An Interview with Elizabeth (Liz) Garnder

Elizabeth Gardner PortraitWhat is your Major?
I am a Nutrition major.

How did you get involved in research that you did/are currently doing?
Professor of Nutrition, Tanya Horacek came in my class with a group of student researchers who were already on the Get Fruved project, and I was really inspired. Research seemed like a really great way for me to get connected.

Tell me about the research you did?
The overall research project was creating measurements for evaluating the health of campus environments. And it’s crazy I learned so much. Just the idea that there are so many things in our environment that either set us up to succeed or fail in terms of our health.

What grant allowed you to do this research?
It was a $5 million-dollar grant from the USDA, which allowed me to be employed part-time while also gaining valuable skills.

Who was your research mentor? How did they help you in this process?
Dr. Horacek was my mentor. I had a ton of help and guidance. There were graduate students who oversaw different aspects of the project too.

How does this research relate to what you’re currently studying?
I think that the biggest benefit of this research is that it showed me sides to nutrition that I would have never learned about in a class. The experience I’ve gained outside of class has shown me what I can do in the community. It showed me a lot of ways that nutrition is implicit in the way that we live, but you wouldn’t necessarily think of it.

Approximately how many hours did you spend on research each week?
It varied between 5 and 10 hours.

What advice do you have for a student who is looking to get involved in research?
I was lucky that a professor went out of her way to recruit me. I think that if I had gone to the professors with a genuine interest and reasons why I would be a good worker they would’ve been very receptive. My professors have helped me so much throughout my career at Syracuse. Dr. Horacek and others have been so willing to assist me.

How do you think the research you conducted as a student will impact you in the future?
I think it was helpful considering that you don’t know what you want to do until you figure out what you don’t want to do. It definitely informed the type of employment setting I want to pursue and gave me many skills I want to continue using.

Where do you hope your degree will take you after graduation?
I am hoping to get a job in the private sector in a consulting role. It’s kind of a non-traditional path for someone who has a nutrition undergraduate degree.