In a Jeopardy-style quiz show with topics in exercise science, nutrition, biomechanics, and cardiovascular physiology, a group of three Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise students battled and emerged from the fray victorious.

Champions Sabina Holz, a rising senior; Noah Stallard, also a rising senior; and Pierre-Anne Laird ’22, represented the department and were coached by Angela Anderson, a collegiate associate professor. They held the Student Bowl National Championship trophy high at the 2022 American College of Sports Medicine conference in San Diego.

For the last seven years, the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has taken students to the student-focused Southeast Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine conference, where undergraduates and graduate students present research.

As part of the conference, students compete in a Student Bowl, which adds an extra competetive flair for undergraduates. A team of three students is given up to 15 seconds for each question and up to one minute to answer questions that involve calculations. This is the first time the department has won the Student Bowl.

“To be able to leave a mark at Virginia Tech representing the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise means a great deal,” said Stallard, of Warrenton, Virginia. “This victory means even more because of people supporting us and investing their time to help us succeed.”

In preparation for the Student Bowl, Anderson and doctoral student Kayla Alesi met with the students throughout the spring semester.

“These three students are so gifted all on their own academically,” Anderson said. “They each brought different strengths. But more than that, they are kind, generous, and fun. Getting to work with them in the classroom and then out of the classroom as we prepared for the Student Bowl is the best part of teaching. I feel so blessed to work with each of these amazing students.”

In-depth discussions, along with other methods, helped the students prepare for the unknown questions that could come up.

“A lot of what I was learning for the first time also ended up being very helpful in some of my other departmental classes, like in anatomy and physiology, as well as exercise leadership for personal training,” said Holz, of Purcellville, Virginia.

As a student trainer on the Virginia Tech football team, Holz tied her experiential learning opportunities with her diverse academic curriculum, which includes general engineering, to help the team have an even more diverse background and skill set.

But the best preparation, Laird said, were the human nutrition, foods, and exercise classes that he took at Virginia Tech.

“This competition showcased what we learned in the classroom at Virginia Tech as the competition consisted of the subjects we covered in class,” said Laird, originally from Paris, France, before his family relocated to Arlington, Virginia. “Combining the knowledge from these courses and weekly reviews with Dr. Anderson, I felt we were very well prepared for the competition.”

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