Malaysian nutritionist wins US immigrant award

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A Malaysian nutritionist in the US has won the Outstanding Immigrant Health Professional Award for 2018.

Selangor-born Assoc Prof Dr Jayan­thi Kandiah (pic), who works at Indiana’s Ball State University, received the award for her teaching and research accomplishments.

“This award recognises the contributions of a foreign-born individual who has worked in the field of health and served people of the United States of America through service, teaching or research in a given year,” said the chair of the award committee in his letter to Prof Jayanthi.

The annual award is given out by Health For All Inc, a not-for-profit corporation founded in 2001 to promote health and wellness.

Prof Jayanthi earned her first and postgraduate degrees from the Uni­versity of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she completed her PhD in human nutrition.

Her research areas include pae­diatrics, medical nutrition therapy, complementary and alternative medicine, behavioural research, wellness and public health of target populations, and global nutrition.

She has worked in the US for three decades since starting out as an assistant professor in 1991.

She is currently the associate dean for academic affairs at Ball State University and the interim head of the Department of Nutrition and Health Science.

Prof Jayanthi, who was nomi­nated by her peers for the award, was credited with supervising 27 full time faculty, three office staff members, and nine student re­­search assistants this year.

She did all this while serving as the associate dean for academic affairs for College of Health at Ball State University.

She was also involved in exposing her students to realities outside of the US by conducting study trips to Asia, such as regular three-week trips for 20 undergraduate students to countries that included Malaysia.

To top this off, she also published six research papers and supervised five students’ thesis.

Prof Jayanthi is currently conducting nutrition research on children with autism, while also being part of a global team actively engaged with sickle cell research in Kenya.

“This award was a huge surprise to me as I was nominated by colleagues in the College of Health.

“I was made to understand that I was competing with immigrant physicians, nurses, pharmacists, scien­tists and all health profes­sionals.

“There are thousands of these professionals in the US. I thought I was dreaming when I received word about this accolade.

“I am totally humbled and ho­­nour­ed and I express my utmost gratitude to God, my husband and daughter who have been my pillars of strength,”


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