Katherine Tomaino, MSPH ‘14,
International Health, Program in Human Nutrition
Program in Human Nutrition
Katy Tomaino works in what she describes as her “dream job” for Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. She lives in New York City and is a senior manager of research and evaluation. In her role with Laureus, she works with organizations around the globe to promote social change through sports programming. Katy helps ensure that the many nonprofits that partner with Laureus incorporate accurate and high-quality measurements to assess their programs’ impact.
Katy is a 2014 graduate of International Health’s MSPH in Human Nutrition program. Recently, results from a study she worked on as a student were published in Asthma Research and Practice.1 The study showed a link between Vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of asthma. The results have important implications for children in low-resource settings around the world who are unable to get the basic nutrition they need.
Katy worked on the study as part of her second year master’s practicum. “I didn’t have much fieldwork experience at this point, so my advisor, Professor Keith West, connected me with the Center for Global NCD Research and Training.” The Center, led by Associate Professor Will Checkley, has study sites around the globe to conduct research and training for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries.
Katy traveled to Peru where one of the Center’s asthma studies was just beginning. She lived in Lima for four months collecting data and training field workers. She also developed nutritional questionnaires to assess the types of foods available to the children in the study. According to Dr. Suzy Pollard, a senior investigator of the study, an instructor at the School of Medicine, and an alum of International Health, “Katy brought a unique specialization to the team because of her academic experience in nutrition disease.”
Before leaving for Lima, Katy had already completed a heavy course load in nutrition, food policy, clinical research and community-based research. This made her feel prepared to start contributing to her first research study. “Adapting what I had learned in class to be relevant to food practices in Peru and local norms was a challenge at first. I knew some Spanish but didn’t know what many of the colloquial terms for certain meals were.” But with the help of the team in Peru, Katy quickly adjusted. “Though I didn’t realize it at the time, this experience gave me valuable practice doing what I do in my job now,” she adds.
In her current position, Katy helps Laureus’ many nonprofit partners with their program evaluation work, from technical support to leading questionnaire design. “I find myself thinking back to techniques and approaches I learned at the Bloomberg School and in Peru to solve issues that pop up at work today.”Contributor: Sarah McKeown, BA/MSPH student