Nutrition Research

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 groupsThen 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: 2018-19 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 any Seminars on Faculty Research Interests (O4/O5 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 (mid to late March) in the OC Aux Gym and chat with current student researchers about their projects and the methods used.
  • Attend your in-class academic advising session (HNU 145, 262, or 365)
  • Submit your honours (or advanced major) declaration form to the HNU Chair by the last day of March in your second year.

Third Year Students

  • Enroll in the research courses: HNU 384(385) and HNU485
  • Attend your fall term in-class HNU faculty research session (HNU 384) 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 [more info here] – deadline date TBA
  • February – internal deadlines for StFX Irving Research Internships, NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards & UCR Student Research Awards [more info here] – deadline date TBA

February - Attend any HNU Faculty Research Seminars to learn about current research interests and potential projects

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. Click here to print a declaration form.

Last day of exams in April – deadline for holding preliminary discussions with thesis advisor about broad area of thesis topic for the senior year.

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:    [*denotes student author]

Jamieson, JA, Viana*, L. English, M. (2020) Folate content and chemical composition of commercially available gluten-free flour alternatives. Plant Foods Hum Nutr, 75, 337-343.

Jamieson, JA, Neufeld*, A. (2020) Food sources of energy and nutrients among Canadian adults following a gluten-free diet. PeerJ 8:e9590

Jamieson, JA, Rosta*, E, Gougeon, L. (2020) Grain Products are a Top Source of Energy and Nutrients among Nova Scotian Adults following a Gluten-free Diet. Cdn J Diet Pract Res. In press, 9 Sept 2020

Burrell, H*.,  English, M., & Cohen A. (2019). Investigating antihypertensive, Angiotensin-I Converting Enzyme (ACE)-inhibitory activity of soldier bean protein hydrolysates. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, 80, 159-160.

Maccharles*, L., BSc 2018, Fox, A. (2019). Exploring Food Guidance Approaches for Seniors in Antigonish, NS: Is There Still Gold at the End of the Rainbow? Can J Diet Pract Res, 80(3): 137-139.

English, M., Viana*, L. BSc 2017, and McSweeney, M. (2019). Effect of soaking on the functional properties of Yellow-eyed bean flour and the acceptability of chocolate brownies. Journal of Food Science, 83, 623-628.

English, M., Keough*, M., BSc 2018, McSweeney, & M., Razul, S. (2019). Impact of a novel cryoprotectant blend on the quality of frozen lobster (Homarus americanus).Journal of Food Science: Sensory and Consumer Science, 84(6):1547-1553.

Jamieson, JA, Weir, M*, BSc 2015, Gougeon, L. (2018) Canadian packaged gluten-free foods are less nutritious than their regular gluten-containing counterparts.  PeerJ 6:e5875

Reynolds* E, BSc 2011, Johnson C, Jamieson JA, Mawhinney* H, BSc 2015 (2018) Prevalence and Correlates of Food Insecurity among Students Attending a Small, Rural Canadian University. Cdn J Diet Pract Res. March 15, 2018:

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. Author: Jamieson, 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, Rosta, E*, Gougeon, L. Poster: “Quality of gluten-free diets using the NOVA food processing system: piloting the GFStudy in Nova Scotia.” Presented at the Canadian Nutrition Society Annual Meeting, May 3-5, 2018, Halifax, NS. Abstract published in the Journal Appl Physiol Nutr Metab; 43(4):Suppl 1, S1-S42.

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 and 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