Department of Nutritional Sciences (NUTR) Faculty Directory

Cindy Adams, PhD
Instructor and Academic Advisor
M.S., Rutgers University (1983)
Ph.D., Lehigh University (2015)
Research Interests:

Rita Castro, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Lisbon, Portugal (2004)
Research Interests:

My research interest’s concerns the homocysteine metabolism, genetic and non-genetic determinants of hyperhomocysteinemia, and the molecular mechanisms through which hyperhomocysteinemia causes endothelial dysfunction and vascular disease. My work in this area has been showing that homocysteine indirectly modulates DNA, RNA and protein methylation patterns, via accumulation of its metabolic precursor, S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH), a negative regulator of most cell methyltransferases.

Mary Dean Coleman Kelly, Ph.D., MS, RD
Didactic Program Director, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
MS, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Research Interests:

Brenda Eissenstat, MS, RD
Senior Instructor and Lead Academic Adviser
M.S., Utah State University (1986)
Research Interests:

Jennifer Fleming, MS, RD, LDN
M.S. The Pennsylvania State University, 2003
Research Interests:

The effects of diet on risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Macronutrient content of the diet and energy balance.

Dara Wheeler Ford, PhD, RDN
PhD, The Pennsylvania State University, 2013
Research Interests:

Xiang Gao, MD, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Director of Nutritional Epidemiology Lab
M.S., Peking Union Medical College & Chinese Academy for Medical Science, 2001
Ph.D., Tufts University, 2005
M.D., Shanghai Second Medical University, 1994
Research Interests:

Dr Gao’s research interests include nutritional Epidemiology, sleep disorders, neurological diseases, aging, global health and stress. Data from several large international ongoing prospective cohorts have been used, in which approximately ~500,000 men and women have been followed regarding their lifestyles and health conditions. These cohorts include the Nurses’ Health Study, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, and the Kailuan Cohort.

Alison D. Gernand, PhD, MPH, RD
Ann Atherton Hertzler Early Career Professor in Global Health, Assistant Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences
PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2011
MPH, University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston, 2003
Research Interests:
  • Micronutrient deficiencies (in particular, vitamin D)
  • Pregnancy and prepregnancy maternal nutritional status
  • Placenta (growth, vascular development and angiogenesis, pathology)
  • Adverse pregnancy outcomes (fetal growth restriction and SGA, preeclampsia, preterm birth)
  • Plasma volume and biomarker concentrations
  • Public health issues in low-income and middle-income countries

Kathleen L. Keller, Ph.D.
Associate Professor / Department of Nutritional Sciences / Department of Food Science
Ph.D., Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (2002)
Research Interests:

We study eating behaviors in young children, in particular, how do they develop and how are they related to risk for obesity later in life. We are using techniques such as brain imaging and genetic screening to provide insight into the biological underpinnings of eating behavior and food preferences in children. Also, we are researching the impact of food marketing and branding on these eating behaviors.

  • Eating behaviors in children
  • Neural mechanisms of taste preference and eating behaviors in children
  • Food marketing and childhood obesity
  • Genetic and neural influences in taste in children

Shawnee M. Kelly, MS, RDN, LDN
Coordinator of MPS & Senior Instructor
M.S., Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 2005
M.S., Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Research Interests:

Lynn Parker Klees, MA, RD, CDE, LDN
Senior Instructor, Professor In Charge of the Undergraduate Program
M.A. Oakland University, 1983
Research Interests:

Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., RD
Distinguished Professor of Nutrition
Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1978
Research Interests:

The effects of diet on established and emerging risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Denise Conforti Lawson, MS, RD
Dietetic Internship Director and Instructor
MS in Nutrition, Tufts University, 2002
Research Interests:

Jennifer Meengs, MS, RD
Instructor of Foods Lab
M.S., The Pennsylvania State University, 2011
Research Interests:

Laura E. Murray-Kolb, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Professor-in-Charge of the Graduate Program
M.S., The Pennsylvania State University, 1998
Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University, 2003
Research Interests:
  • Micronutrient deficiencies (primarily iron)
  • Mother-child interactions
  • Child development
  • Cognition and affect
  • Biofortification

Muzi Na, PhD, MHS
Assistant Professor in Nutritional Epidemiology, Department of Nutritional Sciences
PhD in Human Nutrition, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2014
MHS in Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2014
Research Interests:
  • Maternal and child nutrition
  • Infant and young child feeding practices
  • Food insecurity
  • Innovative quantitative methods in nutrition research

Gina Pazzaglia, PhD, RDN
Director of the Online Master's Program Instructor of Nutritional Sciences Outreach Associate Professor
Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University 1999
Ph.D., Arizona State University 2016
M.S., Syracuse University 1989
Research Interests:
  • Pedagogy
  • Best practices in teaching and learning
  • Cultural competence and diversity skills
  • Best practices in online and hybrid learning
  • Nutrition education and health in the Latino population

Connie J. Rogers, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Associate Professor
M.P.H., The University of Pittsburgh, 2003
Ph.D., The University of Pittsburgh, 1998
Research Interests:

My research focuses on the role of changes in energy balance and related nutritional factors on inflammation, immune regulation and cancer risk using both animal models and human subjects.

Barbara J. Rolls, Ph.D.
Helen A. Guthrie Chair and Professor
Ph.D., University of Cambridge, England, 1970
Research Interests:

Psychological and environmental controls of food intake and food selection in normal weight and obese humans

Dietary strategies for weight management

A. Catharine Ross, Ph.D.
Professor and Occupant of Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair and Department Head
Ph.D., Cornell University, 1976
Research Interests:
  • Hepatic lipid metabolism and gene expression
  • Vitamin A in infection and immunity
  • Retinoid kinetics in neonates

Gregory Shearer, PhD
Associate Professor
Research Interests:

Lipid mediators are bioactive metabolites of dietary fatty acids. They act on tissues to alter many disease-related functions, including the stiffness of blood vessels and the body's response to stress.

Most investigations focus on the actions of individual lipid mediators, however over-nutrition and the stress of "western diets" is characterized by a global shift of dietary fatty acids, not a shift in any single fatty acid. The consequence of multiple changes in fatty acids is a corresponding change in the array of lipid mediators produced. We seek to understand disease-related functional changes in the context of globally changes and use them to identify markers of disease and better ways to prevent or manage disease.

Jennifer Savage Williams, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor; Interim Director, Center for Childhood Obesity Research
Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University, 2008
Research Interests:

Developing individualized, adaptive prenatal and postnatal interventions to promote health across the lifespan.

Examining the effects of responsive parenting on children’s development of eating behaviors and health outcomes.

Building community partnerships to develop efficient and effective interventions that use electronic-health, multi-media technology to target low-income mothers to reduce children’s intake of “empty calories”.

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