Member Spotlight - Henna Muzaffar
Henna Muzaffar, PhD, RD
Assistant Professor and Eating Disorder & Obesity Certificate Facilitator
Nutrition, Dietetics, and Wellness; School of Health Studies
College of Health & Human Sciences
Northern Illinois University
Tell us about your job.
As tenure track faculty, my job responsibilities encompass teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, conducting research, and serving on professional committees at Northern Illinois University and for national nutrition societies.
What do you find most interesting about your job?
I love my job because it allows me to interact with undergraduate and graduate students in the capacity of teaching and research. My students challenge me in my area of expertise and motivate me to stay currentin the field, which allows me to impart sound knowledge and research skills to them. As part of my research efforts, I interact with elementary and middle school children to promote healthy eating and physical activity, and their smiles and curiosity brighten my day.
How did you get into this field?
I am a scientist by nature and health related professions were always attractive to me. First, I joined a medical school in Pakistan and completed the first two years of the medical curriculum. When I started rotating in the hospital setting, I realized that I did not want to see human suffering to such an extent on a daily basis. In 2001, I left medical school and moved to the United States. Coming from a developing country where malnutrition was one of the major public health challenges, I decided to pursue a career in nutrition.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Detroit, Michigan. At age 4, I moved to Pakistan with my parents and siblings. I went to school in Pakistan and completed high school and some college credits there before I moved to the United States at age 20.
Where did you go to college and/or complete an internship?
I completed my Bachelor's and Master's in Nutrition Science from the University of Cincinnati from 2002-2005. I completed my dietetic internship from Loyola University in Chicago in 2007. I joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 2009 and completed my doctorate in Nutrition Science in 2012. I pursued postdoctoral research at UIUC until 2018. I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2018 and joined Northern Illinois University as faculty in August 2018.
Besides your profession, what are you hobbies?
My hobbies are spending time with my children (I have a fifteen year old son and twelve year old twin girls) and husband, taking long walks, and talking to my parents. I also enjoy volunteering as a nutritionist at sites such as food pantries and health clinics to give back to the community.
What are your favorite foods?
If I may confess, chocolate is my favorite food. Apples are a close second. No matter how long or stressful my day is, chocolate always makes the day better. As a dietitian and getting up in age, I have been trying hard recently to find a healthier alternative.
What is on your bucket list?
To travel to places such as Croatia, Vietnam, and China with my husband and children. Professionally, I am striving to obtain tenure and make a mark in my field of research.
How long have you been a member of NEP DPG? And why did you join?
My research efforts have always focused on nutrition education programs with children and adolescents in the schools and the community to treat and prevent childhood obesity. My research interest lines up with the focus of the Nutrition Education for the Public Dietetic Practice Group. I have been a member of NEP DPG for the past four years.
Any other interesting things you would like to share with NEP members?
I was elected as Chair-Elect for NEP DPG in 2018. In this capacity, I have enjoyed serving on the executive committee, as I have had the opportunity to work with an awesome committee. I will take on the Chair position in June 2020 and am already thinking of how we can improve the benefits and education offerings for our membership and make our DPG more prominent.