Nutritional Sciences

Students Name: Vanessa Giuliano
Supervisor: Dr. Richard P. Bazinet, Associate professor

Vanessa recently graduated with high distinction from the University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Science.  She completed a double major in Neuroscience and Nutritional Sciences while also completing a minor in Psychology. Her passion for research began in the third year of her undergraduate degree when she undertook a research project (NFS394Y1) with Dr. Richard Bazinet and Marc-Olivier Trépanier exploring the effects of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) on lipopolysaccharide-induced astrocyte activation. After receiving the GLSE Summer Studentship Award, Vanessa was given the opportunity to continue her research in Dr. Bazinet’s laboratory, investigating the effects of n-3 PUFA on microglia activation in a model of neuroinflammation. Vanessa presented her findings at the 2015 Department of Nutrtional Sciences summer research poster competition, in which she won first place in the animal research category. Vanessa later went on to expand her research by completing a fourth year research project (NFS494Y1) with Dr. Bazinet and Kathryn Hopperton. In this project Vanessa investigated the effects of n-3 PUFA on microglia morphology in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.  Also in her fourth year, Vanessa worked closely with Dr. Berge Minassian of the Hospital for Sick Children and two other collaborators to write a literature review on neurometabolism.

In addition to her active involvement in research, Vanessa consistently demonstrated a strong academic background, receiving three scholarships from St. Michael’s college for academic excellence, while also earning a place on the dean’s list in each year of her undergrad career. Vanessa also received the St.Michael’s College Silver Medal Award for achieving an outstanding grade point average upon graduation.

Along with her academics, Vanessa enjoys a host of extracurricular activities. In the fourth year of her undergraduate degree Vanessa was the fourth year representative on the Nutritional Science Student Association.  Vanessa was also an author of an article published in University of Toronto’s Undergraduate Journal of Psychology.  During the last two summers, Vanessa has also volunteered with the Woodbridge Soccer Club, coaching children’s soccer teams. In her spare time, she also plays on a women’s soccer team with the same club. Vanessa has also been an active volunteer in the pediatric ward of the William Osler Health Centre. Additionally, Vanessa has worked at Kumon Learning Centre for the past five years, where she assists children in learning math and reading.

Currently, Vanessa is embarking on a M.Sc in the department of Nutritional Science under the supervision of Dr. Bazinet. Her project involves the use of compound-specific isotope analysis to investigate how PUFA from various food sources change the brain’s DHA carbon-13/carbon-12 ratio in both wild type and fat-1 mice. She also investigates the means by which fat-1 mice achieve high levels of DHA within the brain. Her research is being funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Canada Graduate Scholarship. After her graduate level studies, Vanessa wishes to pursue a career in medicine where she hopes to be able to apply the valuable skills and knowledge she acquired at the University of Toronto to a medical setting.

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