Testimonials

Eric Plaisance, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Former Obesity T32 Postdoctoral Fellow
Mentor: Thomas Gettys, PhD; Nutrient Sensing & Adipocyte Signaling

After completing a Ph.D. in Exercise Science and a subsequent fellowship in Molecular Endocrinology at Auburn University, I began to search for fellowship positions that would enhance my basic science skills and develop new lines of research in the field of nutrition. I searched for a position at a number of institutions around the country but found that the opportunity to work with Dr. Gettys, state-of-the art facilities and instrumentation at Pennington Biomedical and the quality of the Obesity T-32 training grant and programs made my decision to join the Center quite simple. The program provided a funding opportunity to pursue my research goals and helped me to develop extensive professional networks and skills in grant writing. During the course of my training grant, I submitted and received multiple training awards and grants that allowed me to pursue novel aspects of my work with dietary methionine restriction. The T-32 program and the quality of the mentoring that I received from Dr. Gettys significantly contributed to my success in obtaining a prestigious Career Development Award through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.  I am currently employed at Pennington Biomedical as an Assistant Professor – Research Track.

 

Amanda E. Staiano, Ph.D., M.P.P.
Assistant Professor
Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Former Obesity T32 Postdoctoral Fellow
Mentor: Peter Katzmarzyk, PhD; Physical Activity and Obesity Epidemiology

The T32 postdoctoral fellowship launched my research career. I previously volunteered as an undergraduate research assistant in the Health Psychology Laboratory at Pennington while earning my bachelor of science in psychology at LSU. This initial exposure to obesity research inspired me to focus on pediatric obesity through my PhD in developmental psychology and masters of public policy at Georgetown University. The T32 fellowship enabled my return to Pennington to study under the mentorship of Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, a world-renowned physical activity and obesity epidemiologist. Importantly, the fellowship provided protected salary and research support to build my publication record and grant writing skills. But the truly unique aspect of the T32 program is that I acquired an interdisciplinary approach to the study of pediatric obesity. I was challenged to consider the genetic, physiological, and environmental contributors that interact with behavioral factors to explain the complex disease of obesity. Through formal coursework, ethics training, domestic and international conferences, grant writing workshops, works in progress by faculty and fellows, and semi-annual progress reviews with the T32 faculty committee, I gained the skills and expertise to become an independent investigator. In July 2013, I became the first Meritorious Scholar fellow supported by the NIH-funded Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science (LA CaTS) Center and am now undertaking my research project on race disparities in pediatric type 2 diabetes. I owe a great deal to the T32 fellowship and my mentoring committee as I transition to independence.  

 

Laura Stewart, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Former Obesity T32 Postdoctoral Fellow
Mentor: Thomas Gettys, PhD; Nutrient Sensing & Adipocyte Signaling

My name is Laura Stewart and after I graduated from Purdue University with a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and nutrition, I was looking for a postdoctoral position that would broaden the scope and depth of my training.  Accepting the position at  Pennington on the T-32 training grant with Dr. Gettys and Dr. Cefalu was one of the best decisions that I could have made.  Briefly, my experience centered on examining the influence of quercetin on the progression of type 2 diabetes.  I was able to participate in conceptualizing the idea, writing the grant, conducting the experiments and writing the manuscripts.  Additionally, I attended weekly work in progress and seminar presentations from experts on a variety of obesity-related topics and was able to interact with other post docs at our ethics meetings. Gaining experience in all of these areas has helped me immensely as a  faculty member in my own research endeavors as well as in helping me mentor my own graduate students.  Now, I am an assistant professor at Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge and have continued the line of research that I started at PBRC. To summarize, the facilities at PBRC are world class, the mentorship is outstanding and the opportunities to become involved in the many aspects of the research process are limitless.  If you choose to join the PBRC T-32 program, you are given every opportunity to succeed in life and in your career. 

 

April Stull, Ph.D., R.D.
Assistant Professor
Diabetes and Nutrition, Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Former Obesity T32 Postdoctoral Fellow
Mentor: William Cefalu, MD; Diabetes and Nutrition

As a former T32 trainee at Pennington Biomedical, I had a very rewarding and positive postdoctoral training experience.  I received my Ph.D. degree in foods and nutrition from Purdue University and furthered my training in botanical dietary supplementation at Pennington Biomedical with Dr. William Cefalu, a diabetes expert and director of the NIH (NCCAM) Center for the Study of Botanicals and Metabolic Syndrome.  As a Postdoctoral Fellow, my research focused on the effects of blueberries on insulin sensitivity and hypertension in obese and insulin-resistant humans. During my postdoctoral training, I gained an understanding of the physiology of whole-body insulin action in humans by learning and performing the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp and indirect calorimetry. In addition, I evaluated clinical outcome measurements in large datasets; designed, implemented, and supervised botanical intervention clinical trials; wrote manuscripts / book chapters; and analyzed study data. The knowledge and experiences gained as a T32 trainee allowed me to successfully compete and receive NIH grant funding. Currently, I am an Assistant Professor at Pennington Biomedical continuing my botanical research studies in vitro and in vivo. The strengths of the T-32 training grant are the diversity of renowned research mentors and postdoctoral researchers, structure of the program, and enriching seminars and classes.  The T-32 training grant afforded me the opportunity to conduct research in an innovative, state-of-the-art research facility, and train under an expert in the field of diabetes and nutrition.