Lily Sebastian: Bringing nutrition research to the forefront of health care
As the role nutrition plays in health care continues to grow, research opportunities for Texas Woman’s students such as nutritional sciences major Lily Sebastian are becoming increasingly valuable for both her future and the future of health care. With several accomplishments already under her belt, Sebastian is taking advantage of everything TWU has to offer to pave her own way in the medical field.
Sebastian decided to major in nutrition at TWU based partly on her upbringing and partly on her future career plans of attending medical school to become an obstetrician.
“I love food, and my mom has always been a proponent of healthy eating, demonstrating that healthy food can taste great,” she said. “I also believe studying nutrition will give me a great foundation for my future in health care. I want to explore and demonstrate how nutrition can merge with women’s health and pregnancy.”
Wanting to get involved with research from the onset, in her freshman year, Sebastian was able to work with a graduate student to learn the ins and outs of conducting research. As a sophomore, she began her own research project on the effects whey protein can have in managing the symptoms women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) experience, which she has continued into her current junior year.
“Ever since high school, I have been interested in women’s health,” she said. “Many women suffer from reproductive disorders, so it is important that more research is conducted on finding viable treatments and potential interventions to these conditions.”
According to Sebastian, as seen in studies with people who have type 2 diabetes, whey protein seems to be a potential intervention in terms of maintaining normal blood glucose levels. Similarly, in women with PCOS, many of whom are insulin resistant, whey protein isolate could also serve as a dietary approach to attenuating blood glucose levels by decreasing spikes in both insulin and glucose.
Sebastian’s research could provide a potential dietary intervention in order to better manage the symptoms of PCOS as opposed to taking birth control pills or metformin, which are the common treatment options for PCOS today that usually come with unwanted side effects.
Sebastian has presented her research at regional and national conferences, as well as the TWU Student Creative Arts and Research Symposium, and she co-authored a published paper with Shane Broughton, PhD, chair of Nutrition & Food Sciences, and Monique LeMieux, PhD, assistant professor and Sebastian’s mentor.
“Prior to attending TWU, Lily took a proactive role in her education, meeting with me before she enrolled in classes to discuss the possibility of becoming an active participant in my research program as it aligned well with her future goals,” said Broughton. “My plan is to create more research opportunities for undergraduates like Lily, which will allow them to gain valuable experience and make them more marketable upon graduation.”
Sebastian also has taken advantage of the opportunities outside of the lab that TWU provides. She is involved in the Honors Program, Pre-Health Club, Phi Upsilon Omicron Honor Society and the Running Club. She also is a Chancellor’s Endowed Scholar, has been involved in the campus Health and Wellbeing Initiative and is a member of the Center for Student Leadership as well.
“Getting involved on campus has allowed me to meet new people and have incredible experiences,” said Sebastian. “I also have been able to hear from great speakers and attend helpful workshops through the Center for Student Leadership.”
But for her, it’s the caring faculty who truly make TWU a great place.
“The support I have received from faculty, even before I enrolled, has been remarkable,” said Sebastian. “The amount of care they take in helping students is exceptional.”
That faculty support, coupled with her desire to make a difference in health care, will undoubtedly continue to propel Sebastian to success in all of her endeavors at TWU and beyond.
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Page last updated 9:03 AM, March 2, 2020