My Experience Presenting Nutrition Research at a National Conference

Name: Jeffrey Laubert

Type of Project: Undergraduate Research/Research Presentation

 

 

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

 

My STEP Signature Project allowed me the opportunity to travel to the 50th Annual Conference of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior in Washington, D.C. to present research that I conducted in the spring of 2017. While at this conference, I presented a research poster; attended education sessions related to communicating the science of nutrition and effective research techniques; networked with professionals in the field of nutrition and dietetics; and went to Capitol Hill to advocate for the importance of nutritional topics within future legislation.

 

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

 

Before attending this conference as a result of receiving the STEP Fellowship, I was doubting what my career path would be in dietetics. I was interested in so many different paths, but primarily interested in going into nutrition industry. Because of this, I was more focused on getting an MBA than furthering my education in nutrition. However, attending this meeting showed me the value of receiving a graduate degree in nutrition and has influenced me to seriously consider that as an option.

From this project, I learned to look past the typical career paths of dietitians and utilize my education as well as my interests outside of dietetics to enter into a career with nutrition that better fits my interests. I learned that to be truly successful, a person is happy with what they do. And further, I was reaffirmed that I am happiest when working to improve the lives of others through nutrition.

 

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

 

During the second day of the conference, I attended a meeting of the Nutrition Educators with Industry committee. While at this meeting, I met many individuals who have led successful nutrition careers in industry, to include a man who was the USDA advisor to Presidents Bush and Obama and who now works for Chobani, a woman on the committee in charge of creating the dietary guidelines for Americans, a woman who works for Nestle, and others. This meeting served as a great foot-in-the-door with this group of individuals, and more opportunities arose when they invited me to dinner that night.

While at dinner, I had the opportunity to talk more in depth with an employee at Chobani regarding his current role with the company, his education, and how he got to where he is today. I heard how he is in charge of overseeing research trials at Chobani and how he shares the results of those trials with a marketing team that then strategically shares the information with consumers. I have always enjoyed research and also marketing, so this was something I was interested in. This employee recently received his PhD in Nutrition from Penn State, and after our conversation I can see the value of a graduate-level degree within industry.

On the fourth day of the conference, he introduced me to his friend Laurie, a dietitian who works for a nutrition marketing company called FoodMinds that Chobani partners with; I set up a time for us to talk later that day. Laurie had a lot of great things to say about FoodMinds and how it allows her to combine her passions for writing and nutrition. Laurie did not enjoy the clinical side of nutrition and said that this kind of role was a much better fit for her. This conversation, along with the others that I had with nutrition educators working within industry, allowed me to see the many opportunities in dietetics outside of the typical clinical or community education settings.

 

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans

 

This change came at a time when I was uncertain about what I wanted to do in my dietetics career and it reaffirmed my initial decision to go into the field. Attending this conference and meeting these individuals furthered my passion for dietetics and gave me some direction. I am  excited to go into my junior year and take the remainder of the courses for my degree, while also beginning to look into graduate programs in the field of nutrition. I look forward to going into a profession that is so versatile in what it can offer to professionals and that works to improve the quality of life of others.