Wendy White, an associate professor in food science and human nutrition, researches methods to
improve the nutritional value of vegetables such as carrots, corn, and tomatoes. Photo by Ryan Riley.
Wendy White has big plans for how she’ll use the extra support she’ll receive as the newest holder of the Charlotte E. Roderuck faculty fellowship at Iowa State University.
White, an associate professor in food science and human nutrition, researches methods to improve the nutritional value of vegetables such as carrots, corn, and tomatoes. She’s working on ways to make their red-orange carotenoid pigments such as beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene easier to process and absorb.
“While most carotenoids aren’t essential nutrients, they are linked to protection against chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease,” she said.
Improving nutrition worldwide
White is also working on efforts to create biofortified foods, or foods that have enhanced beta-carotene contents through plant breeding or plant biotechnology. The goal is to combat vitamin A deficiency in developing countries.
She has contributed to the scientific evaluation of biofortified maize —corn developed by breeders to have increased levels of beta-carotene, a nutrient the body processes into vitamin A. A deficiency of vitamin A is a serious health problem in low and middle-income nations and can cause blindness as well as death from infectious disease.
“It has devastating consequences for children and pregnant women in particular,” she said.
Her efforts have helped to move biofortified foods out of the laboratory and into communities in need.
“We developed an efficient method to determine the vitamin A value of the beta-carotene in biofortified maize,” she said. “This expedited the subsequent field studies in Zambia where biofortified maize was shown to improve children’s vitamin A reserves.”
Making vegetables even more nutritious
A decade ago, White received international attention for her research showing that vegetable oil in salad dressing improves the absorption of beta-carotene and lycopene in salad vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes. It was a surprising finding in light of the then-common belief that dietary fats are harmful.
She recently completed a project with Unilever, one of the world’s largest food companies, on an effort to determine exactly how much oil to add to vegetables in order to reap the maximum nutritional benefits without adding too much fat to the meal.
“If the beneficial effect of oil begins to plateau after a certain amount, then there’s no need to add more,” she said.
Training tomorrow’s scientists
The Charlotte E. Roderuck Faculty Fellowship was made possible through a gift from Roderuck, who retired from Iowa State University in 1988 as a Distinguished Professor in Home Economics.
The fellowship benefits a faculty member in food science and human nutrition affiliated with the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center. White will hold the fellowship for three years.
White’s fellowship runs through May 2018. In addition to improving nutrition, White hopes to use part of the fellowship funding to recruit and train graduate students to become tomorrow’s top nutrition researchers.
“I’m striving for excellence and impact,” she said. “Part of that is training excellent graduate students.”
White said being recognized as a fellow inspires faculty. Previous holders of the Charlotte E. Roderuck Faculty Fellowship include Lorraine Lanningham-Foster, an associate professor in food science and human nutrition, and Suzanne Hendrich, a University Professor in food science and human nutrition.
“This kind of recognition helps keep enthusiasm and passion going,” White said. “We’re very appreciative of the donors.”
Wendy White, associate professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-3447, firstname.lastname@example.org
Meghan Brown, graduate assistant writer, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, 515-294-9424, email@example.com
Kevin Keener, a professor in food science and human nutrition, is director of ISU’s
Center for Crops Utilization Research and BioCentury Research Farm. Photo by Ryan Riley.
Rubber from Russian dandelions? Kevin Keener knows it’s possible. It’s just a matter of economics.
“It just depends on where you are in the world what the renewable resource is,” he said. “If something grows there, whether it’s dandelions or cactus, there’s technology innovation where we can take that plant and look at it as a raw material with compounds that can be pulled out of it.”
Keener is a professor in food science and human nutrition who serves as director of Iowa State University’s Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) and BioCentury Research Farm (BCRF).
CCUR is a multidisciplinary research, development, and technology transfer program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The BCRF, a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences facility managed by CCUR, is the first-in-the-nation integrated research and demonstration facility dedicated to biomass production and processing.
Keener said that unlimited opportunities exist in a bio-based economy.
“We have capabilities and technologies that are both part of my research and research around the university that are looking to take advantage of crops that are already being produced from a food standpoint,” he said. “Additionally, the material that is not food based — the stalks themselves, or parts of the cob — we have ways to take that and produce all kinds of plastics, and all kinds of purposeful products.”
Solving worldwide challenges
Like many faculty, Keener focuses on applied research in a laboratory setting. But he has a 35,000-square-foot laboratory in which to work, all housed in a pilot plant located in the Food Sciences Building at Iowa State.
“We have more than 250 pieces of unique equipment,” he said. “We can process materials in many different ways. Our pilot plant capabilities are globally unique in that we can build system solutions across the bio space.”
Whether it’s finding new uses for non-food products or exploring ways to increase food preservation, Keener said he is convinced that today’s technology is helping to solve worldwide challenges.
“We actually have adequate food,” he said. “The challenge is, we don’t have technological innovations or structures in place to preserve the food that we produce. However, Iowa State is evaluating technologies that can significantly reduce and potentially eliminate challenges to food production and preservation.”
Science with practice
As Keener searches for new solutions to economic challenges, he gives undergraduate students the ability to conduct applied research — work that is tied to a practical problem. He credits his own undergraduate research opportunities with this focus on student development.
“We support a number of undergraduate students in the lab to give them the opportunity for research,” he said. “We give them the opportunity to do independent research. The first step is getting them in the lab to give them a flavor of how research works.”
Keener said he believes this trifecta of talent — faculty, students, and equipment — puts Iowa State at the leading edge.
The CCUR and BCRF space and equipment is used by more than 50 faculty across Iowa State colleges and departments — including those within the College of Human Sciences. The faculty, along with Keener’s staff, provide research, manufacturing, and process design assistance to more than 100 projects per year.
“It’s definitely an integrated process,” Keener said. “Faculty are the drivers. The equipment and the capabilities are one aspect, the other is the students.”
By giving students real-world experiences, Keener and his staff of 10 are preparing Iowa Staters for entering the job market and making it on their own.
“The long-term success of a company depends on its employees,” he said. “These students who have these practical, hands-on experiences in the laboratory or at the BioCentury Research Farm are highly sought after.”
Equipping companies for a bio-based economy
Keener said companies that partner with Iowa State are better equipped to meet today’s economic challenges. Approximately one-third of his team’s projects are from Iowa-based companies. The remaining come from companies across the nation and world.
“We are equipping companies with knowledge that allows them today to be competitive in a global environment,” he said. “That’s why they’re coming to us. That’s the exciting part of it.”
For the Ohio native who grew up around agriculture, a move toward a bio-based economy is also a move toward sustainable living.
“Part of sustainability is viewing things in a bio-based economy,” Keener said. “Sustainability means that you’re looking to take advantage of the value of everything that you have, not just the primary product that you’re producing.”
Kevin Keener, professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition; director, Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) and BioCentury Research Farm (BCRF), Iowa State University, 515-294-0160, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-5991, email@example.com
Kent Davis, communications specialist, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, 515-294-1326, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University Produce Food Safety Team will partner with Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) in an effort to help fruit and vegetable growers and processors comply with new federal regulations. On Friday, September 9th, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the awarding of a total of $21.8 million to support 42 states in the implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) produce safety rule.
As part of this grant Iowa State University partnered with IDALS to lead the state of Iowa efforts. Specifically, Iowa State University was awarded a five-year, $1,118,900 subcontract grant to assist with assessment of the needs of produce growers directly affected by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Rule and to provide education and technical assistance to those affected by the rule. With the additional funds, the ISU Produce Safety team will be able conduct on-farm food safety assessments, food safety trainings and follow ups. The Iowa State University Produce Food Safety Team has a long history of working with state government compliance bodies (IDALS and Department of Inspection and Appeals), therefore this effort will be an expansion of current relationships.
Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, will lead the team.
“Our team is excited to work closely with Iowa based fruit and vegetable growers and processors to ensure they are in compliance with the new FSMA Produce Rule,” said Shaw.
The Iowa State University Produce Food Safety Team is a multidiscipline group that includes campus and county based members within Iowa State University. Grant members include Joseph Hannan, extension horticulture specialist, Teresa Wiemerslage, extension specialist with Allamakee County, Linda Naeve, value added agriculture extension specialist, Lakshman Rajagopal, associate professor in hospitality management, and Shannon Coleman, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011, aims to strengthen the U.S. food safety system by preventing foodborne outbreaks before they occur. The produce safety rule, one of seven major rules under FSMA, requires fruit and vegetable growers to meet science-based minimum standards for safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.
The FDA has recently established a national center and four regional centers along with two additional specialty centers – which includes the new center at Iowa State University – to provide guidance to companies that will have to comply with the law within the north central region. Dr. Shaw currently leads the new North Central Regional Center along with Dr. Catherine Strohbehn, professor and nutrition extension state specialist, Linda Naeve, Joe Hannan, and Arlene Enderton, program coordinator with ISU Extension and Outreach.
Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition, email@example.com
Megan Pulse, marketing and communications in food science and human nutrition, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is hosting their first event to recognize the work our students are doing outside of the classroom by hosting an internship reception. The purpose is to let students who have had internships or work experiences share what they have learned with other interested students.
This will be a perfect time to learn from your peers about their internships (whether you are looking for your first or next internship)!
If you have had an internship or other work experience in the last year and would like to share, please fill out the FSHN Internship Reception form.
Students must also fill out the informational PowerPoint slide and email it to Kate Gilbert by 11: 59 pm, Monday, September 19th. Plan to attend the internship reception and share your experience with your fellow students!
What counts as an internship or work experience? Generally, it is defined as a work experience that will help you in your future career and is at least 200 hours in length (40 hours/week x 5 weeks).
What: Internship Reception - The FSHN Department would like to recognize the work our students are doing outside of the classroom by hosting an internship reception. The purpose is to let students who have had internships or work experiences share what they have learned with other interested students.
When: September 22nd
Time: 5:00-6:30 pm starting with a networking hour (with appetizers served) and a short program at 6:00 pm
Where: Harl Commons, Curtiss Hall
Who Should Attend: Everyone - undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff are invited!
If you would like to attend - whether you have had an internship or not - please take a moment and fill out the form below. Since this is a new event, RSVP’ing will help us with our planning. We look forward to hearing from you!
FSHN Internship Reception Form
Peter Clark, an assistant professor in nutritional science who swam competitively in college,
applies his love of physical activity to his psychological studies. He researches how nutritional,
physical, and physiological changes in the brain impact behavior. Photo by Ryan Riley.
Exercise and the human brain have always fascinated Peter Clark.
Clark, a new assistant professor in nutritional science at Iowa State University, received his bachelor’s degree in psychology while winning medals for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s swim team. He swam competitively from the time he was 10 years old, through college.
“I cannot emphasize enough how valuable of an experience participating in athletics during youth was for building who I am today, from learning teamwork to developing leadership skills to setting goals,” he said.
Midway through his bachelor’s degree, Clark applied his love of physical activity to his psychology studies. He started wondering what role the brain played in exercise motivation and, in turn, what benefits physical activity has on the brain.
Exercise to maintain healthy brain function
Research shows that exercise plays a large role in maintaining healthy brain function.
Clark also studies its effect on stress-related hormones and neurogenesis — or the generation of new brain cells. His experience in the lab as an undergraduate research assistant showed him that exercise could help improve cognitive processes.
“It blew my mind that promoting brain health is yet another potential benefit for engaging in athletics,” he said.
Just as exercise can improve mood and decrease stress, Clark said a sedentary lifestyle can have the opposite effect. Learning, memory, and stress management can all decline as a result of not maintaining a regular physical activity routine.
Emphasis on neuroscience
Clark comes to Iowa State as the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition puts a new emphasis on behavioral neuroscience — and expands its focus to include how nutritional, physical, and physiological changes in the brain impact behavior.
“I am excited to be a part of that, as it could create an energetic scholarly environment for years to come,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to be given the opportunity to represent Iowa State. In many ways, this school fulfills just about every one of my career ideals.”
Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair of food science and human nutrition, said the faculty is excited to have Clark join them.
“Dr. Clark has expertise in determining how stress affects the regulatory mechanisms in the brain,” MacDonald said. “His mechanistic approach to studying cognitive responses will add an important component to our department and advance our work to understand how diet, physical activity, and lifestyle interact to affect overall well-being.”
Clark wants to build an interdisciplinary research program at Iowa State focused on exercise neuroscience and aging in food science. One area of his current research tries to pinpoint the factors that affect healthful food choices and enhance or decrease physical activity motivation. Clark believes stress is a key component.
“Understanding how diet and lifestyle choices can influence behavior and cognitive function is a relatively hot topic in the field, so I am excited to contribute to this growing emphasis within the department,” he said.
New treatments for common health problems
Clark hopes his research into stress-resistant brains will help create new treatments for common health problems, such as cognitive decline as a result of aging.
His research and understanding of the human brain allows him to be an effective teacher in the classroom, especially ones that can be as large and diverse as Iowa State’s.
“I’m always seeking effective ways to bridge the learning-style gaps in diverse audiences, while keeping the environment light and energetic,” he said.
One way he bridges learning-style gaps is by pulling examples of behavioral neuroscience from pop culture and real-world situations. He uses case studies of patients with specific types of brain damage to show how certain forms of memory are affected, rather than simply listing brain regions and their respective roles in memory. He said this teaching style proved most effective when he was the student.
“Looking back at my college and postgraduate education, some of the best courses I’ve taken used similar approaches,” Clark said. “I didn’t realize I was learning, yet I had this new wealth of applicable knowledge that stuck with me long after the course was over, as well as an appreciation for the instructor.”
Returning to Midwestern roots
Not many people can say that starting a new job feels like coming home, but Clark can.
“There is a degree of familiarity in this setting which made me comfortable with Iowa State,” he said.
With his arrival at Iowa State, he is returning to his Midwestern roots — he is from Wisconsin — after five years of research and postdoctoral work in Colorado and Maryland.
He most recently worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore. Prior to that, he spent two years as a research associate at the Department of Integrative Physiology and Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He received his doctorate in behavioral neuroscience from the University of Illinois.
Peter Clark, assistant professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-3011, email@example.com
Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-5991, firstname.lastname@example.org
Shannon Stump, graduate assistant writer, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, 515-294-9424, email@example.com
Tonya Armstrong, Natalie Haag, Kate Gilbert, Claire Collins and Kelly Belknap showcase food demonstrations at the IFT 2016 Expo.
Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) showcased appetizers created by Iowa State University Food Science and Human Nutrition students at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2016 Expo. GPC provided ISU students a hands-on product development learning experience through the new GPC Ingredient Application Challenge. The challenge for the student teams was to develop a creative, trend-driven appetizer featuring GPC’s MALTRIN® maltodextrins and specialty starches. The six-week challenge began with training on GPC ingredient functionality and culminated with a finale event held on-campus on March 29. Five teams made up of three students each presented their appetizer demos and served samples for judges and guests. Judging criteria included appropriate use of GPC ingredients, formulations details, creativity, and appearance, taste and texture.
The winning appetizer concept from the GPC Ingredient Application Challenge, Coconut Curry Chicken Rice Cup, was created by food science juniors, Yuliya Kovalenko, Emily Simonson and Jessica Schaumburg. Their product features PURE-GEL® modified starch, which provided an ideal texture for the appetizer, especially when freezing and reheating of the demo was required.
A second entry from the challenge, Chickpea Fries with Sriracha Pineapple Dipping Sauce, was also featured at the GPC booth. Claire Collins and Natalie Haag, juniors in food science and Colby Abrams, junior in chemical engineering, chose to demonstrate the coating properties of INSTANT PURE-COTE®. The film-forming starch improved and helped maintain the crisp outer texture of the chickpea fries.
“The first GPC Ingredient Application Challenge was successful and an ideal collaboration between industry and students,” shared Kate Gilbert, Lecturer in Food Science and Human Nutrition. “GPC was able to educate students on their company while also giving them an opportunity to experience the ins and outs of the food industry and the use of functional ingredients.”
Students were able to develop new product concepts, practice problem solving and enhance critical thinking skills through the process. Displaying the student developed appetizers at the IFT Expo provided GPC an innovative means to showcase their ingredients to respected food professionals from around the world.
View all GPC Ingredient Application Challenge teams
Megan Pulse, marketing and communications, Food Science and Human Nutrition, firstname.lastname@example.org
Diane Rieke, manager marketing communication, Grain Processing Corporation, email@example.com
Kate Gilbert, lecturer, Food Science and Human Nutrition, firstname.lastname@example.org
Auriel Willette used data from brain scans and memory tests to track the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Photo by Blake Lanser
Iowa State University researchers have identified a protein essential for building memories that appears to predict the progression of memory loss and brain atrophy in Alzheimer’s patients.
Auriel Willette, an assistant professor of food science and human nutrition;
and Ashley Swanson, a graduate research assistant, say the findings also suggest there is a link between brain activity
and the presence of the protein neuronal pentraxin-2, or NPTX2.
The research, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, found a correlation between higher levels of NPTX2 and better memory and more brain volume. Lower levels of the protein were associated with diminished memory and less volume.
“NPTX2 seems to exert a protective effect,” Swanson said. “The more you have, the less brain atrophy and better memory you have over time.”
The discovery is encouraging as it offers an avenue to track the progression of Alzheimer’s disease over time, but it also generates a lot of questions.
Researchers want to know how best to boost NPTX2 levels and if there is an added benefit. They were struck by a trend in the data that points to a possible answer. Study participants with more years of education showed higher levels of the protein. Willette says people with complex jobs or who stay mentally and socially active could see similar benefits, supporting the notion of “use it or lose it.”
“You’re keeping the machinery going,” Willette said. “It makes sense that the more time spent intensely focused on learning, the more your brain is trained to process information and that doesn’t go away. That intense kind of learning seems to make your brain stronger.”
Good vs. bad proteins
Willette and Swanson used data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative to assess which aspects of the immune system were most relevant to tracking Alzheimer’s disease progression. They consistently found two proteins (NPTX2 and Chitinase-3-like-protein-1, or C3LP1) that predicted aspects of the disease. Among 285 older adults, they examined memory performance at baseline, six months, one year and two years. At the beginning of the study, 86 participants had normal brain function, 135 expressed mild cognitive impairment (the precursor to Alzheimer’s), and 64 had Alzheimer’s disease.
ISU researchers also focused their attention on the medial temporal lobe, an area of the brain that shows the first signs of memory loss or cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. While C3LP1 modestly predicted atrophy in the medial temporal lobe, it did not track memory decline over time, researchers said. After two years, the presence of NPTX2 explained 56 percent of the fluctuation in memory loss and 29 percent of medial temporal lobe volume.
Willette and Swanson say they were somewhat surprised by the comparative results. They expected C3LP1, which causes brain inflammation and is thought to degrade the brain and memory, to be a stronger indicator. However, the memory forming benefits of NPTX2 proved to be consistently significant during the two years that researchers tracked memory decline and medial temporal lobe atrophy.
“We see this as a promising biomarker that affects a lot of key aspects of Alzheimer’s disease,” Swanson said. “It’s a revolutionary approach and we’re looking at it in a more holistic way, rather than a reductionist viewpoint, to understand how the immune system and brain are connected.”
Willette added, “With this disease you have to be comprehensive. There are so many aspects of our environment, our lifestyle, our immune system that influence the degree to which you’re at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.”
Auriel Willette, assistant professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, email@example.com, 515-294-3110
Ashley Swanson, graduate research assistant, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, firstname.lastname@example.org, 515-294-3011
Angie Hunt, communications specialist, ISU News Service, Iowa State University, email@example.com, 515-294-8986
GFC Announcement for Universities
Land O’Lakes, Inc. will again offer members of the class of 2019 the opportunity to be a part of our Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders for Food Security program.
Sophomore students during the 2016-2017 academic year interested in exploring solutions to world
hunger and inspired to help solve the global food challenge are encouraged to apply for the program that runs from December 2016 through August 2017.
The fellowship offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain experiences outside the classroom during a year-long fellowship program. Those experiences include:
- An 11-week paid summer internship in 2017
- Travel to Washington, D.C. and a to-be-determined global destination as a part of the summer internship (included in the program)
- Solving real-world agricultural issues through the development of a team proposal for Land O’Lakes
- Participation in a number of special events between December 2016 and October 2017
- Serving as an ambassador for agriculture and the food industry
- Expected graduation date of May 2019 or December
- Students from the following Universities are eligible to apply:
- Purdue University
- Iowa State University
- The George Washington University
- University of Minnesota
- Northwestern University
- University of Wisconsin – Madison (NEW)
Apply August 25 – October 31, 2016
- Learn more and apply LandOLakes.com
- Students must submit a one-minute video that identifies a problem or challenge directly related to food security and a proposed
Terry Vines, Jasmine Roberts, Jasmine Moreno and Spencer Finch spend the summer
assisting FSHN Faculty with extension and research.
George Washington Carver Interns spent their summer working with Food Science and Human Nutrition faculty to learn about the agricultural food industry and assist with research. This summer from June 4 to July 30, two undergraduate students and two high school students are interns in this program working with assistant professor, Angela Shaw and associate professor, Aubrey Mendonca.
The George Washington Carver Summer Research Internship Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) has been inspiring young scientists for more than 25 years. Both undergraduate and high school students from around the country are part of this program every year, working side by side with faculty mentors on research projects. While the program helps students explore science through experiential learning opportunities, it also helps increase diversity within the world of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, and recruit new bright minds to undergraduate and graduate programs.
Interns Spencer Finch, junior at Marshalltown High School, and Jasmine Moreno, senior at Roosevelt High School are assisting Aubrey Mendonca by researching common pathogens found in foods, and the shelf life of a variety of foods. More specifically, they are testing the destruction of Salmonella enterica by cinnamaldehyde in carrot juice and the effectiveness of cinnamaldehyde for killing Escherichia coli in carrot juice. The goal of their research is to find a natural antimicrobial from a plant source that will decrease bacteria in fruit and vegetable juices. Finch, Moreno and Mendonca used the compound, cinnamaldehyde, for its organic and antimicrobial properties and appealing cinnamon flavor. The compound was tested in stimulators to replicate refrigerator and room temperatures. In just 24 hours the bacteria had significantly decreased under both temperature conditions.
Jasmine Roberts and Terry Vines, undergraduates at Tuskegee University in Alabama, are working with Angela Shaw researching the business of agricultural production. The goal of this internship is to teach students about all the career paths that agriculture has to offer while providing professional development activities such as grant writing and improving communication skills. Students met with various faculty and staff throughout Iowa State University and toured with an agricultural company.
“Essentially, everything that we eat has to come from somewhere and it’s important to know where that is and what it takes to get to consumers. Agribusiness is a field where you can learn the many benefits of self-grown produce as well as food production,” shared Roberts.
Besides getting a foot in the door, George Washington Carver interns accumulate new skills, establish relationships with mentors, build a network, and gain real world perspective on the agriculture and food industries. Aspiring to be agriculture business owners, future food scientists, and working to eliminate hunger, interns also get the chance to discover new passions.
“This was my first internship and it helped me a lot in deciding if I want to work in a food science lab,” Finch said. “Because of this opportunity, I can now see myself as a future food scientist.”
Megan Pulse, marketing and communications, Food Science and Human Nutrition
Theressa Cooper, Director of George Washington Carver Summer Research Internship Program, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Aubrey Mendonca, associate professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition
Angela Shaw, assistant professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition
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
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.”