MS Alumni Career Paths and Profiles
Graduates of the Institute of Human Nutrition MS program go on to medical and dental school, basic science research, the healthcare industry, clinical research, medical education, healthcare communications, and public health.
Fourteen IHN MS program graduates met with current MS students on October 6, 2015 to discuss their career paths and how the MS in Nutrition has been incorporated into their positions. Their profiles are listed below.
Kasey Faulkner, MS ('13) is currently a Research Assistant with the LIFT (Lifestyle Intervention for Pregnancy) Study. The goal of their study is to determine if nutritional and fitness intervention helps women to stay within the Institute of Medicine guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. They are also looking to see if staying within these guidelines influences the health of the baby, specifically looking at the baby's body composition, and if these help the mother to return to her pre-pregnancy weight. Kasey helps in all roles of the study from recruitment to data collection to delivering the intervention. Currently, she is applying to go back to school to become a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).
Alex Goglia, MS ('11) is in his third year of the MD/PhD program run by Rutgers RWJMS (for the MD) and Princeton University (for the PhD). After graduating from the IHN, he spent two years working in a cancer research laboratory at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. His long-term research and clinical interests revolve around cancer and its genomic/epigenomic characteristics.
Elizabeth Hutchins, MS ('10) attended Columbia College where she majored in Neuroscience and Behavior and graduated in 2008. After graduation she worked for a year at an urgent care and then attended the Institute of Human Nutrition, graduating with an MS degree in 2010. Her Master's thesis was done with Christopher Ochner, Ph.D., and involved fMRI of patients pre- and post-Roux-en-y bariatric surgery. After her masters she worked for two years doing clinical cancer research at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. She matriculated to Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2012 and is currently a fourth year medical student.
Vivian Lam, MS ('14) works for healthcare innovation lab, HITLAB, based out of NYC. They operate in the digital health space and work with a diverse range of partners – governments, foundations, startups, providers, private corporations etc. to help design, test and diffuse technology to address healthcare challenges, across the globe. As a research coordinator, she supports the execution of studies that evaluate the efficacy of healthcare tools.
Dr. Joshua Marr, MM, MS ('10), MD, did his thesis work for the MS program in research on bariatric surgery outcomes in adolescents. He attended Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and graduated in 2014. He is currently a PGY-2 at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in the Department of Anesthesiology with an anticipated graduation of 2018. In addition, he has served as TA for Growth and Development and Clinical Nutrition since 2012.
Haruka Okamoto, MS ('99), PhD ('04) obtained her PhD at Columbia University in the Institute of Human Nutrition in 2004, and joined Regeneron Pharmaceuticals as a postdoctoral scientist. She is currently a Staff Scientist in Muscle and Metabolism Target Discovery at Regeneron. Her research interest is Type 2 Diabetes.
Erin Paxson, MS ('09) received her MS from the Institute of Human Nutrition in 2009 and became the Admissions and Thesis Coordinator for the MS Program. In Spring 2010, she started her MPH at the Mailman School of Public Health to deepen her study of epidemiology and maternal and child health. Meanwhile, Erin realized her passion for supporting educational and professional development via administration, and she became the Institute’s Administrative Manager. Erin enjoys working with students, faculty, and staff at the IHN and endeavors to continuously expand her skillset beyond the broad foundation that was built while she was in the MS program.
Johannah Sakimura, MS ('08) is a nutrition communications professional with experience in print, television, digital, and social media. Most recently, Johannah worked as a health news editor for Everyday Health, a major consumer health website. Prior to this role, Johannah served as Editorial Director of Health and Nutrition at Joy Bauer Ventures for four years, where she developed content for nutrition and health segments on NBC’s TODAY Show, and contributed to numerous bestselling health and wellness books.
Johannah is also a freelance writer whose publications have appeared in leading national lifestyle magazines. She also writes a weekly blog, Nutrition Sleuth, for Everyday Health. Johannah is currently working toward her Registered Dietitian certification and is completing her dietetic internship at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She recently completed the DPD requirements at Rutgers University.
Sorana Schneider, MS ('12) graduated with Bachelors of Science degree in Biology with Honors from McMaster University in 2011. Her IHN Master's Thesis is "Maternal Periodontal Disease During Pregnancy and Its effects on Oral Cavity Development of Premature Infants". Upon completion of the MS program, Sorana worked as a Study Coordinator for the Family Nurture Intervention NICU Study being conducted here at Babies Hospital. She also dabbled in bench research with the BrainGut Initiative. Sorana is now on the path to completing her lifelong dream of becoming a dentist and will graduate in 2017.
Alexa Squillaro, MS ('12) has been involved in nutrition education for youth throughout her undergraduate and graduate careers. Alexa's Master's thesis research was with Grow NYC's Youth Education sector. She was responsible for planning lessons and background information for the Seed to Plate program, as well as creating and implementing surveys and evaluations.
Upon finishing her degree at the IHN, Alexa started working with CHALK as the Fitness Coordinator, where she works to implement statewide fitness standards in enrolled schools, and promotes healthy nutrition in schools and the community.
Keith Ayoob, RD, EdD ('78) is a pediatric nutritionist and associate clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is also the director of the Nutrition Clinic at the Rose F. Kennedy Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Ayoob specializes in child and adult nutrition, obesity and heart health, and is focused on the health issues of early-onset overweight children as well as those in children with special health care needs. He served as a national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association for nine years and has given over 1000 interviews in both the electronic and print media. Dr. Ayoob is the co-author of the American Dietetic Association’s position paper on food and nutrition misinformation. Currently, in addition to being a frequent guest on Healthy Life with Dr. Tim Johnson on the ABC NewsNow network, Dr. Ayoob is also asked to comment on timely nutrition news for ABCNews.com and has a blog onUSAToday.com that focuses on healthy lifestyle and weight management issues. In 2005 he wrote The Uncle Sam Diet, the first book about the 2005 US Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
John Buza, MS ('08), MD After completing his thesis work at the Institute of Human Nutrition, John began his medical school studies at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he graduated in 2012. He is currently completing his residency at New York University School of Medicine in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery.
Mary DiGiorgi, MS ('07), MPH, PhD is Assistant Professor of Clinical Human Nutrition in the Department of Surgery at Columbia University and Associate Director of the Medical Nutrition Program for Health Professionals. Before she completed her PhD, she was a teaching assistant at the IHN and Research Manager at the Columbia University Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery. She received her PhD from the Behavioral Nutrition program with a specialization in Nutritional Epidemiology at Teachers College, Columbia University. Ms. DiGiorgi completed an MPH in Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health concurrent with her MS degree in Nutrition. While she was a student she was a programmer/data analyst for the Division of General Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center. As she gained experience in research methods she became more involved in study design and statistical analysis. Shortly after completing her Master’s degrees Ms. DiGiorgi began working exclusively with the Columbia University Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery. She has published many clinical research papers in the field of endocrine surgery, surgical oncology and bariatric surgery.
I.J. Frame, MS ('07) Dr. I.J. Frame is a student in the combined MD/PhD program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed his PhD thesis research in the Physiology and Biophysics Department and is continuing his medical training. After graduating from the IHN in 2007, he worked as a research technician and focused on having fun and enjoying life. Today, he still has fun and enjoys life, but he looks forward to a career as a physician scientist.
Gerald Friedman, MD, MS ('00) completed his MS degree in Nutrition at Columbia in 2000 when he was still in active practice (Gastroenterology). His original interest in nutrition stemmed from a continuing interest in research (his PhD thesis was in experimental obesity), and updating his interest in genetics. Dr. Friedman’s thesis at Columbia was on the impact of probiotics in gastroenterology. Since graduation, he continued to do clinical research on probiotic therapy and has published two scientific papers and one book chapter relating to probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and another book chapter relating to the use of probiotics in alternative medicine. Dr. Friedman is currently teaching Gastroenterology Fellows the value of nutrition in gastroenterology and the use of nutrition support in hospitalized patients. He is also working on a new curriculum in an effort to introduce nutrition to medical students at the Mount Sinai School of medicine.
Michael Kelleman, MS ('08) after completing his MS in Nutrition, Michael worked as a research technician in Dr. Vasselli's lab at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, with animal models of diabetes and obesity and in 2009 became the coordinator for Dr. St-Onge's Capsinoid Weight Loss Study, which examined the effects of Capsinoid-containing gel capsules, in conjunction with diet and exercise, on body composition. Mr. He recently completed his MSPH in Biostatistics at the Rollins School of Public Health and is currently a healthcare consultant at Onocology Solutions in Atlanta, Georgia.
Elena Ladas, MS ('00), RD is the Director of the Integrative Therapies Program. She counsels patients and families on nutrition and CAM therapies and integrates complementary therapies into her nutrition practice. Ms. Ladas is the Chair of the Nutrition Committee of Children's Oncology Group, on the National Cancer Institute's PDQ Complementary and Alternative Medicine Editorial Board and Advisory Board, and Supportive Care Advisory Board. She is also a member of Children's Oncology Group's steering committee for complementary/alternative medicine. Ms. Ladas has numerous publications on the topics of nutrition and CAM and has lectured internationally on the topics of nutrition, CAM, and pediatrics. Ms. Ladas is an adjunct professor at Touro College and lectures at the Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia University. Her research interests lie in evaluating the safety of efficacy of nutrition and CAM therapies as supportive care agents.
Anthony LoPresti, MS ('01), D.D.S. has been on staff at New York Presbyterian hospital in the Oral, Facial and Head Pain Clinic since 1984. He decided to get his MS in Nutrition to further his ability to help this difficult group of patients. The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is a susceptible joint to breakdown and significant pain. Dr. LoPresti’s Master’s Thesis focused on the correlation that nutrition, specifically VitC, Vit E and Selenium, has on the health of the joint. Today joint replacements are performed much too quickly. Dr. LoPresti’s thought was that proper nutrition leading to sufficient anti-oxidant concentrations in the joint fluid can decrease the free radical damage that can lead to cartilage and bone damage. His thesis established that a concentration gradient does exist in TM joints as compared to the plasma confirming its protective effect.
Moneek Madra, MS ('06), PhD ('15) is a Lecturer at the Institute of Human Nutrition and Research Associate in the laboratory of Lori Zeltser at Columbia University. She completed her master's of nutrition in 2006 before entering the IHN's Nutritional and Metabolic Biology PhD program. Her research focuses on Anorexia Nervosa, specializing on neuroendocrine and early postnatal stress outcomes associated with adolescent abnormal feeding behavior. Her work encompasses several integrative areas including neuroscience, physiology and psychiatry. The IHN MS program was the catalyst for her interest in basic science research, through classes and her thesis project. The skills she amassed in the MS program have been invaluable to her research and educational pursuits.
Mary Matsui, PhD ('86) is currently the Executive Director of External Research at the Estee Lauder Companies. She functions as an academic/industry liaison, designing and supervising research, developing in vitro model systems for screening new materials, and collaborating with company and academic researchers to discover novel treatment approaches for various aspects of skin biology. Dr. Matsui has extensive expertise in the effects of sunlight on the skin such as UV-induced immune suppression, DNA damage, and skin cancer. She is particularly fascinated by the use of botanical extracts to counteract the process of photoaging. Dr. Matsui is also interested in disorders of pigmentation. She initiated and currently directs the DNA repair and pigmentation research at the Kobe Skin Research Institute in Kobe, Japan through collaboration with Doshisha University. This group is working on several novel concepts and treatment options for hyperpigmentation. She often gives invited talks to diverse groups including the Japanese Society for Photoaging, The Chinese Academy of Dermatology, The American Academy of Dermatology, The International Pigment Cell Society, and the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.
Ranadeb Mukherjee, MS ('05) After completing his MS in Nutrition, Ranadeb worked as a paralegal at a law firm in Washington, D.C. His goal at that time was to learn more about the legal profession in order to determine whether law school offered a desirable future. He was fortunate to get good substantive experience: he attended two civil trials and had the opportunity to work on several legal briefs and political advocacy papers. In 2007 he enrolled at NYU School of Law, where he graduated cum laude in 2010. He is now an associate in Covington nad Burling LLP's litigation practice group. He is interested in administrative and regulatory law, as well as criminal law, and hopes to find meaningful opportunities for public service throughout his career.
Amy Roberts, MS ('08), PhD After graduating from the MS program, Amy worked in Marie-Pierre St-Onge's lab at St Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center. She was the research coordinator for Sleep Deprivation and Energy Balance Study. This study examines the effect of short sleep times on factors affecting appetite and energy balance. Ms. Roberts also assisted with Dr.St-Onge's Kraft weight loss, and her Capsinoid weight loss studies. Dr. Roberts has recently completed her PhD in Nutrition Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is working with Healthy Bytes, a nutrition billing software program that helps dieticians receive reimbursements from insurance companies.
Kelly Ruggles, MS ('08), PhD ('12) After graduating from the IHN's MS program in 2007, Kelly pursued her PhD in the IHN's Nutritional and Metabolic Biology PhD program. She is currently a research scientist and mathematical modeler in the Section on Value and Effectiveness (SOLVE), in the Department of Population Health at New York University's Langone Medical Center.
Sue Shapses, PhD ('88) is a Professor in Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University and the Director of the New Jersey Obesity Group. Her research focuses on how bone is regulated in obese women and during caloric restriction. A goal is to determine optimal diet regimens to minimize bone loss by examining nutrient absorption, body composition and the hormonal regulation of bone metabolism and quality. Her work involves a collaborative effort from basic scientists and clinicians using a translational approach to study the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity and osteoporosis.
Fatima Oliveira Tsiouris, MS ('04), CNS is a clinical nutritionist by training, serves as the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS (pMTCT) Associate Program Director and Nutrition Advisor for several International Centers for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) host countries. Under the University Technical Assistance Program (UTAP), Ms. Tsiouris has been supporting the development and implementation of two model pMTCT centers in Mozambique. She also serves as a Clinical Nutritionist in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Harlem Hospital where she mainly provides nutritional assessments, counseling and supplementation interventions for sero-positive individuals. Before joining ICAP, Ms. Tsiouris served as a consultant for MCAP Mozambique and joined the team full-time in September of 2004. She also worked as a community liaison and research assistant with the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies (CUES) at the New York Academy of Medicine. Ms. Tsiouris’ interests include the double burden of HIV/AIDS and malnutrition as well as the profound influence nutrition has on the immune system. She holds an MS degree in Human Nutrition from the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University and a bachelors degree in Religious Studies from New York University.