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International Health

Student Practicum Highlight

Eleonor Zavala, MSPH '20

Eleonor Zavala
Eleonor Zavala at the Harion market in Sarlahi, Nepal, purchasing local
cooking utensils to be used in diet recall interviews

Practicum Topic

Assessing dietary diversion among pregnant and lactating women in a household-randomized, balanced protein-energy supplementation trial in rural Nepal


My project was part of a larger trial in Nepal to assess whether a balanced protein-energy supplement taken during pregnancy and lactation reduces small-for-gestational age birth outcomes and improves infant growth at six months in a population of chronically undernourished women in the Terai region of Nepal.

The nutritional supplement is intended to provide pregnant and lactating women with the additional energy, protein, and micronutrient requirements needed during pregnancy and lactation. To understand whether the supplement is being consumed in addition to the regular diet as intended, and not as a replacement of normal meals, I designed the methods and materials for a 24-hour diet recall sub-study. This involved planning the recruitment of women into the sub-study, adapting tools to reflect the local diet and facilitate recall, creating an app for data collection, and developing training materials for the field staff.

Practicum Highlight

Working with the Nepal Nutrition Intervention Project-Sarlahi (NNIPS) was an incredible opportunity to see first-hand how large community randomized trials are designed and conducted. I learned so much from the investigators and local staff, many of whom have been working there since the inception of the field site 30+ years ago. With their guidance, I was able to apply the skills I learned in the classroom into a real-world research context.

Eleonor completed her master's practicum in December 2019 and graduated earlier this year. She is now working as a research associate in the Human Nutrition program, building on her work in Nepal.

June 2020