NSPS Officers - 2017/2018


Nika Larian, President:

Research Interests: Obesity, aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), diabetes, adipocyte physiology, inflammasome, SAA. Nika graduated from Transylvania University with B.A.s in Biology and French Language and Literature. She began the Nutritional Sciences Ph.D. program in 2015 in Dr. Lisa Cassis’s lab as a recipient of an NIH T32 Training Grant and the Daniel Reedy Quality Achievement Award. As a Superfund trainee, Nika’s current work focuses on nutritionally-derived endogenous ligands of the AhR that regulate adipocyte differentiation and proliferation and may contribute to the development of obesity. She is also currently taking courses to receive her B.S. in Dietetics and Human Nutrition in order to become a Registered Dietitian. Nika’s other interests include cooking, fitness, playing tennis and flag football, fashion, and spending time with her friends, family, and puppy.

Jessie Hoffman,  Vice-President:

Research interests: Atherosclerosis, environmental pollutants, intestinal health, gut microbiome, dietary fiber.  Jessie graduated from Newberry College in Newberry,  South Carolina in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology.  She received her M.S. in Nutrition in 2015 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she conducted research regarding the benefits of consuming grapes on attenuating obesity and related health outcomes.  She began the Nutritional Sciences PhD program in 2015 in Dr. Bernhard Hennig’s lab as a trainee within the UK Superfund Research Center.  Her current research focuses on the way that nutrition can combat the negative health effects associated with exposure to environmental pollutants. She is also a recipient of the NIH T32 Training Grant.  Other interests: fitness, cooking, playing soccer, hiking, and spending time with family and friends. 

Jared Hoffman, Secretary:

Research Interests:
 Research interests: Alzheimer's disease, gut microbiome, nutritional interventions, dietary fiber, improving athletic performance, and MRI. Jared got his BS in Biology from Truman State University and then went on to get his MS in Nutritional Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he also met his beautiful wife Jessie. He is currently a PhD Candidate in his 3rd year in Dr. Ai-Ling Lin's laboratory examining the effects of prebiotics in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model. He is also a recipient of the NIH T32 Training Grant. His other interests include tennis, sports, improving his own athletic performance, watching movies, and spending time with his family and friends.

Kai Zhang, Treasurer:

Research Interests:
Kai Zhang is a third year graduate student attending the Pharmacology PhD program in the college of medicine. Kai is working on EtOH neurotoxicity and trying to develop anti-inflammatory strategies in the prevention or the treatment for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the laboratory of Dr. Jai Luo. Kai is also a graduate student senator at-large in UK Student Government Association (SGA) and a board member at Graduate Student Congress (GSC). Other interests: snowboarding, skateboarding, hiking and fitness.