University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Joyce Faraj, Niki Ratchford and Elayna DeBenedetto head to Dietetic Internship Programs

Joyce Faraj and Niki Ratchford, graduate students in the Nutrition department and NAL lab members, will attend Dietetic Internship Programs at UMass Amherst and Yale-New Haven Hospital. Elayna DeBenedetto, a psychology undergraduate and NAL member, will attend Boston University Dietetics/Master of Science & Dietetic Internship.

Joyce, a PhD candidate, conducts research focused on micronutrients, inflammation and mental health among women. For her doctoral dissertation, Joyce is building her expertise in Nutritional Epidemiology as she carries out a secondary data analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Her aim is to shed light on how inflammation and micronutrients, such as vitamins D and B6 affect the risk of depression in women of reproductive age in the US. Joyce begins her Dietetic Internship at UMass Amherst in August, 2015.

Niki, an MS student, focuses her research on the food environment in Springfield, Massachusetts. Through collaborations with Partner’s for a Healthier Community and Elder Services in Springfield as well as UMass Medical School in Worcester, Niki has surveyed food stores and restaurants within several Springfield neighborhood. Niki used the food environment survey and GIS mapping to predict the ability of half-mile radius areas within urban neighborhoods to provide access to a high quality diet for residents, with a focus on older adults. She is excited to apply her knowledge of the food environment into practice as a dietetic intern and in the future as a Registered Dietitian. Niki will be starting her Dietetic Internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut in September 2015.

Elayna received her Bachelor's of Science in Psychology. Elayna's undergraduate Honors Thesis research focused on sleep, stress, and eating behaviors and the proposed role of inflammation in driving negative health outcomes.. Elayna will be starting a combined Didactic Program in Dietetics/Master of Science & Dietetic Internship at Boston University's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences(Sargent College) in September, 2015.