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Arnold School of Public Health

Alumna strikes balance between military service and career in science

March 3, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

Although she’s lived in many different places, including growing up in Florida, Major Julianna Jayne considers South Carolina her home. She graduated from Winthrop University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition in 2006 and then joined the United States Army. After completing a master’s in nutrition at Baylor University, Jayne was stationed in San Antonio, El Paso, and Fort Knox. Then she decided to pursue a doctoral degree.

The presence of family nearby and the welcoming atmosphere of the health promotion, education, and behavior (HPEB) department helped make the Arnold School the right fit for Jayne, who hit it off right away with advisor Christine Blake. “Dr. Blake and I got along well, had similar research interests, and she outlined a plan for how I could complete all degree requirements without sacrificing the rigor or key experiences in the condensed three-year timeline that the Army allocated for my degree,” Jayne says. 

I don’t think many young people realize that you can be a soldier and have a career in science.

-Julianna Jayne, Ph.D. in HPEB 2018

During her Ph.D. in HPEB program, Jayne taught a course on human nutrition and completed research on nutrition and food choice behaviors among soldiers – earning a first-place poster award at Discover USC and publishing two peer-reviewed papers based on her work (Jayne has since begun publishing papers based on her dissertation). She also earned the Preparing Future Faculty Credential to facilitate her transition into academia after she retires from the Army.

Off campus, Jayne volunteered as a refugee mentor for Lutheran Family Social Services of South Carolina, providing instrumental and informational support for families newly resettled to the United States. Meanwhile, she balanced her educational and volunteer activities with family life – marriage to Major Tim Jayne, a physician assistant with the National Guard, and their five children, three of whom were adopted internationally (two from Ethiopia and one from China).

After her 2018 graduation, Jayne was assigned to the Military Nutrition Division at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts. In her role as a principal investigator and Military Deputy Chief, Jayne leads the division in providing the biomedical science basis for nutritional approaches that enable optimal performance for services members. 

“The Army changed my life and has given me so many opportunities I would not have had otherwise,” Jaynes says. “I don’t think many young people realize that you can be a soldier and have a career in science.”

After successfully striking a balance between service and science for well over a decade, Jayne is confident in her advice to others considering a similar path. “Planning ahead is key; set deadlines for yourself,” she says. “Get involved in service to the community, and don’t be too focused on your own challenges. It is important to look up and around and see what you can do to help others.”  

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