Trainee Profiles

Current Trainees

Each year the LET Program trains graduate students with an interest in MCH nutrition.  The majority of the trainees are in the Public Health Nutrition MPH program, with funding provided to select doctoral students who have strong interests in the intersection of MCH and public health nutrition. Click on the photos below to find out more about some of our current trainees.


  • Junia N Brito, MPH, MBA

    Junia N Brito, MPH, MBA

    I am a first year Social/Behavioral Epidemiology PhD student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. I’m originally from Brazil and I have been in the U.S. for over six years. In Brazil, I received my dietetic training to become a RD.  While in the U.S., I have completed an MBA with a Healthcare Management concentration at Bellevue University and received a MPH Nutrition degree from the University of Minnesota.

    After graduating in Nutrition and Dietetics in Brazil, I worked as both a clinical dietitian and as a nutritionist manager for few restaurant units. Here in the U.S., some of my previous leadership-volunteer experience included being a Nutrition Educator Specialist for Urban Ventures, focused in teaching diverse children from public schools about food and health. Additionally, I have engaged in a community & health development project as a Nutritionist Manager consultant for a minority youth-led garden and bakery enterprise from Urban Strategies. In graduate school, I did my MPH Nutrition field experience requirement at the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Program’s Office at the Minnesota Department of Health and I have worked as a research assistant in multiple research projects, with areas of study encompassing child nutrition & parenting behavior, physical activity & sedentary behavior and other health related outcomes. As a MCH Nutrition Trainee, I have attended to multiple professional development opportunities, updated and reviewed book chapters, and engaged in quarterly trainee conferences and collaborative discussions calls with fellow MCH Nutrition trainees.

    My main area of interest in maternal & child health nutrition include the prevention chronic diseases in adulthood through the establishment of healthy behavior patterns before conception, at the time of conception, throughout pregnancy and during the first years of life.

  • Noelle Yeo

    Noelle Yeo

    Noelle Yeo is a student in the masters of public health nutrition coordinated program in dietetics at the University of Minnesota and a trainee in the Leadership Education and Training Program in Maternal and Child Health Nutrition at the UMN. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 2017 in nutrition, exercise and health sciences with minors in Spanish and business administration. Noelle has completed supervised practice hours towards her registered dietitian credential at Saint Paul Public Schools nutrition services and Provider’s Choice, Inc. and has also worked on consulting projects with Hastings Public Schools nutrition services, the Minnesota Department of Education, and the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists. Noelle is a student member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists. She is also involved in the School of Public Health student ambassadors program and the mentor program at the UMN. In the future, Noelle hopes to focus her work in improving health equity for children through the USDA supplemental nutrition programs.

  • Kalia Thor

    Kalia Thor

    Kalia Thor is currently a first-year graduate student in the MPH program in public health nutrition. She is from Siloam Springs, AR and received her undergraduate degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma in nutritional sciences. On top of that, she has also completed her dietetic internship through Iowa State University making her eligible to be a registered dietitian.

    During her undergraduate years, she was appointed as Vice President of the Oklahoma Student Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as serving her community of Northeastern State University as the president of their Student Nutrition Association. Kalia’s interests include working with a diverse population and figuring out what kind of nutritional deficits or needs that are currently there and providing nutrition education to those who are in need. Her interests also include working with children who have neurodevelopmental disorders and their nutritional intake.

    In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, doing outdoors activities, trying out new recipes, and traveling.

  • Yetunde Akingbemi

    Yetunde Akingbemi

    Yetunde Akingbemi is a first-year student in the Public Health Nutrition Coordinated Master’s Program at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She is working towards her Master of Public Health and is also completing the practicum hours for her Dietetic Internship. She is working towards the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential. Before the University of Minnesota, she studied Nutrition – Dietetics at Auburn University.

    Yetunde is currently a trainee in the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Nutrition Training Grant under Dr. Jamie Stang. So far, she has completed rotations at Urban Roots and at Roseville Area Schools. She also volunteers at the Philip’s Neighborhood Clinic and at Loaves and Fishes. She was an undergraduate student researcher in a USDA funded project called “Get FRUVED!” and was a team member on the Auburn University Nutrition Team. She has also volunteered for Our House Nutrition Camp and the Food Bank of East Alabama. She is a student member of the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists and the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics. At the University of Minnesota, she is a member of the Health Equity Work Group Student Subcommittee and the School of Public Health Mentor Program. At Auburn University, she served as Health Fair Coordinator in her Student Dietetic Association.

    She was originally drawn to MCH nutrition through her Nutrition in the Lifecycle course in undergrad, and also after her niece and nephew were born. Within MCH nutrition, she finds the betterment of health among women and children of color particularly interesting, as well as increasing breastfeeding promotion and decreasing negative mental health aspects within this population.

Past Trainees

Individuals who participate in the LET Program go on to hold a variety of leadership positions within local, state and federal public health nutrition programs as well as positions within non-profits and higher education. Click on the photos below to find out more about a few of our former trainees.

  • Jason Champgne

    Jason Champgne

    Jason is a Native Nutrition Educator/Consultant and Chef who provides culturally tailored food and nutrition education programs for tribal organizations throughout the US. As a MPH nutrition student at the University of Minnesota, he worked with Associate Professor Jamie S Stang on several projects focused on improving the health and food environment of tribal communities. Jason’s involvement in the “The Good Heart Grocery Project: Improving Access to Quality Foods in the Yankton Sioux Community, South Dakota” project was highlighted in the summer 2012 edition of Healthy Generations, a publication of the Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health at the University of Minnesota. He is a frequent speaker at tribal conferences, particularly on issues of ciabetes management and prevention using indigenous food and culinary knowledge strategies.

    Prior to receiving his MPH degree, Jason was a chef for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. According to Jason, “the MCH program assisted me in developing a new perspective regarding nutrition intervention. By incorporating my culinary knowledge with the multiple experiences spent with MCH populations, I now feel I have developed the knowledge and skills necessary to positively impact the health of American Indians. Thanks to my wonderful supervisors Jamie S Stang, PhD, MPH, RD, and Tiffany Beckman MD, MPH, I learned so much about myself as a writer, a researcher, and a public health professional. I now have a clear perception regarding the importance of public health prevention, and how my role fits into it as I progress in my career.”


  • Arissa Anderson

    Arissa Anderson

    Arissa is a RD who works with the Aliveness Project, a non-profit serving individuals living with HIV/AIDS. She is involved with the planning, delivery and evaluation of many nutrition services including a food shelf, hot meals program, case management, and nutrition counseling. When asked to reflect on how the LET Program impacted her career, she replied  “I had the opportunity to attend a policy training in Washington DC as a trainee. That experience, made possible by the MCH grant, instilled in me a strong desire to incorporate nutrition policy into my future career as a public health nutritionist. We had the good fortune to network with and brainstorm alongside dietitians from around the country, and hear from some tremendous speakers including head of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. One of the highlights for me was meeting with legislators (or their assistants) to advocate for sound nutrition policy. Elsewhere, the opportunity to assist with research into the Life Course Model and its applications in the field of nutrition opened my eyes to a whole new way of approaching nutrition and health outreach/advocacy at various stages of the life cycle, and provided me with excellent practice in critically reviewing literature and also in organizing and helping to write a research article.”



  • Laura Perdue

    Laura Perdue

    Laura is an Extension educator in Health and Nutrition at the University of MN. Her  areas of research and outreach include food literacy skills, youth, technology-based education, chronic disease prevention, and urban food access.

    Before joining Extension in 2014, Laura worked as a dietitian in health promotion and heart disease prevention at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, a small nonprofit organization. There she worked with a variety of partners, including schools, worksites, and youth groups. She provided programs, education, and tools for healthy living, with a focus on healthy eating, physical activity, and stress management.


  • Mikaela Robertson

    Mikaela Robertson

    Mikaela is a Health Promotion Specialist at Boyton Health Service, on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, where she plans and evaluates health promotion programs for faculty, staff and students. She is involved in the evaluation of several campus-wide initiatives (such as the Tobacco Free Campus policy) and has been instrumental in the development of a campus-wide Lactation Advocacy Committee.  Prior to her current position, Mikaela was a Health Promotion Specialist for Wright County, where she oversaw healthy eating, active living and smoking cessation programs.

    As a Maternal and Child Health Trainee, Mikaela worked with WIC Epidemiologists at the Minnesota Department of Health to examine the effectiveness of text messages in peer breastfeeding promotion programs, and was actively involved in providing services at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic.


  • Meg Bruening

    Meg Bruening

    Meg Bruening, PhD, MPH, RD is an assistant professor in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University. Her research is focused on the environmental and social determinants of eating behaviors among underserved, vulnerable youth and families. She is studying reliance factors (with an emphasis on social support) related to food insecurity and nutrition in order to promote healthy eating through community-based interventions. Meg is active in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, having served on the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition DPG board and was the project leader and co-chair of the Public Health/Community Nutrition DPG Standards of Practice/Standards of Professional Performance work group.

  • Stephanie Heim

    Stephanie Heim

    Stephanie Heim is the Minnesota State Lead for the National Farm to School Network and coordinates Minnesota’s Farm to School Leadership team. In addition, she develops and manages strategic partnerships at local, state, and national levels related to healthy food access and provides strategic direction and leadership to food networks, especially the Minnesota Food Charter Network. Stephanie also analyzes and develops operational systems within the University of MN Extension Health and Nutrition Program to maximize innovation and integration, and acts as an internal consultant and coach to her colleagues to positively influence program delivery and impact. Her areas of research include evaluation of the Minnesota Food Charter,  developing and sustaining food networks, evaluation of farm to school programs, community engagement, and policy education


  • Sarah Eichberger

    Sarah Eichberger

    Sarah Eichberger provides leadership in the area of health and nutrition at Michigan State University Extension in Traverse City, Michigan. As a Supervising Educator, Sarah leads a team of 11 staff who deliver USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education evidence-based nutrition programming and public health interventions throughout 13 counties in northwestern and mid-Michigan. Within this role, Sarah also serves a local site supervisor for FoodCorps, a national program aimed at connecting kids to healthy food in schools. In addition, Ms. Eichberger serves as a preceptor for student interns studying public health and nutrition.  In the spring of 2017, Sarah completed a 3-year term serving on one of five multi-state teams within Cooperative Extension working to build capacity for health in all policies.

    Sarah developed a strong interest in public health through several years of work experience as a registered dietitian in diverse urban settings. Prior to joining MSU Extension, Sarah worked for the University of Minnesota Extension. In this role, she worked in support of community and public health approaches to improve healthy food access and disease prevention through the development of community food systems in the Twin Cities metro region and statewide. Sarah has also served as the Refugee Nutritionist for the Chicago-based non-profit Heartland Alliance and with the Women Infant Children and Maternal/Infant Health Program.