The International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation
The International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation


The TIG Governing Committee is responsible for governing the affairs of ISRHML’s Trainee Interest Group. This committee consists of the TIG President, TIG President-Elect, TIG Past-President, TIG secretary, Trainee Mentorship Series Coordinator, Newsletter & Blog Editor, Social Media & Communications Chair, Member Recruitment Chair, and TIG advisors. Learn more about this committee by viewing our standard operating procedures.

President, 2021-2023: Michelle Asbury

Michelle Asbury is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children in Canada. She previously obtained her Honours BSc in Life Sciences and MSc in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Toronto. Working under the guidance of Dr. Deborah O’Connor, her current doctoral research focuses on characterizing the mother’s milk microbiota and its relationship with gastrointestinal colonization of preterm infants during their initial hospitalization.

As President, Michelle’s vision is to (1) provide more opportunities for trainees to connect with each other using virtual platforms, and (2) to provide training and ISRHML-sponsored opportunities for trainees to engage in effective science communication of human milk and lactation research.

President Elect, 2022-2024: Noura El Habbal

Noura El Habbal received her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from the American University of Beirut in 2016. She is a Registered Dietitian and has defended her dissertation titled “Early Life Exposures and Milk Composition Affect Offspring Outcomes” in February of 2022. She will receive her doctorate degree in Molecular and Biochemical Nutrition in April 2022 from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her interest in maternal and child health led her to pursue research focusing on early life exposures and health outcomes. Specifically, her doctoral research focuses on how maternal stress and obesity affect placental, fetal, and mammary gland physiology using mouse models. She also studies the association between human breast milk fatty acids and infant growth using a clinical dataset. Noura is very passionate about continuing her work on lactation and human milk research. During her free time, Noura enjoys baking, painting, doing puzzles, and chasing sunsets! Noura is excited to join the TIG committee as President-Elect and to 1) create more networking opportunities globally and 2) provide opportunities for collaborations and sharing human milk research ideas.

Secretary, 2022-2024: Kristin Elgersma

Kristin Elgersma is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, studying human milk feeding and direct breastfeeding for infants with congenital heart disease (CHD). She has previous masters and doctoral degrees in piano performance and worked in higher education for many years, but was inspired to make a career change after she had a child with CHD. Her experience trying (and failing) to directly breastfeed led her to investigate how human milk feeding and direct breastfeeding could be better supported for infants with CHD and their families. Aside from research, she has lived in many places around the United States, from Chicago to Idaho to LA to Honolulu! Somehow, she ended up moving from Hawaii to the frigid winters of Minnesota, where she lives with her husband and 4-year-old daughter.

Trainee Mentorship Series Coordinator, 2020-2022: Miranda Loutet

Miranda Loutet is a PhD student in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and affiliated with The Hospital for Sick Children’s Centre for Global Child Health. Her doctoral research aims to generate new evidence regarding the quantification and classification of breastfeeding patterns to improve methods of ascertainment of breastfeeding practices in large-scale surveys and studies of factors that influence breastfeeding practices and the effects on infant health outcomes. More specifically, her PhD thesis is nested within a prospective cohort study, Synbiotics for the Early Prevention of Severe Infections in Infants

Newsletter & Blog Editor, 2021-2023: Allison Daniel

Allison is a PhD Candidate in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and Hospital for Sick Children. Her doctoral research focuses on interventions aimed at improving nutritional status and developmental outcomes in children with severe malnutrition in Malawi. She is also currently a member of the WHO guideline team for the upcoming recommendations for prevention and treatment of malnutrition. Aside from her research, Allison is a journalist with experience covering stories centered around global health and nutrition. She is excited about the opportunity to connect with the ISRHML community as Blog/Newsletter Editor!

Social Media & Communications Chair, 2021-2023: Nina Juntereal

Nina is a PhD Candidate and Hillman Scholar in Nursing Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a minor in Nutrition from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Her ongoing doctoral research in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and University of Western Australia is focused on investigating the use of antenatal milk expression (AME), the hand expression of colostrum during the late third trimester of pregnancy to support human lactation in the context of mother-infant separation, as experienced by mothers with critically-ill infants in the intensive care unit. Nina has a strong commitment to increasing access and communication to evidenced-based education and information. As the Social Media and Communications Chair, her goals are to 1) use social media and other platforms to advance the science and scholarship of ISRHML to reach broader audiences and 2) develop programming and initiatives to build the science communication skillset of the TIG community.

Membership & Recruitment Co-Chair, 2021-2023: Larisse Melo

Larisse is a Sessional Lecturer at the University of British Columbia (UBC – Vancouver, Canada), where she teaches “International Nutrition” and “Vitamins, Minerals and Health”. Larisse is also a Nutrition Research Technician at UBC, and supports the research activities of the Human Nutrition and Vitamin Metabolism Research Group (Principal Investigator: Dr. Yvonne Lamers). Larisse received a Dietetics degree from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN – Natal, Brazil), and an MSc degree in Human Nutrition from UBC Vancouver, following her passion for nutrition interventions in the context of global health. Larisse’s goals as TIG Membership & Recruitment Co-chair are to 1) develop new strategies for trainee recruitment, 2) assist with the organization and promotion of ISRHML webinars, and 3) improve diversity and inclusion within the ISRHML TIG membership.

Membership & Recruitment Co-Chair, 2021-2023: Nurul Husna M Shukri

Nurul Shukri is an educator and researcher working at Universiti Putra Malaysia. She obtained her PhD at University College London, where she conducted a trial looking at the mother-infant relationship through physiological and psychological signalling during breastfeeding using relaxation therapy. She also has an MSc in Human Nutrition from Massey University, New Zealand where she investigated the iodine status among women, including pregnant and lactating mothers. Her research interest focuses on understanding human milk bioactive components, especially hormones, and their relation with maternal-infant factors. Nurul also serves as a nutritionist and lactation counsellor, based in Malaysia. Outside academia, Nurul loves playing basketball and doing outdoor activities especially scuba diving and hiking in the forest mountain.

Serve as the TIG Membership & Recruitment Co-chair, Nurul’s goal is to use multiple approaches to recruit members from various continent/regions, such as connecting with local societies and institutions, aiming to increase trainee members around the world, especially from low-middle income countries.

Past-President, 2021: Yimin Chen

Yimin is an assistant professor for the School of Family and Consumer Sciences Human Nutrition Program at the University of Idaho. She practiced as a nutrition support dietitian for 15 years specializing in surgery, gastrointestinal diseases, critical care, and neonatology when she realized her passion in mechanistic research. Yimin’s research interests focus on exploring specific digestion-resistant proteins and digestion-released peptides in human milk that are associated with intestinal inflammation and integrity. She uses: 1) in vitro cell culture models to study cellular responses to digested colostrum, digestion-resistant proteins and digestion-released peptides in colostrum, 2) the neonatal piglet model as a clinically relevant model to study intestinal growth, development, and disease prevention as a function of different milk feedings, and 3) she is in collaboration with level-IV NICUs to determine modifiable maternal characteristics that alter human milk immunomodulatory components, and outcomes in the recipient premature infant.

Yimin’s two main goals during her term were to: (1) create a resource sharing medium for trainees and other members of ISRHML to optimize and standardize various human milk handling protocols; (2) develop a virtual grantsmanship writing workshop series to improve grant writing skills and increase funding success in human milk and lactation research for trainees.

Past-President, 2021: Melissa Theurich

Melissa is a PhD candidate at the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Clinic of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) of Munich in Germany. She obtained her BSc in Human Nutrition with a concentration in Community and International Nutrition and Spanish from Virginia Tech, and her Master of Public Health from LMU Munich. Her doctoral research is on commercial complementary food use in the EU Childhood Obesity Project, a large multi-center European birth cohort. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certified by IBLCE®. Melissa’s research on breastfeeding has been on international policies and programs at the national, regional and global levels, including infant and young child feeding in emergencies, and she works as an independent Public Health Nutrition consultant for international development and United Nations agencies. Melissa’s goal as the TIG Co-President was to identify strategies for inclusion of trainees from Europe and low- and middle-income countries.

Advisor, 2020-2022: Dr. Maria Carmen Collado

Maria Carmen holds a Research Scientist position at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC), Valencia (Spain) and  Adjunct Professor (2007-now) at the University of Turku, Finland.

Her research work is multidisciplinary and includes microbiology, food science, nutrition and human health.  Her team objective is  to characterize the transfer of maternal microbes to neonates and to determine their function in infant health programming. More concretely, her team investigates the impact of early exposures (perinatal, environmental and genetic factors) on milk components (IgA, immune markers, metabolites, oligosaccharides, microbiota) and their impact on infant microbiota and health effects at short- and long-term. She focuses on the understanding of beneficial bacteria and probiotics on host response.

Advisor, 2021-2023: Dr. Meghan Azad

Dr. Meghan Azad is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Child Health at the University of Manitoba. She holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease and co-Directs the new Manitoba Interdisciplinary Lactation Centre (MILC). Her research program is focused on the role of infant nutrition and the microbiome in child growth, development and resilience. Dr. Azad serves as Deputy Director of the CHILD Cohort Study, a national pregnancy cohort following 3500 children to understand how early life experiences shape lifelong health. She is leading a clinical trial to improve matching procedures for preterm neonates receiving donor human milk, and directing the new International Milk Composition (IMiC) Consortium. Her research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Azad serves on the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation Executive Council and the joint US/Canada Human Milk Composition Initiative.