For someone who lives hundreds of miles from the Logan campus, some might think her path to Logan is anything but logical. In fact, it’s a path that very few—if any—people have taken. But for Barbara, pursuing a degree at Logan is the most logical next step in her career.
Barbara earned her bachelor’s degree in animal production from Pennsylvania State University with an emphasis in domestic livestock nutrition. Following her undergraduate studies, she joined the Philadelphia Zoo in 1984 as an intern and has worked there ever since. She later became the Zoo’s first zoological nutritionist and currently is one of approximately 25 in the country.
In the years since, Barbara has taken human and animal nutrition graduate courses, which led to her interest in human nutrition and its relation to zoological nutrition. Once her children had completed their own college education, she began looking into accredited programs that could lead to certification and a curriculum that was readily applicable to her current position at the Zoo.
“There are many great programs for training people to be field zoologists,” Barbara said. “But there is no clear-cut path for zoological nutritionists because we deal with so many animal species. The Philadelphia Zoo has a large nonhuman primate collection, which includes Colobus and Squirrel monkeys. In fact, those are the same animals typically used to study human nutrition.”
All of these factors eventually led her to look into master’s degrees in nutrition which, after much research, led her to Logan, where she enrolled and began online coursework in January 2016.
The Master’s in Nutrition and Human Performance curriculum includes many courses that interest Barbara and are beneficial to her career path, including nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics as well as herbology. Relative to the other programs she looked at, Logan’s offerings, Barbara said, were much more interesting and applicable to her situation in the zoological community.
“Zoological nutrition is not very different than human nutrition, but the complexity of the organisms we work with makes captive diet development challenging,” Barbara said. “Nutrigenetics may help us understand the variations of nutrient response between species.”
Barbara also enjoys the overall structure of online courses that allow her to fuse her professional life with her student life. “At first, I wasn’t sure about an online degree,” she said. “But I’ve found that Logan’s online lectures are the best way for me to learn because you can move along at your own pace."
In addition to having the opportunity to choose her coursework and access a plethora of news articles and medical journals in Logan’s online library, Barbara enjoys Logan’s specific ties to the medical community. “I like that Logan is also a chiropractic college,” she said. “I enjoy knowing that, as I listen to the online lectures, the professor is speaking primarily to future doctors.”
She also sees the value in sprucing up her client interaction skills, which is something she is experiencing through the program.
“I’ve never done the client interaction part of nutrition,” she said. “My clients are animals who can’t talk to me, so all of their communications come through their keepers, who are parallel to a caregiver for a person who can’t communicate their needs. I’ve come to realize that communication is a huge part of nutrition, which is a big part of this program at Logan.”