Health and Physical Activity EdD Student Wins Research Award

Trisha Cousins, an EdD student in Health and Physical Activity at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, won the Best Research Methods Award at the virtual 2020 Pennsylvania Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics Annual Meeting and Exhibition Session in April.

The award was presented for her poster presentation on “Breastfeeding Experiences and Barriers Among Mothers with Perceived Sufficient Milk Supply.” In her final step in the EdD program, she will defend the research as her problem of practice next month.

Through focus groups that she conducted with mothers in southwestern Pennsylvania, Cousins identified emerging themes that she believes can help practitioners better understand the education needs and build more effective support systems for mothers.

Cousins chose the topic because of her academic focus in maternal and pediatric nutrition, and also because of her personal experience as a mother.

Cousins had been working on the project since she began the EdD program in 2017. In addition to being a student, she is also a registered dietitian nutritionist and a clinical coordinator and instructor at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

“The EdD program has taught me to take risks and think outside the box. It’s helped me transform my practical knowledge into evidence-based research,” said Cousins.

Sharon Ross, a faculty member in Health and Physical Activity who is Cousins’ advisor, said Cousins work is useful to mothers who are bombarded with conflicting information about breastfeeding.

“For EdD students in our school, the goal is to address a problem in order to improve practice,” said Ross. “In Trisha’s case, this needs assessment of mothers with perceived insufficient milk supply in southwestern Pennsylvania will inform her course content and offerings to improve the training of future dietitians and identify ways that local practitioners and support groups can meet their needs.”

Cousins also served the community when she recently appeared on KDKA news to share her expertise on headache triggers and remedies during the often stressful time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It feels good to provide information and help out in a time when many people are experiencing stress and the physical repercussions of it,” said Cousins.

Cousins recently received the honor of Best EdD Student in Health and Physical Activity at the School of Education.

As part of Pitt Education’s ongoing efforts to maintain social connections during the pandemic, Cousins will host a virtual Chat & Check-In session on Wednesday, May 6 at 10:00 a.m. Members of the school community can get the link to her session on the school intranet, by clicking here.

Students, staff, and faculty are welcome to attend and enjoy casual conversation.

“My hope is that this new knowledge can help create better futures for breastfeeding mothers,” said Cousins.

Learn More

The Health and Physical Activity programs are currently accepting applications. For more information, contact

To learn more about Pitt Education’s Chat & Check-Ins and sign up for a session, including the one hosted by Cousins, click here. The events are for members of the school community.