TIG Governing Committee

Meet the members of the current TIG Governing Committee!

As fellow trainees at various stages, we are pleased to be your TIG governing committee officers. As a committee, we are dedicated to creating an environment where trainees can meet each other, take part in ISRHML sponsored events, and keep up on the latest opportunities available to us as TIGers. Our goal is to bridge communication between the TIGers and broader ISRHML committees in order to promote the activities of trainees worldwide and increase our visibility. Please reach out to us if you have questions or want to get more involved with TIG!

Without further ado, meet the current executive committee:

TIG Co-President, 2019-2021: Dr. Yimin Chen


Yimin, PhD, RD, is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She practiced as a nutrition support dietitian for 15 years specializing in surgery, gastrointestinal diseases, critical care, and neonatology when she realized her passion for mechanistic research. Yimin completed her Ph.D. (2017) at the University of Illinois at Chicago under the supervision of Dr. Fantuzzi. For her Ph.D., she investigated the modulating effects of human milk on pathophysiologic response in premature infants and intestinal epithelial cells. Yimin joined the Tappenden Lab after receiving her Ph.D. to expand her research skills by learning to use the neonatal piglet model as a clinically relevant model to assess the effects of intravenous nutrient infusions on intestinal growth, development, and disease prevention. She was also a visiting scholar in the Dallas Lab to obtain knowledge and skills in using MS for proteomics and peptidomics in digested colostrum samples to extend her human milk research. Yimin is currently working on analyzing the proteomics and peptidomics data with plans to discover bioactivities of peptides identified in the digested colostrum samples.


TIG Co-President, 2019-2021: Melissa Theurich


Melissa is a doctoral researcher in Human Biology based at the Munich Medical Research School in the Faculty of Medicine of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich in Germany (Advisor: Berthold Koletzko). Melissa received her Masters of Public Health from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich and her Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition from Virginia Tech in the United States. Her doctoral thesis focuses on the quality and socioeconomic factors associated with the use of commercial complementary foods in European infants and young children. Alongside her doctoral work, she is active in research and international development work in infant and young child feeding, policies and programs globally. Melissa has supported breastfeeding families as a nutritionist and lactation counsellor for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children in the United States, which provides nutrition services for low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children. She has designed and coordinated programs supporting breastfeeding and healthy nutrition in the first 1000 days in East Africa, Central Asia, and in the context of humanitarian emergencies with various international development and United Nations organizations.


Secretary, 2018-2020: Sarah Rayes

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Sarah is a Ph.D. candidate and NIH pre-doctoral trainee in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Sarah obtained both her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Human Nutrition and International Studies and MS in Animal Science from the University of Idaho. Sarah’s current research focuses on the bacterial composition of human milk pumped and stored under real-life conditions. Sarah’s goals as Secretary will be to help identify ways to improve the experience for TIG’ers. She plans to do this, in part, by encouraging TIG’er participation through creating more transparent and improved access to meeting notes.

Trainee Mentorship Series Coordinator, 2018-2020: Dr. Gabriela Buccini

Gabi.jpgGabriela Buccini is an Associate Researcher Scientist at the Yale School of Public Health. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certified by IBLCE®. She obtained her MPH and Ph.D. in Nutrition in Public Health from the School of Public Health, University of São Paulo, Brazil. Gabriela’s current research focuses on implementation science, scale-up of breastfeeding and early childhood development programs. Gabriela’s goals as Trainee Mentorship Series coordinator will be to (1) engage ISRHML senior members from basic and applied science to discuss topics related to human milk and lactation also broader themes as career development and grant/fund application; and (2) engage TIG members who had successfully completed their trainee expansion programme (TEP) to share their findings and how this experience has impacted their career development.


Member Recruitment and Social Media Chair, 2019 – 2021: Ezgi Özcan​​​​​​​

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Ezgi is a Ph.D. candidate at the Sela Lab in Food Science at the University of Massachusetts
Amherst. Her research is based on the metabolism of human milk oligosaccharides by
infant gut microbes. She is interested in developing models to mimic microbe-microbe
interactions towards understanding the associations between human milk and infant
health. At the same time, she is a graduate certificate student in Feminist Studies at
Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies department, in which she bridges women’s and
feminist studies theories with her research in human milk and lactation. As a TIGer, her
goals for Social Media/Recruitment, is to use social media as a transitioning platform
between the TIGers and ISHRML expertise or a discussion board on research
struggles, and scientific methodological debates and concerns that help TIGers
collectively grow their knowledge and encourage TIGers to stay connected.


Blog/Newsletter Editor, 2019 – 2021: Laura Galante

IMG_20190421_160741.jpg​​​​​​​Laura is a Ph.D. candidate in Biomedical Science at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland in New Zealand.  Laura has obtained her BSc in Biology from the University of Trieste and her MSc in Biology Applied to Human Nutrition from the University of Milan in Italy, spending one year at the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition in the University of Reading, where she carried out the research for her MSc thesis. Laura’s experience in human lactation research began in 2017 with her Ph.D., when, given the possibility to choose what to work on, she decided that she wanted to study infant nutrition and human milk. At the Liggins Institute, Laura is studying how maternal and infant characteristics, specifically infant sex, contribute to defining specific hormonal ‘fingerprints’ in maternal milk and whether these are associated with infant growth outcomes. Starting human milk research from scratch, Laura has optimized several assays for specific use on human milk and written protocols and guidelines for human milk sampling. After she started working as a teaching assistant at the University of Auckland, Laura is set on pursuing a career in academia and science communication.


Advisor, 2019-2020: Dr. Sarah Taylor

Taylor photo winter.jpgDr. Sarah Taylor is an associate professor of Pediatrics and the Director of Clinical Research for the Division of Neonatology at Yale School of Medicine. Prior to joining Yale, she was an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina where she also performed her pediatric residency, neonatal fellowship, and received a Masters’ in Clinical Science. She started the Mother’s Milk Bank of South Carolina in 2015. Dr. Taylor’s research centers on infant nutrition and growth with a special focus and human milk and lactation. In the past, she has received NIH funding to study the effect of vitamin D health on preterm infant bone development and investigate interventions to support preterm infant breastfeeding through the first postnatal year. Currently, Dr. Taylor explores the behavioral and biologic influences on mother’s milk production including methods to mitigate disparities and studies preterm infant gut health and development related to nutritional exposures. She is very excited to play a role in global human milk and lactation research development as a TIG advisor!