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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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EAT RIGHT PHILLY 2019-2020 team standing in front of a fountain and City Hall.Since 2002, Drexel University's Pennsylvania Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (PA SNAP-Ed)/ EAT RIGHT PHILLY has been working with the School District of Philadelphia to make nutrition a priority. Part of the College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP) Department of Nutrition, this program is funded annually through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to empower students and adults in over 70 schools in the district to make healthier food and lifestyle choices. The goal of SNAP-Ed "is to improve the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will make nutritious food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans." EAT RIGHT PHILLY uses an evidence-based curriculum and strategies to encourage children and adults to make positive daily choices. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges for delivering this CNHP program that school children and adults have come to rely on and enjoy.

Male high school students cutting up apples in EAT RIGHT PHILLY nutrition class.One of the goals of Pennsylvania's Blueprint for a Hunger-Free Pennsylvania initiative is educating individuals and families on nutrition needs for a healthy life, so the continued partnership that Drexel University's EAT RIGHT PHILLY has with PA SNAP-Ed is vital. "As one of the seven EAT RIGHT PHILLY partners, we are providing free interactive nutrition lessons and outreach programs to SNAP-eligible participants in schools and community sites in Philadelphia," said Judy Ensslin, Program Director. "Our team works with district staff to creatively weave nutrition education into classrooms while making it fun, sustainable and accessible," she added.

The EAT RIGHT PHILLY team of 18—administrative staff, program managers, nutrition coordinators, graduate and undergraduate student employees —is led by Principal Investigator Jennifer Quinlan, PhD and Program Director Judy Ensslin, MS, RDN, LDN. The team traditionally uses a variety of in-person strategies —nutrition and cooking lessons, recipes, demonstrations; food tastings including a fruit/vegetable of the month; school wellness and food access initiatives; hydration, physical activity and school breakfast promotions; and gardening—to make programs fun and engaging. Since March 2020, however, EAT RIGHT PHILLY coordinators adapted to 100 percent online learning, conducting virtual lessons, food demonstrations, and other programs to keep students involved and connected. The Eat Right Philly staff shared what they bought at grocery stores in "unbagging" videos on social media, recorded movement breaks videos, discussed healthy breakfast options, created recipe videos and even inspired some caregivers to have food tasting at home with their children.

EAT RIGHT PHILLY team member helping young boy plant vegetables.In the 2019-2020 school year, with adjustments made for virtual delivery, Drexel's EAT RIGHT PHILLY nutrition coordinators cooked in 33 schools, conducted 136,671 food tastings, taught 13,059 students and adults, and reached over 38,000 participants through wellness initiatives. This year, they continue to touch students' and adults' lives across the city despite the current global health crisis. Even though all current programming is virtual, coordinators still have heart-warming stories of how excited the children are to have EAT RIGHT PHILLY visit their virtual classroom. Young students are excited to share what they are eating, and many like to try new foods. After learning about mangoes, one student told his mother that he "really wanted to try one!" His mother went to the store and bought enough for the whole family to enjoy! Older students are engaged by virtual cooking demonstrations. In one class, students ask for the recipe before class to get the ingredients in advance and cook along with the coordinator. In other classes, students will share recipes that they have made or discuss how they altered a recipe for foods they had on hand. Reaching adults is also essential to the EAT RIGHT PHILLY team. After attending a few sessions, one adult stated, "I am more confident in my cooking, my ability to cook healthy meals and have not bought fast food in a while. The best part is that my grandchild enjoys the food I make!"

Roselyn Zeyl giving a virtual EAT RIGHT PHILLY nutrition lesson.The EAT RIGHT PHILLY team knows that anything can happen in a classroom when conducting a program. Adaptability is often needed. "The current pandemic required us to adapt from 100 percent in-person to 100 percent virtual. This team did it quickly, creatively and professionally, continuing to provide quality nutrition programming to students and adults in the Philadelphia community," stated Ensslin.

While COVID-19 may have thrown everyone a curveball, the EAT RIGHT PHILLY team stayed the course in engaging students and helping them develop skills that will serve them well for a lifetime.

More about the Snap/ED EAT RIGHT PHILLY program's work and success can be found in their 2019-2020 annual report.


Helen Teng HeadshotOn April 6, Helen L. Teng, PhD, was honored during the Mayor's Day of Service Recognition award ceremony for her volunteer contributions to the South East Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC). Recognizing Teng, along with 14 other honorees, the city and the mayor paid tribute to those who have made a positive impact in their communities through national and volunteer service. The five award categories were the Philly Hero Award; Youth Hero Award (honorees are 18 years and younger); Mayor's Distinguished National Service Award; Mayor's Distinguished National Service Alumni Award; and the Greater Philadelphia Corporate Volunteer Council's Distinguished Corporate Volunteer. Teng received the Philly Hero Award and was nominated by Dominic Brennan, volunteer coordinator at SEAMAAC.

“Helen immediately came to mind,” says Brennan as he received the call for nominations for the award, “she’s one of the kindest people that I have had the pleasure to meet, who really understands the social complexity in the world we live, which is so important in this moment.”

Teng began volunteering at the beginning of the pandemic with SEAMAAC assisting with a hunger relief program, which provided, packed and delivered groceries to primarily elderly Asian community members. “Giving back to the people of Philadelphia in my community, who are immigrants, and who have been disproportionately impacted by social determinants of health. …it feels like I’m doing my part,” says Teng.

“Helen was one of the first volunteers to rise to the call from SEAMAAC,” says Thoai Nguyen, chief executive officer of SEAMAAC. “She is fierce in her analysis of our social environment and practical in her approach to her demonstration to fighting inequity.”

What started as packing and delivering food, grew into partnerships across the city to include Share Food, Step Up to the Plate, South Philly Barbacoa/215 People’s Kitchen, Broad Street Ministry, USDA Farm to Families Program, Fishadelphia, Philabundance, Sharing Excess, Caring for Friends and Novick Urban Farm. These groups and individuals came together to help those facing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Volunteer work has always been important to Teng, and she contributes across many areas in the city of Philadelphia, including civic engagement, addressing food insecurity, and providing care. Teng says, “people are depending on us. It’s all about helping someone else.” Her advice for future volunteers: “make sure you are passionate about the organization that you are volunteering for before you get started.”

“Something that made Helen stand out,” says Brennan, “not only is she dedicated to SEAMAAC and the programming across the organization, but she is incredibly dedicated to all her work, helping students, volunteering with the Chinatown Clinic, and I am in awe of her passion and compassion.”

Teng is an assistant clinical professor in undergraduate nursing at Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions. She is the course chair for Population Health Concepts and has taught Relationship Based Care and Pharmacology I. For her doctoral dissertation, Teng explored the lived experience of recently immigrated low-income aging Chinese men and their engagement with the U.S. healthcare system. Her research interests include, Asian immigrant health, health disparities and nursing education.

SEAMAAC stands as one of the oldest and largest refugee-founded agencies in the region with a workforce of over 80% bi/multi-lingual staff serving constituencies from as many as 18 distinct linguistic communities.” The mission is “to support and serve immigrants and refugees and other politically, socially and economically marginalized communities as they seek to advance the condition of their lives in the United States.” Through education, health and social services, and community development, SEAMAAC commits to “serving people regardless of race or national origins. …in building a stronger society based on the principles of justice and equity for all.”


Recently, I had the opportunity to attend my first conference as a student at Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, and I was impressed! Called “Searching for Solutions: Diving into the Ripple Effects of Global Disruption,” it was a panel discussion involving health professionals from all over the world. In total, nine countries were represented to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented challenges and a dramatic loss of human life worldwide. Three central themes emerged: political and economic disruption, social-cultural disruption and implications for population health. Each presentation began with a prerecorded introductory video followed by live discussion by panel members and opportunities for audience members to ask questions or leave comments.

The conference was to learn from each other and continue our commitment to addressing the current challenges presented by the pandemic for population health and health equity. The panel members provided insight about measures taken in each of their respective countries and how socioeconomic determinants play a role.

We learned about the increasing concern for the devastating collateral effects on health equity globally. This includes the loss of health insurance, jobs and homes that ripple into risk for mental and physical morbidity. Scovia Nalugo Mbalinda, MS, lecturer at Makerere University-Kampala in Uganda, addressed public and private transport no longer being available and that at one point, the news captured a man pushing a wheelbarrow with a wife in labor. From Ireland, a professor mentioned that student nurses lost their jobs as care assistants to engage in clinical practice.

It’s apparent that the effects across the globe are like those in the United States. From Ireland, Catherine M. Comiskey, PhD, professor at Trinity College Dublin’s School of Nursing & Midwifery, mentioned, “people have been given what we call a pandemic payment” similar to the stimulus checks in the U.S. Amanda Phelan, PhD, also a professor at the School of Nursing & Midwifery, brought up that student nurses lost their jobs as care assistants to engage in clinical practice, while María Galán Lominchar, MSN, professor from Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Spain explained, “As a country that bases a big part of its economy on tourism, this situation is tense in our system in a way we have never experienced. Many people lost their jobs due to curfews, lockdowns or some kind of restriction,” just as our unemployment rates skyrocketed.

This global pandemic necessitates a global response. Because our own health and security are on the line, perhaps it is difficult to look beyond what is happening at home and too easy to become narrow minded and drawn in. After attending this event, I realized there are enormous benefits to global engagement, cooperating and working with other countries. We are all looking for health, safety and security.

-Written By: Amy Kwok, Health Sciences

Please join us for the next event in the Global Perspective Series Disruptions to Care: Implications for Population Health

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