Department of Nutritional Sciences - University of Toronto


Upcoming DNSAA Events

Keep an eye out for upcoming 2018/2019 events starting in September!


Past DNSAA Events

The DNSAA runs several events each year geared towards networking with DNS alumni and students, mentorship, education and or course socializing! Below is a summary of several of our key annual events.

Mentorship Program Events

Starting in Fall 2012, the DNSAA and Office of Advancement have coordinated a mentorship program for current DNS students and recent graduates to gain insight and advice from alumni. More information on the program can be found here. In addition to matching alumni (mentors) and current and recent DNS graduates (mentees), the DNSAA supports several events throughout the year for members of the program, including a Program Kick-Off, Holiday Party and Wrap Up in conjunction with the Spring Lecture.

The DNS Mentorship Program is sponsored by University of Toronto Affinity Partner, Manulife



2016 DNS Mentorship Kick Off

On Thursday, September 29th, 2016, the DNSAA held its annual Mentorship Program Kick-Off at the David C. Naylor building. The Mentorship Program was established in 2012 to connect current DNS undergraduate and graduate student with DNS alumni. The event consisted of an engaging speaker series and meaningful discussion between mentorship pairs. After the structure of the program was outlined, alumni Catherine Braunstein and Stephanie Nishi spoke on behalf of their past and continuing experiences with the DNS Mentorship Program and outlined the many benefits as both a mentee and mentor. DNS Chair Dr. Mary L’Abbé concluded the speaker series. Speakers and mentors alike shared their experiences as an undergraduate student and now, as an alumnus of Nutritional Sciences. This evening was a great opportunity for recent and experienced graduates to provide guidance to students and for students to be able to ask questions and learn more about the various fields within nutrition and research. Several University of Toronto graduate students participated as mentors, acting as great role models and counsellors to undergraduates interested in nutritional research and graduate school at the University of Toronto. Furthermore, the DNS Mentorship Program attracted a wide diversity of students, with varying interests and research focuses – from clinical studies at St. Michael’s Hospital to pertinent meta-analyses performed right here at the university. Overall, the evening was a great success that allowed undergraduates, graduate students and alumni to mingle and establish a strong mentorship relationship for the year to come!

We would like to thank all DNSAA volunteers for their commitment in guiding and fostering future DNS alumni, NSSA for helping and volunteering, and Manulife Financial for their sponsorship of the program.


2015 DNS Mentorship Program Holiday Party

On Tuesday, December 1st, 2015, DNSAA Mentors and Mentees gathered to celebrate the holiday season at the third annual DNS Mentorship Program’s Holiday Dinner. Held in Hart House’s North Dining Room, the Holiday Party gave the opportunity for Alumni Mentors and Student Mentees to meet and mingle while enjoying a delicious dinner together in a social atmosphere. To help break the ice, there was a slight twist to the dinner seating arrangements, instead of staying in the same seat for the appetizer, entrée, and dessert, attendees switched places for each course in a quasi ‘musical chairs’, enabling new connections to be made at each course. The Mentorship Program was initiated to provide students with the opportunity to have one-on-one interactions with established professionals, and it has continued to grow since its inception in 2012. This year there are 29 Mentor-Mentee matches, who meet regularly on an individual basis throughout the academic year to discuss academic, career, and other life topics, in addition to gathering for special program-wide events, such as the Holiday Party. Many thanks to the DNS Alumni Association and Mentorship Program volunteers, as well as Manulife Financial for their support in making this event and program possible! Interested in becoming a Mentor or Mentee? Contact Morgan Tilley-Woo (, the Alumni Relations Coordinator, for more information.

by Stephanie Nishi 


2015 DNS Mentorship Kick Off

The 2015-2016 DNS Manulife Mentorship program kicked off the season on October 1st 2015 with a presentation and reception at the Tanz Building, University of Toronto. The night began with a welcome from Alumni Association President Dr. Fiona Wallace, followed by an overview of the Mentorship Program including expectations and helpful tips by the Office of Advancement’s Mrs. Morgan Tilley-Woo. A special presentation was given by Department of Nutritional Sciences alumni Ms. Ashleigh Wiggins, MSc, a previous mentee and now mentor in the program. Ashleigh discussed her lifelong experience with mentorship and the impact it has made on both her professional and personal life, as well as providing some tips and suggestions for the audience to establish a successful mentorship relationship over the next year. The evening was capped off with a reception, allowing mentors and mentees to network and mingle – a perfect start to what will be another amazing year of mentorship at the University of Toronto!

2014 DNS Mentorship Program Holiday Party

DNSAA Mentors and Mentees celebrated the holiday season at our second annual Mentorship Holiday Party and Dinner on December 3rd, 2014. Throughout the academic year, Alumni Mentors and Student Mentees meet to discuss academic, career and life topics on a one-on-one basis. With so many different alumni, students and experiences, the Holiday Party lets us meet, mix and mingle with someone different at every delicious course! Held in the Hart House Music Room, this year's event featured props for our own photo booth – the DNS really know how to have a good time! The Mentorship Program would not be so successful without our dedicated alumni mentors. If you would like to learn more about becoming a mentor, please contact Morgan Tilly at

By Joanne Brathwaite




2014 DNS Mentorship Kick Off

The 2014-2015 DNS Manulife Mentorship program kicked off the season on September 25th 2014 at the Medical Science Building with a special talk from Shannan Grant, MSc, RD, who is a previous participant in the program. Shannan has experience both as a mentee and a mentor and has found the relationships built through mentorship programs to have been invaluable to her professional development. Shannan shared her key learnings and insights from this program and others she has been involved with and a lovely story of how her mentor helped her to negotiate the next steps on her career path. She will be starting a new role in January at Mt St Vincent University in Halifax, and we wish her all the best!

By Kathryn Hopperton, Joanne Brathwaite and Fiona Wallace


Professor Edna W. Park Lecture

The Professor Edna W. Park Lecture was established in 1974 by the Household Science Alumni Association to honour professor Edna Park for her lifetime commitment to the field of household sciences. In the 40 years since its inception the Edna Park lecture has served as a wonderful opportunity for DNS students and staff to come together with alumni of Household Science, Food Science and Nutritional Sciences and bond over a shared interest. It remains one of the most popular and widely attended events in the DNS. 

2018 Edna Park Lecture - Dr. Connie M. Weaver, PhD

The 2018 Professor Edna W. Park lecture was held on November 8th, 2018 and featured distinguished professor from the Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana: Dr. Connie M. Weaver. She is the founder and director of the Women's Global Health Institute (WGHI) at Purdue University. The mission of the WGHI is to improve the health of women globally through research and training by proactively identifying the causes and prevention of diseases related to women. Her research interests include mineral availability, calcium metabolism, and bone and cardiovascular health. 

Her lecture was entitled, "Role of Diet in Preventing Osteoporosis." 

2017 Edna Park Lecture - Dr. Evan Fraser

The 2017 Professor Edna W. Park Lecture was held on November 23rd, and featured Dr. Evan Fraser to as this year’s Edna Park Lecturer. Dr. Fraser is Director of the Arrell Food Institute, a Professor of Geography and holds the Tier I Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security at the University of Guelph. He is also a fellow of Trudeau Foundation, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and an elected member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars. His engaging lecture “When too much isn’t enough: the intersection between food systems, sustainability and health” discussed issues faced when trying to provide nutritious foods for the worlds growing population. Dr. Fraser’s presentation was followed by an enthusiastic and thoughtful audience discussion. 
Missed the lecture or want to see it again? Watch the video recording on YouTube!

2016 Edna Park Lecture - Dr. Timothy Caulfield 

The 2016 Professor Edna W. Park Lecture was held on November 10th, and brought Timothy Caulfield to the podium as this year’s Edna Park Lecturer. Timothy Caulfield is a Canada Research Chair in Health law and Policy, a Trudeau Fellow and Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health and Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. He is known for his writing in popular press which covers a range of health and science policy issues. With media being a main window for the public to gain access and exposure to information, such as research findings, it is important to ensure that the message that comes across is true to what the evidence demonstrates, especially applicable to our Department is how this relates to nutritional research and recommendations. His lecture, entitled, “How Pop Culture Twists Health and Nutrition Information (And Why This Matters)” spoke to this concern with witty examples presented in an engaging and enthusiastic style. The presentation sparked much discussion and debate which continued into the reception that followed. Thank-you Timothy Caulfield for addressing the influence social media has on public perception of research findings and emphasizing the need to ensure misinformation does not take the place of reliable information due to the pursuit of a more eye-catching headline.

2015 Edna Park Lecture - Dr. Lawrence L. Spriet

This year's Professor Edna W. Park Lecture took place on November 19th  2015. Dr. Lawrence L. Spriet, Professor and Chair of the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph, was this year's Edna Park Lecturer. Dr. Spriet earned his PhD in Medical Science at McMaster University and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. His lecture, entitled “Sports Nutrition Today: Hydrating and Fueling Your Athletes for Success,” discussed his research into the effects of mild dehydration on the performance of serious athletes, and the challenges athletes face in maintaining adequate levels of hydration. Dr. Spriet’s lecture was captivating and informative, and it ended with a lively Q and A session that spilled from the lecture hall out to the reception area afterwards. Congratulations and thank you, Dr. Spriet!


Missed the lecture or want to watch it again? Watch the recording on Youtube 

2014 Edna Park Lecture - Dr. Nancy F. Butte

This year's Edna Park lecture took place on November 17 2014 and featured Dr. Nancy F. Butte, PhD, RD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Butte delivered an engaging lecture titled: Genetic and Family Factors Contributing to Childhood Obesity in the Hispanic Populations (VIVA LA FAMILIA Study). Congratulations and thank you, Dr. Butte!

Missed the lecture or want to watch it again? Watch the recording on Youtube 

2013 Edna Park Lecture - Dr. Cutberto Garza

This year's Edna Park lecture took place on October 31st 2013 and featured Dr. Cutberto Garza, outgoing Provost and Dean of Faculties at Boston College. Dr. Garza served as director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell from 1988to 1998and again from 2003·2005. He was Vice Provost at Cornell from 1998to 2000. He chaired the 1999 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Commit· tee and served as chair of the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine from 1996 to 2002, as well as having served on numerous national and international  advisory  groups. This year,  Dr. Garza  is  spending  the academic year at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health and George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health as a visiting professor. His lecture was entitled "Growth Standards: a new paradigm's early lessons".lt covered Dr. Garza's involvement in the development and promotion of the new WHO international standards for infant and child growth. The talk was well received by all attendees and produced a lively discussion in the question period.

Career Panel Night

2017 Career Panel Night

On Thursday February 9th, 2017, the Department of Nutritional and Household Sciences Alumni Association (DNSAA) hosted their annual Career Night. This event welcomes Nutritional Sciences alumni and current students to share career path experiences, insights, and advice.

This year, Laura Pasut, an Executive on the DNSAA and Director, Nutrition of the Canadian Sugar Institute, was the master of ceremony introducing each of the invited speakers, namely: Pierrette Buklis, Dennis Wagner, and Beatrice Boucher.  Nutritional Sciences can lead to many different career opportunities, as highlighted by the accomplished panel of speakers. Pierrette joined the Department in September as the Director of the MPH Nutrition and Dietetics Program with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and also brings her experience as the Senior Manager, Health and Nutrition with General Mills. An alumnus of the Department, Dennis completed his PhD with Dr. Reinhold Vieth and now applies skills he gained in graduate school in his role as a Senior Medical Scientist with Gilead Sciences Inc.  Beatrice, in addition to teaching graduate students in the Nutritional Epidemiology course, is a Staff Scientist for Prevention and Cancer Control at Cancer Care Ontario.

From beginnings in small towns and summers working in grocery stores, to following one’s passion travelling abroad to new adventures, or going against the grain, we were privileged to hear about these experiences and the valuable transferrable skills gained along the way.  Thank-you to all of our speakers, Pierrette, Dennis, and Beatrice, for sharing your stories, addressing audience questions, and continuing the conversation during the reception, of how you came to be in the successful careers you fulfil today and your advice to those trying to figure out what to do after grad school.  


2016 Career Panel Night

Finding your first job after graduation can be a challenge, both practically and psychologically! On February 3rd 2016, three Department of Nutritional Sciences (DNS) alumni stepped in to help by sharing their experiences with current graduate and undergraduate students. Hosted by DNS alum and new president of the DNS Alumni Association, Joanne Brathwaite, the event was attended by approximately 50 students. The panel featured Ann Fox – Director of the MPH Nutrition and Dietetics program, Graduate Coordinator at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Associate Professor in the DNS, Carole Cooper, Audit Manager for Retail Operations & Product Audits at TD Bank and recent DNS graduate Chelsea Murray, a Policy Analyst in the Health Promotion Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, a branch of the provincial government. All three panelists noted that while the course material learned in the DNS has been useful in their careers, the most important elements they carried forward are more intangible, such as the ability to learn new scientific concepts, work hard and manage their time. They encouraged attendees to keep an open mind towards their careers, to seek out opportunities to develop new skills, such and to maintain their networks with their classmates and mentors in the DNS. After the panel, the attendees were able to meet individually with the panelists and one another over food and drinks. The DNSAA would like to thank all the speakers, student attendees and our sponsor Manulife Financial for making this event possible.

by Kathryn Hopperton


2015 Career Panel Night

On February 4th 2015, the Department of Nutritional Sciences Alumni Association hosted an alumni driven career panel for DNS graduate and undergraduate students. This is the fifth year now that this event has been running and there was a record turnout for this years speakers: Dr Alfred Aziz (Food Directorate, Health Canada; Cristina Cuda (Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, Nestlé Canada); and Professor Valarie Tarasuk (Nutritional Sciences, UofT). All of the speakers shared information and insights about careers in their respective institutions, how they got to where they are now, and provided sage words of advice to students about where their degree might take them and how to go about approaching that first job. The Alumni Association would like to thank each of the speakers for donating their time and energy to this event, which is one of the key milestones in the DNS Mentorship program. The speakers and students mingled afterwards at a reception in the Fitzgerald building so that the conversations could continue and more networking could be done.

Thank you to our sponsor, Manulife Financial, for helping to make this event possible!

By Fiona Wallace


2014 Career Panel Night

On February 20th, the DNSAA hosted the 4th annual Career Panel Night for DNS graduate and undergraduate students. On the panel were Joanne Brathwaite – Consumer Product Safety Officer from Health Canada; Sue Mah – President, Nutrition Solutions Inc.; and Phyllis Tanaka – Senior Advisor, Food and Nutrition, Food & Consumer Products of Canada. The night was filled with candid advice and talks from the panelists about their career paths and enthusiasm from the students. The memorable perspectives from the panelists inspired the students in the pursuit of careers in Nutritional Sciences. 

Spring Lecture and Networking Night

2017 DNS Spring Academic Lecture and Networking Night

On Thursday May 11, 2017 the DNS Alumni Association (DNSAA) hosted their annual Spring Lecture and Networking Night attended by 32 students and alumni. The evening kicked off with welcoming remarks from DNSAA President Ashleigh Wiggins, who also recognized an end to another successful year of the DNS Mentorship Program. This program, made possible through the Pillar Sponsorship Program by Manulife Financial, celebrated its 5th year helping current DNS undergraduate and graduate students connect with DNS alumni to gain advice on future career paths, job tips and much more!

This year’s Spring lecture was delivered by Dr. John Sievenpiper, Associate Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and the Lifestyle Medicine Lead in the MD Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. He is also a Staff Physician in the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism and Scientist in the La Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital. Dr. Sievepiper presented his research on dietary pulses and cardiometabolic health. Following Dr. Sievenpiper’s presentation, attendees were treated to a lovely reception where the questions, networking and laughs continued with current and former DNS students. The DNSAA would like to thank Dr. Sievenpiper, attendees and our sponsor Manulife Financial for making this event possible.

By Ashleigh Wiggins

2016 DNS Spring Academic Lecture and Networking Night

What better way to wrap up another successful academic year for the University of Toronto Department of Nutritional Sciences (DNS) than an engaging lecture and networking reception? On Monday April 25, 2016 the DNS Alumni Association (DNSAA) hosted their annual Spring Lecture and Networking Night attended by over 40 students and alumni. The evening kicked off with welcoming remarks from DNS Chair and Earle W. McHenry Professor Dr. Mary L’Abbé, who also recognized an end to another successful year of the DNS Mentorship Program. This program, made possible through the Pillar Sponsorship Program by Manulife Financial, celebrated its 4th year helping current DNS undergraduate and graduate students connect with DNS alumni to gain advice on future career paths, job tips and much more! Ms. Tara Clemens, Account Manager, Client Management, from Manulife was in attendance at the event and provided some kind words on the success of the DNS mentorship program, and Manulife Financials understanding and support of mentorship.

The remainder of the evening, hosted by former DNSAA president Fiona Wallace, had the audience captivated with a presentation by Dr. Stanley Zlotkin, DNS alum and Professor of Paediatrics, Public Health Sciences and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, a Senior Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute and a Clinician/Scientist in the Department of Paediatrics at SickKids. Dr. Zlotkin’s presentation “Science, Partnerships and Perseverance Combined to Improve the Nutritional Health of Infants and Young Children Globally” took the attendees through his 20 year journey creating and distributing micronutrient powders (‘Sprinkles’) to infants and young children globally. His work, through partnerships with United Nations agencies, took perseverance, creativity and has provided essential minerals and vitamins to millions of children around the world. Following Dr. Zlotkin’s presentation, attendees were treated to a lovely reception where the questions, networking and laughs continued with current and former DNS students. The DNSAA would like to thank Dr. Zlotkin and Ms. Clemens, attendees and our sponsor Manulife Financial for making this event possible.

By Ashleigh Wiggins


2015 DNS Spring Academic Lecture and Networking Night

On June 10, 2014, The Department of Nutritional Sciences Alumni Association and Dr. Mary L’Abbé, Chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences hosted a Lecture & Networking Event. This event was also the finale to the 2013-2014 Mentorship season. The guest speaker was Dr. Deborah L. O'Connor, Ph.D., R.D., Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Senior Associate Scientist, Physiology & Experimental Medicine Program, The Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. O’Connor’s topic was: “Optimizing human milk for the hospitalized infant with unique nutritional requirements”. Dr. O’Connor’s engaging talk highlighted the benefits of breast milk through the story of human donor milk banks across the world. Thank you Dr. O’Connor and all the alumni, students and friends who came out to make this event a success!

By Kathryn Hopperton, Joanne Brathwaite and Fiona Wallace

Young Alumni Events

2015 DNS Young Alumni Cooking Class

Twenty-five young alumni gathered for the second ever DNSAA Young Alumni Event, which took place at the Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens on Tuesday April 21st 2015. The event began with a cooking lesson, during which a professional chef taught attendees to make horseradish glazed rainbow trout with a mushroom orzotto – delicious! At the end of the lesson, Samara Foisey, the Senior Manager- Dietitian of Product Development at Loblaws, gave a lecture about her career at Loblaws and told alumni about some of the knowledge translation activities that take place in the store. The event brought out many new faces, and many attendees enjoyed becoming reacquainted with some of their former classmates. DNS Young Alumni have gone on to a wide variety of careers; with some using their degrees as stepping stones to professional schools, such as medicine, dentistry or pharmacy, while others applied their degrees to jobs in fields such as regulatory affairs in the food industry, or promoting healthy living in elementary schools. Graduates of the DNS are truly inspiring young people, and the DNSAA looks forward to fostering its young alumni community through many more events in the future!

By Kathryn Hopperton


2014 DNSAA Young Alumni Pub Night

On September 25th 2014, the DNS Alumni Association held its first Young Alumni Networking Night. The goal of this event was to bring together alumni navigating the first ten years out of the department in a social setting, and to allow them to forge new connections and share their experiences of transitioning into the workforce. Seventeen young alumni attended this event, which took place at O’Grady’s, a pub less than a block from the Fitzgerald Building which serves as a common haunt for DNS students past and pre-sent. We at the DNSAA hope this will be the first of several Young Alumni focused events and hope you will join us in the future!

By Kathryn Hopperton, Joanne Brathwaite and Fiona Wallace