BSPH Nutrition Student Ambassadors
Below are the current student ambassadors for the Bachelor of Science in Public Health program in Nutrition. Feel free to contact one or two of these students to ask questions you may have about the application process, the program, or student life in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Eleanor Christianson is a junior from Wayzata, Minnesota currently double majoring in Nutrition, Health, and Society and Medical Anthropology with a minor in chemistry. Her curiosity about nutrition began with her interest in studying the relationship between food and culture. At Chapel Hill, she became involved with TABLE and the UNC Food Justice Alliance which gave her an increased awareness of the effects of food insecurity on early childhood development. Eleanor spent the summer studying sustainability in the cattle industry in Texas. She is currently researching discussions of complimentary feeding habits on social media platforms as well as the effect of intestinal parasites on human remains. Eleanor plans on continuing to study food culture, sustainability, and insecurity at Gillings. After graduating, she hopes to pursue a career in public health to make an impact on food related health disparities. In her spare time she enjoys sailing, cooking, and longboarding.
Meet Anna! Anna is a junior Nutrition Health and Society and Exercise and Sports Science double major from Hillsborough, North Carolina. A competitive swimmer for 12 years, Anna’s interest in Nutrition started with sports and sport performance. Realizing how much diet affected her athletic performance made nutrition something that has fascinated Anna from a young age. Throughout high school, Anna continued to explore nutrition and more importantly, nutritional disparities. As a senior in high school, she researched with Dr. Alice Ammerman on her project “Good Bowls,” a healthy frozen meal created in effort to make more healthy options available in food swamps and deserts. Now Anna is interested in using lifestyle choices to prevent and treat chronic illnesses. Currently she researches in an NIH-funded EXSS lab that is using an exercise intervention to improve overall health and quality of life for patients with Schizophrenia, and in the Cassidy Plasticity Lab on the STRIDE study that uses social support and education to help stroke patients adhere to their rehabilitation treatments upon returning home from the hospital post stroke. Outside of Gillings she serves as the Vice President for CPALS and Secretary for AED. In the future, Anna hopes to work for NASA, researching ways to use diet and exercise to combat health complications astronauts face after being in space.
Meet Rhea! Rhea is a Junior from Cary, NC majoring in Nutrition Science and Research with minors in chemistry and creative writing. Her interest in nutrition stems from her experiences working with local anti-hunger organizations such as No Kid Hungry NC, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, and SEEDS in Durham. Her research interests lie at the intersection of food, health, and equity. She currently works with Dr. Lindsey Smith Taillie in the Global Food Research Program, studying federal and international policies to reduce nutrition disparities and diet-related disease. In addition, Rhea is involved with the Orange County Food Council, UNC Minority Health Conference, and the Health Humanities Journal of UNC. In the future, she plans to pursue graduate school and continue working to achieve global nutrition security through policy, systems, and environmental change. Outside of school, Rhea enjoys reading fiction, trying new restaurants, and ice skating!
Kena Lemu is a Senior in the BSPH Nutrition program with a double major in Medical anthropology. She is originally from Oromia and first became interested in Nutrition through her interest in HIV/AIDS and its crucial link with malnutrition. Kena started out her research experience with infectious diseases as a senior in high school. She continued to pursue different research experiences in college ranging from HIV-1 cure studies in the Margolis lab to effects of cellular metabolism on HIV-1 infected CD4+ T-cells at Johns Hopkins. Currently, Kena works with Dr. Folami Ideraabdullah investigating the effects of micronutrients on the programing of CD4+ T-cells to understand the effects of nutrition on immune function. Outside of Gillings, Kena is the Co-president of the Refugee Support Center at Carolina and serves as a governor and director of programing on RHA’s Social Justice Advocacy Board. After graduating, Kena plans to pursue an MD/PhD. As a physician scientist, she hopes to continue to work on HIV cure studies while providing health care to underserved communities. Her long-term goal is to help influence a better health care system in Oromia and other parts of Africa.
Chiragji “Chigz” Odedra is a Senior international student from the United Kingdom (but has resided in Cedar Point, NC for 12 years) majoring in Nutrition and minoring in Chemistry. His research includes working with the UNC Weight Research Program on behavioral weight management interventions for young adults and cancer survivors with the use of technology and social media. Additionally, he works as a Research Technician Intern at Lucas Research, a world-class clinical research site in Morehead City, NC with a strong focus on research for diseases of the endocrine system. After graduation, Chiragji intends to pursue a degree in medicine and use his knowledge in the BSPH Nutrition program and life experiences to help others in their pursuit of healthy behavioral adjustments and mitigate overprescription of certain drugs. Outside of academics, Chigz enjoys working out and sunsets, practicing mindfulness exercises (e.g. yoga and meditation), playing beach volleyball and ping pong, and producing RnB/Hip-hop music.
Meet Maliha! Maliha is a junior Nutrition Science and Research major with minors in medical anthropology and biology. Her interest in nutrition stemmed from her childhood in Bangladesh where she witnessed several hardships of mothers and infants in underserved communities, food insecurity being the most prominent. Such experience showed her a strong correlation between maternal nutrition, early childhood diets, and infant health, inspiring her interest in research. She started her research journey in high school through investigating cardiac fibrosis and has been part of diverse research initiatives at UNC, including nutritional toxicology studies at Gillings and medical humanities research through the HHIVE lab. Currently, Maliha is part of Dr. Stephanie Martin’s research group examining nutrition services in primary health care facilities in Zambia. Outside of Gillings, she volunteers with the Refugee Community Partnership, directs a South-Asian interest podcast, and is co-president of Culinary Medicine at UNC. In the future, Maliha hopes to pursue an MD with a focus on patient-centered care and integrate her practice into global health initiatives.
Sabrina Rehman is a Senior Nutrition major and Spanish minor originally from Augusta, Georgia. She became interested in nutrition through her own health journey and experiences with the healthcare system. By studying public health and nutrition, she hopes to develop a more integrative perspective towards human health. Currently, Sabrina works with Dr. Amanda Thompson’s research group focusing on the food environment of the Galápagos Islands and how it influences the dual burden of disease. She is also a member of the Inclusive Excellence Council at Gillings. Outside of Gillings, she volunteers with Railcare Health, serves on the Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Outreach committee of student government, and is president of UNC’s Dive In. In the future, she plans to pursue an MD and practice medicine with a health equity focus. She is passionate about social determinants of health and providing healthcare to underserved communities and hopes to incorporate this into her future career.
Nathan Vance is a Senior from Cary, North Carolina. Nathan became interested in public health in the context of Nutrition serving as a part of The Food Ark in high school, fighting food insecurity in North Carolina. He is currently involved in Dr. Ian Carroll’s lab studying a severe calorie restriction model in mice and the way in which severe calorie restriction influences the gut microbiota. He hopes that his studies of the gastrointestinal microbiota shed light onto improved rehabilitation techniques for recovering patients of Anorexia Nervosa. Outside of Gillings, Nathan is the Hospital and Family Relations Chair for Carolina For The Kids, a council member on the Carolina Next Council For Public Good, and the Secretary Director for Hearts For The Homeless. After his time in Gillings, Nathan hopes to apply to medical school to pursue a career in medicine with a focus on the way in which environmental, financial, and social factors, including institutional racism, can influence the potential health outcomes of patients.