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Spotlight: Graduate Assistants

Clinical Nutrition Graduate Assistants

(L-R) Mackenna Mattox, Paige Orwig, Brittany Lubeck, Hannah Cox

Every year four graduate students who are enrolled in the Clinical Nutrition Masters/Internship program at the University of Memphis join the department of Clinical Nutrition as graduate assistants (GA’s).

This training program is managed by Karen Ringwald-Smith, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND the nutrition project manager. These students work directly with a nutritionist who acts as his/her mentor and supervisor for the year.

In addition to providing direct patient care, the GA’s participate in nutrition related activities such as health fairs, group nutrition classes including yoga/ nutrition and Mommy and Me, and National Nutrition Month projects. The graduate assistantship is also grounded in research and evidence based practice; GA’s participate in all stages of the evidence based practice/ research process with the ultimate goal of sharing the findings with other health care providers.

Clinical Nutrition Graduate Students

Paige Orwig

Paige Orwig

Interests: Developing staffing models for pediatric oncology registered dietitians to include the time and effort spent on providing medical nutrition therapy that are disease specific and to include time spent conducting research, quality improvement and evidence based practice projects that are required for career advancement.

Hannah Cox

Hannah Cox

Interests: Developing a food knowledge and behavior questionnaire to assess nutrition knowledge and behavior of teenagers living with HIV in the Memphis area. Practice implications for the questionnaire include developing medical nutrition therapy interventions that are specific for teenagers with HIV  and are designed to help prevent adverse side effects of antiretroviral therapy like cardiovascular disease.

Mackenna Mattox

Mackenna Mattox

Interests: Evaluating the impact that the appetite stimulant Cyproheptadine Hydrochloride has upon weight status, growth velocity and nutrition diagnosis of children undergoing treatment for cancer. 

Brittany Lubeck

Brittany Lubeck

Interests: Evaluating the relationship of nutrition status of patients diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) and morbidity and mortality and to evaluate the change in various nutrition status indicators over the course of treatment.


Former Clinical Nutrition Graduate Students

LeeAnna Beech

Interests: Determining if high omega-3 fatty acid dietary interventions reduce the risk of developing the metabolic syndrome phenotype induced by glucocorticoid therapy as part of the treatment of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) treatment. Mice will be used to demonstrate if dietary alterations reduce the specific metabolic disorder phenotypes of obesity, glucose intolerance, and fatty liver disease.

Kim Boone

Interests: Describing the nutrition status patterns that occur during treatment of children diagnosed with medulloblastoma and identifying specific time points in treatment for the initiation of proactive nutrition therapy.

Jan Claussen

Interests: Determining the feasibility of including taste evaluations as part of the nutrition assessment in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and observing changes in their taste throughout cancer treatment therapy.

Kristi Edwards

Interests: Determining the feasibility of including smell evaluations as part of the nutrition assessment in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and observing changes in their smell throughout cancer treatment therapy.

Casey Flowers

Interests: Determining if the energy expenditure obtained by standard energy estimation equations and a hand-held indirect calorimeter accurately predict energy needs as compared to the gold standard indirect calorimeter (metabolic Cart) in pediatric oncology patients.

Ayesha Ghani

Interests: To compare two anthropometrical methods, the Tanita® bioelectric impedance body composition analyzer, a simple and portable measuring tool to the Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA), to determine if the Tanita® is an accurate tool for measuring lean body mass in pediatric cancer patients.

Eddie Han

Interests: Evaluation of 24 hour recalls to determine food consumption patterns and identify if there are macronutrient and micronutrient deficiencies in the diets of pediatric cancer patients from Brazil and Guatemala. Data obtained will be utilized for the development of low literacy educational materials focusing on how to improve dietary intake using local resources.

Katelyn Hart

Interests: Measuring hydration status using the bioelectrical impedance analysis and evaluating factors that may impact a patient’s hydration status with sickle cell anemia.

Ashley Hassett

Interests: Developing and implementing a nutrition module for the Sickle Cell Transition E-Learning Program (STEP) for Sickle Cell Disease patients transferring out of pediatric care to adult care.


Cara Hedges

Interests: Testing feasibility and reliability of a nutrition knowledge questionnaire in college students.

Ashley Hobar

Interests: Evaluating the validity of methods in measuring resting energy expenditure in pediatric oncology patients. Using the Medgem®, a hand-held indirect calorimeter, and predictive equations to test correlation and agreement with the metabolic cart.

Jenna Martin

Interests: Developing and validating practice questionnaire to help standardize nutrition care practices for pediatric oncology, hematopoietic stem cell transplant, and cancer survivor patient populations.

Courtney Nordhus

Interests: Evaluating the effectiveness of current nutrition and physical therapy interventions in maintaining lean body mass during the time from admission for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to discharge. Tracking body composition with a  Tanita® Bioelectrical Impedance Analyzer and measuring hand grip strength with a dynamometer. 

Kaitlyn Phillips

Interests: Assessing general nutrition knowledge of pediatric cancer patients/caregivers in order to provide targeted nutrition education and interventions that address disease/ treatment-related health complications.

Camilla Ruark

Interests: Vitamin E status and dietary intake in patients with sickle cell disease.

Candace Sapp

Interests: Determining the validity of the Tanita® Bioelectrical Impedance Analyzer (BIA), for analyzing body composition in childhood cancer survivors compared to Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA).

Whitney Sheffield

Interests: Evaluation of Tanita scale as a more effective method for evaluating the body composition in children undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Lauren Steele

Interests: Nutrition management of treatment-induced hyperglycemia in patients with ALL.

Grace Talbot

Interests: Utilizing a food frequency questionnaire to assess the dietary intake of vitamins A and D in Memphis children participating in the St. Jude FLUVIT study. FLUVIT aims to assess the role of vitamin A and D supplementation on influenza vaccine efficacy.

Perrin Tamblyn

Interests: Assessing body composition in pediatric oncology patients using bioelectrical impedance, body mass index, neck circumference, and ideal body weight.

Rebecca Warren

Interests: Developing a proactive nutrition support algorithm for pediatric oncology to help standardize nutrition care and prevent incidences of malnutrition