Hello and nice to meet you! My name is Kristin Morrill and I am currently a 3rd year PhD student in the Nutritional Sciences Department at the University of Arizona. Our research program, Nosotros Comprometidos a Su Salud, is dedicated to reducing the health disparities faced by the Hispanic community in Southern Arizona. To achieve this goal, our research focuses on engaging Hispanic individuals in clinical research by developing culturally-tailored lifestyle interventions aimed at preventing and treating chronic disease. Did you know that 1 in 3 adults of Mexican origin suffer from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), increasing their risk of liver cancer? My research specifically involves assessing whether carrying a genetic predisposition for NAFLD increase risk of liver steatosis and fibrosis in the context of a high-carbohydrate diet. So basically, do people who carry a genetic risk for NAFLD have poorer liver health when they consume lots of sugar compared to those who don’t carry the genetic risk? Our goal is to eventually develop a culturally-sensitive dietary intervention to treat this chronic disease and improve the health of our community. After obtaining my PhD in Nutritional Sciences, I plan to become a Registered Dietician.Then, as a PhD, RD, I plan to become a professor and researcher and shift my research focus to working with Hispanic/Latino women in the area of mental health. Specifically, I see myself working closely with Hispanic/Latino women who suffer from postpartum depression and/or anxiety to find the root cause(s) of their condition in order to develop personalized, effective nutritional therapies.
Serving the community outside of field of research also remains a priority for me. First and foremost, I am committed to educating and mentoring students. As a doctoral student, I have mentored many of the undergraduate research assistants and interns and thoroughly enjoy helping and encouraging these students to succeed. Additionally, I serve as a student mentor through Arizona’s Science, Engineering and Math Scholars (ASEMS) for underrepresented students pursuing careers in science. As a graduate student, I have also had the role of Teaching Assistant (TA) for three undergraduate nutrition courses, a position I have really enjoyed! I believe having these experiences have equipped me with the knowledge, patience, and general skill set to provide a comfortable and effective learning environment for future students. These experiences have also afforded me the insight in not only what works when teaching students, but also, what is fun! I believe establishing a casual, comfortable learning environment where students are not embarrassed or hesitant to ask questions and apply themselves is key, and this is something I am committed to.
Outside of school, I greatly enjoy getting out into the mountains to hike, ski, set up a hammock and read, and anything else I can do outside! I also figure skate and love to cook! I greatly enjoy putting creative healthy spins on traditional not-so-health recipes. Most importantly, I am a mother of three beautiful cats: Girl, Weebs, and Kombucha.