About Celine E. Heskey, DrPH

My overarching goal is to support the evidence-based nutrition education of students, peers, and the public by participating in scholarly research, nutrition and dietetics education, and service to our local, national, and international community.

The classes that I teach include Assessment of Nutritional Status and the Nutrition Care Process for Diabetes and Heart Disease, which serve as a foundation for students to learn and apply skills related to clinical nutrition and nutrition research. I also teach a Nutrition Counseling and Education course, which is focused on how to provide patient-centered, empathetic and non-judgmental care by applying motivational interviewing skills. My Health Aspects of Vegetarian Nutrition course focuses on cutting edge research to helps us to better understand why plant-based diets can be helpful for chronic disease prevention. I use my background as a clinical dietitian to provide practical illustrations, and to discuss real-life experiences that go beyond textbooks and typical resources. By focusing most of my continuing professional education on increasing my knowledge of and competence in the subjects I teach, I am able to incorporate advanced knowledge, up-to-date information, and resources in my courses, that go beyond the basics of knowledge for entry level for registered dietitians/nutritionists (RDNs).

My most recent nutrition research activities included working on studies examining the effects of healthful plant foods on risk factors for chronic disease. Specifically, a study examining the effects of avocado consumption on obesity risk and prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the Adventist Health Study-2 cohort, and a clinical trial during which we examined the effects macadamia nuts on various cardiometabolic risk factors. I am also interested in the use of biomarkers as a way to improve the estimate of nutrient intake, thereby improving nutritional epidemiology research findings – during my dissertation, I looked at the relationship between adipose tissue n-3 fatty acids (as a biomarker of long-term intake) and cardiometabolic risk factors. Briefly, my research interests include examining the relationship between dietary patterns, and body composition and chronic disease risk (especially cancer, diabetes and heart disease); and weight management nutrition interventions that incorporate nutrition counseling and technology (to improve adherence), and physical activity to aid favorable changes in body composition.

I hope to continue to find opportunities to both facilitate and directly provide education to my fellow RDNs and the public. My prior role as the assistant chair for the nutrition education committee of the Adventist Nutrition and Dietetics International Association (ANDIA) is an example of one such opportunity that aligns with a niche area in nutrition at Loma Linda University – to support dissemination of evidence-based information about plant-based diets.