Judith A. Gilbride: An Inspiring Educator for the Nutrition and Dietetics Field

Photo: Carol Miller Photography


A career in education wasn’t initially the plan for Judith A. Gilbride, PhD, RDN, CDN, FAND. Growing up, Gilbride developed a love for food, nurtured by her father, a chef, who prepared what she refers to as “special adult-kid foods,” such as squab and lobster tea sandwiches.

Edith Marjorie Hulsizer

Born in Flemington, N.J., Edith Marjorie Hulsizer (later Copher) attended Oberlin College in Ohio and graduated from Simmons College in Boston. She was a student dietitian at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston before taking a position at Winchester (Mass.) Hospital.

Copher was one of the first dietitians to serve overseas when she joined the Harvard U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 5, British Expeditionary Force in May 1917, and later was assigned to Base Hospital No. 57, American Expeditionary Force. Cited for her contributions to the Allied cause, she was decorated by King George V of England and by the French government for improving foodservice delivery systems in field hospitals and for introducing dietetics into the British Army.

Following World War I, Copher went to work at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, where she served as Chief Dietitian. She was an active member of the American Dietetic Association and served as the Journal of the American Dietetic Association’s first book reviewer in 1924. Copher died of a bronchial illness at the age of 44 in 1935. Ten years later, a memorial award was established to recognize her distinguished contributions to the dietetics profession. The award is presented by a registered dietitian nutritionist who is on staff of Barnes Hospital (now Barnes-Jewish Hospital).

In her undergraduate studies at Framingham State College, she was required to follow a dual curriculum within the home economics education division including teaching and dietetics. “There was no space for choosing elective courses,” she recalls. “As a senior, I struggled to teach 7th and 8th graders clothing and textiles along with nutrition and health. My resolve for pursuing a dietetic internship and a career in nutrition and health became even stronger from my experience as a student teacher.”

Despite early struggles, teaching has remained a substantial part of Gilbride’s life: from teaching assistant to lecturer, instructor, assistant professor, associate professor — and now, as a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. Gilbride works with undergraduate and graduate students, as well as interns and alumni who live and work in New York and all over the United States and the world.

“Most rewarding has been the accomplishments of my students and watching them grow and find their special niche,” she says. “In particular, I take great pride in watching undergraduate and doctoral students grow and flourish through the acquisition of new knowledge and real-world experiences.” Her advice to students and professionals entering the workforce — or in any stage of their career: “Each position should offer new challenges and the opportunity to succeed.”

And succeed, she has. Beyond her work at NYU, Gilbride has served the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in positions ranging from committee member to House of Delegates speaker and president. She received a Medallion Award in 1997 and is the recipient of the 2018 Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award, the highest honor the Academy bestows on a member.

“The Copher Award represents the pinnacle for serving the nutrition and dietetics profession and I am truly honored,” says Gilbride. “Based on Marjorie Hulsizer Copher’s pioneering leadership and an examination of our history as a profession, it is up to all of us to ‘touch and change’ the narrative today and tomorrow.”

Lauren Fox
Lauren Fox is the managing editor of Food & Nutrition Magazine and senior manager of creative media at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.