Division of Nutritional Sciences

Successful Graduates

The Division has achieved an eminent record in research and graduate training and consistently is ranked among the top nutrition graduate programs in the United States. This recognition is based in large part on the significant contributions our alumni make to the field of nutrition. The Division of Nutritional Sciences is one of the top three programs in the country in terms of the number of graduates trained in the last decade.

After graduation, alumni receive well-paying, challenging positions. Students who earn a master's degree often continue their education in medical school or graduate school. Others step directly into employment positions as clinical dietitians; nutrition consultants; instructors in 2-year and 4-year colleges; or research associates in university, industry, or government laboratories.

Doctoral degree recipients usually start their postgraduate careers as postdoctoral fellows or in medical school, often in the Medical Scholars Program (M.D./Ph.D.) at the University of Illinois. Most Division Ph.D. alumni either hold faculty positions at prestigious academic institutions or are employed as research program directors in the food and nutrition industry. Several have started their own companies or are involved in private consulting.

Alumni Profiles

Greg Sunvold, Ph.D. '94, Director of Clinical Research and Intellectual Properties, IAMS Company
One of the strengths of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at U of I is the diversity of individuals and research areas that are brought together into one program. This is an important attribute of the program, and it has helped further my interaction with others beyond the formal educational setting.

Minnie Holmes-McNary, Ph.D. '94, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
I was a clinician returning to school and wanted a graduate program that would allow me to apply nutritional science to my research interest in cancer. The program at U of I integrated human and animal nutrition with biomedical sciences, and was just what I was looking for. The diverse course work has also been a tremendous asset to me in my career. Importantly and more personally, each faculty member was always available and approachable and spoke encouraging and positive words and I still find that to be true.

Brandon Meline, M.S. '01, Director, Maternal and Child Health Management, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District
Completing a research-based graduate degree and the dietetic internship through the Division of Nutritional Sciences provided me with a solid skill set and valuable experience and insight into my academic and professional strengths. The diversity of the University and community allowed me to gain a cultural sensitivity that I use daily in the administration of Public Health services to the members of that same community.

Laura (Milo) Czerkies, M.S., R.D. '01, Consultant, Clinical Nutrition Division, Nestle, USA
Participating in the dietetic internship program as I completed my degree within the Division was a unique opportunity. It allowed me to experience firsthand the clinical applications of my research and the material we covered throughout our courses. Also, the diversity of clinical experiences provided during the internship program enabled me to determine the environment where I could best utilize my education.

Jin-Rong (Joseph) Zhou, Ph.D. '94, Assistant Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School; Director, Nutrition/Metabolism Laboratory, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
To me, the most beneficial aspect of the program is its training in critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, in both the classroom and laboratory. The excellent curriculum and diversified research programs in the Division were also beneficial to me.

Deshanie (Ganessunker) Rai, Ph.D. '00, Sr. Principal Scientist, Scientific Affairs, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Evansville, IN
A primary strength of the Division of Nutritional Sciences is its multidisciplinary classroom and research environment coordinated by talented faculty, many of whom are considered key leaders in their respective areas of research. No doubt then, my graduate experience at Illinois has equipped me with the necessary skills to understand and competently apply the science of molecular and cellular nutrition in the pursuit of extending and enhancing human and animal health.

Guy Johnson, Ph.D. '76, President, Johnson Nutrition Solutions
To be honest, my career expectations while I was in graduate school were a bit fuzzy, but my U of I degree has served me exceedingly well. I am proud to be an alumni of the Division, and my experiences in the nutritional community during the past 30 years have been super.

Alexandra Adams, Ph.D. '93, M.D. '94, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin
Obtaining the M.D./Ph.D. through the Medical Scholars Program was a long and difficult process, made enjoyable by the many wonderful clinician and scientist mentors that I was fortunate to have along the way. The dual degree has helped me bridge the gap between clinical medicine and research and has been of major importance to my career. Having a degree in nutrition from the U of I, in addition to the M.D., has opened many doors and enables me to bring important knowledge to both clinical and teaching situations.

Thomas Boileau, Ph.D. '01, Senior Nutrition Scientist, Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, MN
In my opinion, the strengths of the Division are its people and approach to nutritional science. The quality and depth of its faculty create an environment that fosters creativity and excellence at all levels. The multidisciplinary approach teaches collaboration, teamwork and communication which are critical to success wherever your career may take you.