Knox alumna Mrinalini Chakraborty '12, national field coordinator for the Women’s March, was recently intervi...
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Major in Biology, Minor in Psychology
Describe your Honors research.
My research looks at a possible way to improve eating behaviors among college students to reduce the high rates of obesity. I wanted to find a way to help improve the health of students at Knox, and very little research had been done on interventions in all-you-can-eat cafeterias. The stoplight system of labeling is used on food packaging in the UK so I thought it would be interesting to see if it would be effective in a different setting.
I began by assessing students' knowledge regarding the healthiness of a variety of foods and then asked them to photograph their plates for one week. The second week, I coordinated with the cafeteria staff to arrange for all foods to be labeled with stickers indicating the healthiness of each item according to a number of criteria from a previous study (green was used for healthy items, yellow for neutral, and red for unhealthy).
Participants continued to photograph their foods during the intervention. Finally, three weeks after the intervention was taken down, students photographed their plates for one last week. I used the pictures of the plates to calculate the percentage of food eaten that was healthy, unhealthy, and neutral and compared each of the three weeks to see if there was any change in food choices.
How has Knox helped you prepare for this research?
Everyone from my faculty mentors to the Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Studies to the cafeteria staff has gone out of their way to ensure that my research was a success. I also received funding through a Richter Grant that allowed me to provide incentives for participation in my project.
Were any other opportunities influential in helping you develop your honors research?
While studying abroad, I was involved in a research project with OxPolicy, a student-run think tank. I was a researcher and report writer for a project examining health inequalities in Oxfordshire, UK. Working on the project with a group of students from the very beginning through completion was excellent preparation for developing my Honors project.
How do you see the skills you learned through your Honors project benefiting you post-Knox?
I have already noticed that my Honors project has benefited me in job and medical school applications. Everyone is impressed that an undergraduate was able to conduct an independent research project that is comparable to a graduate level project. It also has taught me about organizational skills, setting benchmarks, and communicating with various entities.
Rosen is a member of sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma, and is a biology and chemistry Red Room tutor. She studied abroad at Oxford University for a year, where she was a member of the rowing team. Other professional experiences include volunteering on an ambulance in Israel and working as a workplace wellness coordinator for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
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