Current Doctoral Students

Tooyib Azeez

Exercise Physiology

Tooyib Azeez
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Vascular dysfunction in atherosclerosis

Tooyib is a Ph.D. Candidate in Exercise Physiology. He is from Nigeria where he obtained his medical degree at the University of Lagos in 2011, a post-graduate diploma in education from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 2017, and a master’s degree in Physiology from Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto in 2019. He is currently studying erectile dysfunction and vascular dysfunction associated with atherosclerosis in the integrative neurovascular physiology lab under Dr. Justin La Favor.

When Tooyib is not in the lab, he enjoys spending time indoors watching his favorite TV shows and playing chess either on board or online.

Paul Baker

Nutrition and Food Science

Paul’s Vita

Paul Baker
  • Physiological & metabolic adaptations to nutritional and/or exercise interventions in humans
  • High altitude

Paul is a doctoral student in the nutrition and food sciences Ph.D. program working under Dr. Berryman. Paul graduated with his B.S. in Exercise Science and M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky. During his Master’s, Paul obtained plenty of teaching and research experience working under excellent faculty.  The experience encouraged him to purse a Ph.D. and make an impactful difference going forward. Paul’s long-term career goal is to work as an assistant professor, teaching and performing research.

In my spare time I enjoy hiking, rock climbing, traveling, weight lifting, paddle boarding, and long walks on the beach.

David Barney

Nutrition and Food Science

David’s Vita

  • Dietary iron absorption and endurance performance
  • Micronutrient metabolism
  • Applied human performance research

David is a first year doctoral student in the Department of Nutrition, Food, and Exercise Sciences, studying Nutrition Science under Dr. Stephen Hennigar. He graduated from the College of William & Mary with B.S. degrees in Kinesiology and Biology, and he received an M.S. degree in Exercise Physiology from Florida State. Throughout his academic pursuits, David has maintained an interest in applying science to endurance performance. Currently, he studies the role of inflammation from exercise in the development of iron deficiency in long distance runners. David hopes to continue down a career path of contributing to the performance of endurance athletes.

David is a lifelong runner, competing in the NCAA for William & Mary as an undergraduate and FSU as a master’s student. He continues to train competitively and works as a graduate assistant for the FSU cross country team. When he’s not in lab or on the trails, David enjoys listening to live music and cooking (like any good nutrition scientist).

Alan Dawson

Nutrition and Food Science

Alan’s Vita

Alan Dawson
  • Nutrition interventions targeted to optimize human performance and enhance recovery from physical and operational stress
  • Dietary supplements that may provide cognitive and metabolic advantages to the warfighter

Alan is a doctoral student in the Nutrition Science program working under the mentorship of Dr. Claire Berryman. After completing his B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from Winthrop University, Alan received his Active Duty commission in the US Army where he earned his M.S. in Nutrition from the US Army-Baylor Graduate Program in Nutrition. Alan was later selected to complete his Ph.D while remaining an Active Duty Army Dietitian. After earning his Ph.D, Alan hopes to lead human performance optimization research for the Army and Department of Defense.

When not in the lab, Alan can be found spending time with his wife and two sons.

Saurabh Kadyan

Nutrition and Food Science

Saurabh’s Vita

Saurabh Kadyan
  • Dietary modulation of gut microbiome for improving ageing-associated cardiometabolic and neurocognitive health
  • Influence of maternal dietary patterns on neonatal gut microbiome and metabolic health

Saurabh is a doctoral student in the Nutrition and Food Science program working under the supervision of Dr. Ravinder Nagpal. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal (India) in the subjects of Dairy Technology and Dairy Microbiology, respectively. During his master’s thesis, he worked to develop the miniaturized, user-friendly, instrument-free and point-of-need colorimetric tests for detection of E. coli and coliforms in milk. Thereafter, he gained three years of industrial experience in India’s largest dairy cooperative “AMUL” before joining as a scientist at his alma mater in 2018. He feels that pursuing his Ph.D. from FSU will hone his academic and research skills in the field of nutrition and food science, which will be helpful for his career progression in future.

Saurabh enjoys spending time with his loved ones, listening to music, and watching movies in his spare time.

Leila Khalili

Nutrition and Food Science

Leila’s Vita

Leila Khalili
  • Nutrition and chronic diseases (metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases)
  • Functional foods
  • Complementary and alternative medicine

I am a doctoral student studying nutrition and food science under the mentorship of Dr. Gloria Salazar. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nutrition Sciences and Master of Science in Health Sciences in Nutrition both from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences. My main research area includes studying the role of nutrition in chronic disease management.

Family is the most priority in my life and I like to spend most of my time with my family. In addition, traveling is very enjoyable for me. In sports, I am very interested in cycling and swimming. In art, I am interested in music, singing and dancing.

Grant Laskin

Exercise Physiology

Grant Laskin headshot
  • Cellular / molecular regulation of skeletal muscle mass
  • Resistance training and nutrition intervention as nonpharmacological treatment for populations at risk of muscle atrophy (elderly, cancer, neuromuscular disease)
  • Human performance optimization in athletic populations

Grant received his BS and MS in Exercise Physiology at Southern Connecticut State University, where his major focus was athletic optimization and the study of specific neuromuscular contributions to exercise performance. Grant has dual interests in high performance populations and mitigation of atrophic and neurogenerative disease. He is passionate about translational research and enjoys recruiting both applied models with human subjects and more basic animal / cell culture models to investigate the changes from exercise and nutrition intervention at both functional and molecular levels.

In his free time, Grant enjoys lifting weights, enjoying the outdoors, cooking and trying new cuisine, meditating, and spending time with his loved ones. His philosophy is that to “keep the gifts you have, you must be willing to share them with others,” thus encouraging an attitude of service and compassion with people in his life.

Joe Laudato

Exercise Physiology

Joe’s Vita

Joe Laudato
  • Ethanol-induced degradation of skeletal muscle 
  • Relationship between cancer cachexia and diet 
  • Skeletal muscle preservation in a diseased state

Joe is a doctoral student pursuing a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences under the guidance of Dr. Jennifer Steiner. He received his M.S. in Exercise Physiology at Kent State University under Dr. Adam Jajtner, where he investigated human performance and immunological responses to acute high-volume resistance exercise with ergogenic aids. During his time at FSU, he has shifted his research focus to the basic sciences in rodent models, observing the effects of alcohol consumption on skeletal muscle protein synthesis. Following his Ph.D he plans to continue his career in academia, and has an interest in the development of therapeutic modalities utilizing his research experience.

Is an identical twin to his brother Nick. Enjoys spending time in the weight room, at a pond fishing, or at home playing video games when not in lab.

Jake Martenson

Exercise Physiology

Jake’s Vita

Jake Martenson
  • Physiological responses to strength training and aerobic exercise
  • Strength training and aerobic exercise’s impact on cardiovascular health
  • Exercise interventions for special populations
  • Physiological implications of physical, mental, and environmental stressors

Matthew “Jake” Martenson is a 2nd-year doctoral student in Exercise Physiology.  After earning his BS in Biology at Mercer University, he went on to complete his MPH at Mercer University and his MS in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida.  Jake ultimately desires to obtain a faculty position at a research university or work for the Navy as a Research Physiologist.  With a background in public health, he possesses a broad interest in exercise physiology and it’s relevance to human health and performance.

Jake has a lifelong love of wildlife- especially reptiles and marine animals.  He volunteered at a reptile sanctuary for 4 years in Tampa, FL and worked hands-on with alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and large species of lizards.  Two years ago he traveled to a remote location in Mexico to swim with wild crocodiles.  He also loves snorkeling and scuba diving.

Cesar Meza

Exercise Physiology

Cesar’s Vita

  • Metabolic and cardiovascular pathophysiology of obesity and insulin resistance
  • Exercise as a therapeutic approach to mitigate cardiometabolic disease

Cesar is a doctoral student in the Exercise Physiology program working under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Hickner. Cesar earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Kinesiology at The University of Texas at El Paso, where he conducted clinical and biochemistry techniques to investigate the effects of exercise and diet interventions on peripheral insulin sensitivity and skeletal muscle metabolism. After completion of his Ph.D., Cesar plans to pursue post-doctoral training and a research career in academia to study the role of exercise on energy metabolism and insulin resistance.

Amy Mullins

Nutrition and Food Science

Amy’s Vita

Amy Mullins headshot
  • Amy Mullins Is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Nutrition, Food, and Exercise Sciences, at Florida State University, pursuing a degree in Nutrition Science under the direction of Dr. Bahram Arjmandi.  Amy has Bachelor’s degrees in Health Science Education (University of Florida) and Food and Nutrition (Florida State University), and a Master’s degree in Clinical Dietetics (Florida State University).  She is a Registered Dietitian and Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Educator with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cooperative Extension Service (UF/IFAS) where she develops and implements community programs focused on nutrition, chronic disease prevention, general health/wellness, and food safety.  Amy’s research focus is in the area of bioactive phytochemical components of plants and nutritional intervention for prevention and management of chronic inflammatory mechanisms.

Ian Gwoncheol Park

Nutrition and Food Science

Ian’s Vita

Ian Gwoncheol Park
  • The role of gut pathobiome signatures in host neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease
  • The interaction of gut microbiome with specific dietary constituents and pre/probiotics in context to host cardiometabolic and neurodegenerative health

Gwoncheol is a doctoral student in the Nutrition and Food Science Ph.D. Program under the supervision of Dr. Ravinder Nagpal. Gwoncheol graduated with his B.S. in Food Science and Technology in 2018 and M.S. in Food Science and Biotechnology in 2020 from Sejong University, Korea. He is eager to find out more about the underlying mechanisms that induce changes in the gut microbiota and the consequences of microbial changes. He wants to suggest therapeutic strategies through the modulation of gut microbiota for various diseases. Following his Ph.D., he will continue to grow his research network, adroitly utilize various tools that can modulate the gut microbiome and attain a comprehensive understanding of modulation through a postdoctoral research position.

Gwoncheol has traveled to more than 20 countries on four continents in the past five years. He enjoys experiencing various forms of life and cultural diversity. In his spare time, Gwoncheol loves exploring nice places and new cafés in Tallahassee and enjoys plays and classical performances.

Saiful Anuar Bin Singar

Nutrition and Food Science

Saiful Singar headshot
  • The effects of functional food and phytonutrients on cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and cognitive health and function
  • The effects of sports nutrition and supplementation on sports performance, recovery and body composition
Saiful is a doctoral student studying nutrition science under the mentorship of Dr. Bahram Arjmandi. Saiful earned his Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences and Master of Science in Human Nutrition from Pennsylvania State University and University of Delaware, respectively. Saiful has a passion for nutrition and teaching, and he aspires to build a career within academia, hoping to make an impact on nutrition research and educate students on nutrition science and diet.

Saiful is an international student from Malaysia. In 2015, Saiful received a scholarship from a Malaysian government agency (Majlis Amanah Rakyat) to pursue his undergraduate degree in the US. In his spare time, Saiful enjoys spending time with his friends, trying out new restaurants, working out at the gym, and running.

Chunya Tang

Nutrition and Food Science

Chunya Tang headshot
  • Food safety and quality
  • Protein immunochemistry
  • Protein functionality

Chunya is a doctoral student in Nutrition and Food Science under the supervision of Dr. Qinchun Rao. She graduated from Jiangnan University in 2019 and earned her master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science in 2021 from Florida State University. In her master’s project, Chunya focused on plant protein functionality. Chunya’s career goal is to become a faculty at a research university and assist students in developing their potential future.

Chunya enjoys listening to music, boating, traveling, and cooking in her spare time. She has practiced the violin for 20 years and this will be her lifelong love.

Abigail Tice

Exercise Physiology

Abby Tice
  • Physiology of skeletal muscle
  • Chronic diseases and chronic stress
  • Environmental science

Abigail came to FSU from West Virginia University, with a masters degree in Exercise Physiology to work with Dr. Jennifer Steiner. She completed her masters degree on the Effects of Obesity, Chronic Stress, and Exercise on Pancreatic Health and will be working with skeletal muscle and acute and chronic alcohol while at FSU.

Abby is a weightlifter and enjoys anything that involves the outdoors. She loves all dogs and enjoys photography.

Yaqi Zhao

Nutrition and Food Science

Yaqi Zhao headshot
  • Food allergen detection
  • Protein immunochemistry
  • Food safety and quality

Yaqi is a doctoral student in Nutrition and Food Science program under the guidance of Dr. Qinchun Rao. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Food Quality and Safety at Jinan University (China) in 2019, she completed her master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science at Florida State University in 2021. Yaqi worked on the development of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the detection of finfish tropomyosin for her master’s project, which has the potential to fight seafood fraud and improve food safety. She desires to continue her research career in academia.

Yaqi enjoys spending time with family and friends. In her spare time, she loves reading, listening to music, and watching movies. She also likes playing the keyboard and guitar.

Xiangyu Zheng

Exercise Physiology

Xiangyu Zheng headshot
  • Exercise physiology
  • Acute response and chronic adaptation of the cardiovascular system to resistance training
  • Personalized exercise prescriptions through genetic research tools
  • Blood flow restriction training
  • Microgravity training
Xiangyu did his undergraduate study at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering. Then, he went to George Washington University for one semester in Environmental Engineering. After that, he changed his major and did his Master of Science degree in Applied Exercise Physiology at Springfield College, MA.

Tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. Hope, does not disappoint us.