David and Jan Blittersdorf
Raymond J. McNulty
Miriam E. Nelson
Mary C. Watzin
MIRIAM E. NELSON
Class of 1983, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Miriam Nelson had no idea what to major in at UVM until she took an introductory nutrition course. “All the lights went on—bing, bing, bing! For the first time a science course related to me as a human being. It was so practical and so real.” She points out that such pragmatism and a concern for public health are “values that are characteristic of UVM.”
They are also characteristic of the remarkable career of the Director of the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition and Associate Professor of Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “I’m an academic,” Dr. Nelson says, “but I’m doing very real-world work.” In the real world, her books, which include Strong Women Stay Young, Strong Women, Strong Bones, and Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis, have sold more than a million copies in thirteen languages. She has appeared in her own PBS special. And the expert on exercise and nutrition for older adults was still in her thirties when she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Governor’s Committee on Physical Fitness and Sports.
One of Dr. Nelson’s goals is to win greater access to traditionally masculine strength-training programs for midlife and older women. Women exercise less frequently than men, yet such programs help preserve muscle and bone and ward off depression and Type II diabetes. She is also working with restaurants and after-school programs in Somerville, Massachusetts to determine whether improving diet and exercise can reduce obesity rates among one thousand first-, second- and third-graders.
Although Dr. Nelson earned her M.S. and Ph.D. at Tufts and has been there for nineteen years, she feels “a strong sense of loyalty” to her college and “the good work they’re doing there in nutrition, forestry, and animal husbandry. I’ve done a fair amount of alumni work, and at some point I’ll be back.”