MTSU students, professor, alumna capture honors in dietetics field

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Dr. Lisa Sheehan-Smith, a registered dietician and professor in the MTSU Department of Human Sciences, center, shows her award for Outstanding Dietetics Educator from the Nashville Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Sheehan-Smith is flanked by Haley Overby, left, winner of the NAND Student Scholarship, and Ashley Vairin, winner of the NAND Outstanding Dietetics Student Award. The honors were presented Feb. 10 in Nashville. (Photo submitted by Dr. Lisa Sheehan-Smith)

Two MTSU students, a professor and an alumnus recently captured top honors based on their proficiency in the dietetics field.

Ashley Vairin, a senior from Nashville, Tennessee, won the Outstanding Dietetics Student Award and Haley Overby, a senior from Smyrna, Tennessee, won the Student Scholarship at the Nashville Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spring meeting Feb. 10 at Maggiano's Restaurant in Nashville.

Vairin's award was based on a unanimous endorsement by all faculty in MTSU's Nutrition and Food Sciences program in a letter of recommendation.


To win the scholarship, Overby met the requirements of a minimum grade-point average of 3.0, a letter of recommendation from faculty and a personal letter discussing her leadership, academic record and reasons why she should receive the stipend.

Dr. Lisa Sheehan-Smith, a registered dietician and professor in the MTSU Department of Human Sciences, was honored with the Outstanding Dietetics Educator Award.


"I think the award, which was based upon a nomination and then selection by a committee of my peers, recognizes my desire to not only provide the necessary education our dietetic students need for their future careers, but also to go beyond the educational process by supporting and mentoring current students and program graduates," said Sheehan-Smith.

Trish Marzella Mathisen, a Nashville-based MTSU alumna, received the Iris Award for her work in nutrition and support of registered dieticians.

Mathisen is the creator of, a culinary nutrition education platform ... connecting nutrition to local and seasonal eating," according to the website.

"Since starting my own business in 2012, I have worked to connect consumers to applicable nutrition information by emphasizing procurement of and cooking local food," Mathisen said. "Receiving this award from the Nashville Academy of Nutrition in Dietetics is an incredible endorsement of the work I have done."

The criteria for the Iris Award winner is to either promote the advancement of nutrition in Tennessee in one or more of the following ways: through scientific knowledge or technical skills; by demonstrating goodwill through notable service in furthering the advancement of dietetics; by furthering the cultural growth of dietetics; or by contributing to the public awareness of dietetics.

The Nashville Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics "is an advocate for Nashville dieticians and the dietetic profession" that serves the public "through the promotion of optimal nutrition, health and well-being," according to the group's website,

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