Willig

GS:       Where are you from?

AW:     Bernice, Louisiana

GS:       What degree did will you receive and when?

AW:     PhD in Nutrition Sciences - Summer 2010

GS:       What is your research?

AW:     I am funded by the Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program (CPCTP) and am currently investigating health disparities and the influence of gene/environment interactions on body composition and free fatty acids.

GS:       What made you choose UAB for your graduate studies?

AW:     As a Registered Dietitian, I was looking for a nutrition program that had both a strong basic science component and clinical research activities.  UAB's Nutrition Sciences department had a very strong reputation in both areas and was highly recommended by my mentors at Virginia Tech.

GS:       Have you received any awards or honors?

AW:    

  • 2008    UAB Graduate Student Research Days – Life Sciences Division – Third Place
  • 2008    Southeast American College of Sports Medicine, Graduate Student Research

Competition, Annual Meeting – Third Place

  • 2007    William C. Bailey Award for Excellence in Cancer Prevention and Control

Research, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center – Honorable Mention/Second Place

  • 2007    Howerde E. Sauberlich Award for Excellence in Research, UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences
  • 2006    Travel Award, American Dietetic Association, Research Dietetic Practice Group
  • 2006    Winner – Research Poster Competition, UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences Annual Retreat
  • 2006    Conference Scholarship, American Institute for Cancer Research/WCRF International Research Conference on Food, Nutrition and Cancer

GS:       What has been your most rewarding experience at UAB?

AW:     My most rewarding experiences by far were the diabetes education classes my research team (the AMERICO study) provided to area elementary school children...oh, and the meetings at the F&F ranch.

GS:       Who was your greatest influence here at UAB and why?

AW:     Dr. Jose Fernandez has been an amazing mentor and friend.  He has always encouraged me to "keep trying" and has also taught me more about the administrative side of academic research. 

GS:       What is your motivation in your academics/research?

AW:     In clinical practice, I saw growing numbers of young patients debilitated by preventable diseases.  I believe the work we do here can help individuals remain healthy and independent for much longer in life.

GS:       What are your plans after graduating and for the future?

AW:     I hope to stay at UAB and study the effects of adiposity on chronic diseases and cancer risk among HIV-infected individuals.  I believe there is a great need for health promotion programs among this population.

GS:       Is there anything else you would like to say?

AW:     Try to enjoy the process - it has been a crazy ride but certainly well worth the effort!

Amanda’s advice for other graduate students:

Explore all of your options, but then focus on your dissertation/thesis research and don't get distracted by too many extraneous projects.

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