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Student Spotlight

AnnaCanova-JeffRice

Scholar tackles the art and science of getting children to eat their vegetables

Anna Canova has loved vegetables all her life. But the Penn State senior and biobehavioral health major understands that getting many young children to eat their vegetables is no easy task.

The Schreyer Honors Scholar hopes to change that with both the work she’s doing on her honors thesis and for the Healthy Bodies Project, a food literacy program directed by Lori Francis, associate professor of biobehavioral health, to introduce low-income preschool children and their families to new fruits and vegetables.

Canova and other undergraduate research assistants will ask teachers in the study to question students on their basic knowledge of the vegetable and to have them try a small piece as part of a pretest. Then, she would come in to engage them in a lesson about cauliflower, using storybooks that she wrote and illustrated.

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We have several opportunities for students to get involved with our lab. First, we offer Independent Study credits for the Fall and Spring semesters. We expect a commitment of roughly 10 hours a week for 3 credits. You may also choose to complete 2 credits (6 hours/week) or 1 credit (3 hours/week). We also always welcome student volunteers when extra hands are needed at big events, such as grocery store tours, end of year events, and health fairs. Internship hours are available in the summer only, upon request.

Our students help collect data, conduct fidelity visits, conduct pre and post-assessments, help set up grocery store tours, plan and facilitate extended nutrition and active play lessons, research curriculum, help cook nutritious treats in our BBH kitchen, and help write posts for our blog and articles for our monthly Family Pages spot.

If you are interested in learning more, or want to apply to become a Lab Assistant, please email for an application.