Degree: Ph.D. in Dietetics and Nutrition
College: Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work
At only 18 years old, Preciosa Martinez-Motta escaped the political and economic turmoil in Venezuela for better education opportunities in the United States.
With a penchant for science and a curiosity for how things work, Preciosa joined FIU as a biology student, where she juggled learning English with the high demands of her coursework.
After graduating with her B.S. in Biology and driven to pursue a career that helps others, Preciosa joined FIU’s B.S. in Nursing program, which sparked her interest in the field of dietetics. After obtaining her bachelor’s in nursing and becoming a registered nurse, Preciosa enrolled in the M.S. in Dietetics and Nutrition program at FIU to become a registered dietitian—a move that would bring together her love of science and healthcare to further support communities.
While in the program, Preciosa interned at a private dietetics practice, where she met patients who had undergone bariatric surgery to assist with weight management. She learned that many of the patients could benefit from learning additional tools to create long-term healthy eating habits. To better assist these patients, Preciosa enrolled in FIU’s doctoral program in Dietetics and Nutrition.
Through the program, and with the support of her mentor, Preciosa developed and tested a six-session mindfulness-based program to teach Hispanic bariatric patients how to cope better with emotional demands and regulate food consumption based on hunger and satiety cues. Her findings suggested that mindfulness-based practices coupled with stress management, self-compassion, and intuitive eating, may be beneficial for these patients. Preciosa presented her research at several conferences with positive reception from the medical and academic community.
Throughout her journey at FIU, Preciosa maintained an excellent academic record, served as an adjunct professor, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was awarded four times the prestigious C.V. Starr Scholarship.
Post graduation, Preciosa would like to offer her mindfulness-based intervention to bariatric surgery patients. She also hopes to continue working as a professor at FIU to help foster the next generation of dietetic students.
By Stephanie Rendon
Senior Manager, Communications and Marketing
Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work