Nutrition science student recognized for research impact with prestigious fellowship

Akriti Shrestha, a Syracuse University graduate student in the Falk College nutrition science program, is the recipient of the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award, presented by the American Society for Nutrition. The prestigious award is presented to only three graduate students in the U.S. every year for research excellence.

Akriti Shrestha

As a Falk graduate student, she investigates how certain nutrients might be used to prevent disease, specifically obesity. “Obesity is a huge health issue, with more than 42% of the U.S population being either obese or overweight. Obesity increases the risk of other complications like high blood pressure, type II diabetes, mental illness, depression, among others. Further, if the parents are suffering from obesity, the impact on their children is very high. Proper nutrients could prevent obesity,” explains Shrestha. “Currently, I am working on the topic of ‘parental obesity’ where a diet modification in parent can potentially eliminate the adverse effect of father’s or mother’s obesity on children,” she adds.

Research has been a longtime focus of Shrestha’s academic and professional career. Prior to coming to Syracuse, she performed clinical research in both Nepal and India. “I am from Nepal, the Himalayan nation in South Asia where I grew up and completed my high school,” she says. “I was always interested in studying to understand human health and diseases since my childhood.” This passion led her to pursue her undergraduate education B.Sc. in Nursing at Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in India. “During that time, I became more inclined towards the preventive approach of diseases, precisely nutrition.” Her newfound enthusiasm led her to earn her M.Sc. in Nutrition Science at Kanpur University in India. “Nutrition and diet are crucial aspects of human health and in the dynamic world, there is a need for further exploration in order to realize the goal of ‘food as medicine’ in practice.”

Akriti Shrestha PortraitShrestha found her way to Syracuse University’s Falk College and is working to complete her M.S. in nutrition science. “The excellent learning environment, fantastic infrastructure, and diverse student and faculty communities are something that make me very proud to be the part of Syracuse University,” she says.

“The Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award is a very competitive award with only three awards given across the U.S.,” says Latha Ramalingam, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, Falk College. “What makes it even more impressive is that Akriti earned it in her first year as a graduate student. She is a bright mind who will go on to do great things in the future. The faculty and I are very proud of her accomplishment.”

Shrestha says the support of her faculty members, staff, and her advisor, Professor Ramalingam, was critical in making this achievement possible. “I am also thankful to my parents for their unconditional love and blessings, and to my husband Sajag Poudel, who has always motivated and supported me in my studies as well as guided me during various stages of my career planning” she says. Poudel is a Syracuse University Ph.D. candidate in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

After she completes her M.S., Shrestha plans to pursue a Ph.D. to continue her passion for nutrition science research.

Learn more about nutrition science and dietetics programs at Falk College.