Nutrition major mixed travel, culture with studies

undergraduatesAsk most people to describe the typical college student and you'll probably hear something about a recent high school graduate, 18 to 22 years old, lives on campus, attends day classes, and is up until the wee hours of the night.
Erin Lyons is not your typical undergraduate. Two thirds of her way through majoring in nutritional science with minors in chemistry, music and Spanish, she decided to set her traditional education aside and pursue other interests.
After three years of total dedication to her academic efforts, Lyons' passion for travel and culture led her to study abroad in Puebla, Mexico for a semester.
"Having studied Spanish for seven years, the choice seemed obvious," Lyons says. "It's not only the sightseeing, tourist-side of travel that fascinates me, but the endeavor of truly learning about and understanding other cultures."
Following her excursion to the Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla, Lyons returned to UNR for another semester while preparing to pursue yet another passion: serving an 18-month mission for her church in Budapest, Hungary.
She was a little apprehensive starting back up again after her extended hiatus from school. Everything went smoothly, however, and she even found time to plan her wedding a year later. She is now in her last semester as an undergraduate at UNR.
Having entered UNR with an undecided major, she quickly gravitated towards nutritional science.
"I wanted to major in chemistry, but nutrition offered a huge variety of courses. Everything from anatomy, biology and chemistry to genetics, human health and psychology," she says.
Lyons has received a number of academic achievements: She is a member of the honors program, has made the Dean's List every semester, is a National Merit finalist, received the Presidential and Robert C. Byrd honors and the Comstock Scholarship, and was recently granted an Honors Undergraduate Research Award.
For her honors thesis, Lyons is exploring the molecular mechanisms behind the triglyceride-lowering effect of a grape seed extract under the supervision of Dr. Marie-Louise Ricketts in Agriculture, Nutrition & Vet Science.
"The experience is worthwhile because it has taught me the ins and outs of lab work, and it's allowed me to get to know Dr. Ricketts as a person and friend rather than simply a professor and mentor,"
Lyons says. Lyons, who graduated from Virginia City High School and plans to receive her bachelor's degree this spring, keeps it simple and sincere when asked how she would like to be remembered at UNR.
"My scholastic achievements and my desire to serve others. I want to enter the medical field not for fame or fortune, but to challenge myself intellectually and to help other people," she says.