Research opportunities help Leah Ellis prepare for a future of promoting healthy habits

Research and professional development opportunities at Radford University have pushed Leah Ellis’ skills and expertise to a higher level, she said, and the junior nutrition and dietetics major from Fredericksburg, Virginia, continues to reap rewards from her work.

The most recent came when Ellis received word that she is a recipient of a Foundation Scholarship from the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Individual scholarships from the academy range in value from $500 to $25,000 each. The total amount and number of scholarships awarded each year is determined by fundraising efforts and investment returns on scholarship funds.

The scholarship process is competitive, and the application process was no walk through the produce aisle.

“The application for this scholarship was likely the most challenging application I have ever completed for any program or scholarship due to its pure length,” Ellis explained, “and the self-reflection required.”

At Radford, Ellis is a beneficiary of scholarships offered by the university, including the Mary Kathryn Phipps Brewer Memorial Scholarship and the Highlander Distinction Scholarship. Adding those to the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics scholarship decreases her financial burden, giving her more time to focus on academics and research opportunities.

“I am extremely grateful for all the research and professional development opportunities I have received from Radford University to bring my CV and resume to a nationally competitive level,” Ellis said. “I am extremely pleased to know that my hard work in research and dietetics makes me a nationally competitive applicant for these scholarships, and I hope for that to continue into the future when applying for grad programs.”

Ellis launched her academic explorations in Radford’s Highlander Research Rookies Program, and this summer, she participated in Virginia Tech’s Translational Obesity Undergraduate Research Scholars (TOUR-Scholars) program. She was the only student from outside Radford’s neighboring university this year to work to be accepted into the program. In the summer of 2022, Ellis received a Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) sponsored by Radford University’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS).

Where might those opportunities lead Ellis in her future?

“I am still going through many ideas,” she said. “I would love to hold a full-time research position for the National Institute of Health after I complete all of my education – a master's degree, a registered dietician credential, and hopefully my Ph.D. Research has been my calling since I started school at Radford, and I would love to do research at the national level for my career.”


Leah Ellis (left) with Health and Human Performance chair and professor Melissa Grim.

Oct 13, 2023
Chad Osborne
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