Lab Group

Graduate Students
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 Pereira is a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta, under the supervision of Drs. Carla Prado and Linda McCargar. She completed both her Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Human Nutrition and a Dietetic internship program in Brazil. Leticia worked as a clinical dietitian prior to pursuing her Master’s degree in Human Nutrition at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil. During her undergraduate and graduate studies, she held various research and teaching assistantships, and has disseminated her research findings through presentations at local, national, and international conferences. Highlighting Leticia’s academic excellence and leadership, she is a Vanier scholar. Her PhD research program is focused on the investigation of energy metabolism and determinants of body weight and composition of postpartum women. In her spare time, Leticia loves to spend time with her family. Leticia’s daughter, Helena, is her greatest blessing and biggest achievement.

Camila Oliveira
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 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.

Anissa Armet

Anissa is a first-year PhD student supervised by Drs. Prado and Jens Walter. She recently received her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Sciences with distinction, and completed a year-long Integrated Dietetic Internship, both from the University of Alberta. Anissa discovered her passion for research during her experiences working and volunteering for different nutrition studies in her undergraduate degree. She has worked as a consulting dietitian for participants enrolled in a large clinical trial, educating and counselling them on how to improve their diet and lifestyle. Anissa has also been the recipient of numerous scholarships due to her extensive volunteering and academic excellence at the University of Alberta. Her current research focuses on modulating the gut microbiome using nutrition interventions, especially by increasing dietary fibre intake, to benefit health. In her spare time, Anissa loves to cook, go on hikes, travel, and spend time with family and friends.

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.
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.

Research Assistants

Reena Duke

Sherin Fernandes 

Felicia Sim


Jingjie Xiao

Jingjie Xiao is currently a Postdoc 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.

Research Intern 
Gabriela Oto

Gabriela is currently a 3rd-year undergraduate student studying Human Nutrition in the University College Dublin in Ireland. Upon commencing her undergraduate degree, she was awarded an entrance scholar award based on her academic accomplishment. As part of her undergraduate degree, she is currently completing a 10-month research internship at the University of Alberta in Dr. Prado’s lab. As a research assistant intern, she is working on a number of various ongoing studies in the research unit by preparing diets in the kitchen, entering food entries into a diet analysis software system and working in the Whole-Body Calorimetry Unit (WBCU). She also gets the opportunity to shadow other members of the research unit during participant visits and nutrition consults. Gabriela has been working on a new study looking at the influence of caffeine consumption on Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA) derived parameters. She is really enjoying her time working and learning new things at the research unit. Apart from learning, Gabriela loves to go on hikes, do yoga, play badminton and spend time with family and friends.

Visiting International Students
Yuzho Mao

Yuzhu Mao is a 3rd-year undergraduate student studying food science and engineering in the South China University of Technology in China. Yuzhu has been successful in obtaining many scholarships and awards for her academic excellence and leadership. She also participates in the National Undergraduate Training Program for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as a team leader. She is currently completing a 3-month research internship at the University of Alberta in Dr. Prado's lab. As a visiting undergraduate student, her research is about the impact of a higher protein diet on metabolism and gut microbiota. Apart from learning, Yuzhu loves to go on hikes, travel and spending time with family and friends.

Guilin Chen

Guilin Chen is an undergraduate student of West China Hospital/Medical School. He is a research coordinator from the Republic of China, Sichuan University. He has been studying the mechanism of obesity and diabetes in West China Hospital and he has been the leader of a student scientific group and is equipped with good leadership skills. Guilin has earned a lot of scholarships from Sichuan University and China Scholarship Council. He will later finish his graduate and doctor’s degree in West China Hospital/Medical School, Sichuan University.
As a Research Intern in Dr. Prado’s Lab, Guilin is currently mainly involved in the metabolism of obesity and the microbiota. And in the daily life, he likes cooking and reading.

HYRS Research Intern 
Alia Temple

I am going into grade 12 at J.H. Picard this year, I have had an interest in science and math for many years and I am planning on attending the University of Alberta once I graduate. I am from Canada and have lived in Edmonton my whole life. I am fluent in french and english. I will be working in Dr. Prado's lab for a 6 week internship though the HYRS Summer Research Program. I love to play soccer, and I have played competitively for many years, I'm very excited to be officially signing with Pandas Soccer at the University of Alberta this fall. I also enjoy reading, running, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.