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Nutrition Science Department

Discover Your Passion

Our exciting programs offer more than just the basics – we train highly competent registered dieticians and leaders in nutrition research that will change the diet and nutrition landscape. Let us show you how.

Nutrition Sciences Department

The Department of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel University is paving the way for future researchers and registered dietitians. Our Bachelors of Science, Masters and PhD programs prepare students to work in a variety of careers that span the gamut from community work and clinical practice to cutting edge research.

This is a particularly exciting time for nutritionists since so many individuals are taking responsibility for maintaining and enhancing their health. We are committed to the discovery of new information about the relationships between diet, physical activity, health and disease and the application of such knowledge to individuals, communities and entire populations.

In September 2011, the Department of Nutrition Sciences, Drexel Recreation Center and University Wellness collaboratively formed the Drexel Center for Integrated Nutrition & Performance (CINP), with the mission of providing evidence-based nutrition advice to the Drexel Community and the greater Philadelphia area. The Center offers year-long internships for selected undergraduate and graduate students from the Department of Nutrition Sciences. This provides exceptional hands-on experience that prepares students for application to practice programs, employment opportunities and graduate programs.

Center for Nutrition & Performance (CNP)
Drexel’s Center for Nutrition & Performance provides students a hands-on learning experience through the development and implementation of nutrition education programs for members of the Drexel community.


The following programs are offered through the Department of Nutrition Sciences. Please contact us or plan to visit us if we can provide further information about opportunities in this important discipline that bridges the basic and applied sciences.

Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Foods
An important component of healthcare, dietetics involves helping people meet their nutritional needs through diet counseling and nutrition support.

Master of Science in Human Nutrition
If you have a desire to promote optimal wellness for people of all ages through better nutrition and become a registered dietitian, this may be of interest to you.

PhD in Nutrition Sciences
An innovative PhD program that positions graduates as unique PhD-educated nutritionists.

Minor in Nutrition and Foods

Human Lactation Consultant Program
The Drexel University Nutrition Sciences Human Lactation Consultant Program is designed to provide an opportunity for individuals to prepare to become Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs).

The Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway (ISPP)
An ACEND approved program allowing students who have graduated from a DPD program to complete the 1,200 hours of supervised practice necessary to complete the path to registration.

Nutrition Sciences Faculty

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News & Events



Drexel's Nyree Dardarian with graduate Coco EllisDrexel University’s Department of Nutrition Sciences fueled the USA team during the 29th World University Summer Games (WUG) held in Taipei, Taiwan from August 19–30. With 7,700 student-athletes from 131 countries competing in 22 sports, it is the second-largest multisport event on the globe—only the Olympics are bigger.
Team USA is represented by over 400 student-athletes from more than 70 NCAA teams to showcase their talents on a world stage. Team Drexel Nutrition, which provided nutrition guidance for the American athletes, was led by four Drexel graduate students and University faculty from the College of Nursing and Health Professions.
On the front lines, graduate students Coco Ellis ’17, Leah Tsui ’17, Kylie McKenzie ’18 and Kira Sy ’18 worked around the clock to keep the Games going—something they have prepared to do for over a year. Every day during the Games, these Dragons assisted in the athletic training room and in the athletes’ village dining hall. They gained valuable experience in working with world class athletes, learning about large scale food delivery systems within a sports context and getting a behind the scene look of an Olympic-size sporting event.
Of course, learning by doing is one of Drexel’s pedagogic staples, and it fit well with the WUG.
Stella Volpe, PhD, chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences, encouraged Drexel’s involvement with the Games, stating that, “the amazing work Dardarian and her team does, extends throughout the entire world, and will continue, since she has been asked to be the USA team's sports dietitian again in the 2019 Games.”
The students not only lived in the athletes’ village—they also had gotten to know the athletes and occasionally attended events to cheer for them.
“I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to not only represent the USA team, but also Drexel University,” said Ellis. “Drexel stood out from other universities due to the emphasis they place on experiential learning.”
Overseas and on the job, the students got a taste of that experiential learning while working with athletes from all different backgrounds.Drexel's 6'2' Tess Kracíková at the World University Games
“There were vast differences in nutritional knowledge that the athletes competing there had,” said Ellis. “Not only did it vary between countries, but also within countries, and even within specific sports.”
One of the most interesting facts is that the Taiwanese do not know much about food allergies. Accurately labeling foods with nutrition information including allergens was one of the most difficult tasks, since the information was simply not available. Neither were gluten-free foods. A small table with five boxes of gluten-free cereal were controlled for distribution to athletes diagnosed with celiac disease.
“It was eye-opening to see what foods athletes were familiar with, and what new foods they were willing to try in a new place,” said Tsui. “The athletes at this level know good nutrition is essential to their performance, so it is interesting to see how they filled up their plates! As part of the research we were able to do there, we took pictures of athletes' plates to see how they fueled for a game or recovering from a workout.”
Surprisingly, or maybe not, popcorn chicken was the most popular food item among the athletes. Another “nugget” of the Games for the Drexel students was 16-hour flights to travel to Taiwan and a 12-hour time difference.
The WUG also had a Drexel “feel” on the courts and fields. Drexel University junior and member of the Dragons women’s basketball team Tess Kracikova was representing the Czech Republic. Eve Badana, a graduate student and former Drexel women’s soccer goaltender, returned to the games to compete for Ireland.
By: Nyree Dardarian


Corinne “Coco” Ellis’ path has been a winding one.  She began her academic career at Clemson University as a marketing major, but eight years and a few twists and turns later, Ellis found herself as a master’s student at Drexel in a wildly different field: Nutrition.

It was while working at her college internships, one in non-profit marketing and another in event planning, that Ellis realized she was feeling unfulfilled by her chosen profession. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, she did some soul searching and decided to apply for Teach for America. She was placed as a seventh and eighth grade science teacher at Martin Luther King Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina

The school is located in the inner city and 99 percent of the students received reduced price or free lunches. Many relied on school to get most of their meals for the day and supplemented with junk food.  “They would get to me last period of the day and just be completely exhausted—or come after lunch and be bouncing off the walls. Nutrition was always something that I was really interested in, so I thought there's got to be some sort of connection between what they're eating and their performance in my classroom,” she said. This inspired Ellis to bring in what she called “brain booster snacks” such as bananas and peanut butter or whole grain crackers which the students ended up loving. She realized this was the aspect of her Teach for America experience she was more passionate about: health, wellness and nutrition. 

After two years in Charlotte, Ellis relocated to Philadelphia. She decided to explore her newfound passion for health and wellness and found a job with the YMCA doing youth development. “I wanted to get my foot in the door on the wellness side and focus on health promotion in a community setting. I started as a wellness coach and worked with YMCA members on achieving health goals, mostly fitness related. During my time there, I ended up getting my group exercise and personal trainer certifications, but I just kept coming back to the food.”

At this point, Ellis realized that to pursue a job in nutrition, she’d have to go back to school. Because her undergraduate degree was in marketing, she had to complete several prerequisite science courses before she could apply.

Ellis was drawn to Drexel’s nutrition program because of two faculty members in particular.

“While working at the YMCA, I had started volunteering with Greener Partners, an organization dedicated to healthier communities through food, farms and education. At the time, they were one of the partners on the Healthy Futures program. At a conference, my supervisor, Helen Nadel, introduced me to Stella Volpe, PhD. I was struck by how she exuded positivity and energy! 

“Then, during my research, I came across the Center for Nutrition and Performance (CNP). I’m a lifelong athlete, and at the time I was just starting to train in powerlifting. I was interested in how nutrition played a role in my performance, so I thought maybe I would like to do something in sports nutrition. I reached out to CNP director, Nyree Dardarian, RD. I quickly realized that as a student, to get the experiences she was talking about—ones I wouldn’t find anywhere else, I’d have to apply to Drexel!” That’s not to say she was unimpressed by the rest of the nutrition sciences faculty. “The biggest asset Drexel has is its professors. They are brilliant. You read their bios and think ‘Why are you spending your time teaching us? You could be doing so many other really awesome things, but you’re here taking your time to teach us.’ They are wonderful,” she said.

Ellis began the accelerated master’s program in January 2016. She was hired as an intern at the Drexel Recreation Center for Student Health, Fitness and Wellness, where she developed and ran on campus programming for Drexel students such as a “Scale Smash” for National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Week and a “Name That Ingredient” challenge for National Nutrition Month. Additionally, she worked as a performance nutrition assistant for CNP. During the 2016-2017 season, she served as the nutrition liaison for men’s and women’s basketball. “I worked with sports RD and Drexel alum, Andrea Irvine, to create the meal plans for when they traveled and did education sessions with them. I also worked with the rowing team and men’s soccer as well. This summer, I’m continuing to work with Professor Dardarian and supporting some of our professional sports teams, like the Philadelphia Union,” she explained.

A telltale sign that CNP is great for a resume—all five nutrition graduate students working there were accepted into their top choice dietetic internships, Ellis was matched at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Over the course of 11 months, Ellis will rotate through different areas of the hospital. “A large portion of my hours will focus on clinical nutrition. In addition, I will also spend four weeks in food service learning about the managerial side of dietetics and another four weeks will be spent in a community setting like a soup kitchen or WIC. Lastly, there are two weeks of electives. There is an eating disorder treatment program outside Boston that’s specifically designed for athletes, so I hope to do a week there. Then, possibly a week back at Drexel doing more sports nutrition,” she said. The internship is like a residency; when the interns aren’t shadowing someone, they’ll have a real patient case load.

Ellis recently completed the 18-month accelerated master’s program and graduated in June, but what she’s most excited for this summer is her upcoming trip to Taiwan. She will be serving as a nutrition intern, along with three other Drexel students, at the World University Games, which is like the Olympics for college athletes. They will be in Taiwan for three weeks doing nutrition education and working with athletes from the USA Team to help maximize their performance during the competition.

Though her path has taken many twists and turns and presented forks in the road, it may end up coming full circle. Once her internship is competed, Ellis’ ultimate goal is to come back to a Division I university, but this time not as a student. “I want to do a lot of things, but my passion really is in sports nutrition, specifically female athletes and those with eating disorders. Recently, more athletes have been coming forward in the media about their history with eating disorders or disordered eating. They’re a lot more prevalent than maybe people once thought or were willing to admit. There seems to still be this treatment gap where athletes who have been diagnosed then have to go out and find another treatment site, as opposed to having those resources in house. I think being able to be a sports dietician at a university and having experience with eating disorders would be extremely beneficial.”

So, why Drexel? “Drexel has a million opportunities for you. It's just up to you to take advantage of them and if you do, it pays back in tenfold what you put into it.”

Written by Maggie McCrea


Faculty Accolades

Stella Lucia Volpe, PhD, professor and chair of the Nutrition Sciences department, received the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists’ Distinguished Scholar Award, March, 2017
A CNHP clinical professor was among the recipients of a Provost Award for Outstanding Scholarly Productivity. Denise Wolf, MA, ATR-BC, LPC received the Adjunct Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence at this year’s Provost's Awards for Teaching, Scholarship and Professional Service.
Theresa Fay-Hillier, DrPH, an assistant clinical professor in undergraduate nursing, received an International Travel Award from Drexel to present at the XXXVth International Congress on Law and Mental Health in Prague this July. Her peer reviewed presentation was titled: "Intimate Partner Violence Screening Practices by Registered Nurses in the Emergency Department." 
Assistant clinical professor of graduate nursing Susan Solecki, DrPH(c) received an International Travel Award from Drexel to present at the conference.  Susan's peer review presentation was titled: "Policy and Practice Implications of Electronic Aggression in the Pediatric Population." The sessions included presenters from the United States, Canada, and Australia.
Yasmine Awais, MAAT, ATR-BC, an assistant clinical professor in creative arts therapies, received a 2017 Drexel University, Teaching and Learning Conference Travel Award.
The Department of Creative Arts Therapies adjunct faculty Denise Wolf, MCPHU ’99, MA received a 2017 Conference Travel Award, Drexel University. She also received the Drexel Provost’s Adjunct Teaching Excellence Award, May, 2017
Abby Dougherty, PhD, assistant clinical professor in creative arts therapies, received an American Counseling Association award to attend the ACA Institute on Leadership Training in July 2017.
Joke Bradt, PhD, MT-BC received the CNHP Teaching Excellence Award for classroom teaching in May 2017.
Joanne Loewy, DA, LCAT, MT-BC, adjunct faculty in creative arts therapies, received the World Federation of Music Therapy Clinical Impact Award at the World Congress of Music Therapy in Tsukuba, Japan, July 4-8, 2017.
Michael Bruneau Jr, PhD, health sciences assistant teaching professor, was named the marketing chair of the Clinical Exercise Physiology Association and to the membership committee of the American College of Sports Medicine.
Vincent Zarro, MD received the Sir William Osler Award for distinguished service to medicine and education DUCOM Internal Medicine Residency Program in June 15, 2017.
Health Sciences’ William D’Andrea, MS, clinical professor, Michael Kirifides, PhD, assistant professor, Margery Lockard, PT, PhD, clinical professor, Robert Mele, DPM, assistant professor, Janell Mensinger, PhD, associate teaching professor and Sinclair Smith, ScD, teaching professor and department chair  were inducted into Alpha Eta.
Assistant Clinical Professor Krista Rompolski, PhD received a fellowship: Gross Anatomy and Dissection Completed Limbs, Head, and Neck Modules Anatomical Society's Anatomy Training Program at University of Oxford, UK.

Keynote Presentations

Virginia R. Lemon, Jody Herman, Emily N. Werner, Jacqui Van Grouw, Rachel C. Kelley, Francesco Alessio, Michael Bruneau Jr, PhD, health sciences assistant teaching professor and Stella Lucia Volpe, PhD, professor and chair of the Nutrition Sciences department, presented “Validity of Self-Reported Energy Intake Compared to Resting Metabolic Rate in Athletes” at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in Denver, CO in June 2017.
Michael L. Bruneau Jr., health sciences assistant teaching professor, Susan Sotir, Richard J. Wood, Samuel A.E. Headley, Elizabeth O’Neill, Susan E. Lachowski and Vincent J. Paolone presented “Influence of Aerobic Exercise on Ghrelin-o-Acyltransferase in Normal Weight and Obese Adults: A Pilot Study” at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in Denver, CO in June 2017.
Ritanne Duszak, Jody L. Herman, Emily N. Werner, Jacqui Van Grouw, Rachel C. Kelley, Francesco Alessio, Michael L. Bruneau, Jr. PhD, health sciences assistant teaching professor and Stella Lucia Volpe, PhD, professor and chair of the Nutrition Sciences department, presented “Evaluation of Nutrient Intakes of Masters Athletes” at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in Denver, CO in June 2017.
Anneliese M. Kuemmerle, Jody L. Herman, Emily N. Werner, Jacqui Van Grouw, Rachel C. Kelley, Francesco Alessio, Michael L. Bruneau, PhD, health sciences assistant teaching professor, and Stella L. Volpe, PhD, professor and chair of the Nutrition Sciences department, presented “Exploring the Relationship between Soluble Fiber Intake and Bone Mineral Density in Athletes” at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in Denver, CO in June 2017.
Nutrition sciences Clinical Professor Joseph Boullata, PharmD, FACN was an invited speaker Asociacion Colombiana de Nutricion Clinica, 31st Annual Clinical Congress, Bogotá, Colombia. He gave the following presentations: “How Malnutrition Affects the Therapeutic Response to Medication,” “Safe Practice Recommendations for Enteral Nutrition Therapy” and “Safety Recommendations: Enteral Drug Administration.
Girija Kaimal,EdD, an assistant professor in the Creative Arts Therapies department, presented on Research in Art Therapy, New York University.
Christen J. Mendonca, Jillian L. Hawkins, Sinclair A. Smith, ScD, health sciences teaching professor and department chair presented “Validity And Reliability Of A Low-cost System To Measure Oxygen Uptake During Submaximal Exercise” at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in Denver, CO in June 2017.
Manal A. Naseeb, Sinclair A. Smith, ScD, health sciences teaching professor and department chair, Emily N. Werner, Jacqui Van Grouw, Rachel C. Kelley, Francesco Alessio, Stella L. Volpe, PhD, professor and chair of the Nutrition Sciences department presented “Age Related Decline in VO2max and Lean Body Mass in Masters Athletes” at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in Denver, CO in June 2017. 
Professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences, Stella Lucia Volpe, PhD presented “My Path to My Career” at the American College of Sports Medicine Student Affairs Committee, Pre-Conference, Meeting in Denver, CO in June 2017.

Sponsored Research

Margaret Finley, PT, PhD, physical therapy and rehabilitation sciences associate professor, and collaborators have been awarded a $662,720 grant for a Spinal Cord Injury Research Project by the Department of Defense. The three-year project, “Development of a Biopsychosocial Prospective Surveillance Model of Shoulder Pain in Individual’s with Spinal Cord Injury,” will investigate presentation and progression of musculoskeletal pain and psychosocial impairments the first year following spinal cord injury beginning with inpatient rehabilitation in the acute phase. The overall goal is to develop a biopsychosocial Prospective Surveillance Model to provide a proactive approach for early identification and intervention programs to ameliorate the debilitating consequences of activity limitations and participation restrictions in individuals with spinal cord injury, reducing burden to military service members, veterans, their families and caregivers. Co-investigators are CNHP’s David Ebaugh, PT, PhD, physical therapy and rehabilitation sciences clinical professor; Edward Gracely, PhD, associate professor in the College of Medicine and Dornsife School of Public Health; and Thomas Trojian, MD, professor, in the College of Medicine. The multisite project will be conducted in collaboration with Magee Rehabilitation Hospital and the University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Institute.
Kymberlee Montgomery, DrNP, CRNP-BC, CNE, FAANP, CNHP associate clinical professor and department chair, and Dennis H. Novack, MD, CoM, are the principal investigators of a project that Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation approved a Board grant of up to $420,094 for a three-year period effective July 1, 2017 to Drexel University to support a project titled, “A Multi-Institution Effort to Advance Professionalism and Interprofessional Education with” This project proposes to enhance (PFO) so that it can be used effectively in interprofessional education, for the assessment of development of professionalism and interprofessional competencies by learners in multiple professions and for remediation. Thirteen institutions have agreed to work with Novak and Montgomery to enhance and expand their education in professionalism and interprofessional care and to pilot and evaluate the use of PFO in at least two professions per institution. If successful, PFO should become an important, tested resource for widespread use in health professional schools as part of their individual and interprofessional curricula.

Civic Engagement

On July 10, 2017, Kate Mitchell, PT, DPT, NCS, associate clinical professor and assistant director of clinical education in the physical therapy and rehabilitation sciences department provided a 4-hour training course to Magee Physical and Occupational Therapists on Balance-based Torso Weighting®. This newer technique involves the use of targeted sensory weighting throughout the trunk to assist individuals with balance problems stand and move better. Mitchell is a certified BalanceWear practitioner and as part of the Drexel Faculty Practice has fit over 90 individuals with this new garment. Please check out for more information on this exciting treatment modality that allows patients to move more safely and confidently.


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