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Inaugural IU Leadership in Pediatric Nutrition Award presented to Ashley Jacobs



INDIANAPOLIS — Educating skilled and compassionate dietitians has been a mission of the Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, for nearly 100 years. Part of this mission includes shaping students into advocates and leaders in the profession. A new fellowship funded through the university recognizes students who have excelled in these roles.

Ashley Jacobs, a 2012 graduate of the IU Leadership in Pediatric Nutrition certificate and fellowship program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and current Purdue University doctoral student, was presented with the inaugural Dr. Karyl Rickard Leadership in Pediatric Nutrition Award for her dedication to nutrition science and pediatric nutrition.

The award was created to promote the research and practice of pediatric nutrition by recognizing accomplished nutrition and dietetics graduate students who have demonstrated an ability to make positive contributions in the field or who have demonstrated exceptional leadership. Potential candidates are registered dietitians, graduates of an Indiana University nutrition and dietetics program, and have a strong history of leadership, service and research related to pediatric nutrition.

Jacobs has a strong track record of leadership roles in the Central Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Association, West Florida District of the American Dietetic Association and Nutrition Science Graduate Student Organization. She has been involved in numerous leadership and research activities, including research assistant, mentor and food drive organizer, that date back to her undergraduate years.

“Ashley has an unusually rich clinical and academic background that prepares her for national leadership roles in pediatric nutrition,” said Karyl Rickard a professor emeritus of the IU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at IUPUI.  She and her husband, Dr. Eugene Rickard, established the endowment that funds the award. “She has strong potential to make significant contributions to the field, with the completion of her doctoral program, and with the vision, courage and creativity so characteristic of her,” Rickard said.

Rickard established the endowment upon her retirement from the school after more than 40 years of marshaling the cause in Indiana and throughout the country to improve the health of infants and youth through excellence in pediatric nutrition practice, education and research.

Jacobs’ dedication to community nutrition education initiatives led to her participation in outreach programs to mentor and educate disadvantaged youth. These experiences fueled her desire to pursue doctoral research related to health and nutrition disparities within food-insecure populations, whose primary food sources are food pantries.

“My personal mission is to bridge the gap between the knowledge of nutrition and its practical everyday application in efforts to empower individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures to adopt healthier lifestyle habits which will transcend generations,” she said. It is her conviction that through engaging and interactive learning tools as well as self-monitoring exercises, children of food-insecure families can learn how to avoid poor health and obesity.

“Ms. Jacobs has done a remarkable job in exhibiting the qualities of a true champion of excellence in pediatric nutrition research and practice, and I am pleased that she is the first recipient of this noteworthy award, an award made possible by good friends of the school,” said IU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Dean Augustine Agho.

To learn more about supporting the Dr. Karyl Rickard Leadership in Pediatric Nutrition Award at Indiana University, contact Christine Baldwin at

The Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences is on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus in downtown Indianapolis and houses five major academic programs: health sciences, nutrition and dietetics, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physician assistant studies. Current research labs within the school include the Center for Translational Musculoskeletal Research, Advanced Neurorehabilitation Research Lab, Pulmonary Physiology Lab, Community Mobility and Participation in Society, Silver Hoosiers Health and Aging Research Lab, and Driving Safety and Rehabilitation Research Lab.