Spotlight on 2017 Graduates

Five students in the Department of Nutrition will receive their doctorate degrees during Commencement on Thursday, May 25, 2017. Bright, hardworking, and highly dedicated towards improving public health worldwide, these new ScD’s worked long and hard to achieve their academic goals, and their new Harvard degrees are well earned. The Department of Nutrition congratulates these graduates for all of their hard work, determination, and efforts, and we wish them well along their future paths.

Meet the Graduates:

April Bowling

While at Harvard, April Bowling focused her research on creating exercise interventions to improve behavioral and physical health in children with neurodevelopmental and affective disorders such as autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression. She also pursued epidemiological research into relationships between ADHD, body composition, and psychiatric medication use in children and adolescents. Her dissertation was entitled, “Understanding Effects of Exercise and Diet to Improve Mental and Physical Health in Children with Behavioral Health Disorders.” The results of her research have been published in Pediatrics, the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, and Contemporary Clinical Trials.

Now an Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at Merrimack College, April has just received several grants to translate her exercise research into public school special education classrooms and continue her research into ADHD, endocrine changes, parental feeding patterns, and body composition with the Generation R fetal cohort in the Netherlands. She is also enjoying teaching undergraduates in epidemiology and masters students in health promotion and chronic disease prevention.

“Harvard was a catalyst for my professional career. I was a non-traditional student in midlife, with a family to support. Not only was my research supported by faculty, particularly my mentor Dr. Kirsten Davison, but I appreciated that the Department took a chance on me. As a result I feel I’ve been able to conduct high-risk, high-reward research that makes a real difference in the lives of children with very complex mental health disorders, as well as their families.”

April will stay connected with Harvard through several research projects and a secondary appointment as Visiting Scientist. Since graduating she is enjoying reconnecting with her running career, and supporting her two children in their pursuit of their own interests – hockey and horseback riding.

Carolyn Brooks

Carolyn BrooksCarolyn Brooks is a Doctor of Science student in the Social & Behavioral Sciences and Nutrition Departments. Her work focuses on implementing and evaluating community-level interventions that address social determinants of health and chronic disease prevention. She hopes to bring the challenges of reducing disparities from the field into the research setting, and translate disparities research into public health action. Toward this goal, in addition to her research, she has completed summer fellowships that address the needs of underserved populations at UnitedHealthcare and the Boston Public Health Commission.  Previously Carolyn worked for 5 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contributing to a variety of communication, policy, and programmatic initiatives.

Carolyn is grateful for her experience at Harvard where she has been able to work with and learn from her advisors, Drs. Steven Gortmaker and Eric Rimm, as well as her Committee Members, Drs. Elsie Taveras and David Williams. Additionally, Carolyn is fortunate to have expanded her network of friends and colleagues committed to evidence-based science and making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.

Originally from Mississippi, the Boston winters proved to be quite an experience – especially the first two years! Carolyn will miss Boston but looks forward to returning back to Atlanta, GA where she has accepted a position as a Director of Strategic Initiatives in United Healthcare’s Community and State Division. She will work to develop, evaluate, and hopefully scale successful nutrition and other programmatic initiatives aimed to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs for individuals enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. She looks forward to the opportunity to take her life and work experiences, along with the new skills and content she learned while at Harvard, to make a meaningful impact in people’s lives in the health system, and in finding ways to better leverage and connect the public health, social service, and healthcare sectors.

Yu-Han Chiu

Yu-Han Chiu is very interested in how food is a vehicle for environmental chemical contaminants and how intake of these foods affects health outcomes.  Her thesis work focused on the assessment of exposure to dietary pesticide residues, and investigating the role of dietary pesticide residue exposure on reproductive health outcomes. She is planning to pursue her pesticide work for a postdoc and to develop additional skillsets, including learning high dimensional data analysis, during this postdoc period.

One thing Yu-Han loves about Harvard is its learning environment.  Her advisor Dr. Jorge Chavarro was very supportive of her attending conferences and collaborating with different faculty to broaden her training, from which she benefited a lot—on top of all of her course work and dissertation.

Katie Cueva

Katie Cueva will be graduating from the dual degree program in Social & Behavioral Sciences and Public Health Nutrition. Her dissertation focused on culturally relevant strategies to support health behavior change with community health workers, and her work has primarily been community-based participatory action research to support chronic disease prevention and control among Alaska Native and American Indian communities.

“Many thanks to the fantastic staff, faculty, and students at Harvard Chan that have supported me over the past three years! Thanks to my advisors Alan Geller, Teresa Fung, and K. “Vish” Viswanath, I’m looking forward to graduating from the dual degree program in Social and Behavioral Sciences and Public Health Nutrition in May. While I still haven’t gotten used to the Boston culture of complaining about the weather, I have enjoyed the stimulating intellectual environment here at Harvard Chan, and I will miss my friends, colleagues, and mentors. Looking forward to connecting with all of you wherever our paths cross next!”

Donghoon Lee

Donghoon Lee is from Seoul, South Korea where he completed his BA and MS in Exercise Physiology in Yonsei University. He joined the Harvard Chan School of Public Health in 2012 for the SM1 program in Epidemiology and will be completing his doctoral program in Nutrition and Epidemiology this May. Under Dr. Edward Giovannucci’s supervision, Donghoon has been conducting research in energy balance and cancer. He has recently defended his dissertation work on “Predicted Lean Body Mass and Fat Mass: Novel Insights into Obesity, Chronic Disease, and Mortality Research.”

Donghoon likes Boston too much that he refuses to leave! After graduation, he will start his postdoc work with Dr. Giovannucci and other faculty members in the Department to further develop his research career. He appreciates the warm and friendly faculty, staff, and colleagues at Harvard Chan (and especially in Nutrition) and is excited to continue to be part of the Department.

Adapted from coverage by Hilary Farmer, April 2017 issue of Nutri News