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Nick Bellissimo, PhD

Dr. Nick Bellissimo is an Associate Professor and Director of the Nutrition Discovery Labs in the School of Nutrition at Toronto Metropolitan University. He received his B.Sc. and B.Ed. at York University and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Toronto. Following postdoctoral training at the University of Toronto and The Pennsylvania State University he returned to Canada and established a research program dedicated to advancing our understanding of human ingestive behavior. Through his interdisciplinary research program, he has examined the associations among macronutrient composition, exercise, hormonal and environmental factors with the goal of informing the development of evidence-based guidelines for promoting healthier body weights. He has significant leadership in the design of experimental trials related to diet and exercise, and in the design and testing of novel bioactive ingredients, food formulations on satiety, and on biomarkers related to health and disease. Since 2009, he has received continuous external research support from government and industry sources. Dr. Bellissimo’s work has led to 100+ publications, training of 75+ highly qualified personnel, and 100+ abstracts and conference proceedings. He is also recipient of several competitive awards including Ryerson’s Dean’s Teaching Award (2014), the Sue Williams Excellence Teaching Award (2016), the Dean’s Scholarly, Research and Creative Activity Award (2017), and Canadian Nutrition Society Volunteer Leadership Award (2019). He is a member of several journal editorial boards, and provides scientific advising to government agencies, institutes, and the food industry.

Michaela Kucab
Michaela Kucab, RD, MHSc, MSc (c)

Michaela Kucab is a Registered Dietitian and manager of the Nutrition and Exercise Testing Lab under the Nutrition Discovery Labs. She received a BASc in Food and Nutrition with a concentration in nutrition and health research under the supervision of Dr. Nick Bellissimo and a MHSc in Nutrition Communication from Toronto Metropolitan University. Michaela recently completed the requirements to obtain an MSc in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Toronto. She completed her dietetic training at The Hospital for Sick Children, Mount Sinai Hospital, West Durham Family Health Team and Port Hope Community Health Centre. Michaela supports clinical trials, grant and ethical submissions and publications within the Nutrition Discovery Labs.


Stephanie Robayo

I will be entering my third and final year in the Nutrition and Food BASc at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). At TMU, I have also completed a certificate in Food Security and will be pursuing a certificate in health services management concurrent to my BASc. Before this, I earned an Honours B.Sc. in Global Health and Environmental Biology from the University of Toronto. At ND labs, I have had the opportunity to assist in an OJ study that seeks to analyze the effect of orange juice on subjective appetite, food intake, and glycemic response. Additionally, I will be involved in other upcoming projects at ND labs. I look forward to further developing my research and knowledge translation skills at ND labs. This experience will better prepare me for my future graduate studies and the goal of becoming a registered dietitian.


Taryn Hoffman

Taryn is in her third year of the Nutrition and Food (BASc) program at Toronto Metropolitan University and holds a bachelor’s degree from McGill University in business management and arts. At Nutrition Discovery Labs, Taryn had the opportunity to contribute to the lab’s Knowledge Translation and Transfer (KTT) strategy by creating media content based on published studies. She currently assists with test sessions for a study examining the effects of orange juice consumption on glycemic response, food intake, and subjective appetite in young adults. Taryn is also assisting in an inter-disciplinary project investigating the structural characteristics of high protein dairy yogurts and the release of bioactive peptides with dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV) inhibitory activity. She is looking forward to the proximate arrival of a dynamic in-vitro digestion model to further understand the impact of food structure and composition on physiological outcomes. In the future, Taryn intends on becoming a registered dietitian in research interested in understanding the ameliorative role of functional food ingredients against neurodegenerative diseases.


Adam Jordan

I previously completed an Hon. BSc in Kinesiology and Health Sciences, and I am now undertaking a BASc in Nutrition and Food at TMU to ultimately become a dietitian, personal trainer and researcher examining the intersection between nutrition, exercise, and brain health. I recently published a primary authorship review paper on potential methods of enhancing exercise adaptations via pro-oxidative mechanisms through nutrition and alternative training methods. I am currently working across a few projects, including a comparison of animal vs plant-based protein and a validity study on the Dexcom continuous glucose monitor. I am passionate about brain/mental health, in which I work with CAMH collaborating on numerous projects and doing public speaking.


Sarah Walker

I am in my 3rd year of the Nutrition and Food program here at Toronto Metropolitan University, where I am pursuing a research concentration during my degree. After completing this program, I plan to pursue my Registered Dietitian credentials and continue working in the nutrition research field. Currently, I am working on wrapping up a study on the effects of orange juice on appetite and blood glucose, and I’m excited to be leading an upcoming study focused on nutrient intake and cognition in children.


Megan Wurtele, Hon. BSc. Kin, R Kin. (Ont.)

Megan is currently a student within the Nutrition and Food program at Toronto Metropolitan University. Before attending Toronto Met, she completed a degree in Kinesiology from McMaster University. She joined the College of Kinesiologists of Ontario in 2019 and has worked as a Registered Kinesiologist with various population demographics to help clients meet their rehabilitation goals. Currently, Megan works within NExT lab where she performs fitness, metabolic and body composition tests on community members.


Sophia Bertolo

My name is Sophia Bertolo and I am currently working as a research assistant at ND Labs. I have recently graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia with a Bachelor of Arts and Science Honours with a major in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Health Policy. I am currently working on various projects at ND Labs including our Animal vs. Plant-Based Protein study as well as the OJ Satiety study. I am hoping to gain a wide range of experiences here including wet lab work and research skills specifically around nutrition. My future plans are to eventually return to school and pursue a Masters in Health Sciences. I am very excited to be a part of these exciting and innovative nutrition studies and can’t wait to see what the summer holds.


Ayesha Karim

I will be completing my BASc in Nutrition and Food in July 2022. I was previously studying Human Health Science at Ontario Tech University before transferring. At ND Labs, I have worked on creating knowledge translation media content for the public. I am currently co-writing a manuscript and analyzing data that looks at consumer perceptions and feelings towards dietitians. I am also assisting in the development of a study that will aim to understand topics of importance and interest to dietitians to ultimately develop typing tools. I look forward to gaining more research experience and furthering my scientific writing and data analysis skills.


Natalie Nguyen

I am going into my final year of the Nutrition and Food program after previously obtaining a BSc in Health & Disease and Nutritional Sciences from the University of Toronto. Currently, I am co-analyzing the data and co-writing a manuscript for a study which looked at consumer perceptions, feelings, and emotions regarding dietitians. I am also assisting with the development of interview questions as part of a larger study which seeks to determine what topic areas dietitians are most interested in understanding about their patients in order to develop typing tools tailored for outpatient dietitians. During my time at Nutrition Discovery Labs, I aim to develop my data analysis and scientific writing skills.


Felimon Henok

I’m currently in my final year of BASc of Nutrition and Food at Toronto Metropolitan University. I’m also a personal trainer and an exercise therapy specialist at Medcan Clinic. I’m also involved in studies being conducted in development of carbohydrates drinks for colonoscopy patients at St. Michael’s as a Kennan’s summer research student position. In my time at NExT, I’m involved in performing exercises testing including body composition and metabolic testing. Once I graduate, I will pursue a master’s degree to get accredited to become a sports Dietitian.