The American Society for Nutrition (ASN) is happy to continue an ongoing series of member spotlights; an opportunity to shine a light on the work of our terrific members! ASN’s mission is to advance the science, education, and practice of nutrition with a vision of a healthier world through evidence-based nutrition. The nutrition community is made up of individuals with diverse experiences, perspectives, and ideas. This diversity is the fundamental strength of our professional society and we hope this member spotlight series can only begin to celebrate the vast achievements made by our members in the field.

For this month’s member spotlight and in honor of Woman’s History Month, we share our interview with Dr. Sarah Booth, acting ASN Treasurer, Director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (HNRCA), and Senior Scientist and Leader of the Vitamin K Team at the HNRCA. Read the full interview below sharing her experience in the field, her work as an international leader in vitamin K research, and her advice for young women pursuing a career in nutrition research.

Can you tell us what drew you in to the field of science, specifically to nutrition science?   

I had the fortune of striking up a written correspondence with Dr. David Morley, a British pediatrician who was passionate about technologies in child healthcare and education. He encouraged me to further my studies and apply to the nutrition program at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  I never met him in person but he paved the path for my career in nutrition science, for which I will always be grateful.

What obstacles have you experienced and how did you overcome them? 

During my undergraduate studies, I was given a lot of advice by male professors – all in the form of what I should not do.  One very well-intentioned professor advised me against a career in research because in his opinion, it was hard to women to succeed in research.  I worked for quite a few years before returning to school and that was a good choice for me.  It gave me the opportunity to better understand who I was and pursue the goals that were right for me. 

My father’s mother gave my mother “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf when my parents got married. She wanted to encourage my mother to carve out a little bit of independence for herself during an era when most women were not independent.   Throughout the generations, the women in my family made many sacrifices that have allowed me to have the career I chose – I have never needed to look far for inspirational women.

“Explore, make mistakes and stop to smell the roses…one does not need to be the first or the best in everything…”

What advice would you give young women who want to pursue a similar career path?  

Explore, make mistakes and stop to smell the roses …. one does not need to be the first or the best in everything…I worry that some young women are so goal-oriented and perfection-driven that they do not have the bandwidth to experience the serendipitous joys along their journey.

How can ASN as an organization and individual members help current and future female scientists in the field of nutrition? 

As a society, ASN is very supportive of women scientists. Women scientists though work in organizations that are not, at times, as supportive. Therefore as members, we all need to be there to support our next generation of scientists – it can be as simple as an informal conversation or, as in my experience, a correspondence to inspire someone to follow their dreams.

Read our previous ASN Member Spotlight with, Dr. Elizabeth L Johnson and learn how to get involved with ASN, your professional home for support, career development, opportunities to share and discover new research, networking and collaboration, and more throughout your entire career.

ASN Connect is ASN’s members-only online social network, bringing together nearly 8,000 professionals with similar interests and goals. Engage with colleagues around the world through discussion boards and designated forums to collaborate, make new connections, and share ideas, resources and information. Log in to your member dashboard and choose your Research Interest Section(s)! Join members of your RIS on ASN Connect to get involved today!