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Faculty members Shawnee Kelly and Lynn Parker-Klees became Fellows of the Academy of Nutrition and DieteticsThe designation is bestowed to select members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who have made significant and sustained contributions to the field of nutrition and dietetics. 

Greg Shearer, associate professor, has been assigned to the Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity committee in the Penn State Faculty Senate. 

Laura Murray-Kolbassociate professor and professor-in-charge of the graduate programis a co-investigator on a recently funded grant that will examine iron deficiency in children with failure to thrive. This project is a collaborative effort with colleagues at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center and is funded by the Children’s Miracle Network. 

Stephen Kodish joined the department as a tenure-track assistant professor. As a social and behavioral researcher, Kodish has a research agenda focusing on the design, implementation, and evaluation of interventions that aim to improve the health and nutrition of vulnerable populations globally. He has worked as a research consultant for several multilateral humanitarian and development organizations, including UNICEF, Médecins Sans Frontières, International Rescue Committee, and the World Food Programme (WFP) across a variety of countries throughout Africa, South America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Most recently he worked at the WFP headquarters in Rome, Italy where he supported the country offices of Madagascar, Timor-Leste, and Peru to improve their acute malnutrition programming through complementary social and behavioral change interventions. Currently, he is leading nutrition-focused formative research projects in several Pacific Island Countries and northeast Nigeria. Prior to joining Penn State, Kodish earned his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in international health with a focus on social amd behavioral interventions and completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at Harvard University in nutrition. He will teach NUTR 421 (Food, Culture, and Health Trends) in Spring 2019. He may be reached at

Xiang Gao, associate professor, served as judge for The Meinian AI competition for healthcare on June 28. There were 3,151 teams from eight countries who participated the competition. Gao served as the judge in the final stage, including five finalists. This is the first AI competition for healthcare in China and also one the the biggest in the world. The event has been intensively covered by Chinese media


Xiang Gao, far left, serves as judge at health care competition
Xiang Gao, left, associate professor, serves as judge for The Meinian AI competition for healthcare in June. The competition included 3,151 teams from eight countries. 

Student spotlights

  • Research from Shue Huang, graduate student in Gao's lab, suggests that tea appears to slow the natural decrease in HDL that occurs during aging.
  • Emily Seiger   received first place in the University Libraries Information Literacy Awardat the 2018 Undergraduate Exhibition for her presentation entitled, “The effects of iron status on mood, stress, and quality of life in women of reproductive age.” The award recognizes scholarly work based on a foundation of careful background research and literature review. She is an honors student in Laura Murray-Kolb’s lab.
  • Ruth Pobee was awarded an Africana Research Center grant. The funding will help with her dissertation project examining the effects of iron on psychosocial wellbeing in pregnant women in Ghana. Pobee also won third place in the Social and Behavioral Sciences category at the 33rdAnnual Graduate Exhibition. Her presentation was entitled, “Hemoglobin concentration is associated with affective variables in early pregnancy." Pobee is a doctoral student in Murray-Kolb’s lab. 
  • Rachel Walker received a Health and Human Development Kligman Graduate Fellowship for the 2018-19 academic year. Over the next year, Walker will complete her doctoral dissertation entitled, “Using compartmental modeling to describe the effect of inflammation on the regulation of circulating fatty acids and oxylipins by the liver and adipose.” Walker is a doctoral student in Shearer’s lab. 
  • Alyssa Tindall won first place in the Health and Life Sciences category at the 33rdAnnual Graduate Exhibition. Her presentation was entitled, “Cardiovascular benefits of replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat or monounsaturated fat from walnuts or vegetable oils." Tindall is a doctoral student in Distinguished Professor of Nutrition Penny Kris-Etherton’s lab.
  • Faris Zuraikat was selected to be a post-doctoral fellow for the American Heart Association’s Strategically Focused Research Network at Columbia University Medical Center. He recently earned his Ph.D. in professor and Helen A. Guthrie Chair of Nutritional Sciences Barbara Rolls’ lab. 
  • Alissa Smethers was selected to receive the George H. Collier New Investigator Travel Award from the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, SSIB 2018 meeting in Bonita Springs, Florida. She also received a Clinical Emerging Leaders Award Competition Finalist and an Emerging Leaders in Nutrition Science Poster Competition Finalistat the American Society for Nutrition, Nutrition 2018 meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. She is a doctoral candidate in Rolls’ lab.
  • Jie HuangNaiwen Ji  and Dixin Li presented a study, "A systemic review of the association between food insecurity and cognitive function," at the ASN meeting. In this study, they found that individuals classified with food insecurity status are more likely to have lower cognitive function. All three are undergraduate students working with Muzi Na, assistant professor, and Gao. 
  • Samantha Neumann presented a study titled, "Anemia and insomnia: a cross-sectional study and a meta-analysis" at the American Society of Nutrition (ASN) 2018 meeting held in Boston, Massachusetts. In this study, co-authored with Laura Murray-Kolb, Neumann found that anemia could be a novel risk factor for insomnia. Neumann is an undergraduate student in Gao’s laboratory.
Samantha Neumann presents a study at the American Society of Nutrition (ASN) 2018 meeting.
Samantha Neumann presents a study titled, "Anemia and insomnia: a cross-sectional study and a meta-analysis" at the American Society of Nutrition (ASN) 2018 meeting held in Boston, Massachusetts.

Student Nutrition Association implements changes to increase membership, participation

This upcoming year, the Student Nutrition Association (SNA) is working to increase membership by promoting the club in Nutrition 100, 251, and 358 classes. 

The SNA will also advertise at the involvement fair at the beginning of the semester and create an Instagram account to promote the club and share content with members. 

A new initiative, the SNA will host "study groups" during and outside of meetings. It also plans to bring community service events to meetings to allow members to engage in in the community. The group will also host club socials at local restaurants and pair up freshmen with juniors and sophomores and seniors. Another change the SNA will institute is meeting bimonthly, instead of monthly, to increase activities and to be more flexible with students’ class schedules.  

For more information about the SNA or to get involved, email president Mackenzie Lombardi at

NDAS plans tailgate, annual brunch

The Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society (NDAS), in collaboration with the Biobehavioral Health Affiliate Program Group, held a networking happy hour in June at the Hofbrauhaus in Pittsburgh.  

The NDAS would like to hear from alumni who are interested in gathering with fellow alums, and who are interested in sponsoring a gathering.  

Save the date for a NDAS tailgate Sept. 1 before the Penn State vs. Appalachian State football game. Click here for more information and to register. 

The Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society will host their annual networking brunch on Sunday, February 10 at the Nittany Lion Inn. Feel free to send speaker ideas or award nominees to

For more information email Please follow the NDAS LinkedIn and Facebook accounts to learn more about networking opportunities in your area. 


Sports Nutrition interns gain experience working with student athletes

Penn State Sports Nutrition interns gained hands-on experience working with student-athletes this summer. They learned how to perform body composition testing, attended team education talks, made recovery smoothies, and created educational handouts for student-athletes.

The sports nutrition interns are also involved in the “behind-the-scenes” work that goes into managing a successful sports nutrition department. 


Sports Nutrition Interns
Dietetic interns taste-test anti-inflammatory shots (lemon, ginger, cayenne, and turmeric) at downtown eatery Salud Juicery.

Dietetic Internship class of 2017-18 celebrates completion of program                                                

Penn State’s Dietetic Internship Program's Class of 2017-18 celebrated the completion of their 11-month program requirements on June 20 at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. 

Next, the graduates will take the exam to become Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN's). 

Dietetic interns celebration completion of their program requirements
Graduates, from left to right: Katrina Helcoski, Erica Hill, Olivia Young, Nina Hullett, Sami Schug, Charlotte Scheid, Becca Graham, and Mary Albus

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To learn more about securing the future of the Department of Nutritional Sciences–as well as the benefits to you, your heirs, and your estate–please contact Kathleen Rider, director of development, at 814-865-1064 or