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.

Click here to check out our upcoming events!

Zoom meeting (Unsplash)

Virtual Events

2021 Career Night Series: Dietietics

On November 18, 2021, alumni and students gathered on Zoom for the first event in our Career Night series. This event featured two alumni from the Department of Nutritional Sciences undergraduate program, who spoke about their path to dietetics. Vanessa Kan is currently working as a Registered Dietitian (RD) at Humber River Hospital, and Charles Kan is an RD at Gordon Food Service. The DNSAA is grateful to Vanessa and Charles for sharing their wisdom and experiences.

2021 Career Development Workshop

On March 24th, 2021, a group of undergraduate and graduate students attended a career development workshop organized by the Department of Nutritional Sciences Alumni Association (DNSAA). The session was led by Dr. Nana Lee, the Director of Graduate Professional Development and Mentorship from the Faculty of Medicine. 

Students attending the workshop shared similar concerns regarding future career plans and uncertainty surrounding future employment opportunities. Dr. Lee acknowledged the challenges of career development and introduced a graduate professional planning strategy named the purpose compass. This tool requires students to identify their ideal career paths by combining their passion, strengths, skills, and priorities. Students were then offered the opportunity to brainstorm their own profession using this tool to  assist in discovering meaningful engagement activities to ultimately prepare for future careers. 

After reflecting on students’ strengths and passions, Dr. Lee highlighted  the importance of marketing yourself during job applications, emphasizing that effective resumes or CVs should convey an engaging story and highlight the significance of your past experiences. Last but not least, Dr. Lee shared multiple industry and government resources for any life sciences students who would like to explore a wide range of career opportunities. 

Without a doubt, this one-hour workshop was jam-packed with lots of valuable resources and information that are incredibly helpful for students navigating through their next steps after graduation.

By: Kira Lai

Reprinted with permission from Nutrizine

career panel 2019.jpg

Career Night


On the night of February 6th, current and past students of the department gathered to network and hear about the career paths of three of our successful alumni. The event started with a warm welcome from the president of the Department of Nutritional Sciences Alumni Association (DNSAA), Laura Pasut, where she explained the new approach of the DNSAA to create more digital content.

Do you know what information can be found on the backside of food products? Not only the nutritional information and ingredients, but also the address of the company producing that product. This is how Eddy Morassutti found his first industry job, before online job searching existed. Prior to becoming the Director of Quality Management at Nestlé, and after having some experience in quality management, he spent some time in the cosmetic industry where he learned about Health Canada regulations and improved his management skills. His takeaways for succeeding in industry are to be humble, network, don’t be afraid, and to ask all the questions.

Some paths are more straightforward than others. JoAnne Arcand knew from the beginning she wanted to be a Registered Dietician (RD). After spending three years in the very intense environment of the ICU as a dietitian, she got bit by the research bug and after some time became an Assistant Professor at Ontario Tech University. She advises people who want to succeed in academia to be vulnerable enough to risk failure, have a growth mindset, and to maintain a strong work ethic.

With her dietetics training from Ryerson, Maria Xu became an Employment Program Consultant at the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development after working as an intern for some time. She encouraged attendees to bust the myth that government organizations are lazy and work slow, to be open to new experiences, and don’t be afraid to explore other areas.

After all, the night ended with a nice reception where refreshments and snacks were served, and attendees had the opportunity to put into practice the recommendations of the speakers: don’t be afraid of networking – people are supportive and there to help. After all people are just people.

We would like to thank all the panelists for their time and advice and to Laura Pasut, Laura Vergeer and Stephanie Nishi from the DNSAA for their effort in organizing this event.

By: Lorena Lopez Dominguez
Reprinted with permission from Nutrizine


The Department of Nutritional Sciences Alumni Association (DNSAA) organized a memorable Career Night on February 7, 2019. The DNSAA invited alumni, now successful professionals in their respective fields, to provide insight into their journeys down three distinctive paths. Panelists discussed how current students can leverage experiences from their degrees to fulfill their career goals. We were honoured to welcome the following panelists:

  1. Andrea Papamandjaris (BSc ‘93), Head of the North American Medical Affairs and Canadian Medical and Scientific Unit at Nestle Nutrition. Andrea started off the discussion by acknowledging that career paths can take sudden turns, but also encouraged that each step gives the opportunity to provide growth. Given her current position in industry, she stressed understanding the philosophy that your dream company believes in, and in using shareholder reports to learn about company achievements to be successful in shining at an interview. Acknowledging the current competitive job landscape, Andrea also emphasized the importance of developing a professional network to open new opportunities.
  2. Andrea R. Josse (MSc ‘06), Assistant Professor at the School of Kinesiology and Health Sciences at York University. Andrea covered how to market and transpose skills from graduate school into a work place environment. The crucial point of publishing graduate research was raised, as this serves to both contribute to the research literature and act as an important contribution to your CV, regardless of the field you wish to pursue.
  3. Candace Aqui (MPH ’16), Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Resource Centre Program Consultant. Candace echoed how careers can take unexpected turns. She walked us through how she leveraged her experience as a physical trainer and registered dietitian to excel as part of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, as well as at Cancer Care Ontario. A wide array of experiences such as knowledge translation, motivational interviewing and research can help in performing the diverse responsibilities of the modern work environment.

The event was a huge success with a large number of both DNS graduate and undergraduate students attending. Refreshments and snacks were served after the discussion, thus allowing students to discuss one on one with the panelists. Thank you to all the panelists for their mentorship and inspiration! We are grateful to the DNSAA for their continued effort in organizing this event – particularly the co-organizers Laura Pasut and Laura Vergeer, and Stephanie Nishi for assistance with room booking logistics!

By: Shahen Yashpal
Reprinted with permission from NutriNews 


On February 8th, the Department of Nutritional Sciences Alumni Association (DNSAA) hosted its 8th annual Career Panel Night. Each year, three Department of Nutritional Sciences (DNS) alumni return to U of T to share their own career paths with students, alumni and faculty members. Speakers reflect on how they got to where they are today, offering current students a glimpse at where their Nutritional Sciences degree could take them. This year, the DNSAA was pleased to welcome three highly-accomplished alumni – all with diverse experiences and positions. Andrea Glenn, a Registered Dietitian (RD) and current PhD student, talked about her experiences since completing a MSc in the DNS in 2012. Ms. Glenn was an instructor, teaching nutrition courses at St. Francis Xavier University last year, in addition to having previously worked as a Research RD with U of T and St. Michael’s Hospital. Attendees also heard from Kate Cole, a RD and graduate of the U of T Master of Public Health program, who has spent much of her career working for packaged food companies in the areas of marketing, sales, regulatory and project management. At present, Ms. Cole is the Director of Nutrition and Public Affairs at Nestlé Canada. Last, but not least, Dr. Nick Bellissimo spoke about how he came to the decision to pursue a career in academia. Dr. Bellissimo graduated with a PhD from the DNS and is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Nutrition at Ryerson University. Following the presentations, audience members engaged in fascinating discussions with the speakers during a formal question and answer period, with the conversations continuing in a more informal environment over refreshments at the reception. Thank you to the DNSAA for organizing this event, and to the speakers and attendees for their participation.

By: Laura Vergeer
Reprinted with permission from NutriNews


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.  


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

Edna Park Lecture 2019

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. 

Note: This event was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID-19 public health restrictions.

2019 - Dr. David Allison

The evening of Thursday, November 21st, Department of Nutritional Sciences students, professors, and alumni, as well as interested members of the public, gathered for the annual Edna W. Park Lecture, delivered by Dr. David B. Allison . The Edna W. Park Lecture was established by the Household Science Alumni in 1974, to honour Professor Edna W. Park, whose teaching career at the University of Toronto was just shy of 50 years. Dr. Allison, Dean of the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, is the 45th recipient of this lectureship. 

In Dr. Allison’s address, titled, “Rigor in Obesity Research and Its Communication: A Call for Renewed Commitment,” he focused largely the current landscape of the field of nutritional epidemiology, and methods that can be employed to make necessary improvements. Framed from the perspective that science is a self-correcting discipline, Dr. Allison called members of the audience to challenge this.  He explained that this notion is only the case, if we, as a community, correct errors in scientific publication, and in doing so make way for new scientific advancements. The easiest improvement, Dr. Allison clarified, is adding a statistician to your research team, to reduce gross errors in publication (ones due to mistakes). Acknowledging that errors are a normal part of human nature, it is also the responsibility of the scientific community to identify if something is wrong, or seems wrong, within a publication. This process is also aided if the authors acknowledge said error through: apologizing and errata; retracting; or retracting and amending the publication. Only by this process can the scientific discipline be truly self-correcting. 

The importance of evidence-based decision making within the field of nutrition, and on a broader scope public health, was also highlighted by Dr. Allison. However, in order to do this, the scientific evidence itself must be assumed to be strong. This requires the community, and researchers, to acknowledge if it is not. If evidence is weak, it is better to say that it is weak. “We can make recommendations from weak evidence, as we have in the past, but it is crucial to acknowledge that the evidence is not strong in such cases,” explained Dr. Allison, “That is how we can improve rigor and trust within the community.” The question period was thought provoking and insightful, and addressed how we might apply these tactics in a time when researchers are provided limited funding and public trust is on the decline.

Thank you to Department of Nutritional Sciences Alumni Association, and the Department of Nutritional Sciences Administrative Staff for organizing this fantastic event! 

By Katherine Pullella

Reprinted with permission from Nutrizine

2018 - Dr. Connie Weaver

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 - 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 - 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.

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Alumni Reunion Luncheon


The Department of Nutritional Sciences (DNS) and Alumni Association (DNSAA) hosted the annual spring Alumni Reunion Luncheon on Saturday, June 1st. This event took place during the wider UofT Alumni Reunion, which encompassed a weekend of welcoming alumni back to campus. The DNS and DNSAA luncheon provided the opportunity for graduates from the Department to reunite with former classmates.
This year, graduates from the years 1949, 1954, 1959, 1964, 1969, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989 and 1994 were honoured and invited to gather at the Faculty Club. Over 50 attendees showed up in force, indicating that even after graduating from the Department, the connection and the strength of the bonds formed as a student persists into one’s career. In addition to catching up over lunch, attendees were presented with updates from the Department, including presentations from Rodney Au-Yeung and Laura Vergeer, representing graduate students sharing a tidbit of the exciting research being performed by the Department, as well as the DNSAA initiatives.

Thank you to the DNS staff and faculty and the DNSAA for organizing this event.

By: Stephanie Nishi
Reprinted with permission from NutriNews

DNSAA mentor and mentees

DNSAA 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

2019 DNS Holiday Party

One of the Department’s most anticipated events of the year, the annual Holiday Party, took place on the evening of Thursday, December 5th, following the final seminar presentations of 2019. 

Hosted in the Debates Room at Hart House, attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and holiday music with members of the Department and their guests. New to this year’s event was the attendance of mentors from the Department of Nutritional Sciences Alumni Association’s Mentorship Program. After a delicious dinner was served, guests had the opportunity to pose for photographs with holiday props and catch up with friends and colleagues before the end of the semester and the beginning of the New Year. 

Thank you to members of the NSGSA for throwing another successful holiday party, with a special thank you to our co-presidents Laura Vergeer and Rodney Au-Yeung, and social representatives Danielle Lee and Nadia Flexner whose efforts made the event possible. We are looking forward to seeing everyone at future events in the New Year!

By: Claire La Mantia

Reprinted with permission from Nutrizine

2018-2019 Mentorship Program Holiday Dinner

The Department of Nutritional Sciences (DNS) Student-Alumni Mentorship Program kicked off the holiday season with a festive dinner at Faculty Club on Tuesday, November 27, 2018. Each year, the DNS Alumni Association (DNSAA) hosts a special dinner for mentors and mentees in the program to celebrate the holiday season and catch up with fellow participants. Upon arrival, mentors and mentees had a chance to mingle before enjoying a delicious three-course meal. Guests were seated with different people during each course for maximal socializing. Alumni mentors and student mentees meet several times throughout the year to discuss academic matters, career opportunities and related topics. The program also hosts a number of social events for participants, such as guest lectures, a career night and the holiday party, to name a few. Many thanks to the DNSAA, the staff at Faculty Club, and participants of the Mentorship Program for another successful holiday party! The NutriNews team would particularly like to thank Laura Pasut, Laura Vergeer, Stephanie Nishi, and Karen Lee for all their efforts in making the DNSAA Holiday Dinner possible.

By: Laura Vergeer
Reprinted with permission from NutriNews

2018-2019 Mentorship Program Kick-Off

On the evening of October 3rd, 2018, Department of Nutritional Science students and alumni gathered in the Medical Science Building for the Department of Nutritional Sciences Alumni Association (DNSAA)’s Mentorship Kickoff event. Established in 2012, the Mentorship Program aims to connect DNS students and alumna. Undergraduate, graduate and alumni mentees assembled with their respective mentors for a lovely introductory talk by the DNSAA’s president, Laura Pasut. This was followed by a fun and interactive workshop on talking with new people held by Erin Clifford, the Lead Coordinator in Mentorship and Peer Programs (a division of Student Life at UofT). Erin’s talk was motivated by her observation that some students are scared to talk to new people, especially in a university setting, where everyone always seems so busy. She gave mentors and mentees many tips and tricks on how to start, continue and end conversations with someone new, but we can assure you no one was taking notes! This was a fully interactive session, with attendees practicing the techniques in a safe space. One useful tip was that the easiest way to begin a conversation with someone new is to quickly find something in common. In a university setting, this should be easy enough; you are in the same university! If you are interested in more information on talks held by Student Life, like those about how to become more comfortable in conversations with strangers, can reach them at mentorship at These activities were followed by a reception that allowed students and alumni to network together and practice their new conversationalist skills.

The NutriNews team would like to thank the DNSAA for hosting and organizing this event, and students and alumni who participated!

By: Sabrina Ayoub-Charette 
Reprinted with permission from NutriNews

2017-2018 Mentorship Program Wrap-Up Event

On the evening of Tuesday March 27, 2018, mentors and mentees gathered for the DNSAA Mentorship spring celebration and wrap up event. The mentorship program connected current students and recent graduates with alumni of the department to gain insights about potential careers and opportunities, as well as provide guidance. Mentors and mentees would meet on a one-on-one basis throughout the program; however, all Mentorship Program participants were invited to attend group gatherings organized regularly during the year, including the Kick-Off event at the beginning of the year, the Holiday Celebration Dinner in December, and the end of year Spring Wrap Up event. These events offer the opportunity for new connections to be formed and old friends to reunite. Thank-you to the DNS Alumni Association and the Faculty of Medicine Office of Advancement for making this program possible, and to all of the Mentors and Mentees for their time and dedication.

By: Stephanie Nishi
Reprinted with permission from NutriNews

2017-2018 DNSAA Mentorship Program Holiday Dinner

The Department of Nutritional Sciences (DNS) Student-Alumni Mentorship Program kicked off the holiday season with a festive dinner at Faculty Club on Tuesday, November 28, 2017. Each year, the DNS Alumni Association hosts a special dinner for mentors and mentees in the program to celebrate the holiday season and catch up with fellow participants. Upon arrival, mentors and mentees were encouraged to learn more about each other through a friendly game of bingo. The objective of the game was to stir up conversations by trying to find people with present or past experiences listed on the bingo card. Afterwards, mentors and mentees enjoyed a delicious three-course meal, sitting with a different group of people during each course for maximal socializing.
Alumni mentors and student mentees meet several times throughout the year to discuss academic matters, career opportunities and related topics. The program also hosts a number of social events for participants, such as guest lectures, a career night and the holiday party, to name a few. Many thanks to the DNS Alumni Association and participants of the Mentorship Program for another successful holiday party! 

2017-2018 Mentorship Program Kick-Off

The Department of Nutritional Sciences Alumni Association (DNSAA) hosted its annual kickoff event for the Student-Alumni Mentorship Program on Thursday, September 28, 2017.

Since 2012, the program has been connecting DNS students and recent graduates with alumni to help students learn about different skills, opportunities and career options related to the field of nutritional sciences. Every September, an opening event is held to give participants an overview of the program and outline the expectations for mentors and mentees. A guest lecturer is also invited to deliver a talk related to the spirit of the mentorship program.

This year, students and alumni enjoyed a special presentation by former Minister of Science, the Honorable Ed Holder. Mr. Holder gave a captivating presentation about networking, sharing his tips for how to network successfully and make the most of opportunities like the Mentorship Program. Following the presentation, mentors and mentees gathered for a reception to mingle with fellow participants of the program. If this kickoff event was any indication, we should be in for another enjoyable and productive year of student-alumni mentorship in the Department of Nutritional Sciences!

By: Laura Vergeer
Reprinted with permission from NutriNews