From left to right: Third-year PhD student, Nicole Sekel and Julia Bradley.
When I was first applying to colleges, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I knew I wanted to work in the medical field and be a physician assistant (PA), but didn’t quite know how I would get there or what undergraduate degree would set me on the right path.
I first learned about the Nutrition Science (NS) program when I went to an informational meeting about SHRS at Pitt’s Admitted Student Day. I instantly knew it was the perfect fit for my academic and career goals. The curriculum of the NS undergraduate program aligns with the prerequisites for the PA graduate school program, and combining nutrition and science classes has also created the perfect class load to prepare me for graduate school. I really feel like what I learn in my classes is applicable to my life, which was something I was looking for in my program. I enjoy how nutrition includes both science-heavy classes and social classes like public health. I wanted to be interested in the classes I was taking, while taking all the necessary science prerequisites.
One of my favorite things about the NS program is how it turns a large school into an intimate academic experience. Before I entered the program, I felt lost in large classes, but my NS class sizes are small and I have been able to form great relationships with my classmates. I can receive one-on-one attention from my professors, too, and I have felt fully supported by them. I never hesitate to reach for help, and they are always there when I need them.
I found my research-focused classes to be very interesting, so I wanted to become involved in research myself. Dr. Lori Cherok, the program director of NS, helped coordinate a summer internship here in Pittsburgh with a third-year PhD student, Nicole Sekel, MS, CBDT and Laboratory Director, Bradley C. Nindl, Ph.D., FACSM at the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory and Warrior Human Performance Research Center (NMRL). This internship has allowed me to continue learning and develop skills in a hands-on experience.
Bradley working with a student athlete in the lab.
Some of the things I do on a day-to-day basis at the NMRL internship include assisting with participant meetings, operating lab scans and entering data results. I’ve learned a lot about how research studies are conducted and I have gained skills in operating different lab machinery. I have worked with a 3D body scanner, Lunar iDXA scanner and a high-resolution CT scanner. This internship has allowed me to connect my classes to the real world. My favorite part about research is to be involved in new findings as they occur, instead of reading about them years later in a textbook. The research studies I have been involved in at NMRL are valuable and important contributions to the future of nutrition and medical intervention.
Nutrition Science Student, Class of 2023
Published August 31, 2022