TWU graduate brings nutrition research to the forefront of health care
April 12, 2021 - DENTON - As the role nutrition plays in health care continues to grow, so too does the importance of research opportunities for Texas Woman’s students, which May 2021 nutritional sciences graduate Lily Sebastian discovered during her time at the university. Sebastian will now use her experience at TWU 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 continued into her junior and senior years.
“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.
Sebastian also took advantage of the opportunities outside of the lab that TWU provides. She was involved in the Honors Program, Pre-Health Club, Phi Upsilon Omicron Honor Society and the Running Club, and also was a Chancellor’s Endowed Scholar and a member of the Center for Student Leadership. In addition, she served as a Student Representative for the TWU Health and Wellbeing initiative, where she aided with the development of a pilot program that promotes healthy lifestyles amongst students, and was a 2021 Outstanding Student Award recipient.
“Getting involved on campus allowed me to meet new people and have incredible experiences,” said Sebastian. “I also was able to hear from great speakers and attend helpful workshops through the Center for Student Leadership.”
But for her, it was the caring faculty who truly made TWU a great place.
“The support I received from faculty, even before I enrolled, was remarkable,” said Sebastian. “The amount of care they take in helping students was exceptional.”
Sebastian’s desire to make a difference in health care will undoubtedly continue to propel her to success in her next endeavor—attending the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine at Texas Tech University’s Health Science Center in El Paso in order to achieve her dream of becoming an obstetrician.
Director of Communications, Jane Nelson Institute for Women's Leadership
Page last updated 2:05 PM, April 30, 2021