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Current Lab Members

Director: Connie Rogers

Connie Rogers

Connie J. Rogers received her Ph.D. in Cell Biology & Physiology from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1998. She also received her M.P.H. in Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health. Connie completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Ohio State University and was a fellow at the National Cancer Institute for over six years before becoming an Assistant Professor at The Pennsylvania State University in 2010. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016 and is currently the Associate Director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences and the Broadhurst Career Development Professor for the Study of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

Hannah VanEvery

Hannah VanEvery

Hannah received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University. She is currently a dual-title Ph.D. candidate in Nutritional Sciences and Clinical and Translational Sciences. Her research interests include the impacts of functional foods (probiotics, dried plums) on gut permeability and subsequent changes in systemic inflammation. Hannah is currently conducting the Probiotic and Gut Health Study. This project is investigating the impact of the consumption of a probiotic in yogurt on the microbiome, gut permeability, and markers of systemic inflammation. Th Probiotic and Gut Health Study is currently recruiting adult subjects, if you are interested please email for more information.

Sherry Xu

Sherry received her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Fudan University, China. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Integrative and Biomedical Physiology and NIH-T32 predoctoral research fellow. Her research interests focus on the potential immunological mechanisms underlying the cancer-preventive effect by changes in energy balance. Using a murine model of metastatic breast cancer, she is investigating how physical activity and dietary energy restriction may reduce tumor progression by modulating pro- vs. anti-tumor immunity. 

Ester Soojung Oh

Esther OhEster Soojung Oh received her B.S. and M.S. in Nutritional Science & Food from Ewha Womans University, South Korea. She is now a PhD Candidate completing a dual-title degree in Nutritional Sciences and Clinical and Translational Sciences. Her research interests include the effects of nutritional factors on inflammation and immune regulation. She is currently working on a project that aims to determine if consumptions of spices in the context of daily meal consumption can alleviate chronic, low-grade inflammation in adults with overweight and obesity.

Past Lab Members

Shizhao Duan

Shizhao obtained his M.S. in Nutritional Sciences from The Pennsylvania State University in 2018. He studied the role of innate and adaptive immunity in controlling non-immunogenic 4T1.2 tripple negative breast cancer mouse model and 4T1.2luc model. Before coming to Pennsylvania, Shizhao received his M.A. in Nutrition Science from Syracuse University.

William Turbitt

Bill TurbittDr. William Turbitt joined the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) Training Program (T32DK062710) as a Postdoctoral Scholar on August 21, 2017 after completing his graduate degree in Integrative and Biomedical Physiology at The Pennsylvania State University in August 2017. His dissertation experiments controlled for weight and examined the effects of mild dietary restriction, exercise, or the combination of diet and exercise on the inflammation-immune axis and tumor progression in a preclinical metastatic breast cancer model. Additional studies were designed to determine if diet and exercise could augment the response to emerging immunotherapeutic treatments. Bill’s postdoctoral research at UAB focuses on the role of diet-induced obesity and/or calorie restriction mimetic administration on anti-tumor immunity and immunotherapeutic efficacy in preclinical models of breast and renal cancer.

Huicui Meng

Huicui MengDr. Huicui Meng is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA). She completed her Ph.D at The Pennsylvania State University in June of 2015. Her dissertation experiments explored 1) the effect oral probiotic (delivered in yogurt or capsule) consumption on the regulation of human peripheral immune function in a human randomized controlled clinical study, 2) the effect of oral probiotic consumption on antigen-specific immune function in response to vaccination using murine models, and 3) the mechanisms of how changes in energy balance (obesity and physical activity) affect immune function. Dr. Meng’s postdoctoral work focuses on the effects of diets enriched in different dietary fatty acids on cardiovascular disease risk in a randomized double-blinded, cross-over controlled-feeding human clinical study. She is also investigating the effects of different types of carbohydrates on cardiovascular disease risk and inflammatory status of overweight and obese older adults in a randomized double-blinded, cross-over controlled-feeding human clinical study. Dr. Meng is also working to determine the contributors to the variation in meal or dietary glycemic index and glycemic load determinations in a human clinical study.


Finally, she is also developing a porcine model of inflammation and diet-induced arthrosclerosis.