Department of Nutrition

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Faculty & Trainees

Marsha Spence, PhD, RD, LDN







Elizabeth (Betsy) Anderson Steeves, PhD, RD

Dr. Anderson Steeves is an Assistant Professor in the Public Health Nutrition program. She is a Registered Dietitian and holds a doctoral degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She completed her Master’s in Public Health Nutrition and Dietetic Internship at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Anderson Steeves has a long standing interest in the Maternal and Child population. She served as an unfunded MCH Nutrition trainee during her Master’s degree at the University of Tennessee, and received specialized training in adolescent health when she served as a Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) trainee at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Dr. Anderson Steeves holds several leadership positions including serving as a co-chair of the Retailers Sub-unit of the Healthy Food Retail Working Group of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  She is also an Associate member of the Knoxville Food Policy Council. Dr. Anderson Steeves’ research interests involve community-based interventions to reduce health disparities and prevent obesity among under-served populations and in conducting research to examine how social and physical (built) environments influence food purchasing and consumption behaviors of youth and families.

Funded MCH Nutrition Leadership Trainees

Alexandra Alford

Alexandra is a Master’s student and funded MCH Nutrition Leadership Trainee. She is in the dual MS-MPH program, focusing on public health nutrition and community health education. Alexandra will complete the dietetic internship in 2018 to become a registered dietitan. She has been an MCH Nutrition Leadership Trainee since August of 2015. Alexandra plans to continue working in this field, at either the local, state, or national level for Extension programming.


Marissa McElrone

Marissa has been a Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Nutrition Leadership Trainee since January 2016. She is a nutritional sciences doctoral student with a concentration in community nutrition and is planning to complete the dietetic internship. Originally from Easton, Pennsylvania Marissa served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, East Africa after completing her Bachelor of Science in nutritional sciences from Penn State University. She has worked with diverse, domestic and international MCH populations in research, programmatic, consulting, and capacity building contexts. Marissa’s dissertation research focuses on the impact of dietary acculturation on food security status and the use of community based participatory research approaches to interventions addressing these issues with refugee and immigrant families.


Ruth Zegel

Ruth was born and raised in Franklin, Tennessee. She completed her Bachelor of Science in dietetics and nutrition at the University of Mississippi. She is currently pursuing her Master of Science with a concentration in public health nutrition and will complete a dietetic internship. Her career interests include working as a Registered Dietitian in a public health nutrition setting with the maternal and child health population and becoming a Certified Lactation Consultant. Ruth’s participation in the MCH leadership education and training program has further enhanced her desire to work with the MCH population and developed valuable leadership skills.


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