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Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience, Iowa State University

My name is Brittany Larsen. I am currently a third-year Doctor of Philosophy student studying neuroscience with prior educational background in health promotion sciences, addiction science, and dietetics. My core research interests include the investigation of underlying neurobiological mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease as well as the influences of adiposity and metabolic dysfunction on the structure and function of the brain and Alzheimer's disease risk. I have previously worked as a Clinical Dietitian in a critical access hospital for approximately 2.5 years, during which time I first became aware of the prevailing myriad gaps in knowledge within the nutrition field. This revelation ignited my aspiration to become a scientist. Consequently, I resigned from my position to attend graduate school in 2016, initially enrolling in a Doctor of Philosophy program in health promotion sciences.

During this time, however, my primary passion began to shift from nutrition to neuroscience, which was especially amplified after I took my first behavioral neuroscience course. The complexity of the field in combination with the prevailing, surprisingly marginal understanding of the brain drove my ambition to acquire the skill set necessary to conduct research and aid in the expansion of the neuroscience knowledgebase. I, therefore, opted to graduate from the health promotion sciences program with a Master of Science degree and instead enroll in a Doctor of Philosophy program in neuroscience in 2019. In spite of my nutrition-based educational background and work experience, my current neuroscience program has enabled me to incorporate my previously acquired skill set into my current research. My career path has led me to reside in multiple different states across the country. My most recent move was from Connecticut to start the doctoral program in Iowa. Outside of the research world, some of my favorite personal hobbies include traveling and extreme sports.


  • 2022–present
    Instructor or Record in Human Physiology Laboratory, Iowa State University
  • 2019–2021
    Graduate Research Assistant, Iowa State University
  • 2021–2021
    Graduate Teaching Assistant in Human Physiology Laboratory in Systems Neuroscience: Brain, Behavior, and Nutrition-Related Integrative Physiology, Iowa State University
  • 2019–2019
    Graduate Teaching Assistant in Food Service Systems Practicum I, University of Connecticut
  • 2017–2019
    Instructor of Record for Writing for Allied Health Research, University of Connecticut
  • 2018–2018
    Graduate Teaching Assistant in Food Service Systems Management II, University of Connecticut
  • 2016–2018
    Graduate Research Assistant II, University of Connecticut
  • 2017–2017
    Graduate Teaching Assistant in Interdisciplinary Approach to Obesity Prevention, University of Connecticut
  • 2016–2016
    Instructor of Record for Writing for Allied Health Research, University of Connecticut


  • 2023 
    Iowa State University, Doctor of Philosophy / Neuroscience
  • 2019 
    University of Connecticut, Master of Science / Health Promotion Sciences
  • 2013 
    McNeese State University, Master of Science / Nutrition
  • 2012 
    South Dakota State University, Bachelor of Science / Dietetics


  • 2022
    Beer, wine, and spirits differentially influence body composition in older adults - a UK Biobank study,
  • 2021
    APOE, TOMM40, and sex interactions on neural network connectivity,
  • 2021
    Inflammation, negative affect, and amyloid burden in Alzheimer's disease: Insights from the kynurenine pathway,
  • 2021
    Using machine learning to predict COVID-19 infection and severity risk among 4,510 aged adults: a UK Biobank cohort study,
  • 2020
    CSF glucose tracks regional tau progression based on Alzheimer's disease risk factors,
  • 2020
    Walking in the Light: How History of Physical Activity, Sunlight, and Vitamin D Account for Body Fat-A UK Biobank Study,
  • 2020
    Genetic Factors of Alzheimer's Disease Modulate How Diet is Associated with Long-Term Cognitive Trajectories: A UK Biobank Study,
  • 2019
    Heightened olfactory dysfunction and oral irritation among chronic smokers and heightened propylthiouracil (PROP) bitterness among menthol smokers,
  • 2019
    Modeling Associations between Chemosensation, Liking for Fats and Sweets, Dietary Behaviors and Body Mass Index in Chronic Smokers,

Professional Memberships

  • Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars Honor Society
  • National Society of Leadership and Success Honor Society
  • Phi Upsilon Omicron Honor Society