Lab Group

Graduate Students
Jingjie Xiao

Jingjie Xiao is currently a PhD student at Dr. Prado’s lab. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Quality and Safety in her home country of China. Afterwards, she pursued her Master of Science degree in Nutrition Science at Florida State University in the USA. She has acquired substantial experience in research during her graduate studies. As a PhD student, she also mentors undergraduate students and Master’s students on research techniques. Likewise, she have mentored and trained health professionals with computerized tomography imaging method for body composition assessment throughout the world (National Institute of Cancer in Brazil, Catholic University of Pelotas in Brazil, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in USA, Philipps-Universität Marburg in Germany). Her research interests involve but not limited to nutritional status assessment, weight change and body composition change in clinical population, particularly cancer patients. Besides doing research and teaching, she spends time on traveling, reading, swimming, cooking western and traditional Chinese food with friends, and talking with friends from all over the world. Jingjie is also a runner and has accomplished her first full marathon at Banff National Park in 2017.

Sarah Purcell

Sarah is currently a fourth-year PhD candidate of Dr. Prado's at the University of Alberta. She completed her Honors Bachelors of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at Florida State University, where she also received numerous scholarships from the state of Florida and the university. After graduation, she continued on and received her Masters of Science in Clinical Nutrition at the same university, where she studied body composition, dietary intake, and functional status of patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis. Shortly thereafter, Sarah moved to Edmonton to complete her PhD in Nutrition and Metabolism. During her graduate studies, she has held and continues to hold various research and teaching assistantships, has presented many scientific posters, and is also involved in leadership roles in various student organizations. Her research interests include assessing the relationships between energy balance and body composition and the consequential impact on outcomes in cancer patients. In her spare time, Sarah loves to do anything that involves swimming, biking, or running and has completed dozens of races ranging in length from 5ks to marathons and half-ironman triathlons.

Leticia Pereira 

Leticia completed a nutrition degree and internship in Brazil. During her undergraduate she received two scholarships, and her outstanding academic performance was recognized by an honors degree. Leticia worked for four years as a consulting dietitian, establishing her professional credentials and increasing her experience and competence in the field. In 2012, she obtained a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil. During her Master’s she received a prestigious Federal scholarship for two consecutive years.
After that, she moved to Canada to continue her career in academia as a PhD student at the University of Alberta. She has received four distinct awards and two scholarships. Leticia Pereira's research will further advance our understanding of energy metabolism among contemporary postpartum women, and will increase our knowledge of factors contributing to postpartum weight retention. Her research uses state-of-the-art equipment (the whole-body calorimetry unit) that precisely measures energy expenditure. Strategies aimed at the prevention and mitigation of obesity and related chronic diseases will have vast ramifications for improving the quality of life for people, and ultimately, address the growing financial burden of obesity.

Camila Pinto
Camila completed a nutrition degree and internship in Brazil. She is also a registered dietitian in her home country. Since her undergraduation she is passionate about nutrition and exercise, which conducted her to specialize in Nutrition Applied to Physical Exercise in Sao Paulo University. In 2015, she received her Masters of Science in Nutrition and Health at the Federal University of Goias, where she studied the effect of nutritional supplementation and physical exercise in the elderly and received a State scholarship for two consecutive years. Following her passion, Camila is currently a third year PhD student in Nutrition and Metabolism at Dr. Prado’s lab. Her research aims to evaluate the effect of a high-protein diet on energy metabolism, appetite sensations and metabolic blood markers in healthy women. Besides that, Camila loves animals, parties, spending time with her family and friends, travelling, eating and playing sports.

Maha Alsaif

Maha Alsaif is a PhD student working with both Drs. Prado and Andrea Haqq at the University of Alberta. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics Internship at (Al-Iman General Hospital) in Saudi Arabia. Based on the success she achieved throughout her training period at Al-Iman General Hospital, she was offered a job by the Hospital where she worked as a Dietitian. She later moved to Canada to pursue her Master of Science degree in Human Nutritional Sciences at the University of Manitoba where she received the International Graduate Student Entrance Scholarship from the Faculty of Graduate Studies. She is also received an Academic Excellence awards from the King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. Due to her academic and professional excellence, she was granted a full funded scholarship from the Government of Saudi Arabia so, that she could continue her M.Sc and eventual PhD degrees. Her research aims are to understand the excessive weight gain in children with Prader-Willi-Syndrome. Besides studying, she loves traveling, listening to great music, skating and spending time with family and friends.

Katherine Ford

Katherine is currently a PhD student in Dr. Prado’s Lab. She obtained both her Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Foods and Nutrition and her Dietetic Internship from the University of Prince Edward Island. Katherine then worked as a Registered Dietitian in clinical and community nutrition before pursuing her Master of Science degree at the University of Saskatchewan. Throughout her undergraduate- and graduate-level research, Katherine has been successful in obtaining many scholarships and awards for her academic excellence and leadership. She has presented her work at academic conferences, published her findings, and enjoys guest lecturing on various nutrition-related topics. She has a passion for teaching and mentoring aspiring health care professionals. Katherine’s research interests include nutritional assessment and body composition in adults with chronic disease. Outside of academia, Katherine enjoys hiking and travelling the world. She has always been enthralled with flying and holds a pilot licence and seaplane rating.

Camila Orsso

Camila Orsso is a M.Sc student of both Drs. Prado and Andrea Haqq at the University of Alberta. She completed a B.Sc in Physical Education at the Federal University of Technology – Paraná, Brazil. Her passion for research started in her first year of university, in which she helped to conduct studies about body composition, obesity, osteoporosis, and performance in sports. Later on her undergraduate program, she received a federal scholarship to study and work as a research intern in Canada. Once in Edmonton, she worked for Drs. Prado and Haqq, and learned different techniques of body composition assessment such as magnetic resonance imaging and air displacement plethysmography. Her main research aim was to analyze the body composition of children with Prader-Willi Syndrome. Previously to apply for a M.Sc program, she was a researcher volunteer at the University of Toronto, where she improved her knowledge in measuring muscle mass and strength. Now she is back in Edmonton for her Master’s degree, and her current research aims to investigate the metabolic and functional outcomes associated with the low muscle and high adiposity phenotype in children. In her spare time, Camila loves to have coffee with friends, stay with her family, and play sports.

Mayra Viera

Mayra Viera is a MSc student of Dr. Prado at the University of Alberta. She completed a BSc in Nutrition at the University of Guanajuato – Guanajuato, Mexico. She is a Registered Dietitian back home. During her college studies she worked as a trainee nutritionist at her hometown’s General Hospital, in the Nutrition and Dietetics department, where she developed her passion for Clinical Nutrition and Nutritional Assessment. Later on she completed a dietetics internship at the Mexican Social Security Institute focused on Nutritional Counselling for adult and pediatric patients diagnosed with chronic non-transmissible diseases and malnutrition. She also developed workshops for patient support groups about Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.
After graduating she discovered her passion for teaching and started working as a University Professor for Undergraduate Nutrition Studies at the University Institute of Central Mexico, where she was able to train and supervise students at the Mexican Institute of Social Security for State Workers while they were doing their clinical internship. While she was teaching she also developed her Private Practice focused in Nutritional assessment for weight control, and diet therapy for non-transmissible chronic diseases. She is also a certified English teacher. In 2017 she won an OAS Scholarship to study an Advanced Certification in English Language Teaching (ACE) at the American English Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Oregon.
For her Master’s degree, her current research aims to investigate the effectiveness and impact that specialized online tools can have over lifestyle, health status and dietetic choices of young individuals. In her free time, Mayra loves to cook, hike and spend time with family and friends.  

Research Coordinator
Claire Trottier 
Claire has a B. Sc. in Biological Sciences with a minor in Nutrition from the University of Alberta and graduated in 2014. She has previous experience in the field of research which started as volunteer work during her undergraduate degree preforming data entry for a study that was investigating maternal diet and nutrient intake during pregnancy. She later went on to work on a Canada wide study which aimed to identity the key factors that influence food and fluid intake of older adults living in long-term care facilities. Her background in science and thirst for knowledge has only reinforced her interest in working in the field of research.
As a Research Coordinator in Dr. Prado’s Lab, Claire is currently providing support for various research projects that are investigating energy expenditure and body composition in cancer.
In her spare time, Claire loves to do outdoor activities such as running and camping and swimming in the icey cold waters of Jasper National Park.

Visiting MSc Student
Jenneffer Braga

Jenneffer is a M.Sc student passionate about nutrition. She completed a nutrition degree and
internship in Brazil and since 2016 has been working as a registered dietitian in her home country. Jenneffer received her bachelor degree at Federal University of Minas Gerais, where she studied the effect of ginger extract in the energy metabolism of women. As part of her Master’s she treats overweight patients under an extension project at the university hospital. Her currently research aims to analyze the effect of fasting over metabolic and inflammatory parameters in lean and obese people. Furthermore, she collaborates in other projects with themes such as nutritional interventions for weight loss and the role of bioactive compounds over energy metabolism and occurrence of migraines. In 2017 she was successful in receiving a scholarship provided by the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada (Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program) and will work for six months as a research assistant at University of Alberta under Dr. Prado’s supervision. In her free time, Jenneffer loves spending time with friends, listening to great music, crocheting, eating, exploring new places and cooking. She is very happy and honored to be joining Dr. Prado’s team and thankful for the opportunity of cultural immersion and English improvement.

Undergraduate Student Researchers

Rebecca Fox
Rebecca is currently a fourth- year undergraduate student at the University of Alberta majoring in nutrition. Rebecca has been involved in research since her first year of undergraduate studies, and has worked for the past three summers with the Clinical Care Research and Quality Assurance Group at the Royal Alexandra Hospital studying various aspects of traumatic spinal cord injury patient care. This initial exposure to health science research led her to develop a keen interest in pursuing a more dedicated involvement in research by enrolling in the honors nutrition program.
Throughout her studies, Rebecca has received a number of academic scholarships, and has presented her summer research at both University based and national scientific conferences. In addition, she has been actively involved in both student and community based organizations, focusing mainly on nutrition education.
Currently, she is working on a research project in Dr. Prado’s lab evaluating the impact of a high protein diet on energy metabolism during the peri -exercise period. She looks forward to gaining further experience working in an academic research setting, and hopes to continue to pursue nutrition based research as part of her future career. In her spare time, Rebecca enjoys travelling, practicing yoga, and cooking.

Victoria Lovsin

Victoria is currently in her fourth year of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Alberta. She will be applying into the dietetic internship this spring. As a dietitian, Victoria aspires to work with athletes and active individuals, of all ages. Victoria is passionate about the nutritional aspect of physical activity. 
Victoria is working on research in Dr. Prado’s lab, focusing on body composition and its affect on resting energy expenditure in cancer. She hopes to gain professional research experience, which will be useful in her future career. Additionally, she is volunteering under Dr. Mager, who has a project looking at non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in children. In her spare time, Victoria enjoys cooking, travelling, and photography.