Nutrition Research

Do you have an inquiring mind?  Do you like to understand the how and the why of an issue?  Do you enjoy investigating an issue in-depth and work well independently as well as in small research groups?  Then consider enrolling in the HNU honours (or advanced major) programs! We are always looking for curious, hard-working, motivated students who are eager to challenge themselves and learn new things.


Getting started in Research


One of the advantages of attending a small, primarily undergraduate university is that students can obtain faculty mentorship and research training in as early as the sophomore year. This early exposure can lead to summer work as a research assistant, undergraduate research awards, an exciting and challenging honours project, as well as prepare students for entry to graduate programs.


HNU Faculty have expertise in diverse areas of human nutrition including, but not limited to, health education and practice, population and public health, chronic disease prevention and management, sports nutrition, Indigenous culture and nutrition curricula, nutrition and health messaging in the media, food and health literacy, healthy aging, global health, investigating the functional and health properties of food, nutritional science, and food product development.  For more information please see the individual Faculty pages on our website.  Research projects may incorporate a variety of quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, and/or community-based participatory action research.


PHOTO: 2015-16 HNU Honours students with Faculty Advisors and Committee Members 


Students will begin learning about the role of research in the field of nutrition early in the program.  However, there are many other opportunities to get involved, as described below.


First and Second Year Students


-Attend the Seminar on Faculty Research Interests every February (F block; TBA) to learn about current faculty research interests and potential student projects.

-Attend the current HNU Honours and Advanced Major student seminars in November and March (F block; TBA) to hear about the exciting research conducted by your peers.

-Attend Student Research Day (Thursday, March 29, 2018) in the KMC conference rooms and chat with current student researchers about their projects and the methods used.

-Attend your in-class academic advising session (HNU 235, 262, or 365)

-Submit your honours (or advanced major) declaration form to the HNU Chair by March 30, 2018.


Third Year Students

-Enroll in the research courses: HNU 385 and HNU497b

-Attend your in-class HNU faculty research session (HNU 385) to learn more about potential topics and honours research funding opportunities

-October - Meet with individual faculty to discuss potential projects and upcoming funding applications

-January – internal deadline for NSHRF Scotia Scholar Award [] – deadline date TBA

-February – internal deadlines for NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards & StFX Irving Research Internships [] – deadline date TBA

-February - Attend HNU Faculty Research Seminar to learn about current research interests and potential projects (F block; TBA)

-Early March– Academic advising period begins

-March 15 – deadline for students to select a faculty advisor

-March 31 – deadline for faculty members to convey to the Department Chair their agreement to supervise honours projects.

-Last day of exams (April 2018) – deadline for holding preliminary discussions with thesis advisor about broad area of thesis topic.


Success stories

Many HNU Honours graduates and senior students have presented and published their undergraduate research, in collaboration with their faculty advisors. Graduates have gone on to complete advanced studies (Masters, PhD) in fields such as human nutrition, food science, nutritional sciences and nutrigenomics, social sciences, public health and dietetics.


Publications & knowledge translation documents: 

Sarah Ngunangwa, BSc 2016, Doris Gillis, PhD, Christine Johnson, Dianne Oickle. Practice Perspectives: Barriers and Enablers to Addressing Health Equity in Public Health Practice. A Briefing Note. Available at:


Wood, Jennifer BSc, 2013; Gillis, Doris E, PhD. Exploring Dietitians' Engagement with Health Literacy: Concept and Practice. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF DIETETIC PRACTICE AND RESEARCH  2015; 76(2): 51-55.  Available at:


Dietitians of Canada. Hemochromatosis/Haemochromatosis Background. In: PEN: Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition ®. March-22-2015. Available from: Access only by subscription. AuthorJamieson, JA, PhD. Student contributors: Barry A, Cleveland T, DeCoste S, Lee J, MacDonald AT, Stanford K, Negus K, Ramsay M, Reeves R, Woodrow B, BSc 2015



Williams, Brock, BSc 2010 and MJ Patricia Mazier. University students’ knowledge, perceptions and consumption of whole grains. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF DIETETIC PRACTICE AND RESEARCH 2013; 74(2):92-5. Available at:


A Newspaper Content Analysis of HIV/AIDS and Food Insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Jennifer L. MacPherson, BSc 2007  & Laurie A. Wadsworth, PhD. RISKS HAZARDS & CRISIS IN PUBLIC POLICY 2011; 2(3): 1-18. Available at:


Gammon, K, BSc 2012. & Gillis D, PhD.  Learning for Health: Health Literacy Embedded Learning Demonstration. Scan of Literature for Health Determinants and Global Initiatives Division Public Health Agency of Canada. (July 28, 2010).  


Emrich Teri E, BSc 2007 and MJ Patricia Mazier, PhD. Fat Consumption in University Science Students: The Impact of Nutrition Education. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF DIETETIC PRACTICE AND RESEARCH 2009;70: 187-192. Available at:


Mazier MJ Patricia, PhD and Sheena L. McLeod, BSc 2005. University Science Students’ Knowledge of Fats. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF DIETETIC PRACTICE AND RESEARCH 2007; 68: 154-159. Available at:



Conference Presentations:


Jamieson, JA, PhD, Mawhinney, H, BSc, 2014, Aucoin, EJ, BSc 2015 (HKIN), Kane, DA, PhD “Adequacy of vitamin B6 and effects  of supplementation on high-intensity exercise performance in collegiate distance runners: a pilot study”. Poster presentation at Canadian Nutrition Society Annual Meeting, May 25-27, 2017, Montreal, QC.


Morgan R, BSc 2014 Gougeon L, PhD. “Perceptions of Dietary Resilience among Older Community- Dwelling and Long Term Care Residents”. Mount Saint Vincent University’s Nova Scotia Centre on Aging. “Our Future is Aging: Current Research on Knowledge, Practice and Policy.” June 16-17, 2016, Halifax, Nova Scotia.


Gillis, D.E., PhD, Johnson, C, MSc,  Ngunangwa, S., BSc 2015, Stothart, C, BSc 2011. & Williams, P.  “Knowledge Mobilization and Participatory Action Research: A Journey to Make Food Matter”. Poster presentation at the Critical Dietetic Conference, Manchester, UK, August 15, 2015.


Stanford, KS, BSc 2014 & Jamieson JA, PhD. "Iron and carbohydrate inadequacy in varsity cross-country female runners despite an energy- balanced diet". Poster presentation at Canadian Nutrition Society Annual Meeting. St. John’s, Newfoundland, June 5-7, 2014.


Wood, J. BSc, 2013 & Gillis, D., PhD. “Exploring dietitians’ engagement with the concept of health literacy”. Poster presentation at the Critical Dietetic Conference, Acadia University, August 15-17, 2013.


Weir M, BSc 2015, Garbary D, PhD Naczk M, PhD Jamieson J, PhD.  "Exploring the functional food potential of local seaweed species”.  Maritime Natural Products Conference and Academic-Industry Connector. Antigonish, NS, August 13-14, 2013.


Glenn Andrea F, BSc 2010 and MJ Patricia Mazier, PhD. The relationship between calcium intake, body fat, and resting metabolic rate in students attending St. Francis Xavier University.  Appl. Physiol Nutr Metab 2011; 36(3): 452.  Presented at the 2nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Canadian Nutrition Society, Guelph, Ontario.



Publications acknowledging undergraduate HNU Student Research:


Jamieson JA, Gougeon L (2017) Gluten-free foods in rural Maritime Provinces: limited availability, high price, and low iron content. Cdn J Diet Pract Res. Published on the web 11 August 2017, Special thanks to Research Assistants: Mary Weir, BSc 2015 Ashley Doucette-Tamane, BSc 2015, Taylor Nicholson, BSc 2014 and Sarah Watters, BSc 2016.




For more information on Canadian graduate programs in Nutrition and Dietetics please click on the following links:

Canadian Nutrition Society - Education Programs


StFX Student Career Services



For more information on Graduate School Funding Opportunities please click on the following links:  


Canadian Institute of Health (CIHR) Training Programs

Social Science and Humanities Research Council Funding

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada - Students

Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation Scotia Scholars Awards