Spotlight: Graduate Assistants

Clinical Nutrition interns

(L-R) LeeAnna Beech, Kaitlyn Philipps, Casey Flowers, Ayesha Ghani

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 graduation 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

LeeAnna Beech

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.

Casey Flowers

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

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.

Kaitlyn Phillips

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.


Former Clinical Nutrition Graduate Students

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.

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.


Cara Hedges

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

Camilla Ruark

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

Whitney Sheffield

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

Laura Steele

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

Perrin Tamblyn

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