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Postdoctoral Researcher Joins School of Applied Sciences Faculty

Samantha Kostelnik

Samantha Kostelnik is joining the faculty of the University of Mississippi’s Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management as its first postdoctoral research associate. 

Kostelnik’s main research focus will be studying using telehealth systems to prescribe dietary changes for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“I’m going to be looking at if this telehealth avenue increases patients’ fresh fruit and vegetable intake and ultimately helps mitigate some of those chronic disease risk problems or issues that they’re experiencing,” she said. 

“I’ll also be acting as a mentor to some of the graduate students that are going through their program, and some of the honors college students that are finishing up their degrees and helping them along the path of research. I’ll also have the opportunity to teach one of the nutrition classes in the fall.” 

Kostelnik received her bachelor’s degree in exercise science from the University of South Carolina in 2016. She then jumped straight into the doctoral program in human nutrition, foods and exercises at Virginia Tech and graduated in 2020. 

Her doctoral dissertation was an evaluation of methods to rapidly assess beverage intake and hydration status in collegiate athletes. 

“Through my dissertation research, I found that a majority of the athletes I studied are dehydrated prior to practice,” Kostelnik said. “I can infer that dehydration drastically impacted their athletic performance, and so I think what we found was that using rehydration methods before practice could be a great way for sports practitioners and coaches to help these athletes.” 

Kostelnik’s academic training aligns well with the sports nutrition emphasis option in the UM master’s and doctoral programs in nutrition, said Melinda Valliant, chair of the department, which is housed in the School of Applied Sciences. 

“She brings outstanding research experience in areas in which many NHM graduate students have interests,” Valliant said. “She will be an excellent addition to provide guidance and mentorship to these students as well as teaching our undergraduate nutrition courses.” 

After graduating with her doctorate, Kostelnik was a research project coordinator at Virginia Tech and at Texas Christian University. This summer, she will bring her knowledge of both exercise science and nutrition to Ole Miss. 

Kostelnik said she is excited to join the faculty and expand her research abilities. She also is looking forward to being part of the Oxford community.

“I moved to Oxford with my boyfriend, and he’s actually going to be interning for the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team this summer,” she said. “He’ll be doing performance science on their athletes. 

“I have a dog, and I love spending time with him; we actually this past weekend just discovered Lake Sardis, and so we’ll probably go there during the summer. I’m excited about that.” 

By Meaghan Flores

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