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People of the REACH Lab

The Research on Eating and Activity for Community Health (REACH) lab is directed Sarah Colby, PhD. The REACH lab is the part of the Infant, Child, and Adolescent Nutrition Laboratory (ICAN) lab group. The ICAN Lab at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, conducts nutrition research with pregnant women, mothers and fathers, and children from infancy through adolescence. The REACH lab works primarily with adolescent populations (ages 9-19 years old). Current research projects with adolescents involve culinary and gardening family interventions. In addition to adolescent population research, projects in the REACH lab include foci on marketing and college environments.

Sarah Colby, PhD, RD, MHS

Sarah received her doctoral degree in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She worked as a Nutrition Research Scientist for the USDA/ARS at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center and as an assistant professor in the Department Nutrition at East Carolina University. She is an obesity prevention behavioral researcher with a focus on health communication through novel nutrition education strategies (including marketing, arts, and technology). Outside of work, she spends her time with her two boys, Dylan and Devin, and her loving husband, Jason.


Graduate Students

Chelsea Allison

Chelsea graduated from the University of Tennessee in May 2016 with her BS in nutrition. She is a first year graduate student studying Public Health Nutrition and plans to complete her Masters of Science and the Dietetic Internship. Chelsea’s current research interest is adolescent cooking and nutrition education within the school system.


Marissa McElrone

Marissa McElrone 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. Marissa is a Maternal and Child Health Nutrition Leadership Trainee. Her research focuses on the impacts of dietary acculturation on food security status and the use of community based participatory research interventions to address these issues with refugee and immigrant families. She enjoys running, hiking, paddling, the outdoors, travel, and ethnic food.

Molly Rigell

Molly is a graduate student pursuing a Masters of Science in Public Health Nutrition, a Masters of Public Health, and minors in Epidemiology and Statistics. She previously received her Bachelors of Arts in English – Technical Communication and her Masters of Arts in English – Rhetoric specializing in racial identity theory from the University of Tennessee. Molly is also a professional violinist and enjoys singing, reading, drinking too much coffee, and weekly trivia nights with friends.

Sa’Nealdra Wiggins 

Sa’Nealdra was born in Frankfurt, Germany and raised in Clarksville, TN. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Health Education: Public Health. She has been involved in the REACH lab for about 3 years and has become an experienced researcher. Sa’Nealdra is in her second year of the nutritional sciences doctoral program. Her research interests are women’s health (specifically preconception nutrition), along with nutrition education disparities among low income populations. She hopes to one day develop workshops for women that will allow them to reach their optimal health statuses. She loves creating new dishes with a little help from Pinterest! Sa’Nealdra was uniquely named after her parents. Sandra + O’Neal= Sa’Nealdra.


Undergraduate Students

ainsleys-pic-for-websiteAinsley Ellington

Ainsley is currently a sophomore in the Haslam Scholars Program pursuing her bachelor’s degree in an interdisciplinary program. Her major is entitled Nutrition Intervention for High-Risk Pediatric and Adolescent Populations. She plans on getting her Dual-Master’s in Nutrition and Public Health. Ainsley’s specific research interests are broad ranging from breastfeeding education to nutrition education/assistance for low-income and vulnerable populations. On campus, she serves as a Resident Assistant, is active in the Center for Leadership and Service, and loves to participate in intramural athletics.


unnamedCaitlin McGinnis

Caitlin McGinnis is a junior studying nutrition at The University of Tennessee. She is an ultimate foodie with a passion towards whole wellness and nourishing food. Her long-term career goal is to become a registered dietitian who works in a practice. Caitlin believes that food has an impact on our lives in so many ways– ranging from a cellular nourishment level, and all the way to an emotional, physical, and social well-being level. She wants to give people ways to enjoy a healthy life through recipes, advice, and one-on-one coaching.


Ashley Northcutt

Ashley Northcutt is a senior from Raleigh, NC majoring in Nutrition. She hopes to attend dental school after graduating in May. She has loved everything the University of Tennessee has had to offer, especially the football games and the Get Fruved project. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, spending time with friends, being an amateur photographer, and traveling.



Magen Payne

Magen Payne is a junior undergraduate student pursuing her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition- Dietetics Concentration. She hopes to become a registered dietitian and achieve a PhD in lactation and prenatal work. She is Recruitment Co-Chair in Fruved and a second year resident assistant in Morrill Hall. When she isn’t working or studying, Magen enjoys singing, weight lifting, and cooking.