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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 Bachelor of Science, master's 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 Nutrition & Performance (CNP), 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.





Nutrition Sciences Faculty

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News & Events



Smiling Black female with shoulder-length dark hair wearing a dark sweater with sun embroidery on the frontSona Diallo is simultaneously finishing up a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and foods and certification as a lactation consultant and completing her first year as a graduate student in the Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. Diallo is taking advantage of the BS/MS Bridge program offered by Drexel University’s College of Nutrition and Health Professions (CNHP).

Diallo started her college career at Community College of Philadelphia intending to go to Temple’s medical school then into family medicine. However, while taking the prerequisite nutrition course her path changed completely. “I fell in love with nutrition right off the bat,” Diallo beamed. “I was like, wait, people can actually get paid to talk to people about this?” Her professor, a registered dietitian, told her that indeed nutrition is a terrific career, and that Drexel had a great program. “While I did my research, it dawned on me that dieticians are health care providers who specialize in how food is broken down in the body and can heal, not just comfort.” Diallo loved the idea of how influential food is on all our systems. She also noticed how few people in nutrition sciences look like her and wanted to change that.

Young Black woman with long shoulder-length hair wearing a blue dress standing in the corridor of a ball parkDiallo called all her classes enjoyable and would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. She appreciates the small classes since it gives her an opportunity to build meaningful relationships with her professors like to one that she has with Professor Susan McGinley. “She is one of the most impactful teachers I've had in my entire life,” said Diallo. “I had my first class with her, and she really got to know me, my culture and my background. I thought if this is how all my courses will be, I am absolutely in the right place!” She remarked that one of the strengths of CNHP’s Nutrition Department is its size. "We will have the same professors first year, second year and third year which is the greatest thing about the nutrition department. Our professors track our growth throughout our time here.” Diallo knows that she can go to any of her professors, especially McGinley, whenever she wants to understand something more clearly, ask questions and share ideas.

Diallo is tackling areas where she sees a need for vast improvement—food insecurity, opening career doors for people of color and nutritional health of mothers and children. Wanting to go into pediatric nutrition, when looking at ways to affect kids’ general well-being, starting with mothers made a lot of sense to her. After hearing Susan Fuchs, MS, the director of the Human Lactation Program, give a lecture in one of her classes, Diallo recognized an interesting opportunity—do both at the same time. She could explain to women who recently gave birth how to properly feed their babies whether they choose to breast- or bottle-feed while cleverly finding ways to give nutrition lessons that will benefit mom while talking about the ups and downs of lactation. “It’s the earliest time to shape a child’s habits and behaviors,” described Diallo. “If I can influence someone to do something positive, that means a lot.” That’s the heart of an innovator.

Young Black woman with long braids and lavender shirt kneeling in the corner of a room with light blue walls adorned with basketsThrough courses, professors, rotations and peers, Diallo is developing into a knowledgeable healthcare provider with an ability to check her biases at the door and approach every situation with cultural competency. That is underscored in every class she takes. “I must be able to communicate with people who have different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds than mine.” To be the clinician each person needs, she meets them where they are and builds trust and rapport. Diallo says openness is key. “Being open to learning, being open to new experiences and being open to change is what helps me grow.”

Written by Roberta S. Perry


White male wearing a baseball uniform standing at bat.“I want to be someone who can bridge the gap and take the whole sports performance system into account,” shares Drew Jarmuz, MS nutrition and dietetics ’22. 

Jarmuz is a recent graduate of the master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics program at Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP). A former collegiate baseball player with an entrepreneurial spirit, Jarmuz wanted to differentiate himself in his profession.  

During his undergraduate years, he enrolled in a Nutrition Science program hoping to study sports nutrition and pursue a career that combined his knowledge and passion for athletics with nutrition science. However, he transferred to West Chester University to take a different path. “When I started school in 2015, sports nutrition as a field and degree program was in its infancy. I decided to pursue exercise science, since weightlifting was one of my passions. As I studied and continued to play baseball, coaches taught me more about strength and conditioning and this helped me so much in my athletic development and led me to start training athletes myself.”  

Early in his education, Jarmuz recognized a need to build connections between the major pillars of athletics: performance, strength and conditioning, psychology and nutrition.

White male wearing a Clemson Tigers staff uniform standing in front of a larger tiger graphic.“In the sports world, I noticed that there are often people who are experts in one of these pillars, and that is great and necessary. Yet, peak performance requires bringing all of the pieces together. So, I pushed myself to become someone who could bring these pillars together and grow interdisciplinary skills and knowledge for the benefit of athletes and their teams.” 

Jarmuz was a dedicated baseball player throughout his childhood and into his college years. Beginning in youth leagues and continuing through high school and college, he was appointed captain of his undergraduate baseball team at West Chester University, but an untimely injury during his senior year took him off the field. 

“After I got injured, I saw a sports psychologist for support, and that really helped me a lot in that moment of my athletic career,” Jarmuz comments. “It opened me up to see a deeper level of athletics. There is so much that goes into making a great athlete that is under the surface. By creating a deeper connection with players, you can listen closely and let them know that you are there to help.”

Having recovered from his injury and completed his undergraduate degree, Jarmuz searched for his next academic steps, but his pursuit of a master’s degree was complicated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jarmuz had chosen to stay at West Chester University to pursue a Masters in Sports Psychology and to continue his baseball season, but the pandemic cut his season short. Having previously considered Drexel for a Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, Jarmuz reached out to Beth Leonburg, MS, associate clinical professor and director of dietetics education at CNHP. Leonburg suggested that, given the pivot to remote learning, Jarmuz enroll in Drexel and complete both programs at once. 

“It was a crazy idea,” Jarmuz reflects, “but I did it. With Professor Leonburg’s support, we made this plan work together.”

After graduating from Drexel this spring, Jarmuz will fly south to Florida where he has accepted a position as a sports nutritionist for the Tampa Bay Rays. In this role, Jarmuz will work with rookie players and athletes rehabbing from injuries – of all professional levels – to educate them on the interconnected nature of athletic performance through nutrition science.

If three degrees and a job with a professional baseball team weren’t enough, Jarmuz has also learned Spanish to best support many Spanish-speaking baseball players and gain a deeper understanding and cultural sensitivity when working with athletes from Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Two white males standing in front of a banner with the Drexel Dragon and the Independence Blue Cross logos“When I was a player myself, I met many people who spoke Spanish as a first language. This made me think about how useful it would be to be able to communicate directly with players, and I challenged myself to learn the language so I could be there for them,” Jarmuz shares. “I could have a translator, of course, but nutrition can be a very personal topic and I wanted players to feel comfortable with me, and that comfort often comes from privacy and one-on-one conversations. I signed up for online tutoring and, two years later, I was able to complete half of my interview to work with the Tampa Bay Rays in Spanish.”  

As a part of his job duties, Jarmuz will travel to the Dominican Republic to work with players in the Rays’ Dominican Republic academy who have been tapped to play for the Tampa Bay Rays.

“Coming up as an athlete is a big transition, especially for these rookie players who are often 16 or 17 years old. Being able to speak to them in Spanish about their nutrition will help so much in forming connections and supporting them early in their career. We are still learning about Latin American foods in the American nutrition science classroom, and I really look forward to using my skills to work with them the best I can.”  

Reflecting on his academic journey, Jarmuz says that he never could have predicted that he would gain such a robust and unique understanding of baseball, athletics and sports nutrition. His passion began with his own love of the sport and the results he experienced first-hand when he began to incorporate nutrition goals and strategies as a baseball player in high school. 

“What really got me interested in this field was seeing my own boost in performance. I did better in baseball, I was more focused in class and I had sustained energy throughout the day. It really was the tide that raised all boats.”

Written by Izzy Lopez


Stack of graduation programs for Drexel UniversityThe weeks leading up to the Drexel’s 134th Commencement were full of celebrations. Undergraduate, graduate and doctoral candidates from across the College of Nursing and Health Professions attended a host of CNHP and Drexel University events to recognize their accomplishments. Our nursing co-op students held their pinning ceremony, the Nutrition Sciences Department, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Graduate Nursing hosted celebrations, the Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows met virtually to recognize those who completed the year-long program and the Creative Arts Therapies held their day-long Colloquia where student presented of their work.

Graduates wearing Drexel University caps and gowns at the College of Nursing and Health Professions graduation ceremonyOn the morning of June 9 at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts and with a focus on equity and purpose, Dean Laura Gitlin, PhD, welcomed graduating students, faculty, families, friends and guests to the first in-person graduation since 2019 saying, “We have all chosen lives that are, and will continue to be, motivated by an innate desire to make life better–to heal, a responsibility to serve and an obligation to advocate for those whose voices are not always heard or who do not receive equitable access to care throughout their life course.”

Gitlin asked for graduates to see their callings as a continuation or the College’s core values. “You have the obligation, opportunity and privilege to change the lives of individuals as well as systems of care—to develop new strategies, practices and policies in your respective fields and to address health inequities,” she asserted. She encouraged them to strive to provide person-centric care and to address what matters most to those for whom they care.

Zainab During, a master’s nursing student in Quality, Safety and Risk Management and a member of the Board of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, gave the student address. Born and raised in Sierra Leone, During used her own experience of civil war in her country to demonstrate what ambition and purpose will help one accomplish. “It is with that same mindset that I was able to thrive when I immigrated to the United States 13 years ago, with the goal of one day living the American dream,” she shared. “While this goal was abstract, it gave me hope and allowed me to continue nurturing my purpose,” During continued.

A group wearing Drexel University caps and gownsShe closed by stating what an honor it is to be graduating with the class of 2022 who she knows will do great things. “My fellow graduates, as a result of the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes acquired during the courses of our different programs, it is a privilege to follow our purpose and be given the opportunity to shine in our respective career paths.”

Gitlin introduced Melanie Cataldi, BS ’98, CNHP’s keynote speaker. Cataldi is a committed leader and collaborator for social justice with over 21 years of experience at Philabundance including founding the Philabundance Community Kitchen (PCK), a culinary arts workforce development training and employment program for adults who qualify for public assistance.

An experienced community impact strategist and a member of the 2022 People of Purpose, Cataldi began her address by referencing author and “unshakable optimist” Simon Sinek who talks a lot about “Finding Your Why.” “Your why is the thing that you give to the world, the thing that makes you who you are; it’s the fundamental core of what inspires you. My “why” is that I’m a Defender of People,” she shared. She has a superpower—seeing the big picture with the ability to develop, protect, motivate and move people forward toward a common goal.

Two females wearing blue and gold caps and gownsFollowing the themes spoken of by Gitlin and During, Cataldi talked about how interprofessional collaboration is the only way she sees to achieving both food and health equity. “The causes of health inequity are complex and interwoven. Anti-hunger organizations and affordable housing builders, public and private entities and academic institutions are all part of the solution,” Cataldi argued.

Acknowledging the structural and social determinants of health, like housing, education, transportation, and food, Cataldi stated that most people would argue that food and shelter are key among those because they represent the most basic of essential needs. From Cataldi’s perspective, food equity is part of the struggle of overall health equity. Looking at the last two years, what touches one affects all with long-lasting and pervasive repercussions, and what we have done to alleviate these wide-reaching problems isn’t working.

Two people wearing Drexel University caps and gownsBecause this work will neither be easy nor quick, Cataldi challenged our graduates to find their why. “I bet if I sat down with each of you, whether your focus is research or direct service, whether you studied nursing, health administration, health sciences, nutrition, hospitality management, culinary arts and food science, creative art therapies, counseling, physician assistance or physical therapy and rehabilitation science, we would find something that is congruent with making things better—for people, for families, for communities. It’s been my experience that really understanding your “why”, your superpower, and then leveraging that in collaboration with others, is the key to success in just about everything be it family dynamics, relationships in the workplace or reaching organizational goals,” concluded Cataldi.

Below is a list of award winners from around the College.

Dean's Awards

Nicholas Eltman, Dean’s Achievement Award
Melissa Fairfield, Dean’s Social Justice Award
June Maloney, Dean’s Clinical Service Award
Shel Myers, Dean’s Award

RN-BSN and Graduate Nursing Departments

Outstanding Graduate Award
Amy C. Plotts
Adriana Ava Banks
Kaitlin Balbo
Jillian Labatch
Anne Anderson
Vicki Zahos
Pam Hughes
Joncornel Kearney
Sarah Kendall
Stephanie Pileggi
Theodore A. Klitus
Erika Lockhart
Jessa Adiletto Lassor
Ashley Olszewski
Amy Elisabeth Elliott
Melissa Fairfield
Jordan Troxell
Amy Elizabeth Fafard

Thia Jackson Baugh, Online Student Recognition (RN-BSN)
Molly Laina Scott, Outstanding Achievement (RN-BSN)

Kristin Feightner, Kathleen Jennings-Dozier Memorial Award
Lindsey Ho, Joyce Lazzaro Lifelong Achievement Award
Emily Shaw, Hahnemann Hospital Nurse Alumnae Association Award

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences Department

Dominic DeLaurentis, Clinical Education Award
June Maloney, Dragon Service Award
Brianna Wagner, Leadership Award
Natalia Oliveira, Health Equity and Social Impact Award
Drew Petersen, Scholarly Excellence Award
Kerri Yacovelli, PT, MSPT, OCS, Clinical Instructor Award

Creative Arts Therapies Department

Ming Yuan Low, PhD, PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies Teaching Promise Award and Leadership Promise Awards
Brigette K. Schneible, PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies Research Promise Award
Natalia Alvarez-Figueroa, Rachel Haimovich, Jonathon Jenkins and Cynthia Jones, Clinical Supervisors Award Lana Sommers, MA Leadership Award
James Lavino and Lydia Patselas, MA Artistry Award
Zevi B. Koretz, MA Service Award
Rachel Chang, Tahsina Miah and Carolina Millard, MA Clinical Excellence Award
Elizabeth Allen, MA Culminating Project
Briana Marsh, Nitasha Kang And Jennifer Willbanks, Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award (JEDI)
Angela Kodokian, Lana Sommers and Taylor A. Sparks, MA Overall Achievement Award
Hayley Beck, The Dianne Dulicai Award for Dance/Movement Therapy

Alpha Eta Honor Society, the National Honor Society for the Allied Health Professions
Hayley Beck
Angela Kodokian
James Lavino
Ming Yuan Low
Tahsina Miah
Brigette Schneible
Lana Sommers
Taylor A. Sparks

Written by Roberta S. Perry

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