Carly Robertson is a third-year undergraduate nutrition major at Oregon State University who joined our research group in January. Her interest in research and furthering her education outside the classroom drove her to apply for the Undergraduate Research Awards Program scholarship. The scholarship supports students in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences gain research experience outside of the classroom. Carly wants to make an impact on the community by helping infants and children receive the healthy start they deserve through nutrition research and interventions.
In the lab, Carly is determining the effects of human milk enzymes in infant digestion. Human milk contains a wide and complex array of enzymes. Our group previously showed that a class of these enzymes, proteases, begins to break down milk proteins in the mammary gland, releasing thousands of unique protein fragments that may have functional effects. However, the role of these enzymes in infant health remains completely unknown. Carly is testing a hypothesis that these proteases assist in the digestion of milk proteins within the infant. Specifically, she is surveying the literature, assembling extraction and analytical protocols, and performing enzyme extractions, protease assays and enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). This work will help determine how milk’s native proteases affect infant digestive health. Carly will be presenting this research, alongside her undergraduate research colleagues, at the Oregon State University Celebration of Excellence in mid-May 2016.
Carly plans to continue working with the Dallas Lab through her senior year at OSU. After graduation, she wants to become a registered dietitian and work in clinical dietetics. She also plans to pursue a graduate degree and carry out community nutrition research to develop programs and products that increase diet quality in populations that suffer from food insecurity.
We are so thrilled to have Carly in the lab!