Winter Yet Spring 2024

For those near Eastern Michigan University or the midwest, you know what we mean ~ the seasons are battling each other. Early flowers emerge from snow. One day 70 degrees, the next 20-some degrees and flurries. Welcome to South East Michigan, where if you don't like the weather now, just wait five minutes. As we head out of winter and into full-fledged spring, we invite you to review our newsletter and see what our dietetics program is up to.

This Issue's Featured Content

Spotlight on Dietetics Faculty and Program

EMU Preceptors Nominated for NDEPs Outstanding Preceptor Award

EMU Dietetics Provides Timely Continuing Education to Its Preceptors

Alumni Updates

Student Spotlight

Student Highlights

Dr. Judi Brooks Scholarship Fund

Upcoming Event

Do You Have an Update for An Upcoming Newsletter?

Spotlight on Dietetics Faculty and Program

EMU Online Dietetics MS as ranked as a "best of" program. See article here.

The Dietetics Program was granted continued accreditation for an eight-year term ending on June 30, 2032! Congratulations!

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Rainville, A.J., Rushing, K. Update of Institute of Child Nutrition Competencies, Knowledge, and Skills for Effective School Nutrition Assistants/Technicians. Journal of Child Nutrition and Management. 2023; 47(1). https://schoolnutrition.org/journal/fall-2023-update-of-institute-of-child-nutrition-competencies-knowledge-and-skills-for-effective-school-nutrition-assistants-technicians/

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope." ~ Ladybird Johnson

EMU Preceptors Nominated for NDEPs Outstanding Preceptor Award

Every year EMU Dietetics students are welcome to submit nominations for NDEP’s regional Outstanding Preceptor Award. One nomination is chosen from each the online and on campus programs and submitted to NDEP for review. We’re proud to announce that, this year, Varvara Gowen was nominated for the online program and Maureen Stoecklein was nominated for our campus program.

Senior student Mandy Birkbeck nominated Varvara after an exceptional Specialty rotation with her during the fall 2023 semester. In her nomination letter Mandy cited how Varvara was able to showcase every aspect of the private practice environment while remaining caring and compassionate with each of her clients. Varvara is also a graduate of EMU’s Dietetics program, completing her master’s degree with us in August of 2019. Since graduating Varvara has became a Certified Diabetes Education Specialist and worked for WIC and a large medical system while developing her private practice, Nutrition For You.

Maureen Stoecklein is a new preceptor for our program and we’re sure glad she is! During the fall semester she provided our student, Alex Root, with an incredible specialty experience in tactical nutrition. Maureen works with firefighters and law enforcement officials to optimize their nutrition and hence job performance. Maureen used creative techniques to showcase nutrition concepts, such as comparing the fire that firefighters encounter with metabolic energy pathways in the body. Alex also had the opportunity to complete ride-a-longs with first responders and lead nutrition education sessions. Overall, an incredibly rich experience.

Although we can only submit one nomination per cohort, there were several other fantastic nominations that showcase the impactful work our preceptors are doing and the learning they imbue on our students. We’d like to thank Susannah Wallenstrom (nominated by Mandy Birkbeck), EMU Dietetics graduate Kaitlyn Farrell (nominated by Ashley Liening), Kristen Nonahal (nominated by Renee Hunt) and EMU Dietetics graduate Alex DeBorde (nominated by Michelle Buggs) for the positive impact you have on our students. And thank you to all of our preceptors that inspire and educate the future of our profession.

EMU Dietetics Provides Timely Continuing Education to Its Preceptors

EMU Dietetics values its preceptors to the utmost degree. Students routinely return from their experiences and report how much they've grown under the guidance and mentorship of their preceptor and our alumni report the quality of their Supervised Practice Experiences as one of our program's differentiating factors. In short, our preceptors have an enormously positive impact on our students and hence the future of our profession.

That’s why, in November, EMU Dietetics partnered with fellow Eastern faculty member Dr. Devika Choudhuri to present Trauma-Informed Care in Dietetics Practice to our precepting partners at the Unidine corporation. Then, a link to the webinar, along with accompanying materials and a completion certificate was sent to all Fall 2023 preceptors. This continuing education opportunity will be shared with winter preceptors next semester too. Dr. Choudhuri discussed how adverse childhood events are linked to lifetime health outcomes and stressed the importance of trauma-informed care in achieving optimal outcomes with patients. She also discussed how trauma relates to the gut-brain axis and the psychosomatic implications of trauma on the body. This marks the first time EMU Dietetics has hosted a CEU webinar for its preceptors and the program has hopes of continuing this practice as a token of appreciation to all of the practitioners who help educate the next generation of our profession.

Alumni Updates

Tasha Brickhouse, MS, RDN - B.S. in Dietetics, 2016, M.S. in Human Nutrition, 2018

In November 2023, Tasha was honored with the esteemed Whole Heart Award. She serves as a preceptor for EMU Dietetics students and resides in Florida

From April Chilson, Chief Operating Officer of AdventHealth Fish Memorial Hospital: Whole Heart Award winner Tasha Brickhouse, MS, RDN, Clinical Nutrition Manager has truly demonstrated every one of the AH service standards at AdventHealth Fish Memorial Hospital through her dedication and loyalty. Tasha extends her expertise each and every day to the patients, her team, and everyone who she encounters each day. Words cannot express what Tasha means to this hospital. I am honored to award her with this deserving Whole Heart Award. Thank you, Tasha, for your commitment, loyalty, and dedication to our hospital.

From Tasha: When you have the benefit of working in an organization who has a mission that aligns with your personal mission, and you are surrounded by people who cheer for one another, it is the fertile soil for growth! While I was overwhelmed by gratitude to be selected for the Whole Heart Award, I reflect on the beauty of an organization who goes to great lengths to acknowledge their team members and treat serving one another as important as serving our patients. It makes you want to serve with your #WholeHeart!

Donna Shannon, MS, RDN - EMU Dietetics 2022

Photo on left: Academy Past-Presidents pictured with EMU alumna Donna Shannon, MS, RDN Vice-Chair, ANDPAC, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (left), Mary Russell, MS, RDN, CD, FAND, FASPEN, the Chair of ANDPAC (center), and Connie Diekman, M.Ed, RD, LD, FADA, FAND, Past Chair of ANDPAC (right). Photo on right: Mary Russell, MS, RDN, CD, FAND, FASPEN, the Chair of ANDPAC and Matthew J. Landry, PhD, RDN, DipACLM, FAND, FAHA, the Chair of the Legislative and Public Policy Committee

Recent alumna Donna Shannon was pictured as she attended FNCE. She currently works as the Nutrition Coordinator at Deer Valley Unified School District and has been involved in the policy space. As of 2023, she serves as the Vice Chair of the ANDPAC Board of Directors! Always willing to share some time and her extensive political knowledge, Donna recently caught up with us: "I'm the current Vice Chair of ANDPAC, set to take over as Chair in June." She is honored to use her past political experience to advance the future of our profession. Donna also states : "Arizona agrees with me! I'm also an active member of the AZAND Policy Team. Our Licensure bill just passed the house and we have our state Legislative Day coming up just as it will hit the senate. Cross your fingers for us! It's a great time to involve EMU students in MI AND's Legislative Day!"

Always willing to share resources, Donna provided the following link for more info on ANDPAC, the Academy's Political Action Committee:


Sarah Amidon MS, RDN - EMU Dietetics 2022

2022 EMU Dietetics Program alumna Sarah Amidon just got back from the Integrative Healthcare Symposium in NYC. She states "It was amazing and so wonderful to see so many dietitians there who are in functional and integrative nutrition! So glad I did IFNA, it was WONDERFUL and well worth the cost to invest in that kind of education. Very encouraging things (are) happening and taking shape." Sarah just signed a contract to sponsor the 2020 Olympic gold medalist in women's beach volleyball, Alix Klineman. And now she is starting a sponsorship relationship with 2024 Paris Olympian in women's breakdancing Sunny Choi! Sarah states. "You'll definitely be seeing her face on NBC because it's a brand new sport to the Olympics this year, and because she actually has a sunny disposition and her energy is contagious. Some of (the) beach volleyball athletes I sponsor just finished a tour in New Zealand, and one male player got a gold medal, and a female player got a bronze medal. I have temporary tattoos that I had printed and my beach players will be wearing them this summer, so you'll see my logo on ESPN and Bally when they are playing! Photos above - Kathie Swift , MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, EBQ (she has been dubbed “the mother of integrative and functional nutrition” by thought leaders in the field and has been recognized by Today’s Dietitian as “a dietitian making a difference”) and Sarah at IHS. Pictured to the right is Victoria Corcoran with Sarah's "Root and Fruit Nutrition" tattoo on her left arm and bronze medal from the NZ tournament her and her partner won.
"The earth laughs in flowers." – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Student Spolight

Michelle Buggs

Michelle Buggs, a second-year dietetic student, was featured in EMU's Graduate Studies and Research Newsletter!

Here is her profile as highlighted in the newsletter:

Michelle Buggs is a student in the Dietetics program, and is interested in studying diabetes and hypertension, as well as increasing diversity within the field of Dietetics. After graduation, Michelle plans to stay in Michigan, take the Registered Dietitian exam, and work for a local hospital. After that, she plans to work toward becoming a Certified Diabetes Care Education Specialist.

To keep up with her goals, Michelle says that she’s fortunate to be a really self-motivated person. She is motivated by learning, and by knowing that her eventual profession will help others to live longer and healthier lives. At EMU, Michelle has enjoyed the knowledge, accessibility, and experience of her professors.

In her spare time, Michelle likes all forms of exercise, watching movies with her spouse, and hanging out with friends. Michelle says that she’s right where she’s supposed to be after 15 years of life experience prior to joining the Dietetics program. We are certainly thankful that she is here! Great job Michelle!

Alex Root

In the left image, Alex Root is seen accepting the Women's Association Scholarship, while in the adjacent picture, Dr. Alice Jo Rainville is presenting Alex's biography and announcing her scholarship.

Alex Root 2nd year dietetics received the honor of the Women's Association Graduate Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship was presented in President Smith and his wife, Connie's, home.

Alex conveyed her appreciation to her husband and primary supporter, Cody, expressing heartfelt gratitude for being bestowed with the scholarship. She shared, "I am truly honored to be awarded this scholarship. I am also so thankful for Dr. Rainville, all of the work she does and for her kind words that night. The university, our program and this scholarship have truly enhanced my life, allowing me to grow as a professional and a person."

Students are soaring to greater heights.

Student Highlights

The students have been very active in recent months, participating in various field trips, acquiring valuable culinary experience, and even holding meetings with legislators!

Legislative Events and Day

Our 1st year students will be heading to Lansing for Legislative Day on Tuesday March 24, along with our Dietetics program alumni Nick Pomante (currently Clinical Coordinator) and Ruth Franklin (currently HN MS student and GA for Dietetics). We are grateful to be able to take part in this day of education and advocacy for our students and profession.

Second year EMU Dietetics students students interacted with district and state representatives (Ypsilanti District Representative Jimmie Wilson Jr. and Michigan State Representative Jennifer Conlin) in Ypsilanti and Dexter, during their community nutrition SPE in fall 2023.
We are proud of Cami's work and know that sometimes a hardship can help us journey to where we are meant to be.

“Just Lose Weight”: A Reflexive Case Study of One Person’s Healthcare Experience and Introduction to a Career in Dietetics by Cami Salisbury, EMU Graduate Student

Knife Skills Demonstration

Knife safety is of utmost importance when in any kitchen but how many of us have been trained on how to properly hold a knife? How many culinary cuts can you actually perform? Our first-year Dietetic students sought to answer these questions and “hone” their skills as they closed out their first semester with a Knife Safety Demonstration hosted by our Chartwell’s partners at E-Dining. The event began with E-Dining’s Director of Community Wellness and Sustainability and EMU preceptor, Beth Smith, discussing the opportunities available to dietitians through the Compass foodservice management group. Then, Executive Chef Brad Valley provided a tutorial on how to properly hold and use a knife for maximum efficiency in the kitchen. With the basics down-pat Chef Brad led our students in practicing various cuts with typical produce items. This was a great time for our students to learn valuable skills and get to know each other more as a cohort. Thank you, E-Dining, for making this all possible!

UDIM Dairy Farm Tour

First year dietetics students visit Ritter farms in Southern Michigan, an event sponsored by United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

The fall 2023 semester found our students getting out into the local community to learn about our food systems. It began back in September when the United Dairy Industry of Michigan sponsored and hosted a visit to Ritter farms in Southern Michigan. While there our students donned stylish boot covers, braved some muck and learned how weather, crop yields and animal health all contribute to the nutrition found in dairy milk. This was a great way to highlight how climate, planet and people interact and what this can mean for our food system. During our visit, generational owner Brad Ritter taught us about the emerging technologies that’s evolving the dairy industry and the importance of happy, healthy cow for nutritious milk. We even got to experience a baby calf being born while we were there.

Eden Foods Tour

Next, student’s visited Eden Foods processing facility, also located in Southern Michigan. Eden Foods has been a pioneer in the health foods market for decades now and is arguably the best example of a company that’s remained true to its mission of healthy, unadulterated foods. They showed our students how their foods arrive as raw materials and leave their plant as finished packaged products. It was great to show these future dietitians that there is a way to produce healthy foods, free of chemicals and additives, on an international scale.

EMU Dietetics would like to extend a huge thank you to The United Dairy Industry of Michigan and Eden foods for their support in educating the next generation of nutrition experts about our food system, from farm to table!

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold, when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade." – Charles Dickens

Dr. Judi Brooks Scholarship Fund

Students, colleagues, and friends of the late Judi Brooks, PhD, RD still fondly remember and envision her teaching in the Marshall Building. She mentored many graduate and undergraduate students in her 23 years at EMU and was more than a professor of nutrition and dietetics. For many, Dr. Brooks was more than a teacher—she was a role model, parental figure, and trusted confidant. Judi brought a very caring and warm presence to her classes and students appreciated her knowledge and encouragement. Judi’s exceptional record of teaching, research, service, and collegiality over the years has enriched and left a long-lasting legacy in the Dietetics program, Human Nutrition program, School of Health Sciences, and the university. Dr. Brooks passed away on Feb. 21, 2022 and is greatly missed by her School of Health Sciences colleagues, university colleagues, students, and alumni.

In April 2022, Dr. Judi Brooks was awarded posthumous recognition as Emeritus Faculty.

A memorial scholarship has been established in Judi's memory to support nutrition and dietetics students. To make a gift of any size visit https://www.emich.edu/foundation/give/index.php?fund=02727 or mail a check to the EMU Foundation c/o Judi Brooks Memorial Scholarship, PO Box 972057, Ypsilanti MI 48197. We hope to reach a $10,000 level for an endowed scholarship fund.

Thank you for remembering Dr. Brooks and her contributions to our programs and the university. For questions about this fund, reach out to Christa Reid, Director of Development at CReid20@emich.edu.

Upcoming Event

George Liepa Sigma Xi Lecture

Dr. Comstock: "Human Milk: Shaping Microbial Communities, Supporting Positive Child Health Outcomes"

Free and open to the public.

Thursday, March 14, 2024, from 7:00–8:00pm at the Student Center Auditorium on EMU's campus at 900 Oakwood - Ypsilanti, MI.

Dessert reception immediately following.

Dr. Comstock describes her research and the planned lecture: The goal of my research program is to determine which aspects of our environments affect the microbes that reside in our guts. Further, my research group is working to understand which microbes are most important to allow for appropriate child development - growth, neurodevelopment, and prevention of allergies. We use longitudinal pregnancy, birth, and pediatric cohorts to do this. In this lecture, I will describe how maternal obesity is related to breastfeeding success. I will also describe how human mild feeding patterns affect the microbes that are found in the infant gut. Finally, I will present emerging evidence regarding the association between the gut microbiota at three months of age and child neurodevelopment.

Dr. Sarah S. Comstock is an Associate Professor in the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition at Michigan State University. She earned her BS in Biochemistry from the University of Chicago, her PhD in Nutritional Biology from the University of California, Davis, and completed two post docs -- one with Sharon Donovan at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and one with Jenifer Fenton, at Michigan State University. Dr. Comstock's lab at MSU is working to understand the factors that affect the microbes in our guts and how those gut microbes impact health. Recent funding from the National Institutes of Health will support research to understand how these microbes impact child growth trajectories. Though Dr. Comstock's research focuses on pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, she also researches the microbiomes of non-pregnant populations. She has over 76 publications in the field of nutrition. Recently, the MSU FSHN department awarded her the Emerging Leadership and Outreach Award, and MSU named her the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year. Dr. Comstock is a member of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), and the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML).

Do You Have an Update for An Upcoming Newsletter?

Please let us know! We'd love to share updates on employment changes, publications, new opportunities, and other successes. Please provide any updates to Sandy Pernecky, MS, RDN at spernecky1@emich.edu. Thanks for considering!