Undergraduate Research and Creativity Alumni Profiles 

Alexander Ford, B.S. '12

D.O. Student, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Major(s): Dietetics 

What research or work have you done since graduating from Buffalo State?

During my clinical rotations in the dietetics program, I was inspired to further my education. From my experiences at clinical sites, I deduced that preventive medicine combined with nutrition education could provide an effective means of attenuating illnesses and empowering individuals. I enrolled at the University at Albany and completed the necessary coursework to apply to medical school after graduating from Buffalo State.

While preparing to apply to medical school, I worked as a dietitian at the Albany Damien Center (ADC), a local non-profit organization that works with community members living with HIV/AIDS. I was responsible for leading their Smart Meals Nutrition Program. I developed health education workshops and coordinated community activities for the ADC clients. I also reviewed medical data, provided dietary recommendations, and analyzed meal services.

While working at the ADC, I was offered the opportunity to work for the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) as a public health nutritionist in the Division of Nutrition. While at the NYSDOH, I was involved with the Women, Infants, and Children Program. I assisted in the implementation of the USDA Final Food Package Rule Phase One and Two. I also participated in the evaluation of foods for inclusion on the WIC Foods Card and the development and application of nutrition programming and materials within the New York State WIC Program.

In May of 2015, I left NYSDOH to matriculate at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). I am currently in my third year of medical school at PCOM with an interest in sports medicine. My objective is to merge my nutritional expertise with my medical education and provide individuals with the tools necessary to manage their own health and achieve autonomy.

Why did you decide to get involved in undergraduate research?

I applied to the Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship because I had an idea that I believed would add to existing research and be beneficial to consumers. Nutrition and physical activity are two ubiquitous topics within the media. I was confident that my research would further address these issues.

How did your undergraduate research experience influence your career path?

My passion for nutrition, in addition to my involvement in the Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship, inspired me to explore the food industry; specifically sports supplementation. I identified a scarcity of healthful sports supplements that were also reputable. Earlier this year, I founded Neotrition Brands LLC, a company devoted to providing quality nutritional supplements to health conscious consumers.

Describe the research you did and if you presented it at any professional conference, juried art exhibit, or other off-campus location.

I conducted a research study to determine if diluted fruit juice could serve as an adequate alternative for commercial sports beverages (i.e. Gatorade), during physical activity.

Ten participants were recruited for the study. I met with each participant individually and provided them with all the required materials. Participants were instructed to complete three individual exercise sessions in which they would consume water, Gatorade or diluted fruit juice. The participants evaluated the taste, tolerance, fullness and satisfaction of Gatorade, diluted fruit juice, and water during their sessions. They also recorded the results on an evaluation form. Each participant was provided a heart rate monitor and log form to track their heart rate, performance on a treadmill and perceived exertion while exercising.

While Gatorade was preferred only slightly in the taste category, in the categories of satisfaction and fullness, the diluted fruit juice scored higher and was tolerated significantly higher than Gatorade. The research study was published in August 2014 in the Journal of Food and Nutrition.

Undergraduate Research Mentor: Dr. Carol DeNysschen and Dr. Tejaswini Rao