Stempel’s Dietetics & Nutrition students to present at ASN’s 2021 Live Online Conference

Dietetics and nutrition students from Stempel College will present this week at the American Society for Nutrition’s (ASN) 2021 Live Online Conference. The conference runs from June 7-10 and showcases original research studies, sessions on high-impact research, and special lectures by some of the most recognized names in the field of nutrition.

Register here and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #NutritionLiveOnline.

Dietetics students participating in the conference will present their findings through informational posters to help draw attention to critical topics in dietetics and nutrition.

The following students will participate in this year’s event: Christie Kirchoff, Gabriel Corea, Hyojung Kim, Jafar Ali Ajaj Jaafar, Jennifer Bolton, Jordan Faith, Jose A. Bastida Rodriguez, Karina Abadia, Karla de la Torre Cedeno, Lukkamol Prapkree, Malik Ellington, Margaret Gutierrez, Mashael Huwaikem, Niliarys Sifre, Preciosa M. Martinez Motta, Priscilla Clayton, and Rianna Uddin.

“I am proud of these Stempel students who are dedicating their lives to help people live healthier lives,” said Tomás R. Guilarte, dean of Stempel College. “Each student was inspired to join this field to contribute to the greater good, and it’s great to see the progress they are making to make this a reality.”

Read about a few of the students presenting at the conference this week below.

Rianna Uddin
Master’s program student; Enrolled in FIU’s dietetic internship

I decided to pursue a degree in dietetics and nutrition after seeing the power of nutrition in action; nutrition can completely reverse illnesses like diabetes type 2 and other illnesses. My baby sister suffered from severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and after seeing an alternative therapist who focused on diet, she went into remission.

Tell us about what you are presenting this week.
I will be presenting research on disordered eating related to stress in obese and overweight college students, as part of the Snackability trial, led by Associate Professor Dr. Cristina Palacios.

Why is this important?
This topic is important because college students are at an increased risk for disordered eating due to the stress of academia, and substantiated data can be used to propose the implementation of stress management programs and awareness of disordered eating on college campuses.

What do you hope people walk away with after hearing your presentation?
I hope people walk away with an awareness of the implications of a high-stress environment on college students. I also hope that it can aid in breaking the stigma around disordered eating.

Jafar Ali Ajaj Jaafar
Graduate of master’s program; Enrolled in FIU’s dietetic internship

I was born in Lebanon and moved to Qatar to work as a clinical dietitian. It was when I made the move to Miami that I decided to pursue higher education. After extensive research, I found Stempel College at FIU to be the most interesting program, especially with the amazing research opportunities Stempel College offered.

Tell us about what you are presenting this week.
I will be presenting a poster about adapting recruitment methods for randomized clinical trials during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was a part of the Snackability trial, led by Dr. Palacios, that we had to fully convert into an online format due to quarantine social distancing. Thus we experimented with several recruitment methods, including contacting professors of several national universities and asking them to share our flyers with their students. We also utilized social media like Instagram and Facebook and depended on word of mouth from friends.

Why is this important?
This pandemic has impacted the world in ways we never imagined. It distanced people and made recruitment for clinical trials very challenging. Exploring alternative methods for effective recruitment will help other researchers achieve their recruitment goals despite the distance. It will also open the way to reach larger populations to aid clinical trials, resulting in more accurate and reliable results.

What do you hope people walk away with after hearing your presentation?
That people will learn about the alternative recruitment methods available to them to complete their studies and reach their goals despite the changes in how we live our lives. Where there is a will, there is always a way.

Lukkamol Prapkree
Ph.D. student; Enrolled in FIU’s dietetic internship

I’m from Thailand, and during undergrad, I studied food science and technology. That led me to work in the food industry as a food scientist. But I wanted to be more involved in helping people pick healthier foods. Not a lot of schools in the U.S. have Ph.D. programs that focus on dietetics and nutrition. I found the program at FIU, applied and got accepted to pursue my doctoral degree.

Tell us about what you are presenting this week.
I’m going to present my research topic in snack consumption and food security among college students during the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of the Snackability trial, led by Dr. Palacios. Through a questionnaire, we asked college students if they knew how to choose healthy snacks. About 80% of the college students surveyed agreed that they knew how to choose them. When asked what types of snacks were available to them, 71% of participants shared that only unhealthy snacks are available and accessible.

Why is this important?
We found a significant association between unhealthy snacks and obesity in college students. Students’ food security and their income status were both major factors in determining their accessibility and availability to healthy snacks. Our results can contribute to future studies that can lead to more interventions and more research to help students improve their snack choices.

What do you hope people walk away with after hearing your presentation?
Low food security and low-income college students have more availability and accessibility to unhealthy snacks than college students with high-income and high food security.

Jose Bastida

Ph.D. student

Public health is very important to me and, in particular, the diet and nutrition aspect. Diet is one of the major contributors to many non-communicable diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. So by pursuing a career in dietetics and nutrition, my goal is to help individuals achieve better health status through diet and nutrition intervention and possibly prevent the development of those diseases.

Tell us about what you are presenting this week.
I am presenting my abstracts on the effects of marijuana use and its association with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. I looked at how marijuana use affected the CVD risk score of people living with HIV and non-infected participants from the MASH cohort studies, led by Dr. Marianna Baum.

Why is this important?
Marijuana is becoming a less regulated substance every year and is recommended for certain individuals who benefit from using it. However, we do not know all of the long-term health effects of using marijuana. The literature is still uncertain about the possible detriment of using marijuana on CVD development. So, the abstract shows another look at how marijuana may be either good or bad for cardiovascular health.

What do you hope people walk away with after hearing your presentation?
I hope that people understand that marijuana, while beneficial for some people, may not be beneficial for everyone else, especially those at greater risk of CVD. Marijuana should be used with caution, and additional research should be done in other populations before cementing a statement about the effects of marijuana use on CVD risk.

Click here to learn more about the Department of Dietetics & Nutrition at Stempel College.