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Explore Health and Human Development


Shana Adise

Shana Adise received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (cognitive neuroscience) from the City College of New York. A third year graduate student, Shana holds a fellowship from the USDA Childhood Obesity Prevention Training Program. She came to Penn State with an interest in using fMRI to understand the neural correlates of food selection. Since then, her interests have expanded (or narrowed) to understand how inhibitory control and reward sensitivity differences apply to food-based decisions. Shana is interested in exploring how these decisions differ amongst healthy and overweight children. Her future goals are to continue conducting research in an academic environment.

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Marielle Austen

Marielle Austen

Marielle is a senior majoring in Nutritional Sciences in the Dietetics option with a minor in Health Policy and Administration. She began working in the Metabolic Kitchen in January of 2016, and is currently a research assistant for the Commercials Study. Marielle is also an active member of the Health and Human Development National Honor Society and volunteers in the Nutrition Department at the Mount Nittany Medical Center. Upon graduation, Marielle hopes to become a Registered Dietitian and work as a clinical dietitian. Her interests include childhood obesity prevention, nutrition therapy for eating disorders, and nutrition support. In the future, she hopes to obtain a Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) certification and work in a hospital.

Emma Beidler

Emma Beidler graduated from Penn State in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences and a minor in Business. As an undergraduate, she worked in Dr. Keller's lab, completing her Honors Thesis on the impact novel brand packaging has on child consumption of a test meal. After graduation, she completed her Dietetic Internship with Penn State and now works as a long term care dietitian in Honey Brook, PA.

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Maria Bermudez

Maria Bermudez

Maria is from Guayaquil, Ecuador. She received her B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from Penn State University. She is currently a research assistant for the Commercial Study and leads the Test Retest Study. Maria plans to attend to graduate school where she will focus on Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Her ultimate goal is to conduct research in Ecuador that would lead to the development of successful nutritional programs through collaborations with governments, nonprofit organizations, and food planning/food delivery systems at a scale that would reach populations diverse in age and lifestyle. She is motivated to return to Ecuador after graduate school and work with national health and nutrition programs, to improve the level of nutrition available to all people in Ecuador.

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Rachel Bloom

Rachel Bloom

My name is Rachel Bloom and I am a Penn State alumna from 2014, having received a Bachelor of Sciences in Nutritional Sciences and a minor in Psychology. I was also a Schreyers Scholar. I worked as an undergraduate researcher from June 2012-May 2014. My undergraduate thesis investigated the influence of genetic variation on taste perception, fat preference, fat intake, and Body Mass Index (BMI). After graduation, I completed the Dietetic Internship at The University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, a 10-month program with an extensive clinical focus. I have since been working as a Clinical Dietitian at a hospital in Baltimore, MD.

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Arimani Caprio

Arimani Caprio

Arimani Caprio was a Research Assistant for the Decision-Making Study as an undergraduate. She also completed an Honors Thesis based on research investigating relationships between Eating in the Absence of Hunger (EAH), child weight status, Loss of Controlled Eating, and food-consuming behaviors observed during EAH in 7-11 year-old children. She has since graduated with a degree in Biology with a Vertebrate Physiology option, and is considering a career in pediatric medicine.

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Lizz Carney

Lizz Carney

Lizz started working in the Metabolic Kitchen and Children’s Eating Behavior Laboratory in 2013. She is currently enrolled at Penn State in the Integrated Undergraduate Graduate program through the Schreyer Honors College. She will graduate in 2017 with her Master’s degree in Food Science and Bachelor’s degrees in Food Science and Nutritional Sciences. She has contributed significantly to many projects in the laboratory, but is currently in charge of the Children’s Taste Study. This project investigates flavor preferences and vegetable intake in preschool-aged children. After graduation, Lizz plans to pursue a Ph.D. to continue her research on prenatal taste development, flavor exposure, and the influence of early feeding practices on lifelong eating habits.

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Lauren Cherry

Lauren completed a coordinated dietetic internship and Master's degree program at Case Western Reserve University and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Cleveland, OH. Lauren developed passions for pediatric and neonatal nutrition while studying in graduate school and completing internship rotations, and loves being able to make connections between what she observed in the lab, learned in the classroom, and sees in the hospital. She currently practices as a Registered Dietitian in the Greater Philadelphia Area.

Alexandra Close

Alex Close

Alex is a undergraduate student studying Nutritional Sciences in the applied science option. She is currently working on the CTSI Hunger and Fullness Study, Dairy Study and McCormick Study. She was awarded with the Erickson Summer Discovery Grant to continue her research in the summer to look at the relationship between maternal maladaptive eating behaviors and the development of overeating and obesity development in children. Outside of the lab, Alex is the President of the Student Nutrition Association and has started several programs within the community such as teaching students with special needs nutrition related topics and creating recipe cards to be given out at local food banks. She has also worked as a teaching assistant for an upper level nutrition course at Penn State.

Morgan Devine

Morgan Devine

Morgan Devine started working as an undergraduate research assistant in the Metabolic Kitchen and Children’s Kitchen Eating Behavior Laboratory in March 2016, assisting with the Decision Making Study. She has since graduated from Penn State University, majoring in Biobehavioral Health. Her goal was to work with children in a medical setting and she was considering applying to medical school after graduation.

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Laural Kelly English

Laural Kelly English holds a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from Allegheny College, where she focused on prenatal and neonatal risk factors of schizophrenia. Laural earned her Master of Science in Nutrition from Meredith College and is co-author of the Color Me Healthy for SNAP-Ed nutrition curriculum for preschoolers. Laural previously oversaw nutrition education programming for the state of North Carolina before returning to Penn State. Her research interests include the role of food cues and underlying neural mechanisms in eating behavior of children and mothers.

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Lauren Firetto

Lauren Firetto

Lauren is an undergraduate student majoring in Nutritional Sciences and minoring in Biology. She began working in the Metabolic Kitchen in January of 2016, and is currently a research assistant for the Decision-Making Study. Upon graduation, she plans to attend dental school and specialize in pediatric dentistry. She truly enjoys working with children and looks forward to learning more about how food-based decisions differ amongst healthy and overweight children.

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S. Nicole Fearnbach

Nicole is a PhD candidate in Nutritional Sciences and USDA Childhood Obesity Prevention Training Fellow. She graduated with a B.S. in Exercise Science from Florida State University in 2012, and has since been working as a graduate research assistant in the Children’s Eating Behavior Lab. Her primary research interests are in the neurological and physiological control of appetite and food intake in children. She is also interested in the interaction between exercise and eating behavior.

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Juliana Fritts

Juliana is a Master’s student in Food Science from Atlanta, Georgia. She received a Bachelor’s of Science in Food Science from the University of Georgia in 2016. Juliana is the project lead for the “Spice it Up” project. This cafeteria intervention study is looking at the impact of herbs and spices on vegetable liking and intake in a local middle and high school lunch program. After developing new recipes using herbs and spices, the team conducted taste tests with the students to fine-tune the recipes. The team is now adding the recipes to the school lunch line to test whether the spices do improve vegetable favorability. After her Master’s, Juliana hopes to work as a food scientist in product development focused on improving the palatability of healthy foods for children and families.

Megan Lasko

Megan Lasko

Megan is a 2016 graduate of Penn State’s Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics program. As an undergraduate research assistant in the Metabolic Kitchen, Megan worked with the Dairy Study, the CTSI study, and the Spice Study. While at Penn State, she was also an active member of the Student Nutrition Association, volunteered as a LifeLink nutrition educator, and worked as the nutrition coordinator for a Centre County community wellness initiative, the Nutrition Habit Challenge. In September 2016, Megan will begin both her dietetic internship through Sodexo’s Allentown campus, as well the University of Rhode Island’s online master’s program in Dietetics. Graduation from both programs is set for fall 2017, after which Megan would like to pursue a career in medical nutrition therapy.

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Ella Lundquist

Ella is a senior majoring in Nutritional Sciences in the Dietetics option and is a member of the Schreyer Honors College. She began working in the Metabolic Kitchen in October of 2016 and is currently a research assistant for the Commercials Study. In addition, Ella is writing her Honors Thesis on how specific coping behaviors during a Delay Discounting paradigm influence caloric intake in children ages 7-9. After graduation, Ella hopes to become a Registered Dietitian and work in a clinical pediatric unit. Her interests in the field of nutrition include pediatric care, eating behaviors and disorders, and chronic disease.

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Travis Masterson