Meet the Research Committee

Katie Ellison Headshot

Katie Ellison, Chair, MS, RDN, LDN

Katie is a registered dietitian nutritionist and PhD Candidate in Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Her research focuses on implementation and dissemination sciences for enhancing obesity treatment and wellness programs in primary care settings. She looks forward to starting a Postdoctoral Fellowship for the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) at UAB in fall 2024.  

Miranda Wall Van Blarcum Headshot

Miranda Wall Van Blarcum, DC, MS

Miranda a native of Missouri and received her undergraduate degree in animal science from the University of Missouri. She received her Doctorate in Chiropractic from Logan University as well as a Master of Science in Nutrition. She has worked as a chiropractor for 10 years and is currently working on becoming a registered dietitian. 

Reya Andrews Headshot

Reya Andrews, MS, CN

Reya is a licensed nutritionist and health educator with a Master of Science in Nutrition Science from Texas Woman’s University and over 20 years of experience in public health education, outreach, and publishing. In addition to teaching over 1,600 students garden-based nutrition science and healthy food preparation through her business, she has published a whole-food plant-based recipe book and three plant-based nutrition-themed activity books for kids. Reya is currently working towards a PhD in Nutrition Science at the University of Kentucky while working in the Clinical Nutrition department at UKHealthCare and as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness. Reya is passionate about developing plant-based diet nutrition interventions for chronic disease populations and contributing to public health by working to educate the next generation of health professionals on the importance of nutrition for health and wellness. 

Dyan Young Headshot

Dyan Young

Dyan Young is an avid advocate of a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle, boasting over a decade of dedicated passion in the field. Currently pursuing an Associate in Science in Nutrition and Dietetics and slated to commence her Master’s in Nutrition Science in fall 2025, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Immersed in European culture during her undergraduate studies, she delved into the intricacies of globalization and the impact of Western society on a global scale. Her professional journey includes invaluable mentorship under a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in Chronic Kidney Disease. Presently, she contributes as a research associate alongside a doctoral candidate within the Vegetarian Nutrition Practice Group. Beyond her academic and professional endeavors, Dyan delights in crafting wholesome, plant-based meals for her loved ones, showcasing her culinary prowess.

Susan "Tootie" Deerr Headshot

Susan "Tootie" Deerr, BS Food and Nutrition, PBNC Professional

Tootie is a rising second-year nutrition graduate student at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. She enjoys all aspects of food and nutrition, from the science of how it works in our bodies to growing it, preparing it, and feeding it to people. Her drive to be of service to others and her natural curiosity in how things work are the foundation upon which she is building her career. Tootie experienced food insecurity growing up in NYC, and again while serving in the military. She is grateful to now be in a place of privilege where she has access to a wide variety of healthy foods and the resources to be involved in efforts to serve those who are experiencing food insecurity. She plans to continue this work in a professional capacity as an RDN.

Tootie received a BS in Food and Nutrition from Meredith College and the Plant Based Nutrition Certificate through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. She is looking forward to working with the VN DPG Research Committee and is honored to have won the 2024 VN DPG Recipe Contest in all three categories. Some of her ongoing volunteer roles include Peer Mentor for Vegan Outreach, home visits with seniors for The Center for Volunteer Caregiving and conducting dietary interviews with residents at Pruitt Health. She has been selected as a semi-finalist for the 2024 Healthy Hospital Chef Challenge for PCRM, and newly appointed to be a Nutrition Graduate Student Association Leader for 2024-2025 at Meredith.

In her free time, Tootie enjoys discovering uncommon fruits and vegetables and creating new recipes to share, as well as gardening, spending time in nature, creating art, and practicing yoga.