Ashley McKelvey

Health disco OG image
Ashley McKelvey

Ashley McKelvey

Health disco academic program
Fourth-year transfer student, Nutrition Dietetics option
healthy disco cohort year

What was your path to OSU?  

I originally started my academic career at Cal State Long Beach, which was local to where I went to high school in Newport Beach, Calif.

I was studying nursing up through the COVID-19 pandemic while also working as a certified nursing assistant. My work experience on the frontline made me realize what I wanted to do, and that I was feeling burned out on nursing.

That is when I decided I wanted to become a registered dietitian and when I looked into transferring into the nutrition major—dietetics option at OSU.

Why are you interested in research?

I became interested in research so I could learn another side of public health, as I have spent the past five years working in a clinical setting.

Also, learning about different ways to assess nutrient absorption and nutrient contents in different food sources in class made me interested learning how we know this information.

I learned about the Dallas Lab through the URSA program. The lab studies breast milk nutrition to improve infant health.

Why did you want to be part of Healthy Discoveries?

I wanted to be part of Healthy Discoveries because I want to share my experience with students who may not know about research opportunities on campus.

I also want to share that research can help identify specific pathways of what you want to do, and that mentors will guide you along the way.

I always thought that I had to work to gain experience, so through this program I can share my experience to show that research is another option.

What research will you be working on and with whom?   

I will be working on research analyzing proteins in breast milk under my mentor, Ningjian Liang, a post-doctorate in the Dallas Lab.

I also have been working with Joanna Has, who is a graduate student in the Dallas Lab, who has trained me on different lab techniques.

I am specifically looking at a signaling protein in breast milk called Macrophage Inflammatory Protein 1-beta, which induces an immune response in the infant, and how different pasteurization methods impact its preservation. I will be using ELISA to do analysis.

What are your future career or academic plans?

After I finish my undergraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics, my plan is to complete a graduate degree and internship in nutrition.

Afterward, I can test to become a registered dietitian. I am considering specializing in pediatric and neonatal nutrition.


The Healthy Discoveries undergraduate research program is made possible with the generous support of the Patricia Valian Reser Fund for Experiential Learning.