Meet graduate student Heidi Karner

Heidi Karner
Heidi Karner

As a registered dietitian and master’s student in the Department of Allied Health Sciences Health Promotion Sciences Program, Heidi Karner assembled a collaborative team to address nutritional health in the community of Windsor. Focusing on the Sage Park Middle School, she brought together Windsor Public Schools, Foodshare’s Windsor Hunger Action Team and UConn with the goals of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, expanding participation in a breakfast program and reducing food insecurity. Karner continues to help provide people with nutritional guidance and ways to improve their behaviors and dietary choices to live long and healthy lives. Here is what she said in an interview about her work.

Where did you study as an undergraduate?


What was your major?

The Coordinated Dietetics Program in the Department of Allied Health Sciences.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

Because I wanted to learn more about how to better promote health among my patient population. More specifically, I knew that this program had a heavy emphasis on health psychology and I was interested in learning more about how to encourage lasting behavior change in the people that I work with.

Who is your advisor?

Dr. Valerie Duffy.

What is your field of research?

My research focuses on adolescent health behaviors with an online survey and health messaging campaign.

Name one aspect of your work that you like.

I love the research team that I work closely with here in Allied Health Sciences Department and I enjoy spending time with the kids that I work with at Sage Park Middle School!

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment so far?

I think my greatest accomplishment has been helping to create a lasting collaboration between the Allied Health Sciences Department and the Windsor Public School District. I’ve had the privilege of working with so many inspiring individuals at UConn, in my district, and on the Windsor Hunger Action Team, and I look forward to having the opportunity to create new relationships and to connect with other community advocates in the future!

What do you hope to do once you get your degree?

I hope to work with patients with diabetes and their families as a nutrition educator in order to become a Certified Diabetes Educator.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

As a registered dietitian, I knew from an early age that I wanted to improve nutritional status, dietary habits and long-term health in people of all ages. I have an overwhelming passion for working closely with individuals while providing nutritional guidance to support health and I feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to do what I love while in my graduate program!

By Jason M. Sheldon