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Cougar Queries: "Once I began taking nutrition classes, I excelled and found my passion."

Cougar Queries is a series profiling BYU employees by asking them a few simple questions about their work, interests and life.

Name: Rickelle Richards

BYU employee since: September 2007

My job title is... associate professor of nutrition. I teach, research and volunteer on campus and professional committees. 

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I'm currently working on... a five-year project with a USDA multi-state research team. We are studying independent eating occasions (what children eat when their parents aren't around) of low-income children between the ages of 10 and 13.

I became interested in my field... after not doing too well in my previous college major, I did some research and found pediatric nutrition. It combined my interest in wanting to work with children and working in the health field. After talking to my mother about changing my major to nutrition, she reminded me of a nutrition class I had taken in high school and loved. Once I began taking nutrition classes, I excelled and found my passion.

My favorite lecture to teach is... defining a heathy diet based on "Choose My Plate" in my Introductory Nutrition class. 

When I have 30 minutes of free time, you can find me… with my family. From musical recitals to sporting events to family dinners, I'm there to support my family and be in their company because family relationships are the most important to me. 

My favorite spot on campus is... the Museum of Art. My mother was an artist, so I was around art all growing up. Painting and drawing is also something that I love to do in my free time. 

The best-kept BYU secret is... graduation commencement. Graduating students have the opportunity to hear from a general authority who will give them personal advice and counsel. Sadly, a lot of students skip out on commencement. If I were in their shoes, I wouldn't miss it for the world. 

My go-to comfort food is... cheeseballs! They're so good!

Three things that are always found in my refrigerator are… carrots, soy sauce and milk; not eaten together!

When I'm not teaching or doing research I'm... doing my volunteer work for campus and professional committees. I am the president of the BYU Faculty Women's Association, on the Dean's Advisory council, and a member of college and department committees. There are more, but I won't name them all! Let's just say I always have something to fill my time.

The easiest, but most overlooked nutrition advice is... the "Choose My Plate" guidelines. This is the key to a healthy diet and includes principles of moderation, balance, variety, adequacy and calorie control. 

I find my research fulfilling because... I can hear first-hand what low-income individuals are going through. I've heard real stories from kids and parents who experience poverty and what they go through on a daily basis. Some kids are willing to give their personal money to support their families; some can count the number of food items in their refrigerator. It humbles me on how grateful they are for what they do have. I want to be able to be the voice of those people. I want others to know the reality of what's happening by bringing them knowledge. I love the knowledge I gain from these individuals. My research helps me see what I can do to help them and helps me spread awareness to community members and health professionals. 

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Know of another Cougar we should feature? Email Emily Hellewell.

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