|Current Research Activities:|
I am currently involved in several studies with Drs. Richard Canfield, Jere Haas, Barbara Strupp and various collaborators, all focusing on the functional outcomes of iron or choline status in women and/or children.
Maternal Choline Supplementation and Cognitive Development in Offspring: I work with a team of collaborators on the follow-up study to a controlled feeding trial that randomized pregnant and lactating women to receive normal or elevated levels of choline. The original study found positive effects of higher choline supplementation on attention and memory in infant offspring. This follow-up will re-assess attention and memory performance in the now 7-year-old children.
Infant Cognitive Performance and Development: For my dissertation work, I studied the effects of iron deficiency on infant cognitive performance and development. I am specifically interested in memory and the effects of iron status on the functioning of the hippocampus and neural connections between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. We used auditory brainstem responses (ABR) and electroencephalography (EEG) to evaluate infant neural development and brain function. We found that iron status in early infancy (4-6 months) is associated with brain function and preference for novel stimuli during a memory task.
We hope this work will inform a clinical definition of iron deficiency in infants younger than 12 months, and will underscore the need for monitoring iron status during pregnancy and early infancy. This work was done in collaboration with Professor Kimbely O'Brien (Cornell) and Dr. Mark Orlando (Univ of Rochester), and was supported in part by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, a Cornell/USDA Hatch grant, and the Cornell University Human Ecology Alumni Association.
Physical Productivity and Cognitive Performance in Female Tea Pluckers:This study explores the effectiveness of double fortified salt (DFS) as a vehicle for delivering iron. The DFS is fortified with iodine and encapsulated iron, and was delivered in a year long intervention trial to female tea pluckers in north West Bengal, India. Early results suggest that women who consumed DFS showed significant increases in multiple measures of iron status compared to controls. This study will also examine the effects of DFS consumption on worker productivity, physical activity, energy expenditure, and cognitive performance. The work is being done in collaboration with the Micronutrient Initiative of Canada, and researchers at McGill University, the Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Oklahoma.