Annually, 24 distinguished graduates from different disciplines at the University of Arizona are chosen for the University Fellows Program—an initiative of the UA Graduate Center—with the purpose of fostering interdisciplinary scholars and collaborative innovation on campus and beyond. This year, Kristy Gilman was named one of two University Fellows attending the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Gilman is a doctoral student in the Nutritional Sciences program. She was born and raised in Oregon and attended Oregon State University for her undergraduate studies where she graduated with a B.S. in Nutrition and Health Sciences and a minor in Chemistry. Her research interests are in bioactive compounds and nutrients and their impact on cancer development. Gilman recently took time from her new research to answer a few questions, and give a bit of advice to undergraduates.
Q: Why did you choose CALS for your graduate studies and what advantages does this fellowship give you?
A: CALS offers one of the best graduate programs in nutrition and has an outstanding faculty with diverse research interests. The interdisciplinary approach to research that CALS partakes in makes the opportunities I can get from my education here much greater than I could get elsewhere.
The fellowship will help me diversify my education because it gives me an opportunity to work with other graduate students from a wide range of disciplines who I probably wouldn’t get the chance to meet otherwise. It also provides me with mentors in research areas other than my own who can teach me and give me a different perspective on issues I may not have thought of myself.
Q: What advice would you give to Undergraduate students?
A: Work hard and connect with your professors. Anything you do in the future, be it a finding your career or continuing your education, will require you to supply references or letters of recommendation. The people who got to know you as a smart and diligent student will take the time to write you a good letter, which is what will make you stand out from the crowd. The reason I was chosen as a University Fellow was because of my outstanding undergraduate record and my letters of recommendation, so be committed to your education and build a good network.
Q: What are your future plans/research plans?
A: I hope to focus in preventative cancer research via nutrition and lifestyle factors. What we do to and put into our bodies has a huge impact on the way it functions, especially with regards to gene expression and cell signaling. These are important components in cancer development and growth so if we can understand how to stop certain genes from being expressed or signals from being sent, we may be able to reduce incidence of certain cancers.
Q: How do you hope to see your research impact the world?
A: I hope better understand the relationship between nutrition and cancer and potentially discover ways to reduce incidence of cancer with food and lifestyle choices. But the way I see it is even if only I discover things that don’t work, I’m still teaching people something!
--Prepared by Nea Sample Hamilton