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Our Science, Your Health

“Our science, your health” speaks to the department’s overriding goal of providing better health through its cutting-edge research, education and outreach, said Gordon Jensen, professor and head of the department. The department held an event on March 16 to showcase its work and impact. The event featured keynote speakers, tours of the department facilities, giveaways and research posters.

Individuals from the Department of Nutritional Sciences and across the University gathered in Chandlee Lab to celebrate "Our Science, Your Health."

Faculty News and Recognition

Xiang Gao, associate professor and director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Lab, received the Samuel J. Fomon Young Physician Award at the 2015 American Society for Nutrition meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.

Michael Green, professor of nutritional sciences, received the 2015 Faculty Appreciation Award from the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society.

Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutritional sciences, was elected a 2015 fellow of the American Society for Nutrition.

A. Catharine Ross, professor and Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair, is serving on an Institute of Medicine committee on the Evaluation of the WIC Food Package. The committee was appointed in 2014 and expects to submit its final report in 2017.

Kristi Branstetter and Laura Murray Kolb received the College of Health and Human Development Teaching Excellence Award. The award recognizes faculty for their hard work and dedication to undergraduate teaching and learning.

'Bake Like a Chef' Takes the Cake

Chef Kristi Branstetter offered her outreach program, “Home Chef: Bake Like a Chef” on April 11. Participants learned how to bake bread and create desserts and other treats.

Chef Kristi Branstetter (left), seen here with her NUTR 120 students, helped people learn how to make breads and desserts like a chef in a recent outreach class. 

Hands On with Health Professionals

Kaitlin Anderson, a State College Area High School senior, has been working with Kathleen Keller, Mark T. Greenberg Early Career Professor for the Study of Children's Health and Development, and assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and the Department of Food Science. Assisting Keller in a food behavior study at the Children’s Eating Behavior Laboratory in Chandlee, Anderson examines children’s responses to various food situations. The study tests the impact of food portion size and energy content on children's eating behavior and brain response.

Kaitlin Anderson

As part of the State College Area High School Health Professionals Program, high school students have a unique opportunity to gain hands-on laboratory experience at Penn State thanks to a new program with the College of Health and Human Development.

Through the program, high school students can earn two non-degree credits at Penn State and two credits at State High by spending two semesters in a lab at University Park under the direction of a college faculty member. Tami Gilmour, a State High teacher for the Health Professionals Program, and Dennis Shea, associate dean for undergraduate programs and outreach at the college, coordinate the program.

Students in Experimental Biology

Katherine Balantekin was a finalist for the ASN Clinical Emerging Leader Award Competition, and for the ASN Emerging Leaders in Nutrition Science Poster Competition.

Feon Cheng received second place for the Emerging Leaders in Nutrition Science Poster Competition - Nutritional Epidemiology RIS.

Samantha Kling was a finalist for the ASN Clinical Emerging Leader Award Competition, and for the ASN Emerging Leaders in Nutrition Science Poster Competition.

Joanna Kalina Urbanek has been recognized as a finalist in the American Society for Nutrition’s (ASN) Graduate Student Research Award Competition, an educational activity conducted by ASN’s Nutritional Sciences Council to help students hone their research presentation skills.

Undergraduate News

Monica Hershey is the recipient of the HHD Alumni Society's Recognition for Student Excellence Award in Nutritional Sciences.

Sydney Micucci was selected to serve as program marshal for the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the Spring 2015 commencement of the College of Health and Human Development, to be held May 9.

The Intercollegiate Athletics Department helps undergraduate nutrition science majors achieve their required 150 hours of field experience by having them work side by side with Kris Clark, assistant professor and director of sports nutrition. Seniors Lizzie Appleton and McKenna Elder will start their required hours on May 18 by observing nutrition counseling sessions with varsity student athletes, providing body composition testing, and assisting with the management of pre-training and recovery foods in the all athlete fueling stations.

Schreyer Honors Scholar Megan Siverling, a senior on the Nittany Lions women’s swimming team, spent her spring break at University Park training in the pool. Siverling competed in three events in March, the 200-, 500- and 1,650-yard Freestyle races, at the NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Events and Updates

Ruth Pike Lecture

Tanja Kral, associate professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, presented the Ruth Pike Lecture, “Eating Phenotypes for Childhood Obesity,” on Feb. 23, 2015 in Chandlee Laboratory, Penn State University Park.

NDAS Alumi Brunch

The Nutrition and Dietetic Alumni Society Executive board held its annual alumni brunch March 22, 2015, at the Nittany Lion Inn. The brunch was well attended by alumni, students, and faculty of the nutrition department. The brunch was followed by a program that included a department update presented by department head Gordon Jensen and a special presentation by Kathleen Keller, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, entitled "Eating Self-regulation in Children: How to Balance the Effects of a Obesogenic Environment.” Undergraduate student Morgan Cooper was presented with the John Edgar Smith Award. Marian Hammond, former instructor in the department, gave a special presentation on the history of the Nutrition Care Process and how it relates to practice dilemmas faced by practitioners today. She referenced her article published in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Dr. Gordon Jensen, head, Department of Nutritional Sciences, gives the state of the department update at the Nutrition and Dietetic Alumni Society Executive board annual alumni brunch on March 22, 2015 at the Nittany Lion Inn.  The brunch was well attended by alumni, students, and faculty of the nutrition department.

Dr. Kathleen Keller discusses her latest research at the Nutrition and Dietetic Alumni Society Executive board annual alumni brunch on March 22, 2015 at the Nittany Lion Inn. Keller, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, presented "Eating Self-regulation in Children: How to Balance the Effects of a Obesogenic Environment.”

Prior to the brunch, NDAS sponsored a speed-networking event in which alumni from different career paths shared their careers with students and answered questions. The following alumni generously contributed their time:

  • Madelyn Barrows ’11
  • Sherry Bibawy ’07
  • Lily Hsu ’79g
  • Jill Jayne ’04
  • Susan Jennings ’88
  • Barbara Kochanowski ’79
  • Karen Wiesen ’77
  • Frances Wulf ’98

Board Members (L to R): Madelyn Barrow (At-Large Member), Barbara Kochanowski (Secretary), Jennifer Lynn-Pullman (President)

Mark your calendars for next year's speed networking and brunch, scheduled for February 28th, 2016.

The Department of Nutritional Sciences is looking for alumni who are interested in mentoring and sharing their expertise with students. Those interested in participating in next year’s event may email Jennifer Pullman, president, at

NDAS always has room for alumni to get involved whether to serve on a committee or as an executive board member. If you are interested in becoming a board member or serving on anyone of the following committees: mentoring, awards, communication/social please contact Jennifer Pullman at

Student Nutrition Association Update

The Student Nutrition Association had a busy and exciting spring semester. By February, the group raised $7,915.47 for THON in honor of its Four Diamonds Family, the Potters. Corban Potter just celebrated five years of being cancer free! The group also wrapped up a seven-session nutrition education program at the local senior center, and continues to implement bi-weekly lessons at LifeLink, a center in the HUB dedicated to young adults with special needs.

Professional Mentoring Program

The Professional Mentoring Program also launched to connect students to professionals in the field, and will be looking to expand in the coming year. The SNA is also excited to welcome the new executive board. Contact Alex Close (, president for the 2015-2016 year, if you are interested in connecting with current SNA members or to provide any new ideas and insights.

Alumni News

Shane Gamble ’14 started working this winter as a full-time WIC nutritionist for South West Community Health Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Jess Koeppe ’13 attended Cedar Crest Dietetic Internship. She is now living in Virginia and working at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C. as a clinical dietitian.

Barbara Trunk ’13 attended the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center DI in Peoria, Illiniois. She passed her RD exam and is now employed full time as a retail dietitian for the ShopRite of Hainesport, New Jersey. She advises customers, associates and the Hainesport community on healthy eating.

If you would like to let alumni and friends know about recent events in your life, please contact Mary Dean Coleman-Kelly at

Support the Department of Nutritional Sciences through your Estate Plan

Gift planning can allow you to make a gift of surprising significance to the Department of Nutritional Sciences and support your personal and philanthropic objectives – often with increased tax benefits or a current income stream. At the same time, you can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that your gift will provide vital future support for our students, facilities, or programs.

To learn more about securing the future of Department of Nutritional Sciences – as well as the benefits to you, your heirs, and your estate – please visit the Penn State Office of Gift Planning website or contact Kathleen Rider, director of development, at 814-863-4157 or