The Junior Nutrition major works as a research student for the Nutrigenomics, Inflammation, and Obesity Research Lab
Brennan Mabry, a junior Nutrition major and Texas Tech Honors College student, was selected as one of the 2020 recipients of the Student Academic Leadership Award.
“This award is a huge achievement,” Brennan said. “I was so honored to be nominated by someone that I look up to. Dr. Naima Moustaid-Moussa has been an incredible mentor who has allowed me to grow my knowledge of the world outside of the classroom. I have been extremely fortunate to research under her supervision. With that being said, it was incredible to receive a nomination from her and then to go on and be selected as the award winner. The experience is something that I cannot put into words. I am extraordinarily blessed and thankful for the honor.”
Her freshman year, Brennan took an Honors first-year experience course taught by Naima Moustaid-Moussa, Ph.D. about nutrition and diseases related to nutrition. Throughout the course, Brennan became very interested in nutrition and approached Dr. Moustaid-Moussa about beginning to research in her lab.
“I eventually decided to change my major from Human Sciences to Nutrition,” Brennan said. “The link between nutrition and diseases is extremely fascinating to me. By pursuing a degree in Nutrition, I have been able to expand my interests and explore new horizons.”
Brennan has been able to study under Dr. Moustaid-Moussa, working for the Nutrigenomics, Inflammation, and Obesity Research (NIOR) lab. In her research, Brennan studies the effects of vitamin D and fish oil and how it can potentially reduce inflammation and other effects related to obesity. Brennan has had the opportunity to travel to national conferences in Georgia and Virginia to present her research findings and receive invaluable training.
“I recognize what a unique opportunity I have at Texas Tech, specifically in the Nutritional Sciences department,” Brennan said. “The department has offered me many outlets to grow and gain new experiences.”
Dr. Moustaid-Moussa, director of the NIOR lab, speaks highly of Brennan and her involvement with the research.
“In addition to Brennan's active involvement in undergraduate research as a Nutritional Sciences Honors Undergraduate Research Scholar, she has also been an active member and leader in numerous organizations on and off-campus throughout her time as an undergraduate,” Dr. Moustaid-Moussa said. “She has taken on leadership roles and continued involvement in the community through service. Brennan has demonstrated leadership, determination, and compassion throughout her time at Texas Tech, and that is why I nominated her for this Leadership award. She exemplifies the integrated and engaged scholar and leader.”
Brennan is a member of the Alpha Phi Sorority, the Texas Tech Panhellenic council, the Junior Panhellenic Council, and the Bernhard Harris Society. Brennan has been extremely involved in student organizations and is currently serving as the Vice President of Risk Management for Alpha Phi.
“Brennan has made excellent progress in research and has quickly learned several cell and molecular biology techniques, how to run experiments, analyze data, and has presented her research to others not only in lab meetings but in research conferences as well,” Dr. Moustaid-Moussa said. “Brennan is a highly dedicated student. She regularly attends her weekly meetings with her co-mentors, reads the research literature related to her project, and prepares excellent progress reports and research presentations. It has been a privilege working with such a bright and dedicated student as Brennan.”
Brennan has received many accolades throughout her time as a research student, including; presenting her work at the Texas Tech Undergraduate Research Conference and the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in 2019, for which she was awarded travel funding. Her research has been funded in part by an Undergraduate Research Experience Grant from the College of Human Sciences.
Brennan's mother, Shawn Mabry, describes Brennan's time with the College of Human Sciences as an incredible experience.
“Ever since the first time we stepped into the Honors College reception hosted by Texas Tech, Brennan's journey has been amazing,” Shawn said. “We were walking down the hall heading towards the reception and stopped to take pictures near a Texas Tech banner when a kind gentleman walked up and began visiting with us and inquiring about Brennan's plans for the future. Towards the end of the conversation, he introduced himself. And yes, it was Dr. Lawrence Schovanec. We were completely blown away that he would stop and take time to visit with a prospective student and show genuine interest. After meeting Dr. Schovanec, I realized that the same care and interest he showed during that first meeting is the atmosphere that Texas Tech has shown throughout Brennan's time at Texas Tech whether it has been with her professors in the lab where she works, professors in various classes, her advisors, or other campus personnel.”
After graduation, Brennan plans to integrate nutritional sciences into a career in medicine.
“I have always been interested in helping others and making a lasting impact,” Brennan said. “I would love to carry my knowledge of nutrition into the medical field because I recognize that without a solid nutritional foundation, patient wellbeing cannot be fully looked after. Specifically, I have always been interested in oncology. I have had the amazing opportunity to grow up on the Texas Lions Camp. This non-profit organization caters to children with physical disabilities, cancer, and type I diabetes, offering them a camp environment that encourages the ‘can do' philosophy. Because of my experience at the camp, I have a passion for serving others. I would love to give back to a community that means so much to me, and that has shaped who I am today.”