Department of Nutritional Sciences Newsletter - Summer 2014

Department of Nutritional Sciences was well represented at the American Society for Nutrition meeting at Experimental Biology

The Department of Nutritional Sciences was well represented with 51 symposia and research poster or oral presentations by faculty members and students at Experimental Biology 2014 held April 26-29 in San Diego.

Gordon Jensen

Gordon Jensen

Gordon Jensen, professor and head, Department of Nutritional Sciences, completed his term serving as president of the American Society for Nutrition.

Graduate students receiving awards and recognition included: Shawntawnee Collins, Diet and Cancer RIS Poster Competition; Stephen Henniger, Vitamin and Minerals (VM) RIS Poster Competition; Xiaoran Liu; Clinical Emerging Leader Competition; and Li Wang, Clinical Emerging Leader Competition. Sarah Owusu won second place in the Vitamin and Minerals RIS Poster Competition.

Welcome new faculty joining Nutritional Sciences for fall 2014

Xiang Gao will be a tenure line associate professor of nutritional sciences. His research interests target population studies of diet and disease. He comes to the department from The Harvard Medical School where he served as an assistant professor of medicine and as an associate epidemiologist in the Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and as a research scientist in the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health.

Jennifer Savage Williams will be a tenure line assistant professor of nutritional sciences. Her research is focused on childhood obesity. She comes to the department from serving as an assistant research professor and associate director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Penn State.

Alison Borkowska will be an instructor in nutritional sciences. She comes to the department from a research fellow position at the Lipid Metabolism Unit, Center of Computational and Integrative Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Faculty News and Recognition

Penny Kris-Etherton

Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, received a 2014 Presidents' Service Award from the Northeast Lipid Association.


Rebecca Corwin

Rebecca Corwin, professor of nutritional neuroscience, has been named professor-in-charge of graduate education. Her research interests include behavioral neurobiology of binge eating and fat intake.


Kathleen Keller

Kathleen Keller, assistant professor, received the Norman Kretchmer Memorial Award, sponsored by Abbott Nutrition, at the annual Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego, CA. The award is given to a young investigator who has contributed a significant body of work to the study of children's health and development. Gordon Jensen led the awards ceremony in which Keller received a plaque and an honorarium. Read more about Kathleen Keller receiving the Norman Kretchmer Memorial Award.

Keller is also the recipient of the 2013 Roy C. Buck Faculty Award in the College of Agricultural Sciences for her publication "PROP Taster Status Interacts with the Built Environment to Influence Children’s Food Acceptance and Body Weight Status.”


Shawnee Kelly

Shawnee Kelly, instructor/adviser, has been named president-elect of the Central PA Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


Students Recognized, Incoming Graduate Students Listed

Rachel Terry was selected to serve as the Student Marshal for the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the Spring 2014 Commencement Exercises. She was accompanied by Faculty Marshal, Denise Lawson.

Graduate students Stephanie Nicole Fearnbach and Feon Cheng received second and third place recognitions, respectively, at the 2014 Penn State Graduate Research Exhibition.

Charlotte Bahnfleth received the 2013-14 John E. Smith Outstanding Senior in Nutrition Award sponsored by the Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society.

Wendy Stein was awarded a New Investigator Travel Award (NITA) to give an oral presentation at this year’s Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior Meeting in Seattle. She will receive special recognition in the Annual Meeting Program during the NITA Symposium and at the Annual Banquet.

Incoming graduate students include:

  • Sixtus Aguree
  • Kate Bowen
  • Matthew Cady
  • Jennifer Ford
  • Brittany James
  • Yaqi Li
  • Alissa Murphy
  • Ruth Pobee
  • Rachel Walker
  • Xia Xiao
  • Faris Zuraikat

First Senior Graduation Reception held

The Department of Nutritional Sciences held its first annual Senior Graduation Reception on April 23, 2014 at the Hintz Family Student Center. Approximately 75 students and faculty attended the event.

Nutritional Sciences graduating seniors at reception

Laura Murray-Kolb '95, '98, '03g was the faculty speaker. Rachel Terry '14, Student Marshal, addressed her peers. Charlotte Bahnfleth and Emma Gregory were recognized for earning the Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society's John Edgar Smith Outstanding Senior Award and the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society's Alumni Recognition for Student Excellence Award in Nutritional Sciences, respectively. Diana Berlyand '02 was recognized as an outstanding community mentor to senior nutrition students. Faculty and students enjoyed a social hour with great food, creamery ice cream, door prizes, and a class photo!

Undergraduate acceptance rate to DI’s 70 percent

The undergraduate acceptance rate to dietetic internships was 70 percent. Sixty-nine students applied to DI programs. Several students are breaking new territory for the program. Students were accepted into: Duke University Hospital's DI program, Oklahoma State University's MS/DI program, Missouri State's Dietetic Internship, Saint Louis University's MS/DI program, and Cox College's Dietetic Internship.

Michael Green conducts research in the UK

Gordon Jensen

Michael H. Green served as a visiting professor for five weeks at Newcastle University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. Related to this work, Green has contributed papers and completed remote presentations for two recent workshops sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (one in Bangalore, India, and the other in Vienna, Austria) and the Micronutrient Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Students earn credentials

Congratulations to the Nutritional Sciences graduates who earned their Dietetic Technician Registered credential this past year:

  • Aimee Luzzi
  • Lindsey Evans
  • Tyler Frey
  • Raquel Squires
  • Megan Plasterer
  • Cortney Anderson

Congratulations to the Nutritional Sciences graduates who earned their Registered Dietitian credential in 2013

Penn State graduates did an outstanding job on the RD exam with a 95 percent first time pass rate and a 97 percent one-year pass rate.

  • Mary Raffetto, RD
  • Justin Passerini, RD
  • Kelsey Guth, RD
  • Elizabeth Pacifico, RD
  • Abigail Torchiana, RD
  • Alyssa Carl, RD
  • Erin Columbia, MS, RD
  • Carrie Lyons, MS, RD
  • Alan Smith, RD
  • Sarah Mobley, RD
  • Elizabeth Entin, RD
  • Nigel Graham, RD
  • Lauren Cadillac, RD
  • Allison Urbani, RD
  • Stephanie Rink, MS, RD
  • Kaitlin Weinhold, RD
  • Racheael Schirmer, RD
  • Kathryn Kotlarz, RD
  • Sarah McKenna, RD
  • Melissa Pastor, RD
  • Stephanie Mitchell, RD
  • Sarah Horton, RD
  • Geoffrey Borro, MS, RD

Alumni News

Alumna Chandra Ford leading research on factors preventing diagnosis and care in those who are HIV-positive, receives promotion. Researchers from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and Kaiser Permanente Southern California have been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research. Led by Chandra Ford '90, the study will compare diverse managed care enrollees based on their assigned health care providers and the neighborhood conditions in which they live. Read the full story about Chandra Ford’s research on factors preventing diagnosis and care in those who are HIV-positive. Additionally, Ford has been promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor with Tenure in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA.

Elizabeth Hassel '11 has been published in the Townsend Letter for researching natural alternatives and dietary changes affecting diabetes. Hassel is finishing her master’s degree in Nutrition and Integrative Health at Maryland University of Integrative Health, with hopes of completing a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences.

Michele D. Rager '04, '07g, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC was elected president-elect of the PA Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The PA Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognized Jill Jayne '04, MS, RD at its annual meeting in April with the Emerging Dietetic Leader (EDL) Award.

Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society update

Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society

The Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society (NDAS) Executive Board has announced Jennifer Lynn-Pullman, MA, RDN, LDN, as its new president. Pullman served most recently as the Vice President and Awards Chair of NDAS. She is a 1998 nutrition graduate who currently resides in Bucks County, PA. She is the bariatric surgery dietitian at Einstein Elkins Park Hospital and is a web designer and blogger for www.nourishedsimply.com and www.bariatricbits.com.

Current Board Members:

Jennifer Lynn-Pullman '98 NUTR (President)
Sandra Schlicker '65 SCI, '67g, '70g NUTR (Past President)
Maureen Spill '00 AGR, '11g NUTR (Vice President/Awards Chair)
Barbara Kochanowski '79 NUTR (Secretary)
Lily Hsu '76 LIB, '79g NUTR (Treasurer)
Amy Preston '00 KINES, '06 NUTR (At-Large Member)
Alexandria Blatt Hass '04, '11g NUTR (At-Large Member/Awards Chair)
Madelyn Hoover '11 NUTR (At-Large Member)

NDAS Board also welcomed a new member, Madelyn Hoover '11. Hoover is currently working as a clinical dietitian at Hershey Medical Center.

Additionally, NDAS is expanding and would like to invite alumni to participate as committee members. Committees include Mentoring, Awards, Communications, and Social/Professional. Those interested in serving on any of the committees may contact Pullman at jnlprd@comcast.net.

Stay connected with the board via LinkedIn under "The Pennsylvania Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society" and Facebook under "Penn State Nutritional Sciences Alumni.”