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We are initiating this series of e-Newsletters on a quarterly basis to better keep our alumni and friends informed about Department news and events. Items contributed by faculty, students, the Nutrition Dietetics Alumni Society, and the Development Office will be briefly presented in bulleted fashion. We will highlight opportunities for you to connect and participate. Please be sure to share this e-Newsletter with alumni and friends of Nutritional Sciences as we are anxious to grow our network of contacts. Please help us keep your contact information current by updating your contact information at the NDAS website.

Gordon JensenDo not hesitate to contact me directly with queries, suggestions, or concerns. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,
Gordon L. Jensen, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor and Head,
Deptartment of Nutritional Sciences
Professor of Medicine

Department News

National Research Council Ranks Graduate Program

The National Research Council has ranked the Penn State Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences among the nation’s best. For additional information, please see "A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States."

Report Proposes New Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium

Catharine Ross, professor and Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair, led the Institute of Medicine committee that developed a report that gives updated dietary reference intakes for vitamin D and calcium. Of note, Christine Lewis Taylor ’77g, ’86g NUTRN, president of the Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society, served as the study’s director. For additional information, please see

Grant Enables Creation of Childhood Obesity Training Program

A $4.5 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow the formation of a Penn State Childhood Obesity Prevention Graduate Training Program, a joint effort of the Departments of Nutritional Sciences and of Human Development and Family Studies. Leann Birch, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research, and Gordon Jensen, professor and head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences, will lead the program. For additional information, please see

Faculty Members and Students Receive Awards at American Society for Nutrition Meeting

Barbara Rolls, Helen A. Guthrie Chair and professor, and Leann Birch, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research, were named prestigious American Society for Nutrition (ASN) Fellows at this year’s ASN meeting, which was held in Washington, DC, in April. Also at the meeting, nutritional sciences graduate students gave twenty-three oral or poster presentations of their research. Among them, Ann Skulas-Ray and Maureen Spill participated in the ASN Clinical Emerging Leaders Oral Competition; Young Ah Seo was awarded first place for a poster; and Yao Zhang was a finalist in the Nutritional Science Council Graduate Student Research Award Oral Competition.

Upcoming Events

  • “State of the Department of Nutritional Sciences” Colloquium with Dr. Gordon Jensen
    Monday, September 12, 2011 4:00-5:00 p.m.
    Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building, University Park, PA

Alumni Reception at ADA FNCE

Join the Department of Nutritional Sciences for an alumni reception at the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in San Diego, California. The reception will take place on Sunday, September 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Pacific Room at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina.

Gary Fosmire Retires Following Distinguished Penn State Career

Gary J. Fosmire, a member of the Penn State faculty for 33 years, will retire as an associate professor of nutritional sciences effective June 30, 2011. In addition to being an associate professor, Fosmire also is the professor-in-charge of the nutrition undergraduate program.

Gary Fosmire

Fosmire is known for his research on essential trace elements, with an emphasis on zinc metabolism, as well as on the interactions between essential and toxic trace minerals. He also studies nutrition and gerontology.

In addition to his research record, Fosmire is highly regarded by both students and faculty for his devotion to students and to the art of teaching. His traditional approach of writing lecture notes on the blackboard by hand catches students’ attention, and his accessibility and openness keeps students coming back to him for advice and guidance.

As the professor-in-charge of the department’s undergraduate program, Fosmire plays an important role in ensuring the teaching effectiveness of faculty in the department. In this role, he reviews student and peer course evaluations with the department head, meets with faculty to discuss teaching, and offers suggestions to ensure that the program sustains its legacy of excellence in undergraduate education.

For his devotion to teaching, Fosmire earned the Health and Human Development Alumni Society Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009. The award honors a college faculty member’s excellence in teaching and contributions to the art of teaching.

Fosmire received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biochemistry and a Ph.D. degree in nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley. He has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State since 1978.

Scholarship Winners

Quite a few students in our department received prestigious scholarships this year, including:

  • Alexandra R. Wilson—Guthrie Honors Scholarship in the Department of Nutritional Sciences
  • Sarah Lynn Biegert—Kochanowski-Poirier Family Trustee Scholarship
  • Nicole Marie Zeky—Helen Wright Trustee Scholoarship
  • Christine Marie Simcox and Yaasmeen Attah Diallo—Helen Wright Trustee Scholarships
  • Michael John Milward—Genevieve P. Ho Award in Nutrition in the College of Health and Human Development
  • Li Wang, Yao Zhang, and Ming Chu Poon—Woot-Tsuen Wu Leung Scholarship in Nutrition in the College of Health and Human Development
  • Valerie Kristan Sullivan—Priem Family Honors Scholarship in the College of Health and Human Development
  • Anna Gracemarie Hummel—Lillian VanDyke Scholarship in Nutrition in the College of Health and Human Development

Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society (NDAS)

Alumni Society Hosts Gathering

The Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society (NDAS) recently hosted a successful gathering of alumni, students, and faculty members. The brunch, held at the Nittany Lion Inn in March, gave guests the opportunity to network and to receive an update on the department’s activities. A special component of the program was a tribute to the late Mary Frances Picciano ’70g, ’74g NUTR.

NDAS Identifies Award Winners and Alumni Volunteers

Members of NDAS will be working this summer to identify the recipient of the NDAS Outstanding Nutrition Alumni Award and to prepare for an “Alumni In the Classroom” program to be held during the fall semester. Alumni who wish to speak to a class as part of the “Alumni in the Classroom” program should contact Christine Lewis Taylor ’77g, ’86g NUTRN at

NDAS Requests Information and Assistance

All nutrition alumni are members of NDAS, and board members encourage alumni to follow the NDAS activities through its website, The website contains information about board members, the mission of NDAS, and how to become more active in alumni programs. The board encourages alumni to provide their current contact information and to suggest activities and ways to enhance the alumni network. The board also would like identify alumni who can provide summer work experience for students or who can serve as mentors.

Nutrition Graduate Student Association News

Iron Chef Competition Focuses on Mushrooms

In March, five teams of students, and faculty and staff members competed to create a winning dish using mushrooms as the secret ingredient. The “Iron Chef Competition,” which was held for the third time this year, is a fund-raising competition organized by nutritional sciences graduate students. The winning team, from Kinesiology/HRIM/Engineering, submitted a dish of mussel-broth risotto with shitake mushrooms stuffed in a baby portobello mushroom. The event raised over $1,500 and benefitted the State College Area Food Bank. Photos and a story as reported in the Centre Daily Times can be found here: and

Nutritional Sciences Students Win Awards at Penn State Graduate Research Exhibition

Nutritional sciences graduate students Pao Ying Lin Hsiao, Aditi Roy, and Julie Shlisky garnered first, second, and third places, respectively, for their poster presentations, which were showcased in the Penn State Graduate Research Exhibition held in March. For additional information, please see

Student Nutrition Association News

This year undergraduate students, through the Student Nutrition Association (SNA), were actively involved in THON and other community-service, fundraising, and social events. Some of the major projects they were involved in included a bake sale, a nutrition lesson at State College High School, Health and Human Development networking events, canning trips for THON, an SNA ornament sale, and get-togethers at Panera and Cold Stone Creamery. SNA also participated at the Exercise is Medicine Fair and the Alpha Epsilon Delta Health Promotion Fair. During its meetings, the group had the pleasure of hosting such speakers as Tracy Kelley, a Women, Infants, and Children program coordinator, and Jennifer Fleming, who is involved in nutrition research at Penn State. Altogether, it was a very positive and successful year and there are only more great things to come from the club!

Supporting the Department

Private gift support is one of the only safety nets available to our department as public funds continue to decline. Despite the current state of the economy, everyone can still play a part in securing the future of this department—its faculty members, students, research, and its promise—by making even a small gift, thereby raising the level of participation from alumni and friends.


Annual gifts are essential to the continued success of the department. Not only do they address some of the most pressing needs, such as student aid, but they also offer the flexibility to support faculty activities and to create new opportunities and academic initiatives. To ensure continued research and outreach efforts, gifts in support of the Department of Nutritional Sciences remain an important priority, as well.

To make a gift online, please visit By checking the box “view giving opportunities” at the bottom of the online form and checking “Nutrition Department” under the College of Health and Human Development header, you have the opportunity to designate your gift to specifically support this department.

If you wish to speak personally about making a gift to the department, please contact Maggie Crispell in the college’s Office of Development at 814-865-1064 or

The Dora Colver Endowment

Dora A. Colver ’43, ’51g H Ec was an only child from Bethlehem, Pa., who came to Penn State and majored in nutrition. After receiving both her undergraduate and master’s degrees in home economics she went to work for a hospital in Philadelphia as a dietitian. Next, she took a job at Ohio State University as a dietitian in their medical center, where she developed her skills and was soon recruited to integrate nutrition into Ohio State’s nursing program. Eventually, she went on to a position in student health services where she worked until her retirement in 1983.

Colver died in 2006, but not before leaving her legacy in the academic area where she felt most at home. As long ago as 1986, she had made a good financial decision both for herself and for the Penn State Department of Nutritional Sciences when she requested information from the University about its Charitable Gift Annuity Program. Never having marrying or had children, she considered her interests and her charities her “family,” and before long she decided that the purchase of a gift annuity paying her a fixed but stable benefit for her lifetime was an excellent choice. Making a bequest in her estate to benefit the Department of Nutritional Sciences, she felt she was taking care of “one of her heirs.” She also made provisions for her and a community theater group.

Today, the Dora Colver Endowment serves tremendous needs by helping Department Head Gordon Jensen with unanticipated, unbudgeted expenses necessary to be able to respond to the emerging needs of students, faculty members, and staff members. It’s what’s being described today as an “invisible safety net,” given the challenges of the economy and public funding. From a modest commitment made long before her death, her investment supports today’s department.

Colver was a proud Penn Stater and member of her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, who received numerous awards for her community volunteerism and service. Through the simple act of expressing her concern for her roots—by making an investment that helped her personal situation immediately as well as benefiting Penn State in the future—her memory and legacy have been preserved. Though a student from many years ago, her philanthropy is alive and well today.

Information about a variety of planned giving techniques and tools are available by contacting the Penn State Office of Gift Planning at or 814-865-0872, and asking for Brian McCullough ( Or contact Maggie Crispell, director of development at or 814-865-1064. Please consider making your own lasting mark on the future of nutrition at Penn State.

Email Update

NDAS and the Department of Nutritional Sciences are joining efforts to identify email addresses for our nutrition alumni. Please use the update your email address to stay in touch at: