Why did you choose Mizzou?
I chose Mizzou because of the fantastic research and collaborative environment I observed during my initial visit to campus. Both professors and other graduate students were genuinely interested in me. Further, it was clear to me that the Nutrition and Exercise Physiology department held a large presence on campus as a leader in human physiology research, with on-going multiple clinical human trials. Additionally, access to state-of-the-art facilities such as the MU Nutritional Center for Health, MU Physical and Wellness testing facility and the MU Health Clinical Research Center and more was also enticing.
What is your thesis/dissertation about?
My work focuses on the development and pathogenesis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a chronic liver disease comprised of a spectrum of liver pathologies ranging from simple steatosis to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH; hepatic inflammation and fibrosis) and cirrhosis. My dissertation focuses on how obesity contributes to the onset and progression of NAFLD/NASH in a human population. Further, I will focus on how diet and exercise lifestyle interventions can be used to treated NASH, in clinically diagnosed patients and the mechanisms by which this may occur.
Why did you choose the field you chose?
I must admit when choosing what school to attend for my PhD I was unsure of what I wanted to study. I had a strong interest in the use of lifestyle interventions to prevent and treat many chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. NAFLD interested me as it is associated with many of the previously mentioned chronic diseases. Further, NAFLD increases morbidity and mortality and affects greater than 30% of the general US adult population and there is a critical need to understand how we can prevent the onset and progression of this disease. I was drawn to Dr. Rector’s lab because he takes a translational approach to examine obesity, type 2 diabetes and NAFLD, employing strategies in cell culture systems, small and large animal models, and intervention studies in humans.
Have your career goals changed?
Prior to starting my PhD, I had a strong interest in how exercise can be used to treat chronic disease in cardiac rehabilitation setting. Since coming to Mizzou, I have developed a keen interest in understanding more the molecular mechanisms by which exercise and diet can impact chronic metabolic disease using both human and animal models.
Where do you plan to go upon graduation?
I plan to explore positions as a postdoctoral fellow in a related field upon graduation.
What did you like about Mizzou?
I am very thankful for my time at Mizzou. I feel like it is an excellent student-centered environment for learning and exploring my own research interests. I have made strong friendships and collaborations throughout my time at Mizzou.
Who was your mentor?
My mentor is Dr. Scott Rector.