TOS Fellows Spotlight: Interview with Diana Thomas, PhD, FTOS

By Camille Schneider, RD posted 05-22-2017 14:26


Today the membership would like to take few minutes and recognize a new Fellow of the Obesity Society, Diana Thomas, PhD, FTOS.

Q: What is your full name, credentials, and title?

A:  Diana Thomas, PhD, FTOS, Professor of Mathematical Sciences at West Point


Q: What is your primary research question or clinical field?

A: My primary research question is to model phenomena in obesity that informs and predicts. The specific applications I’ve been involved in involve modeling body shape and composition, physiological responses to exercise, long-term response to obesity treatments, and predicting trends in obesity prevalence.


Q: How long have you been in your career?

A: I shifted from mainstream mathematics research to obesity research since 2008, but I’ve been a mathematician since 1996.


Q: What excites you the most about your work?

A: It is exciting to work together toward to improve treatment and prevention programs with phenomenal scientists trained in other disciplines like medicine, nutrition. Additionally, seeing how something I had a hand in translate to a positive outcome for a patient is tremendously rewarding.


Q: What advice do you have to offer early career obesity professionals?

A: Be open to new ideas and drawing from scientists in other fields and try to find a good mentor that does something completely orthogonal to your post-grad work. Obesity is a complex problem and requires our collective efforts to better understand and develop effective treatments and preventions. Everyone brings a few puzzle pieces to table which we have to work collaboratively to put together. It’s not just important to think this way, but very rewarding and enjoyable.


Q: What do you enjoy doing when not at work?

A: I play guitar in our Department Math Band and run around with Team Math 1 for intramural basketball. I was away when my team won the championship which is a tremendous achievement at probably the most physically fit academic institution in our nation. Please do not be offended Navy and Air Force J.


Q: Why did you decide to join TOS?

A: My mentor in the field, Steven Heymsfield, suggested I attend a TOS meeting. I remember it well. The meeting was held in DC and I had a great time. I joined TOS at the meeting itself.


Q: How has TOS helped your career?

A: My research relies on strong collaborations with investigators who are not in my area. Being involved in TOS naturally brings differently trained individuals together and while you are together to talk TOS business, invariably research collaborations get formed. Several of my recent projects started at committee meetings.