TIG Governing Committee

The TIG Governing Committee is responsible for governing the affairs of ISRHML’s Trainee Interest Group. This committee consists of the TIG President, TIG President-Elect, TIG Past-President, TIG secretary, Trainee Mentorship Series Coordinator, Newsletter & Blog Editor, Social Media & Communications Chair, Member Recruitment Chair, and TIG advisors. Learn more about this committee by viewing our standard operating procedures.

Co-President, 2019 - 2021: Yimin Chen

Yimin is an assistant professor for the School of Family and Consumer Sciences Human Nutrition Program at the University of Idaho. She practiced as a nutrition support dietitian for 15 years specializing in surgery, gastrointestinal diseases, critical care, and neonatology when she realized her passion in mechanistic research. Yimin’s research interests focus on exploring specific digestion-resistant proteins and digestion-released peptides in human milk that are associated with intestinal inflammation and integrity. She uses: 1) in vitro cell culture models to study cellular responses to digested colostrum, digestion-resistant proteins and digestion-released peptides in colostrum, 2) the neonatal piglet model as a clinically relevant model to study intestinal growth, development, and disease prevention as a function of different milk feedings, and 3) she is in collaboration with level-IV NICUs to determine modifiable maternal characteristics that alter human milk immunomodulatory components, and outcomes in the recipient premature infant.

Yimin’s two main goals during her term: (1) create a resource sharing medium for trainees and other members of ISRHML to optimize and standardize various human milk handling protocols; (2) develop a virtual grantsmanship writing workshop series to improve grant writing skills and increase funding success in human milk and lactation research for trainees.

Co-President, 2019 - 2021: Melissa Theurich

Melissa is a PhD candidate at the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Clinic of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) of Munich in Germany. She obtained her BSc in Human Nutrition with a concentration in Community and International Nutrition and Spanish from Virginia Tech, and her Master of Public Health from LMU Munich. Her doctoral research is on commercial complementary food use in the EU Childhood Obesity Project, a large multi-center European birth cohort. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certified by IBLCE®. Melissa’s research on breastfeeding has been on international policies and programs at the national, regional and global levels, including infant and young child feeding in emergencies, and she works as an independent Public Health Nutrition consultant for international development and United Nations agencies. Melissa’s goal as the TIG Co-President will be to identify strategies for inclusion of trainees from Europe and low- and middle-income countries.

President Elect, 2020-2021: Michelle Asbury

Michelle Asbury is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children in Canada. She previously obtained her Honours BSc in Life Sciences and MSc in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Toronto. Working under the guidance of Dr. Deborah O’Connor, her current doctoral research focuses on characterizing the mother’s milk microbiota and its relationship with gastrointestinal colonization of preterm infants during their initial hospitalization.

As President-elect, Michelle’s vision would be to (1) provide more opportunities for trainees to connect with each other using virtual platforms, and (2) to provide training and ISRHML-sponsored opportunities for trainees to engage in effective science communication of human milk and lactation research.


Secretary, 2020-2022: Alexandra Gogel

Alexandra (Alex) is a graduate student in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho under the guidance of Dr. Shelley McGuire. Alex received her Bachelor of Science in Zoology from Washington State University. Her current research focus is on milk collection methodology and maternal and infant factors in association with the milk microbiome. Her goals as TIG secretary are 1) to connect TIGers to activities and resources by providing well documented and accessible TIG committee meeting minutes; and 2) support the TIG committee by contributing to tasks that move the organization forward.

Trainee Mentorship Series Coordinator, 2020-2022- Sarah Turner

Sarah is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. She obtained her BSc in Human Ecology (2013) and her MSc in Community Health Sciences (2016) also from the University of Manitoba. Sarah’s PhD research focusses on the role of breast milk components such as fatty acids and human milk oligosaccharides, as well as maternal mental health and parent-child bonding on the development of child behaviour and cognition.

Outside of research, Sarah loves to run and cycle and is a fitness instructor at the University gym. She is passionate about career development and helping people discover more about themselves and the world to make a career choice that aligns with their talents and values. As the TIG Trainee Mentorship Series Coordinator, Sarah will strive to 1) create a quarterly mentorship and career development webinar on diverse topics based on trainee interests and 2) create a dedicated mentorship session at the ISRHML biennial conference with the objective of setting up potential trainee expansion travel award partnerships.

Member Recruitment and Social Media Chair: 2019 - 2021: Ezgi Özcan

Ezgi is a PhD candidate at the Sela Lab at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research is based on metabolism of human milk oligosaccharides by infant gut microbes. She is interested in developing models to mimic microbe-microbe interactions towards understanding the associations between human milk and infant health. At the same time, she is a certificate student at women, gender, sexuality studies, in which she bridges women’s studies theories with her research in human milk and lactation. As a TIGer, her goals for Social Media/Recruitment, is to use social media as a transitioning platform between the TIGers and ISHRML expertise or a discussion board on research struggles, and scientific methodological debates and concerns that help TIGers collectively grow their knowledge and encourage TIGers to stay connected.

Blog/Newsletter Editor, 2019 - 2021: Laura Galante

Laura is a PhD candidate in Biomedical Science at the Liggins Institute (University of Auckland) in New Zealand. Laura has obtained BSc in Biology and a MSc in Biology Applied to Human Nutrition from the University of Trieste, and the University of Milan, (both in Italy) respectively, conducting the research for her MSc in the University of Reading (England). Laura’s current research focuses on the impact of infant maternal characteristics and sex on milk composition and infant growth. Laura’s goal as new Blog/Newsletter Editor is to increase the use of the blog and the involvement of new trainees in it by launching collaborative and creative activities and to implement the visibility of human milk science to a broad and diverse audience.

Advisor, 2018-2020: Dr. Sarah Taylor

Dr. Sarah Taylor is an associate professor of Pediatrics and the Director of Clinical Research for the Division of Neonatology at Yale School of Medicine. Prior to joining Yale, she was an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina where she also performed her pediatric residency, neonatal fellowship, and received a Masters’ in Clinical Science. She started the Mother’s Milk Bank of South Carolina in 2015. Dr. Taylor’s research centers on infant nutrition and growth with a special focus and human milk and lactation. In the past, she has received NIH funding to study the effect of vitamin D health on preterm infant bone development and investigate interventions to support preterm infant breastfeeding through the first postnatal year. Currently, Dr. Taylor explores the behavioral and biologic influences on mother’s milk production including methods to mitigate disparities and studies preterm infant gut health and development related to nutritional exposures. She is very excited to play a role in global human milk and lactation research development as a TIG advisor!

Advisor, 2019-2021: Dr. Maria Carmen Collado

Maria Carmen holds a Research Scientist position at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC), Valencia (Spain) and  Adjunct Professor (2007-now) at the University of Turku, Finland.

Her research work is multidisciplinary and includes microbiology, food science, nutrition and human health.  Her team objective is  to characterize the transfer of maternal microbes to neonates and to determine their function in infant health programming. More concretely, her team investigates the impact of early exposures (perinatal, environmental and genetic factors) on milk components (IgA, immune markers, metabolites, oligosaccharides, microbiota) and their impact on infant microbiota and health effects at short- and long-term. She focuses on the understanding of beneficial bacteria and probiotics on host response.