Stephanie Clark
Stephanie Clark, an associate professor in food science and human nutrition, is leading several initiatives to promote Iowa cheeses, including co-chairing an international cheese conference. Photo by Ryan Riley.

February 8, 2016
By Shannon Stump

Stephanie Clark is determined to make Iowa the next great cheesemaking state.

“We do have a number of really good cheesemakers around here, and I think it’s time we make people more aware of it,” she said.

Clark — an associate professor in food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University who goes by the email “milkmade” — is one of the state’s premier leaders in promoting Iowa cheese. Her efforts were key in bringing an international cheese conference to Iowa, forming a new guild that connects the state’s dairy professionals, and co-founding a statewide dairy products showcase.

She is a co-chair of the American Cheese Society’s annual international conference, Cheese in the Heartland, which will be held July 27 to 30 in Des Moines.

The conference is a chance to showcase Iowa’s cheeses to the world. It’s expected to attract more than 1,200 cheese industry professionals and experts from around the world. The conference’s annual competition, for which Clark has served as the technical adviser since 2011, will showcase more than 1,700 entries.

“That’s a big deal, for us to win that bid,” Clark said. “Cheese lovers will be descending on Des Moines!”

The Festival of Cheese at the end of the conference will open an international cheese selection to the general public for sampling and purchase. The festival begins 7 p.m. July 30 at the Iowa Events Center

Improving Iowa dairy products

Clark’s passion for dairy products traces back to growing up on a Massachusetts farm with her first pet, a Nubian dairy goat named Hillary. 

“I was involved in 4-H through my youth, but did not know food science was a career option until my sophomore year in college when I asked my adviser if I could do undergraduate research with goat milk,” she said. “I was sent over to food science, and started taking classes there.” 

Clark has helped many Iowa dairy farmers, companies, and consumers make smart choices. While teaching at Iowa State, she also consults dairy farms and companies on production, quality, and safety.

“That’s what I think a land-grant institution should do,” she said. “I think we should answer those calls and help troubleshoot. A half-hour phone call helps a lot. If I can help solve their problem, it saves them a lot of money. It feels good to be able to do that.”

Connecting cheesemaker to cheesemaker

By connecting with dairy professionals all over the state, Clark saw a need to form a new professional association: the Iowa Cheese and Cultured Dairy Products Guild.

The guild provides a networking and education outlet to in-state sellers, buyers, makers, and enthusiasts of cheese and dairy products. More than 20 members representing independent artisans, farms, and major companies meet monthly.

“We’re trying to create a network so they can share experiences and thoughts,” said Kevin Stiles, the senior vice president of business development for Midwest Dairy Association. “It’s amazing how the best learning can take place cheesemaker to cheesemaker.”

The guild will play a large role in ensuring the success of Cheese in the Heartland. Members will volunteer, lead tours, and present Iowa’s cheeses at the competition and festival.

“It creates overall enthusiasm for the cheese industry in the state,” Stiles said. “We see the guild as a way to showcase Iowa-made cheeses.”

Dairy products showcase

In August, Clark will spearhead another passion project she co-founded: the Iowa Quality Dairy Products Showcase.

Now in its second year, the showcase features cultured dairy products, goat and sheep cheeses, and cow cheeses from Iowa companies. Winning cheeses are displayed at the Iowa State Fair. Nine companies entered last year’s competition.

“We’re judging their products and providing them with valuable feedback to improve the quality of their products,” Clark said.

Stiles, who co-founded the guild and dairy products showcase with Clark, said both ventures aim to increase education, food safety, and marketing for Iowa’s 17 cheesemakers and its artisanal cheeses.

“We have a number of large cheesemakers, but also a growing farmstead and artisanal cheese industry too,” he said. “We see an opportunity for the growth potential of artisanal cheeses. It’s been a really good partnership with Stephanie to further build upon the enthusiasm and camaraderie amongst the Iowa cheesemakers.”

Steps in the right direction

Iowa hosting one of the foremost dairy conferences in the world will help encourage development of dairy farming in the state, said C.J. Bienert, the owner of The Cheese Shop of Des Moines who’s also a co-chair of the international cheese conference.

“The conference might just give traditional Iowa farmers that encouragement that they need to take the next step, put in the infrastructure and investment, and start making cheese,” he said.

He explained that other well-known dairy producing regions began as traditional farming areas as well.

“How did Wisconsin become such a great dairy state?” Bienert said. “They used to farm wheat and they had to reinvent themselves. Dairy farming is a way of cash-flowing grass.”

Some corn and soybean farmers are changing their operations and raising cattle for beef production. While not a direct line to cheesemaking, Bienert said animal husbandry is a step in the right direction.

“My dream is that these businesses will start here,” he said. “Iowa is affordable and centrally located, so it makes a lot of sense. I think that we’re posed to see a growth in artisanal products.”


Stephanie Clark, associate professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-7346,

Kevin Stiles, senior vice president of business development, Midwest Dairy Association,

C.J. Bienert, owner, The Cheese Shop of Des Moines, 515-528-8181,

Shannon Stump, graduate assistant writer, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, 515-294-9424,

Schalinske, Rowling and Jones

Iowa State researchers Kevin Schalinske, Matthew Rowling and Samantha Jones are working to improve the health of Type 2 diabetics by boosting vitamin D levels. Photo by Christopher Gannon - See more at:

February 9, 2016
By Angie Hunt

AMES, Iowa – A simple change in diet could boost vitamin D levels for millions of Americans suffering from Type 2 diabetes, according to new research from Iowa State University published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 

Vitamin D is important for bone health and protecting against cancer and other diseases, but diabetics have trouble retaining it and other nutrients because of poor kidney function. A team of Iowa State researchers found diabetic rats fed an egg-based diet had higher concentrations of vitamin D, improved blood glucose levels and gained less weight.   

Iowa State researchers are most interested in 25-hydroxyvitamin D-3 (25D) – the form of vitamin D in the blood that reflects vitamin D status. For that reason, it made sense to test eggs in the diet rather than other foods containing vitamin D or a supplement.  

“Eggs are the richest source of 25-hydroxyvitamin D-3 in the diet, and there isn’t any conversion required to make it into the blood. If you take it in a supplement or food fortified with vitamin D, it has to be converted to that form,” said Matthew Rowling, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition.

The variation in results was significant. Blood glucose levels dropped nearly 50 percent for diabetic rats on an egg-based diet compared to diabetic rats fed a standard diet. Concentrations of 25D were 148 percent higher for the egg-fed group and plasma triglyceride concentrations – a risk factor for cardiovascular disease – dropped 52 percent.

Rowling and colleagues Kevin Schalinske, professor of food science and human nutrition, and Samantha Jones, a graduate research assistant, are still working to understand why more vitamin D is retained from eggs than supplements. They say it may be related to other components found in eggs. 

Don’t skip the yolk

Eggs are not only a good source of vitamin D and other nutrients; they are also inexpensive and readily available. However, researchers say you need to eat the whole egg. 

“If you just ate egg whites you wouldn’t get any of the vitamin D, because the 25D is only in the yolk. The whites are fine if you’re focused just on protein, but the nutrients are all in the yolk. From a vitamin D standpoint, you want to consume the whole thing,” said Jones, lead author of the paper. 

The next step is to determine the minimal amount of eggs needed in the diet to yield a benefit. The study was designed to replace protein in the diet, so the rats were fed the equivalent of 17 to 18 eggs daily. However, based on the results and the severity of the rats’ diabetes, researchers expect a much lower dosage will be effective in humans. They also want to know if health benefits are enhanced when additional dietary constituents that promote the maintenance of vitamin D status and reduction of diabetic symptoms, such as fiber, are added to the diet.

“You may need even less egg if you combine it with something else that does not provide vitamin D per se, but rather protects the kidney and prevents loss of vitamin D,” Schalinske said. “We want to make sure we understand what’s going on with egg consumption and promoting vitamin D balance and make sure there’s a linkage to outcomes whether it’s bone health or kidney health.”

Gar Yee Koh, a postdoctoral research associate at Tufts University, also contributed to this paper. The research was funded by the Egg Nutrition Center. 


- See more at:

The seven new Cyclone Aides for the College of Human Sciences include: Erick Estrada, a junior in early childhood education; Karter Ewing, a sophomore in exercise science; William Franke, a freshman in pre-health professions; Randi (Maranda) Hahn, a junior in pre-health professions; Casey Halder, a senior in culinary science; Cynthia Reyes, a freshman elementary education; Megan Slattery, a sophomore diet and exercise. (more…)

Iowa State University’s Nutritional Sciences Council and the World Food Prize Foundation co-hosted the Norman Borlaug annual lecture and student poster competition on Monday, October 12th. The Norman Borlaug annual lecture is named for the Cresco native and agronomist whose discoveries sparked the Green Revolution. Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize for his international work in wheat research and production, which has saved millions of lives. He is the founder of the World Food Prize, which annually recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

The student poster competition was held prior to the Normal Borlaug lecture at the Memorial Union. Congratulations to the following students who were winners in this competition.


Graduate Students:

Hong You, Food Science & Human Nutrition, Quantifying the Bioefficacy of β-Carotene-biofortified Sorghum Using a Mongolian Gerbil Model

Sharon Tusiime, Horticulture,  Current Tomato Seed Management Practices among in- and out-of-school Youth in Kamuli, Uganda

Ryan Huffman, Agronomy, Interaction of Genetic Mechanisms Regulating Methionine Concentration in Maize Grain


Undergraduate Students:

Amanda Bries, Food Science & Human Nutrition, Polyphenol and Phytic Acid Determination in Tepary Bean and Common Bean Varieties

Melissa Larson, Global Resource Systems, Borehole Accessibility and Quality in Kamuli, Uganda

Anna Fisher, Global Resource Systems, Aflatoxin Contamination in Groundnuts: Determining Awareness Of its Effects on Human Health


Contest judges:

Mark Westgate - Agronomy

Ted MacDonald - Global Resource Systems

Clark Ford, Christina Campbell, Jean Anderson - Food Science and Human Nutrition


Donna Winham, Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Helen Jensen, Economics-AGLS, coordinated the contest submission and proceedings.


FSHN is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 FSHN Alumni Impact Award. Those being honored are Justin Kanthak (2007, BS Food Science & Technology); Charlotte Hayes (80, BS Dietetics and Community Nutrition); Julie Simonson (87, BS Food Science & Technology). Award winners are department alumni who have excelled and made an impact in their professions or their community, while still holding the Iowa State spirit. All three will spend a day on campus sharing memories with faculty and advice for the next generation of alums. Finally, they will receive their award at the annual FSHN Awards Banquet held during FSHN’s Homecoming events.

Justin Kanthak has spent 18 years in the foodservice industry as a corporate chef, product developer and in sales focusing on Foodservice National Chain Accounts. His experiences have included companies such as Cargill, The Schwan Food Company, Tate & Lyle, and his current position as a National Account Manager for Kellogg’s in addition to his 10 years in the back of the house in restaurants across the country. In addition to the chairing the External Advisory Council within the ISU FSHN department, Justin sits on the Research Chef’s Association Board of Directors as well as the Research Chefs Foundation.

Justin earned his AA degree in 2002 from the Culinary Institute of America and his BS degree in Food Science in 2007 from Iowa State University. Outside of his full time work, Justin enjoys spending time with his wife Jinny (ISU FSHN Alum), his son Jackson and his dog, Pepper. Justin and his family reside in Bartlett, IL.

Julie Simonson joined The Schwan Food Company in 2012 as to lead teams in Research and Development responsible for the creation of innovative new products, improve existing product designs, and drive value creation through product cost optimization. Julie was instrumental in improving project execution and processes, fostering an innovative culture, and championing people and team development. In October 2015, Julie assumed leadership of Technology Development within Schwans. Her teams of process and packaging engineers, research scientists, chefs, and regulatory affairs and specification specialists are identifying and advancing the future technology platforms for the company and its business units.

Prior to this appointment with Schwans, Julie was with the Campbell Soup Company for 4 years, where she held Vice President R&D roles leading business unit development teams and global technology advancement. Julie also spent 17 years with Kraft, including five years in Europe leading R&D for Cheese & Dairy and additional categories, as well as leading Confectionary R&D in Central and Eastern Europe. She worked for Kraft in Madison, Wisconsin for 3 years leading R&D teams working on Oscar Mayer products and Boca meat alternatives. Her career began with Kraft in Chicago working in product development on salad dressings and dinners and leading long-term research programs.

Julie earned her BS degree in Food Science from Iowa State University and her PhD degree in Food Science from the University of Minnesota. She resides in Marshall, MN with her husband, Dave, and they have two daughters in college. She also plays bassoon in the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra.

Charlotte Hayes is Director of Research and Education at Team Novo Nordisk. In this role she coordinates education and research activities for TNN, works with athletes in an advanced practice role as a Certified Diabetes Educator, and ensures that nutrition goals for optimal performance, including glycemic control, are achieved. Prior to joining Team Novo Nordisk, Charlotte was Senior Director of Programs and Policy, Good Measure Meals™/Open Hand-Atlanta where she guided community-based and translational research projects which focused on nutrition, physical activity and population health. From 1987 – 1997, Charlotte was the Diabetes Nutrition and Exercise Specialist, on a highly specialized diabetes team, at a Diabetes Treatment Centers of America center in Atlanta.

Charlotte completed her dietetic internship and an MMSc degree in clinical dietetics from Emory University School of Medicine, a MS degree in Adult Fitness and Cardiac Rehabilitation from University of Wisconsin La-Crosse, and a BS degree in Dietetics and Community Nutrition from Iowa State University.


Not only will these outstanding individuals be recognized, but all faculty, staff and students receiving awards will be recognized. Everyone is invited to stop by the annual FSHN Tailgate on Saturday and those in need of a game ticket may purchase one through the department and sit with the FSHN family. All alumni and friends of the department are invited to join the celebration at Homecoming, October 30 – 31, 2015. Register to attend any or all of the weekend’s events.


Food Science Junior, Michaela Minock (left) and Culinary Science Senior, Haley Brown (right) create recipes for cookbook to utilize damaged crops.

Food Science and Human Nutrition faculty and students are working with Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University to help create a cookbook that will utilize crops damaged by spotted wing drosophila due the rapid spread of this invasive pest this year. The spotted wing drosophila is a fruit crop pest that attacks healthy ripening fruit, just as it is reaching maturity.

The cookbook will provide recipes for damaged berries such as, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and aronia berries, a super berry with colossal antioxidant power. Students have developed over 150 recipes with berries affected by spotted wing drosophila. Recipes include: blackberry barbecue sauce, raspberry vinaigrette, aronia oatmeal cookies, strawberry and cream cake, and raspberry applesauce.

The berries are gathered and examined by an outside source before being sent to FSHN students working in Dr. Angela Shaw and Dr. Lester Wilson’s food testing laboratories. The berries are being sent by Iowa farmers struggling with damaged crops. Joe Hannan, Commercial Horticulture Specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, collects the berries to evaluate severity of damage following FDA procedures. Berries are collected, extracted and weighed before being sent to Dr. Wilson and Dr. Shaw.

FSHN students work in their labs to process berry samples in baked and value added foods. Students create and test recipes for deviation in taste, texture, color and overall visual appearance. The majority of berries are turned into sauces, combined into baked goods, sauces and condiments, pureed, and mixed with many other ingredients.

Food Science Junior, Michaela Minock, emphasizes that the damaged berries can still be put to good use.

“We don’t want the berries to go to waste. A lot of farmers last year had up to a few acres wiped out and they couldn’t sell any berries because of the damage.”

Even if not sold fresh, consumers can still eat berries, preventing them from going to waste.

“This project benefits the farmers growing these berries, and it gives the students first-hand experience in research, product development, quality evaluation, and shelf life determination,” said Dr. Wilson. “This will help them throughout their careers.”


Key Contacts:

Lester Wilson, University Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-3889,

Angela Shaw, Assistant Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-0868,

Joe Hannan, Field Specialist, Extension to Agriculture- ISU Extension, Iowa State University, 515-993-4281,

Michaela Minock, Junior in Food Science,

Megan Pulse, Marketing and Communications, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-9166,




FSHN students, Abby Sparks, Cheng Chan, Zenia Adiwijaya, Sarah Hansen, Emily Simonson, Annastasia Tjong, Geena Whalen, Kangzi Ren, Fei Wang and Animal Science students Katherine Lowe and Samantha Lobb competed in two Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contests this past week. Saturday, September 12th was the regional Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest, hosted by the Kraft Heinz Company. The 94th Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest was held on Tuesday, September 15th. The contest was hosted by the International Dairy Foods Association and held at the International Dairy Show at McCormick Place in Chicago.

FSHN senior and Dairy Products Evaluation Club president, Abigail Sparks placed first in butter judging at the regional contest and was awarded the Joe Larson Merit award for exemplary leadership at the national contest. Food Science & Technology Ph.D. student, Kangzi Ren, placed first in cottage cheese, second in butter, and third in milk judging at the regional contest. She placed third in milk and cheddar cheese judging at the national contest and was the third place overall graduate student competitor in both contests. Cheng Chan placed first in milk judging at the regional contest. Animal Science senior, Katherine Lowe, placed first in butter judging at the national contest. Animal Science senior, Samantha Lobb was an alternate in both competitions.

Congratulations to our Dairy Products Evaluation Club team members!

Contact: Stephanie Clark, Coach
Contact: Vaishnavi Sankarlal, Assistant coach, Team member last year

Iowa State University won the top prize at a national new food product development competition! (more…)

Students in food science and human nutrition are garnering top national honors. Iowa State’s local chapter of the Phi Tau Sigma honor society were named the Chapter of the Year at the Institute of Food Technologists annual national conference in Chicago, July 11, in Chicago More».

Students with the Iowa State University Dietetics Internship in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition completed their community nutrition rotation in Dharwad, India. (more…)