Scholars Forum Success Stories: Kristen Vander Woude from Food and Nutrition

Posted on 3/1/2016 11:53:31 AM

Faculty members can help students combine areas of study and interests and encourage them to present their work at the Undergraduate Scholars Forum or the Graduate Scholars Forum. Rita Johnson, of the Food and Nutrition Department, encouraged her students to pursue this goal in the 2015 Undergraduate Scholars Forum (USF).

During the 2015 USF, nutrition dietetics student Kristen Vander Woude won the first place award for the College of Health and Human Services Dean’s Award for Excellence for her research of breakfast consumption and cognitive function in her project, “Glycemic Properties of Breakfast and the Effect on Cognitive Function in Adolescents.”

Kristen was required to do a research project for one of her classes her senior year. She worked with two other students on the project, Sarah Taylor and Lindsay Barrett. Johnson urged them to submit their group’s research to 2015 USF, and they were really glad that they did. Johnson helped their group a lot throughout the whole research process.

Their research has identified a relationship between breakfast consumption and cognitive function. The project evaluated the effects of breakfasts with varying glycemic properties—glycemic index and glycemic load. Subjects’ cognitive function was measured using validated instruments. In their research, they discovered that subjects who ate a low glycemic index breakfast had higher cognitive scores.

Sarah and Lindsey graduated before the USF, and Kristen was left to present the project on her own. “I did enjoy doing this project! And I learned a whole lot about the research process along the way. The most interesting thing was definitely our main finding,” Kristen said. “The whole topic was new to me, so everything that we discovered was interesting.”

Kristen went on to say in an interview, “Everyone knows the countless hours that go into a research project. Last year’s Undergraduate Scholars Forum was a great way to celebrate all of the hard work that went into our research project. I was honored to represent my research group as well as the Food and Nutrition Department. My experiences leading up to and during the Undergraduate Scholars Forum have shaped me to be the better graduate student that I am today.” Kristen will also present their research at the Capital in Harrisburg in April 2016.

Kristen graduated in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition–Dietetics Track. She is currently a dietetic intern and first-year graduate student at IUP. Kristen is working towards becoming a registered dietitian.

(Story compiled and written by Melanie Maylin Rosado, IUP Libraries intern)