 fourth cup (60 milliliters) Greek yogurt.
2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) Chia seeds.
2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) Honey or maple syrup.
1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) cinnamon.
- Combine all ingredients in a mason jar, seal tightly, and shake until all ingredients are uniformly distributed.
- Chill 8 hours or overnight in refrigerator.
- Serve warm (microwave) or cold with fruit, nuts, granola, or whatever toppings you enjoy. Ideas:
- Sliced banana, raisins, other dried fruit.
- Peanut butter.
- Walnuts, pecans, almonds, other nuts.
Estimated nutrient content: Each serving provides 240-280 calories (depending on fat content of the milk), ~ 6 gm fiber, 9.5 gm protein, and more than 10% D.R.I. for calcium (using dairy or fortified soy milk).
To make this vegan: Substitute a plant-based milk (like fortified soy milk) and use maple syrup in place of honey.
To make this gluten-free: Use gluten-free oats.
Camper reactions to Overnight Oats:
"I decided to make overnight oats because I am not much of a breakfast guy and thought this could be a quick and easy breakfast I could prepare for myself before I sleep. The ingredients in this recipe are great for body healing and good for you overall (antioxidants, protein, vitamins, etc.). Overall, this could be a great little meal to have for sick patients. I think I will eat these after a workout too."
"I chose to make the overnight oats recipe because I wanted to change up my breakfast a little bit and it was such a quick and easy recipe! After making it last night, I tried it this morning and it definitely lived up to my expectations. It was delicious, and I made enough to eat tomorrow as well."
"I love eating oatmeal and usually I eat the one that takes five minutes and has so much sugar and many calories. I loved this recipe because it was not only easy to make, it tasted really good too. Now I have a new, healthier recipe for oatmeal."
Sweet Potato - Black Bean Chili.
1.5 pounds sweet potatoes.
1 pound ground turkey breast.
2 cups chopped onion.
2 cloves garlic, crushed.
1 Tablespoon olive oil.
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with their juice (do not drain).
2 Tablespoons chili powder.
2 teaspoons cumin.
1 teaspoon oregano.
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco; can use more for a spicier chili).
- Scrub sweet potatoes, poke hole in potatoes with a fork, and microwave for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften.
- Cook turkey in a skillet for about 8 minutes. Once browned, add to slow cooker.
- In the same skillet used for the turkey, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for about 10 minutes until onion is softened. Add onion and garlic to slow cooker.
- Cut softened sweet potatoes into small chunks and add to slow cooker.
- Stir canned tomatoes, black beans, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and hot pepper sauce into slow cooker and cook for 2 hours.
- Instead of a slow cooker, the chili could be simmered at low temperature in a pot on the stove for 45 minutes to one hour.
- You may want to add a small amount of salt.
- If you will be leaving the slow cooker all day, you may want to add the drained black beans during the last 15-20 minutes before serving so that they will not break apart from overcooking.
Camper reactions to Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili:
"I chose to make the chili because I wanted to make something that my whole family would eat, as most of my family consists of picky eaters. I decided to substitute red beans instead of the black beans because I am allergic to them. This chili helped show me and my brother that even our favorite unhealthy foods can be made organically and in a way that benefits us at the same time."
"I decided to make the black bean and sweet potato chili. I wanted to make something healthy that my entire family could eat together at dinnertime. I added some avocados on the side and some shredded cheese on top for some extra flavor. My family really enjoyed this meal as it was flavorful, filling, and healthier than our traditional chili recipe. This meal provides a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and calories that a recovering patient would need. I highly recommend this recipe!
No-Bake Energy Balls.
1 cup rolled oats.
1 half cup almond butter (can substitute peanut butter).
1 half cup wheat germ or whey protein powder.
3 Tablespoons maple syrup.
1 Tablespoon chia seeds.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
1 half cup Chocolate chips or raisins (optional).
Coconut flakes (optional).
- Mix first seven ingredients together in a bowl, add in raisins or chocolate chips, if desired.
- Roll to form small balls about 1 inch in diameter.
- Roll in coconut flakes, if desired.
Camper reactions to No-Bake Energy Balls:
"I decided to make these because they were super quick to make yet they still contain many nutrients. They are tiny but filling and I would definitely have these as a snack since I am always leaving the house and never have time to sit down and eat. Since they take such a short time to make, I will probably be making these very often. They consist of a lot of protein, which is great not only to repair tissue, but also produce enzymes and hormones. The oats are a great source of daily vitamins and minerals and the almond butter contributes fiber. The fiber will help to fuel colon cells and keep the digestive system healthy."
"Personally, I am not much of a breakfast person. As a child I didn’t enjoy it for a reason I don’t know why. However, making these energy balls was super simple and easy and I really enjoyed it. They are full of great nutrition which can be hard to find in a breakfast meal sometimes. These will allow me to start off my day right, with a meal that consists of a lot pf protein. I will definitely be making these again."
Lemon-Ricotta Yogurt Parfait.
5 oz. container lemon Greek yogurt.
1 fourth cup part-skim ricotta cheese.
1 fourth cup berries or other fruit.
1 Tablespoon nuts.
- Combine the lemon yogurt and ricotta in a bowl. Mix together thoroughly.
- Spoon about a third of the yogurt mixture into a serving dish. Layer about a third of the fruit. Repeat. Top with nuts.
Estimated nutrient content: 272 calories, 25 gm carbohydrates, 5 gm fiber, 21 gm protein. The nutrient content varies based on the fat content of the yogurt and the choice of fruit and nuts.
Camper reactions to Lemon-Ricotta Yogurt Parfait:
"The lemon-ricotta yogurt was so good! I used lime Greek yogurt and it was amazing."
"I chose to make the lemon-ricotta yogurt parfait because, one, it’s very easy to make and, two, I had all the ingredients right in my kitchen. Instead of using blueberries, I used strawberries instead and for the nuts, I used granola."
Stay up to date with us!
To stay informed about news and information in the nutrition programs, as well as Falk College and Syracuse University, visit falk.syr.edu where you will find links to headlines, stories and event calendars that showcase the latest happenings, including virtual programs available from anywhere in the world.
Dr. Loneke Blackman Carr (M.A. 2009) is an assistant professor of community and public health nutrition at the University of Connecticut.
Laura Brown (M.A. 2017, C.A.S. 2018) was elected to serve as 2020-2021 treasurer of the Central New York Dietetic Association.
Heather Brubaker (M.S. 2018, C.A.S. 2019) is a community nutrition educator at the Food Bank of Central New York.
Dr. Jennifer Bueche (Ph.D. 2001) was named a SUNY Distinguished Professor. Dr. Bueche is a professor of food and nutrition at SUNY Oneonta State College and is the director of the Future Education Model graduate dietetics program there.
Lauren (Sausmer) Carey (B.S. 2007), founder of L.B.S. Nutrition L.L.C., was a course director for Managing Challenging Group Dynamics, sponsored by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, at Obesity Week 2019.
Cindy Chan Phillips (M.S. 2011, C.A.S. 2012) founded Cindy Chan Phillips Nutrition, offering nutrition consulting services, in fall 2019.
Emily Danckers (B.S. 2015) visited campus on March 3, 2019 as part of the Alumni Speaker series on Community Health and Wellness sponsored by the Falk College Office of Career Services. She is the Team Sport Dietitian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Rachel Dayan (B.S. 2012) married Jeremy Card in September 2019 in West Park, New York.
Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, (Ph.D. 1988), was the 2019 recipient of the 34th Annual Huddleson Award for the article, “Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of a Home Vegetable Gardening Intervention among Older Cancer Survivors Shows Feasibility, Satisfaction, and Promise in Improving Vegetable and Fruit Consumption, Reassurance of Worth, and the Trajectory of Central Adiposity,” which was featured in the April 2018 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2018;118(4):689-704). The Mary P. Huddleson Memorial Award, named annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, recognizes a registered dietitian nutritionist who is the lead author of an article published in the Journal.
Kristina Didio (B.S. 2018, C.A.S. 2019) is a clinical dietitian at Upstate Medical University Hospital, Community Campus, in Syracuse.
Katrina Dufresne (M.A. 2018) accepted a position as a clinical dietitian at Upstate Medical University Hospital in fall 2019.
Elyse Freschi (B.S. 2013) started a new position as Cardiac Rehab dietitian at Trinity Health of New England in September 2019.
Susan Fukes (B.S. 2018, C.A.S. 2019) is a registered dietitian at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, Syracuse.
Arielle Hall (B.S. 2018) received medical school acceptance to the Fall 2020 entering class of Rowan University.
Jackie Hanks (B.S. 2009) will serve as chair of the Nominating Committee for the Central New York Dietetic Association this coming year.
Dorothy (Wrase) Hares (M.A. 1986) was named to the New York State Department of Education’s Board of Dietetics and Nutrition (B.O.D.A.N.) in fall 2019.
Tessa Hockley (B.S. 2015) joined Bay Medical Sacred Heart, Florida, as a clinical dietitian.
Gillian Kelly (B.S. 2017) accepted a position as campus R.D. for Aramark at James Madison University.
Taylor Kerr (B.S. 2014, C.A.S. 2015) joined the C.N.Y. Family Care practice in fall 2019.
Maria Mahar (M.A. 2006) was the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Dietitian / Nutritionist Award from N.Y.S.A.N.D. The award recognizes outstanding service to N.Y.S.A.N.D. and the dietetics profession and is restricted to those who have served on the N.Y.S.A.N.D. Board of Directors or Operations Council.
Kristina Mallon (B.S. 2014) accepted a position as Procurement Category Manager at Creation Gardens - What Chefs Want! in Colorado.
Dr. LaTisha Marshall (B.S. 1998) visited campus in late October 2019. Dr. Marshall holds an M.P.H. (University of Albany) and Doctor of Public Health (University of Georgia). She is a guest lecturer at both Emory, where she teaches a course on project management, and at the University of Georgia. As a Health Scientist with the C.D.C. for 19 years, she currently works in the epidemiology department focusing on education on the health risks associated with tobacco use in Native American and Alaskan American communities. Her husband is also a Syracuse University alum (Whitman). Dr. Marshall gave a guest lecture in Professor Chaya Charles’ Nutrition Education class.
Hayley Mielnicki (C.A.S. 2019) is a school dietitian for Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES, New Hartford, New York, and the Utica City School District. She is the social media content and recipe creator for HealthbyHayl.
Jacqueline Misch (M.A. 2018, C.A.S. 2019) is a clinical dietitian at The Commons on St. Anthony, Auburn, New York, where she received an employee service award.
Jared Moskowitz (B.S. 2012) joined Bristol Myers-Squibb as a senior validation engineer in September 2019.
Judith Piester, (B.S. 1965, M.S. 1976) visited the department and had a student-produced lunch with the Dean and several current students on November 5, 2019.
Collette Powers (M.A. 2009) presented a one-hour C.P.E. course, Diet Management for Genetic and Autoimmune Causes of Kidney Disease, on DietitianCentral.com in October 2019.
Markell Reid (B.S. 2018, C.A.S. 2019) is the Eat Well, Play Hard dietitian for the Child Care Council of Rochester, New York. She has also started a private practice.
Sam Rodgers (B.S. 2015) is running for the New York State Senate from the 53rd Senate district. After completing his nutrition science degree at Syracuse, where he was co-captain of the football team, Sam completed a law degree at Cornell. He continued in the M.P.A. program in Maxwell.
Christine Santella (B.S. 2018, C.A.S. 2019) is a clinical dietitian at The Commons on St. Anthony, Auburn, New York, and the proud mom of a 7-year old daughter and a 7-month old son.
Steve Senenko, P. A.-C., R.D., (B.S. 2005) joined the Crouse Medical Practice in Camillus, New York in September 2019.
Mariana Serback (B.S. 2016, M.S. 2018, C.A.S. 2019) is a clinical dietitian for Sodexo at the Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scotia, New York. She is also the Social Media Manager for N.Y.S.A.N.D. and the Social Media Chair for the 2021 N.Y.S.A.N.D. Annual Meeting and Expo. She created the Pretty Balanced R.D. blog.
Francesca Sereno (B.S. 2017, C.A.S. 2019) is a clinical dietitian at Loretto Health and Rehabilitation Center, Syracuse, New York. She will serve as the National Nutrition Month chair for the Central New York Dietetic Association for the coming year.
Dr. Kim Stote (Ph.D. 2004) is serving as associate dean for health professions at SUNY Empire State. Since leaving Syracuse University, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, U.S.D.A., and later a Fulbright Scholar appointment at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, as the Research Chair of NutriSciences and Health.
Cary Vachon, M.D. (B.S. 2006) is a physician with CapitalCare Family Practice Guilderland. He was named a partner in January 2020. He completed the M.D. degree at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Cindy Wisor (C.A.S. 2019) is a registered dietitian at Newark-Wayne Community Hospital/DeMay Living Center, Newark, New York, where she received the Employee of the Month Award in May 2020.