A core objective of the NRI is to provide training opportunities to the next generation of researchers in precision nutrition, including graduate and undergraduate students. These young researchers, selected from the tops of their classes, are mentored by the NRI’s principal investigators while completing their degrees. Recently, three students have achieved great success in their education because of their hard work.

Hannah Petry, a graduate student joining the Mooney Lab in July, has won two awards, wrapping up her undergraduate studies at the top of her class. She was given the Outstanding Senior Award for her major in Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics at Texas Tech University, an honor reflecting her strong work ethic. Petry was also awarded Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher for the Texas Tech University Undergrad Research Conference where she was ranked at the top of her impact area by reviewers.

“I am excited to be joining Dr. Mooney’s team this year and learning more about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder,” said Petry. “I am interested in researching maternal and infant nutrition, and feel that Dr. Mooney’s lab will be the perfect opportunity to expand my knowledge in this area in order to help new mothers navigate their journey.” 

Alexander Pfeil, a graduate student in the Hursting lab, recently won Best Graduate Student Oral Presentation at the UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) Student Research Symposium. The symposium receives abstracts from both undergraduate and graduate students currently working in a lab or research group of a UNC NORC member. Only four prizes are awarded: two for graduate students and two for undergraduates. Pfiel’s award was given for his oral presentation, “Pyruvate carboxylase regulates mammary tumor microenvironment composition via central carbon metabolism,” discussing research he has been working on with NRI Director Steve Hursting. Pfeil joined the Hursting lab as an undergraduate during his sophomore year and is currently completing an MS in Nutrition.

Alleigh Wiggs, student intern in the Sumner Lab, has been accepted by the UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine after recently completing her Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree with a specialty in Nutrition. Over the past two years, Wiggs conducted research with Delisha Stewart, PhD, Blake Rushing, PhD, and Susan Sumner, PhD. While at the NRI, Wiggs became passionate about using nutrition as a means for the prevention or treatment of disease, particularly in studies of women’s health. Wiggs plans to specialize in cardiology or as an OB/GYN. You can read about her research here: Frontiers in Endocrinology.

“As a student, I was pushed to be active in the research process and it has changed how I approach scientific literature and research,” said Wiggs. “Dr. Sumner does a wonderful job pushing her student research assistants to think critically and pursue their interests. Many students at UNC are involved in research, but few get to be as involved as I was at the NRI. As I head into the UNC School of Medicine, I know that I have an extra tool to offer my patients. Earning a BSPH in Nutrition helped me understand how food acts in the body, however, my research with the Sumner Lab has allowed me to dive deeper; specifically, in how compounds in foods can act as nutraceuticals to prevent or treat disease through their biochemical actions.”

The NRI is proud to be a contributing factor in these exceptional students’ academic journeys.

Posted: May 13, 2022