Mary Beth Kavanagh: Science and Communication

As a longtime educator at Case Western Reserve University, Mary Beth Kavanagh has a passion for both science and communication. It's no surprise that she's been involved in nutrition and dietetics research for more than a decade. "Teaching and research are a perfect combination," Kavanagh says. "My greatest hope is that my work provides a solid grounding in the science of nutrition so that the patients and clients my students serve and those who read my research reports will ultimately benefit from this knowledge." Recently, Kavanagh has been working with the Healthy Nutrition Academy' Dietetics Practice Based Research Network. "It's been exceptionally effective at promoting research and helping practitioners become involved," she says. "It's crucial to the forward movement of our profession." 

What DPBRN project did you participate in, and why did you decide to do it?
I collaborated with DPBRN on an electronic pilot test​ of a Cultural and Linguistic Competency Self-Assessment Tool for Dietetic Practitioners. I had about 10 years of research experience before working with DPBRN. I think this arm of the Academy has been exceptionally effective at promoting research and helping practitioners to become involved. It's crucial to the forward movement of our profession.

How have you personally benefited from participating in research? 
I have learned so much about the research process, working together as a team, the ins and outs of getting published, and so much more. Every project and every research team is unique, and I have learned a great deal from each project and each collaborator.

Would you recommend other RDNs get involved in research? 
Yes, I definitely think every dietetic practitioner should participate in research on some level. It could be something as simple as documenting patient care in ANDHI or as complex as designing and implementing intervention trials. Research proves the effectiveness of our interventions and increases the value of our practice — that equals more dollars in compensation for all of us!


Food & Nutrition Magazine publishes articles on food and diet trends, highlights of nutrition research and resources, updates on public health issues and policy initiatives related to nutrition, and explorations of the cultural and social factors that shape Americans’ diets and health.