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Wharton Summer Student Research

Wharton Summer Student Research

2018 Wharton Summer Student Research

The Department of Nutrition will fund eight (8) Wharton Summer Research Fellowships for CWRU NUTRITION and NUTRITION BIOCHEMISTRY AND METABOLISM majors only. Qualified students should review the eight (8) online faculty project descriptors below and identify thier top two choices and return the application by January 19th.

See below for information on how to apply and to download the application.


Apply by January 19th, 2018! 

  • Complete Wharton Summer Research Application 2018 (docx) and return to Jackie Davis at by January 19th, 2018
  • Students must be a declared nutrition major no later than January 2, 2018
  • Selected students will receive a stipend of $3,000 for the 10 week time-period of May 29, 2018 through August 6, 2018
  • Students must work 40 hours weekly for the duration of these stipulated dates to receive stipend funding


Causes of the side-effects of β-alanine after it is ingested by athlestes with the intent to boost muscular performance

Henri Brunengraber, PhD, MD

Educational Programming

Impact of education and training in research during a master's degree program on research participation among RDN alumni: the CWRU combined dietetic internship/master's degree program experience

Rosa K. Hand, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Stephanie Harris, PhD, RDN, LD

Vitamin E 

Vitamin E:  nutrient-gene interactions

Alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) is a plant-derived dietary lipid that is essential for human health. The vitamin is known to function as a lipid anti-oxidant that prevents and ameliorates oxidative stress in the nervous and reproductive systems. Despite its established importance for human health, intake of vitamin E in the US population is far below recommended levels. Moreover, the exact molecular mechanisms by which tocopherol offers protection from disease are poorly understood.

We recently found that in addition to its established function in combating oxidative stress, vitamin E has novel, antioxidant-independent functions. Specifically, it directly regulates the expression of a vitamin E transporter in neurons and in liver cells. These novel findings indicate that the levels and distribution of vitamin E in the body are homeostatically-controlled and regulated.

The project is aimed to elucidate how vitamin E regulates gene expression. Student will gain a deep understanding of the literature on nutrient-gene-gene interactions (through guided readings and discussions), and learn basic concepts and techniques required for studying gene expression in cultured cells. Major experimental approaches include mammalian cell culture, analyses of mRNA expression, optical and fluorescence microscopy, and relevant biochemical assays. Student will write a short summary paper upon conclusion of the project.

NOTE: Requirements: coursework in Biochemistry and Physiology. One-day formal training in laboratory safety will be carried out prior to project onset.

Student Outcomes:
• Understand how nutrients affect cell physiology by altering gene expression.
• Gain proficiency in experiment design, execution, and data analysis.

Danny Manor, PhD

Retail Food Environments

Assessing and validating the retail food environment surrounding schools in low-income neighborhoods

Catherine Rogers, PhD, MS, RDN

Dietary Iron

Immunohistologic Analyses of Excess Dietary Iron and Intestinal Tumorigenesis

Dietary iron is differentially utilized by cells as they sequentially transform into aberrant crypt cells, then adenomas, and ultimately tumors spanning the intestinal epithelia. Excess dietary iron may modulate tumor formation and growth and thus, clinically influence prognosis and survivability. The purpose of this project is to further investigate the effect of excess dietary iron (from an approximate equivalent of 2-10X the RDA of iron for adult humans) on intestinal tumorigenesis in mice, by measuring aberrant crypt foci (ACF) development, transformation, and growth as they mature and transform into tumors. ACF and tumor tissue, as well as non-tumor intestinal tissue will be analyzed immunohistochemically (using beta-catenin and Ki-67; both intracellular markers of tumor growth). Funds for this research proposal will support immunohistochemical analyses involving histology services and microscopy equipment usage charges and supplies. Data from this project will be integrated with morphologic, proteomic, and genomic data on tumor and non-tumor tissue. This will establish a strong cross-link between immunologic and other data sets, providing a strong foundation for future national grant success.

Student outcomes:

  1. Understand and interpret immunhistochemical results, as related to diet and cancer.
  2. Demonstrate proficiency in using advanced microscopic techniques.
  3. Apply statistical approaches to process and interpret data sets.
  4. Enhance oral and written reporting and presenting skills.

James Swain, PhD, RD, LD, FAND

Exomes as Biomarkers

Purifying exomes for use as biomarkers

Tilton Summer Research for full project description (PDF).

John Tilton, MD

Disordered Eating

Exploring the association among estrogen receptors, gut hormones, and disordered eating behaviors in famale athletes

Lynn Cialdella Kam, PhD, MBA, RDN, LD
Sichun Yang, PhD

Pediatric Obesity

Exploring pediatric obesity treatment in a pediatric primary care setting

Rosana Watowicz, PhD, RD, LD
Catherine Rogers. PhD, MS, RD


The role of macrophage polarization in the development of sepsis

Colleen Croniger, PhD