Learn More about the Undergraduate Mentorship Program from the Student Perspective

girl and whiteboard

Participants in the Mentorship Program benefit from the program in a variety of ways. In their own words, students express how they value the sense of community they develop among fellow students and faculty. While they gain very practical skills, such as lab techniques, strategies for managing data and communicating with subjects in clinical studies, the students also foster personal and professional relationships that last beyond the program.

Students credit the Mentorship Program for allowing them access to research experiences they would have not been able to secure on their own. This includes the attention and guidance of Dr. Smilowitz herself, for whom many students express a deep respect and appreciation. Read more about how the Undergraduate Mentorship Program at the Foods for Health Institute is impacting student lives and research.

Pictured: Sarah M., Debbie G., Patricia L., Melissa B., Sarah G., Amy Y. and Nancy R. (above).

  • Nancy Rivera, Nutrition Science Major

"I joined the Foods for Health Institute at UC Davis to gain experience with multi-disciplinary research related to my undergraduate major, Nutrition Science. This research experience has highlighted the potential benefits of my research contributions and those of other scholars to improve the quality of life of many individuals. In addition, this mentorship program has increased my knowledge in the fields of Food Science & Technology and Nutrition Science by exposing me to new topics, challenging projects, new lab techniques and instruments."

  • Melissa Breck, Nutrition Science Major

"The undergraduate research program through FFHI has given me more valuable experience than I could have thought possible from an internship! Over the past two years, I have worked with subjects in clinical trials, processed samples in a research lab, and helped develop and coordinate new studies. Most importantly, I have met other undergrads who share the same passions that I do and work with professionals who are truly advanced in their fields. It is an amazing opportunity to be involved in this program!"

  • Amy Yokoyama, Nutrition Science Major

“It is amazing how much research experience I am getting. This internship teaches me how to properly research literature; Dr. Smilowitz is so helpful! I find that the skills I learn as part of the research team apply readily to a majority of my classes.”

  • Patricia Lee, 2011 graduate, Clinical Nutrition

"This research program has been one of the most pivotal experiences in my undergraduate career and I know I will be taking the skills I gained with me as I graduate and begin my dietetic internship. I learned how to execute a large clinical trial from recruiting subjects, taking anthropometric measurements; processing, annotating and banking biological samples. With the guidance of Dr. Smilowitz, I was given opportunities to develop leadership and management skills while working with subjects, lactation consultants, and researchers--something I never thought I would experience. The program’s flexibility allowed me to conduct a variety of projects and as my responsibilities increased, I felt like an integral part of the team. The two years I invested in this program have provided me with hands-on experience and insight within the realm of research as well as professional skills I will use in the future as a Registered Dietitian."

  • Sarah GetachewClinical Nutrition

"My favorite project involves separating the milk fat globule membrane--the bioactive component of milk fat. I get to actually see and work with the parts of Human and Bovine Milk that I've only read about in my classes. I enjoy seeing the different results each week."

  • Sarah MartinNutrition Science Major

“I haven't been working with Dr. Smilowitz for very long, but it has been a great experience. There are so many opportunities to learn a wide range of skills. Dr. Smilowitz is an amazing person to work with and has already helped me gain experience and knowledge that I have been looking for in my college experience.”

  • Debbie GhoBiochemistry and Molecular Biology Major

“In the time I have been working here, not only have I acquired the lab techniques I would have never gotten in any other general chemistry or biology lab class but also leadership skills; online research, computing, and communication skills; and the ability to think independently. I could go on and on. I have no doubt that as I continue to work with Dr. Smilowitz, I could only grow more as a person and as the scientist I aspire to be. Plus, I have met so many new great people in my time here.”

  • Sarah RundleClinical Nutrition Major

"When I started working with Dr. Smilowitz as a second year I was nervous about making phone calls to subjects and felt intimidated about making mistakes or asking questions. By working with Dr. Smilowitz on the FFHI Lactation Study, I was forced out of my comfort zone, and now feel comfortable speaking to potential subjects as well as admitting/learning from my mistakes. Dr. Smilowitz is an amazing mentor, teacher and friend to us undergraduates here at UC Davis, helping make an otherwise large campus feel personable and our goals seem attainable.”

For more information about the Mentorship Program or opportunities to conduct research in labs affiliated with the Foods for Health Institute please email: [email protected]

Undergraduate students interested in conducting research in labs affiliated with the Foods for Health Institute should fill out an application and email to: [email protected]