2023 Graduate Student Research Competition



Third Annual Obesity Initiative Research Symposium


Oral Presentation: 1st Place $1000, 2nd Place $600, 3rd Place $400

Poster Presentation: 1st Place $500, 2nd Place $350, 3rd Place $150; two categories

Topic Categories

All submissions must be obesity related. Abstracts are accepted in one of four categories:

  • Basic Science Research
  • Clinical Research
  • Social and Behavioral Research
  • Community and/or Policy Research

Student Presentation Winners

Oral Presentation Winners:

Christabel Domfe

Christabel Domfe MS Student, Nutritional Sciences, First Place 

 Presentation: Assessment of Shared Plate Eating in Urban and Rural Households in Ghana Using a Wearable Camera

Christabel Domfe is a second-year master’s student and a graduate research assistant in Dr. Alex Anderson’s Maternal and Child Research Laboratory. Her research interest lies in designing, implementing, and evaluating [theory-based] nutrition interventions that aim to improve maternal and child health. Her current research seeks to compare the nutrient and energy intakes of couples living in rural and urban households in Ghana. 


Mai Spaulding

Mai Spaulding PhD Candidate, Nutritional Sciences. Second Place 

Presentation: Unpredictable Food Access during Adolescence Increases Adiposity through Western Diet Consumption in Adulthood

Mai Spaulding is a 4th year PhD candidate and dietetic intern in the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Her research investigates the effects of early-life food insecurity on eating behavior (impulsivity), learning and memory, and susceptibility to obesity in adulthood under the mentorship of Dr. Emily Noble. 


Elizabeth CoganElizabeth Cogan PhD Candidate, Nutritional Sciences. Third Place

Presentation: A Pecan-Enriched Diet Enhanced Appetite-Regulating Hormones but not on Energy Intake: A Randomized Control Trial

Elizabeth “Betsy” Cogan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Betsy is currently conducting her doctoral research in the Human Nutrition Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Jamie Cooper. Her broad research interest involves understanding how simple dietary modifications can affect vascular function and overall health. 

Basic Science Poster Winners

Magen Lord First Place
Presentation: Mechanisms Underlying the Cannabinergic Control of Eating Behavior  

Leah Halls Second Place
Presentation: Assessing the Ability of Dihydrosterculic Acid (DHSA) to Activate PPARα  

Junwon Heo  Third Place
Presentation: Combined Effect of High-fat, High-sugar Diet and Volumetric Muscle Loss Injury on Skeletal Muscle Bioenergetics, Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Activity and Post-translational Regulation  

Clinical, Behavior, or Community Poster Winners

Betsy Cogan First Place 
Presentation: Obesity Blunts Cephalic Phase Insulin Release in Response to Sweet-Tasting Mouth Rinses with Varying Energy Content  

Jenny Lin Second Place 
Presentation: Child BMI, Total Lunch and Meal Component Energy Intake: A Comparison among Elementary School Children and Children Attending a 4-H Summer Camp 

Alyssa Guadagni  Third Place
Presentation: Cognitive Function in Response to a Pecan-Enriched Meal