Kelly Jackson, EdD, MS, RD

Assistant Professor of Practice, Nutritional Sciences

Kelly has been an instructor and academic advisor at the University of Arizona (UA) for 18 years. Her main focus is in educating and mentoring the next generation of registered dietitians and healthcare professionals. Prior to working in higher education Kelly was a clinical dietitian in Portland, OR and Las Vegas, NV, specializing in cardiology and critical care. She received an MS in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona, and a BS in Nutrition and Food Management (Dietetics) from Oregon State University. She completed a dietetic internship at St. Mary’s Hospital, Mayo Medical Center in Rochester, MN. She also completed the University of Arizona Pediatric Pulmonary Center Nutrition Traineeship program in 2016, which focused on clinical nutrition for cystic fibrosis in pediatric and adult patients. In fall 2021 she was selected as a fellow for UA Cardon Academy for Teaching Excellence based on her contributions in the area of teaching. She recently finished a Doctorate in Education (EdD), with a focus on dietetics education and interprofessional education. Other professional interests include keeping up with nutrition research and weight inclusive health. Outside of work, Kelly enjoys being outdoors (hiking, walking) and having fun experimenting with new recipes.


The main reason I wanted to participate in the PPC traineeship program was to gain a better understand of pediatric nutrition in the clinical setting. In addition I previously had very little experience working in the area of maternal and child health. With regard to clinical pediatric nutrition, the bar certainly was met, as I had the opportunity to gain experience working with both pediatric and adult patients in CF clinic. Beyond CF clinic there were a multitude of other experiences that provided exposure to maternal and child health. The first field trip I participated in was a visit to the border in Nogales, Sonora. This experience was designed to provide context for issues around health disparities on the border. Before this trip I had actually never been to Mexico, and I honestly did not know what to expect. The group was able to tour several US and Mexican government agencies, as well as non-profit organizations providing support to migrants. It was eye-opening to hear about the challenges and dangers women and children face as they make their way to the border. Another unique experience was attending the Making Lifelong Connections annual meeting in New Mexico. During this meeting, there was ample opportunity to network with other trainees and former trainees. It was interesting to hear about the work others are doing in the area of maternal and child health. Everyone who attended seemed very committed to promoting their cause, as well as support others who are doing similar work. It was very inspiring and motivating to see the programs and projects being conducted. I hope to use this experience to better educate the next generation of registered dietitians (RDs) and health care professions. In my work as an instructor, I have the opportunity to work with students who intend not only to become RDs, but also physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and physical therapists. Much of what I learned in the traineeship program seems like it should also be part of any well-rounded pre-health curriculum. My goal is to expand the topics we cover with students as part of our undergraduate program to include some of the key concepts in maternal and child health. For example, through the traineeship program I was exposed to life course theory, which was the first time I had heard of this theory. While very intuitive in many ways, it is not something we normally deal with undergraduate students in any great detail. I will be presenting life course theory to students in a 400 level nutrition course and soliciting feedback from students. I anticipate that students will be receptive to this sort of information, since there is a general desire for more training related to social aspects of health. Overall I have grown tremendously professionally and personally with this traineeship program. I now have a better understanding of the issues and research related to maternal and child health. Through the traineeship I also have a better grasped of the government hierarchy, as well as training programs in maternal and child health. I am glad to have been part of this program and hope to remain connected with the program.