Nutritional Sciences doctoral student and MS alum hopes to study food systems in Oman

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Maymona Al Hiani, MPH ‘17, RDN; PhD Student in Nutritional Epidemiology

Maymona Al Hiani graduated from the University of Michigan School of Public Health with a Master of Science (MS) degree in Nutritional Sciences with a focus on dietetics in 2017. Now she is working toward a PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology at Michigan with the goal of increasing research about and the understanding of the food and nutrition systems in Oman.

We asked Maymona about her experiences at Michigan Public Health. Here are her responses.

Why did you choose the University of Michigan School of Public Health for a graduate degree?

Being a student in the University of Michigan School of Public Health is a huge opportunity to learn from the best in the field, as it is one of the top-ranked programs in public health. Academic quality and reteach opportunities in my area of interest drove me to choose Michigan. 

This turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made! My great experience as an MS student in Nutritional Sciences at Michigan, the excellent mentors, the abundant resources, and the networking opportunities motivated me to pursue a PhD degree in the same department. 

Also, I love the city! Ann Arbor is a quiet college town full of students from all over the world, which makes it a wonderful, enriching environment to engage with people from different backgrounds and cultures. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I also like the weather here. Coming from Oman, one of the hottest countries in the world, I don’t mind some cold and snow! 

What organizations did you belong to while at U-M?

American Society of Nutrition and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics   

Did you have a job while you were attending U-M?

I didn't have a job during my MS degree,  but now I'm working as a research assistant at the Institute for Social Research in their Health and Retirement Study. I also work as a grader for MNT courses.

What is your passion in nutrition and how did it change over time?

Growing up in a family with different types of chronic diseases, I was stunned how making some simple changes in their diet and lifestyle could improve their health and wellbeing. Seeing the meaning of “prevention is better than cure" in real life grows my interest towards nutrition and public health. 

I just loved the idea of using food as my tool to help others to live happier and healthier lives. Food brings people together and it’s a great opportunity to learn and strengthen our relationships. This motivated me to choose nutrition as my major during my undergraduate education. Studying Human Nutrition made me realize how little we know about Omanis’ food consumption and eating habits, and the lack of research pushed my interest towards nutrition research. 

Tailoring evidence-based dietary guidelines and public health awareness for Omani people is crucial, but we can’t achieve that with scarce information. My goal now is to learn the methods and skills that enable producing high-quality nutrition research to understand the food and nutrition system in Oman and consequently better serve my community.