Balance, moderation, and variety are not just the cornerstones for living a healthy lifestyle, they are the guiding principles of the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise Instructor Nicolin Girmes-Grieco’s teaching philosophy.
It’s a formula that has served both Girmes-Grieco and her students well, as is evident by her class count that has swelled from 200 in 2010 to just under 600 this academic year.
Girmes-Grieco will be given a Certificate of Teaching Excellence award during the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences commencement ceremonies on May 18.
“I honestly believe that Nicolin possesses the ability to leave a lasting impression on every student who comes through the human nutrition, foods, and exercise program,” said Josh Bostic, one of Grieco’s former graduate teaching assistants.
The excitement Girmes-Grieco generates in the classroom comes from the aforementioned balance of feeding her own inner student, as well as serving as a lightning rod of knowledge for her students.
“I love teaching because I love learning,” said Grieco. “Learning is a continuous process that transpires everywhere, as long as we keep an open mind and recognize that there is always more to learn, explore, and discover.”
Grieco’s teaching philosophy is brought to bear in one of her most popular classes, methods of human nutritional assessment. It provides her students with firsthand knowledge of their own health profiles by sampling their blood in an experiment designed to measure the effect of dietary changes on biochemical markers that indicate nutritional status. It’s a novel opportunity for undergraduates to perform lab work using human samples, and a responsibility she is happy to afford her students.
For most students this class is the first time they’ve conducted lab work that is integrated into the research process. Her class also provides students with the opportunity to see the immediate effects of dietary changes on their health.
Grieco’s enthusiasm for nutrition now allows her to reach students beyond her own department. She teaches nutrition across lifespan, an introductory course that was previously only open to nutrition majors. Because of its popularity it is now available to students outside of the department.
“I am passionate about human nutrition because there is a wealth of innovative, cutting-edge, and promising research in this field. It truly has the potential to be life-changing for all of us.”
No doubt the students Girmes-Grieco has influenced in the classroom feel the same way about her.