Jean Anderson shows the app that interns will use to coach clients on diet and nutrition.
Photo by Christopher Gannon

AMES, Iowa – A group of Iowa State University dietetic interns will provide nutrition coaching and wellness information to low-income families as part of a national health initiative.

Unlike programs in a more traditional setting, such as a school or hospital, Iowa State’s program enables its interns to connect virtually with their clients. The initiative is led by the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and One Medical Group. Interns will use One Medical’s nutrition coaching smartphone app called Rise. With the popularity of health and wellness apps, Jean Anderson, director of Iowa State’s dietetic internship program, says it makes sense to have interns using the technology. 

“It’s a very contemporary way to provide health care. By connecting with people on their phone, you’re reaching them in a way that is simple and convenient,” Anderson said. “It’s also a great opportunity for the interns to use the technology to build their motivational interviewing and coaching skills through the continued promotion of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles.”

One Medical will recruit people to enroll in the program for free. The goal is to serve 500 clients – primarily parents who can share what they learn with their children – over the next 18 months. Students or “coaches” will spend about five minutes a day interacting with each client, helping them identify wellness goals, focusing specifically on healthy eating and diet. Clients will send pictures of their meals for coaches to review and pinpoint problem areas. Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair of food science and human nutrition, says it’s important to provide this type of outreach to low-income families.  

“Typically, this is a target audience that dietitians work with more on the clinical side and not so much on the preventive side. This takes the approach to prevent chronic diseases by helping people modify their lifestyle behaviors and diet so that they stay healthy and out of the clinic,” MacDonald said.

ISU students will spend the next three months training with One Medical before they start working with clients in September. The coaching the interns provide will be in addition to 1,200 hours of supervised practice interns must complete during the 26-week program. Interns will be paired with a registered dietitian provided by One Medical who will serve as a mentor.

PHA and One Medical announced the partnership with Iowa State’s dietetic internship program in May at the 2016 Building a Healthier Future Summit in Washington, D.C. Susan Roberts, an Iowa State alumna and director of strategic initiatives for PHA, made the initial connection that led to the collaboration.

Reliable, factual information

Rise App Screenshot

The app allows interns to provide nutrition advice at a time and place that’s convenient for their clients. (Larger Image) Photo courtesy of One Medical

There is an abundance of health and nutritional information available online and through various apps, not all of which is beneficial. The fact that registered dietitians will serve as mentors for the interns and oversee nutrition counseling was a big selling point for Anderson and MacDonald.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and misleading recommendations that really don’t promote health and could actually do some serious damage to your health,” MacDonald said. “We want to put people on the path to live a healthy lifestyle based on scientific evidence, rather than the latest fad. You don’t have to eliminate certain foods or do juice cleanses to be healthy.”

Registered dietitians have an understanding of physiology, biochemistry and chronic disease that many health coaches and nutrition counselors cannot provide. This expertise is important if clients have pre-existing health conditions that need to be considered, Anderson said. It also helps them avoid the pitfalls of fad diets or health trends that can be costly.

“We want to show families that they can live a healthy lifestyle on a budget,” Anderson said. “The hope is that clients will see improvements in their health and have the tools to maintain these changes. In return, our students gain confidence building their skills, which will help them be successful in their future careers.” 



Dr. Tong Wang, Professor of FSHN, Iowa State University being recognized along with other Fellow inductees (Eric A. Decker, University of Massachusetts; Thomas A. McKeon, USDA; James A. Kenar, USDA; and Leonard M. Sidisky, Sigma Aldrich, with AOCS outgoing president Manfred Trautmann [R] and incoming president W. Blake Hendrix [L]).


Dr. Tong Wang, professor in the department of food science and human nutrition, was recognized as one of five 2016 Fellows with the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS). The AOCS Fellow Award recognizes exemplary achievements in science or extraordinary service to the Society. This award began in 1998 and has been given to 108 members of AOCS. Only five women have earned this distinguished title, and two of the five women (Tong Wang and Pamela White) are from the department of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University. Lawrence Johnson and Earl Hammond, FSHN Professors Emeritus, are also AOCS Fellows. 

Wang is recognized this year for her outstanding contributions to the field of basic research in lipid chemistry and its extraction and novel applications. Specifically, her original work on lipid oxidation and antioxidation, structural modification for desirable nutritional properties and functionality, and developing alternative and sustainable extraction methods has gained wide recognition. She has served as Chair of the AOCS’s Phospholipid Division, and also served as an Associate Editor of AOCS’s primary scientific journal (JAOCS) for 15 years.

“I am honored and thankful for the great mentors I have had, such as Drs. Pam White, Larry Johnson, and Earl Hammond, as well as Gary List with the USDA who has helped recognize and support many junior and women scientists in our society,” shared Wang.     

Wang has taken time for involvement in the American Oil Chemists’ Society, belonging to its divisions of Processing, Lipid Oxidation, Phospholipids, Edible Applications Technology, and Protein and Co-products Divisions, from 1995 until the present. She has been particularly active in the Phospholipids Division, serving as secretary, treasurer, member-at-large, and chair. Since 2006, Wang has served as associate editor for the Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, and been a member of many significant AOCS committees.

Wang’s work spans new uses for fats and oils, innovative new low-cost oil refining technologies, characterizing soy sphingolipids, new lecithin technologies, egg yolk lipid utilization, oil recovery from microalgae, and extrusion-expelling of soybeans to produce oil and protein. Her work on low-cost technologies for refining extruded-expelled soybean oil has considerable potential allowing farmers or farmer owned cooperatives to add value to crude soybean oil produced by low-cost extrusion-expelling. Extrusion-expelling, invented by Insta-Pro International, is now commercialized for processing soybeans into crude oil and meal at over 70 locations.

It is evident that Wang’s work has already had a significant impact on the lipid industry. Her work has shown that the oil produced by extrusion-expelling is of superior quality. She has developed low-cost adsorptive technologies to refine crude oil into edible oils, thereby enhancing profitability by allowing them to produce bottled oil for retail sales.

Wang’s technologies are also critical to commercializing identity-preserved specialty soybeans with enhanced oil and meal traits. The large traditional plants just cannot effectively handle and retain identity-preservation of the low volumes of specialty soybeans. Her work may lead to many new opportunities to add value to one of Iowa’s major crops and to new economic activity and jobs in rural areas.

Wang performs her work with care and precision, yet is timely in completing all aspects of the research, including compiling, writing, and interpreting the results. She is an extremely hard worker, and is obviously very devoted to the research process of her specialized research areas. She has an impressive list of published peer-reviewed manuscripts in these areas with over 132 in press or in print, and she is sole or first author of 8 out of 11 book chapters. Wang’s increased rate of productivity over the years is especially noteworthy, with 14 peer-reviewed manuscripts published in 2014, 13 in 2015, and 8 in print or in press for 2016. She has averaged over 8 published peer-reviewed manuscripts each year since she began as an assistant professor at Iowa State University, and has received total external research funding of $7.9 million since 2000 for a total of 74 funded projects.

Her well-defined accomplishments provide additional evidence of her professional impact, making Wang most deserving of this recognition for her life-long contributions to lipid science and the American Oil Chemists’ Society.




Kevin Schalinske, Professor in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN), was named as one of five recipients of the 2016 Regents Award for Faculty Excellence by the Board of Regents. Throughout his career with FSHN, Schalinske has taught numerous undergraduate courses, as well as within the FSHN graduate program and the more recent Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences. A common thread across his teaching is that Schalinske is one of the most highly rated instructors in our department, one that focuses on developing the critical thinking skills of students, and is someone that utilizes all of the available resources to enhance the teaching experience for his students.  He has received numerous recognitions from students and his peers for his impact at Iowa State University, including the 2012 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Award, the 2012 Board on Human Sciences Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, and the 2013 Iowa State University Award for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching.

Schalinske is widely recognized as an expert in the field of nutritional sciences and the biochemical pathways associated with folate metabolism and methylation. His research program has explored the regulation and perturbations of the enzymes and intermediates of this complex system and identified novel aspects. Because methylation is essential to a wide range of physiological and biochemical systems, Schalinske’s work has examined several disease models including diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease, and birth defects. He has been successful in securing funding for his research from the USDA, NIH, Egg Nutrition Center, United Soybean Board, American Heart Association, American Institute for Cancer Research, the American Diabetes Association, and other agencies. In 2006, he received the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) E.L.R. Stokstad Award for outstanding research. Schalinske has rendered significant service to Iowa State University, making him an admirable recipient of the 2016 Regents Award for Faculty Excellence.

“I’ve won awards for my research and my teaching, but this is something different. This award recognizes above all else significant institutional service. I take pride in providing such service, that benefits the entire university community, when asked to do so,” shared Schalinske.

Schalinske is a strong advocate of providing research experiences for undergraduate students. Teaching and mentoring go well beyond the conventional classroom setting, and include the further development of undergraduate and graduate students to be professionals in their field.  Over the years, students have conducted research projects for credit, as hourly workers, and as interns while working for him. For each student, Schalinske strives to help them realize their passion for research, and occasionally this resulted in a new career direction. His laboratory is much more than just an avenue for graduate students to conduct research and earn a degree, it is an environment for them to grow and develop as professionals, and ultimately pass on their passion to future students.

Schalinske has prioritized service to the department, college, university and profession throughout his career. His contributions to the department include leadership on numerous key committees for faculty recruitment and strategic planning. He has served as the college as chair of the promotion and tenure committee and is a member of several other key committees. He has continually been engaged in university service, including perhaps the highest level of faculty leadership, serving as Faculty Senate President in 2014-15. Schalinske has also maintained an active and extensive service role in his profession. He has served in leadership roles within the ASN, including organizing numerous mini-symposia, currently serving as the ASN Director of Research Interests Section, as a current a member of the ASN Board of Directors, and as an Associate Editor for The Journal of Nutrition. He is sought after for grant review panels, including the USDA, as a standing member of the NIH Integrative Nutiriton and Metabolic Processes study section, and international research councils.

In his 17 years at Iowa State, Schalinske has taught 14 undergraduate and graduate courses, received 13 honors and awards, and has completed 21 peer-reviewed publications, 8 invited reviews, and 1 book chapter. Schalinske’s achievements and passion for teaching, research and professional service are prominent in his record of accomplishments.

Key Contacts:
Megan Pulse, marketing and communications, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition,
Kevin Schalinske, professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition,


Jeanne Stewart, Assistant Scientist II in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN), and Laboratory Safety Coordinator for FSHN and the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center (NWRC), was named as one of only four recipients of the 2016 Regents Award for Staff Excellence by the Board of Regents. She dedicates her time running key research projects, developing and standardizing assays, recruiting and managing human subjects, and training faculty and hundreds of students on proper laboratory safety. Jeanne has been the research support on numerous NIH and industry-funded grants awarded to FSHN faculty that have investigated nutrients and foods that impact human health. Over the past 37 years, she has contributed significantly to the research mission of the department and college, making her a rightful recipient of the 2016 Regents Award for Staff Excellence at Iowa State University.

As Assistant Scientist II for FSHN, Jeanne’s responsibilities include managing the NWRC clinical laboratory, phlebotomy facility, kitchen and dining rooms, exercise facility, body composition assessment equipment, and serving as the Clinical Coordinator and Safety Officer. In addition of her wide-ranging responsibilities, Jeanne completed the requirements to become a Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP). She has established protocols and standard operation procedures to enable the NWRC to become a certified center that follows guidelines for Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP). The safety standards that she established have been emulated by the Iowa State University Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S). Jeanne’s diligence and outstanding commitment to laboratory safety has undoubtedly prevented injuries and other mishaps.

“I am honored to receive this award and look forward to more research projects with our faculty, staff and graduate students,” shared Jeanne.  “We will be performing further testing on the interactions between food and exercise on metabolic health indicators in humans at the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center sites. It is exciting to work with all of my collaborators as we strive to improve human health.”

Jeanne’s colleagues often use her as a model for others to follow, and describe her as the essential component that takes a project from an idea to a successful conclusion and publication. These projects are primarily in the area of Clinical Nutrition research studies within the department and as part of her role at the NWRC. The NWRC is a significant resource for conducting clinical studies and is used by faculty in both the FSHN and Kinesiology departments.   

All view Jeanne as caring, dedicated, accomplished, invaluable, and the ultimate team leader whose efforts have benefited the university and broader community in tangible ways over the entire course of her lengthy career. Her efforts directly translate into successful research and dissemination of the results, benefitting the faculty, students, and staff involved in the science, as well as the entire university community.   

Key Contacts:
Megan Pulse, marketing and communications, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition,
Jeanne Stewart, assistant scientist II, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Nutrition & Wellness Research Center,

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition will begin providing FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventive Controls for Human Food training in summer of 2016. This three day Basic Preventive Controls training is designed for people in the food industry desiring to understand and be trained in the food safety system for manufacturing safe food. This course will meet the FDA FSMA regulations as an approved course under Food Safety Preventive Control Alliance (FSPCA). 

This is a standardized, industry-oriented training curriculum that will provide participants with the knowledge that is needed to create a food safety plan to comply with the Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Foods rule. The course content is focused on the food safety activities and documentation that support the creation and implementation of a preventive controls food safety plan. This course will be presented in a manner that will serve participants from all foods under FDA regulations. The FSPCA training materials are designed to meet the requirements for training under Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations Part 117.155 for the “qualified individual” who conducts certain Food Safety Plan activities and is recognized by the FDA.

This course will be offered June 13-15, 2016 at Iowa State University campus in Ames, Iowa.  Class size is limited to 30 people and the cost is $750.00 per person. Sign up today at


Key Contacts:

Angela Shaw, assistant professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition,
Megan Pulse, marketing and communications, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition,


Jean Anderson, Senior Clinician of Food Science and Human Nutrition, devotes her time to building and expanding the learning opportunities for dietetics students at Iowa State University. As director of the Dietetics Internship (DI) program for nearly 20 years, Anderson has developed the program to become the largest in the world, managing approximately 160 interns in full-time dietetics rotations every year. The average size of other dietetics internship programs is less than 20 students.

Her greatest contribution to the field of dietetics has been establishing international community nutrition rotations within the internship program, making Iowa State’s program the first to offer an international component. This results in increased knowledge of global nutritional issues and cultural understanding for future dietitians, while improving wellness in global areas lacking dietetic resources. All of the aforementioned make Anderson deserving of the College of Human Sciences – International Achievement Award.

“The collaboration we have in place with dietetics education programs in other countries provides the ISU DI interns the unique opportunity to interact with fellow dietetics students while discovering that we all share similar interests and concerns. We each strive for health and wellness in the population of our home countries,” stated Anderson.

In collaboration with McGill University in Quebec, Anderson and the DI faculty established a four-week community nutrition experience for students at the University of Ghana’s Nutrition Research and Training Center. Additionally, she leads educational seminars for Ghanaian dietitians to keep them informed of current best practices.

“While in the United States we are mostly treating overweight or obese patients, the medical nutrition therapies for undernourished patients are rather eye opening. It is a priceless experience that interns gain from the internship,” stated Anderson.

Since launching the first-­of-­its-­kind program, Anderson has secured nearly $30,000 in grants to continue its development. Anderson’s involvement in these cultural experiences has had significant impact on the Dietetics Internship program.

Key Contacts:
Megan Pulse, marketing and communications, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition,
Jean Anderson, senior clinician, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition,
Shannon Stump, graduate assistant writer, CHS Communications,

Congratulations to Jay-Lin Jane-Topel and David G. Topel on receiving the 2016 Order of the Knoll Faculty and Staff Award. While faculty members, the couple spent as much time serving the university as they did in the classroom. This award recognizes individuals or couples who are current or retired Iowa State University faculty or staff members for their substantial commitment to promoting and expanding philanthropy at Iowa State through both personal philanthropy and significant professional and volunteer service.

“Iowa State University provided me with the professional experiences and support to work with many people. This allowed me to help develop the agricultural industry in Iowa and for Iowa to become a world leader in production agriculture,” said David Topel. “I was fortunate to work in this special and stimulating environment in the 1990s. Iowa State provides the foundation for students, faculty and staff to achieve their goals.”

David had always been heavily involved with the university - his time as a faculty member was spent serving Iowa State as much as he spent within the classroom. He served on the Iowa State University Alumni Association board of directors, the Academic Council, the Committee for Agricultural Development, the Council of Deans, the President’s Council, the selection committee for both the athletic director and the vice provost for extension, the University Student Services Committee, and the Governor of Iowa Science Advisory Council, where he represented Iowa State.

No stranger to service, Jay-Lin Jane-Topel has given her time as the president of the Starch Roundtable, a member of the American Association of Cereal Chemists Nomination Committee, the Starch Update Conference Scientific Committee, and the European Polysaccharide Network of Excellence Scientific Committee, and has been on the editorial board for six leading scientific journals.

“I have received tremendous philanthropic support throughout my life and career, which enabled me to achieve all that I have,” shared Jay-Lin.

This award is one of many the Topels can add to their list of accomplishments, but that doesn’t make it any less special. “It is always good to know what individuals appreciate professional and personal contributions made to our society to better the way of life for current and future generations,” said David.


Key Contacts:
Karen Simon, AVP Communications, ISU Foundation,
Jay-Lin Jane, Distinguished Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition,



Emily Wisecup, senior in dietetics, is determined to educate others about the truths of nutrition. She grew up with a mother that enjoyed cooking American favorites for her family. While Emily enjoyed the meals her mother cooked, she quickly realized after going to college that she had few cooking skills of her own. The lack of knowledge in the area of diet and health inspired Emily to pursue a degree in dietetics, leading to her to create her blog, The Synergy Kitchen in July 2015.

An anatomy class discussing exotic grains, the dangers of certain foods, and the connection between diet and health during Emily’s freshman year, was a turning point in her decision to become a dietetics major. She became encouraged to spread truism in hopes to help those that have been misinformed about nutrition. She began by sharing healthy recipes on Facebook where she soon received messages from followers stating that they had tried her recipes and that she was making a difference in their lives.

“It is frightening to hear the things shared by people regarding how and what to eat, and how many people fall for these unhealthy methods. I want to be the light in the darkness of this confusion,” said Emily.

Americans spend billions on health and diet products every year. From purchasing books and meal plans to prepackaged foods and DVDs, consumers continuously strive for a quick fix. It’s natural to be attracted to any path that promises big results for little effort, but this often results in consumers being misled by marketing and half-truth statements made in the name of science. Without the knowledge and skills to critically evaluate the sources that information is obtained from, blogs often end up containing misinformation about nutrition that can lead their audience to dangerous dietary patterns.

“The best service a blogger can provide to their readers is truthful, unbiased information. There are plenty of blogs out there discussing nutrition trends, but many of them are written by people who do not actually have an education in nutrition,” shared Emily.

Emily plans to have her own nutrition consulting business in the future. The services would include one on one wellness coaching, meal planning, cooking classes, educational presentations, and coordination of wellness programs for businesses, among others.

Key Contacts:
Megan Pulse, marketing and communications,
Emily Wisecup, senior in dietetics,

Photo By Blake Lanser

Byron Brehm-Stecher, Associate Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, focuses on developing methods to improve food safety and quality, such as a cutting-edge effort to develop applications for functional food ingredients that will provide food scientists with new tools in the fight against harmful bacteria. (more…)

By Megan Pulse, FSHN Marketing and Communications
Melha Mellata_CHS_Blake Lanser
Melha Mellata, an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition, now has a patent that covers new methodology for safer and effective cancer treatments.

Melha Mellata, Assistant Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, researches the development of effective intervention strategies against diseases. Mellata focuses primarily on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of bacteria, host response to infections, and developing vaccines to control infections in humans and food-producing animals, such as chickens. Her research has significantly advanced the field, resulting in high-impact publications, federal funding, and patents such as the recently awarded U.S. patent 9198950, Recombinant bacterium comprising a toxin/antitoxin system, for the invention of new methods for inhibiting tumors and improving safety of live vaccines.

 “I am honored to have this patent awarded as only approximately 20% of all inventors are female. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, and I hope my invention will lead to a cure that will play an important role in lowering that statistic, as well as lowering the impact of infectious diseases,” said Mellata.  

Mellata’s invention consists of genetically modifying a bacterial toxin-antitoxin system and utilizing it in a live vaccine, such as Salmonella, to selectively deliver the toxins into the tumor cells and destroy them. This system can also be used to make live vaccines safer. Current cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can be harmful to normal cells, while Mellata’s system will be successful in terminating cancerous tumor cells, leaving normal cells healthy. The recombinant bacterium comprising a toxin/antitoxin system works by activating the promoter of the toxins that naturally target tumor cells.

“By studying living cells, such as bacteria at the molecular level, researchers have elucidated many systems used by these cells to survive and cause diseases. These bacterial systems can be modified to be used for purposes that will benefit us. Lastly, bacteria can teach us new ways to improve human, and animal health,” shared Mellata.

Live attenuated vaccines are considered among the most influential tools for disease control and potential disease elimination. Weakened bacteria that are unable to cause clinical diseases, but trigger a self-limiting infection leading to the stimulation of protective immunity, represent an attractive method to prevent and/or treat infections. Overall, Mellata’s research will benefit both human health and agricultural animal production.


Key Contacts:
Megan Pulse,, Marketing and Communications
Melha Mellata,, Assistant Professor