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College of Human Ecology

Three add to college's international ambiance

Monday, November 30, 2009

From left are Uma Chitra, Laura Vazquez Araujo, and Svetlana Cotelea

From left are Uma Chitra, Laura Vazquez Araujo and Svetlana Cotelea.

Three women with powerful international credentials have joined the College of Human Ecology’s human nutrition department this year to teach and research. Uma Chitra is Nehru Fulbright visiting lecturer from India; Svetlana Cotelea is a Muskie Fellow from Moldova; Laura Vazquez Araujo is a sensory analysis research associate from Spain.

The Kansas stay is the first visit to the United States for each.

Uma Chitra

Chitra is head of the Department of Nutrition at Kasturba Gandhi Degree and PG College in Secunderabad, India. At K-State she is teaching a graduate course called Nutrition in Developing Countries and guest lecturer in Science of Food and Public Health Nutrition.

She calls her Kansas experience “the most defining moment of my career.”

“The classroom in the U.S. is very informal,” she observed. “It was surprising to find that some students bring food and drinks to class. This is unheard of in India and although I found it distracting in the beginning, I soon got used to it!

“The students say ‘Hi, How was your weekend?’ I am going to take this home with me and try to make my classroom in India more informal.” She plans also to take home techniques such as group presentations and evaluation.

Chitra finds the graduates students with whom she works independent, highly motivated, enthusiastic and confident.

Her culinary talents are becoming well-known around Justin Hall.

“As part of the Fulbright my mission is also to meet as many people as possible and to participate in a broad range of social and community activities,” she explained. “ I have made many friends here and have been invited so often for lunch and dinner. I have tried to cook as many Indian dishes for as many American friends as possible. I found it so surprising that Americans love spicy food, too.”

“The Americans are most friendly and kind,” she said. “Kansas has been a surprise. I did not know that such kind and large hearted people existed. It’s going to be difficult to say goodbye.”

She works closely with department head Denis Medeiros and with assistant professor Koushik Adhikari.

Svetlana Cotelea

Cotelea, a physician in Moldova, is studying public health in hopes of affecting public policy on such diseases as diabetes in her homeland. “Many of the metabolic disorders need a global approach,” she said. “Many times they are public health problems and we need to find public health solutions.”

At K-State, she will study metabolic disorders and nutritional interventions, working with faculty member Mary Meck Higgins. “Lana is the first Muskie Fellow to study public health and this is our first physician in the master of public health program,” Higgins said.

Cotelea completed her medical education at the Nicolae Testemitanu State Medical and Pharmaceutical University in Chisinau with a residency in internal medicine and a clinical secondary diploma in dietetics. She was a lecturer and member of the academic staff of her alma mater. She has also been a trainer and nutrition counselor at a school for diabetic patients.

She is one of five at K-State in the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program that provides opportunities for graduate students and professionals from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan for one-year non-degree, one-year degree or two-year degree study in the United States.

Laura Vazquez Araujo

Vazquez Araujo, who has a PhD in agricultural and food science and technologies, is from Galicia in Northwestern Spain.

She is working with the Sensory Analysis Center on instrumental analysis of food. “Working in U.S. is very helpful in finding a job in Spain,” she said. “And work in foreign countries is essential to work in Spanish universities.”

Prepared by Human Ecology communications. Photo by David Mayes, university photographer.

This article was posted on Monday, November 30, 2009, and is filed under Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health.