• Paul Estabrooks updated the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors about efforts to reduce the nation's swelling obesity problems. "If people who weigh 200 pounds lose five percent of their body weight--10 pounds--with a very low-calorie diet, when they regain the weight, they have less muscle than when they started." People who regain the weight they've lost after dieting may be reducing their physical fitness more than they think. That's because when dieters lose weight, they lose both muscle and fat. But when they put pounds back on they generally regain mostly fat. The muscle-loss phenomenon was part of a rationale to study the effectiveness of resistance training to prevent diabetes, work led by Brenda Davy and Richard Winett, the Heilig Meyers professor of psychology in the College of Science.


  • HNFE's Taylor Lavery is Homecoming Queen! For Taylor, a junior, no other school would feel like home. She shares a bond with Virginia Tech that very few students experience; she is the granddaughter of the late William E. Lavery, the 12th president of Virginia Tech. Read more...
  • HNFE student athletic trainers: keeping athletic teams moving. About 55 student athletic trainers from HNFE help the university's athletic teams excel while gaining experience for their own careers. Our majors make up the bulk of Virginia Tech's student athletic trainers, and they do everything from giving massages and ultrasounds, to monitoring practices for injuries and filling water bottles.


  • Jamie Zoellner is the Scholar of the Week
  • HNFE alumni Jennie Schafer, Tech's director of sports nutrition, is one of 45 full-time registered sports dietitians at 39 schools across the country. Her goal is to educate, not lecture. She wants to provide information to players who want to maximize their performance by eating healthier foods, making small adjustments to their diets to do so. "We teach through food, basically," Schafer said. Read more...
  • Angela Worrell was selected to the Administrative Professional Development Program; she is one of 20 nominees this year. Participants have administrative responsibilities; indicate a sincere interest in participation; contribute to the group based on experience, expertise, or leadership skills; and continue to develop personally and professionally.


  • The 2013 Summer Undergraduate Research Conference was held July 31st at the Inn at VT. This year, six HNFE Scholars (five from HNFE and one from Cornell) conducted research in HNFE labs. Video presented at the conference: "Cut the Fat."
    • Korie Bush (Cornell) "The Genetics of Obesity: Analysis of a Nonsynonymous Nhlh2 Mutation" (Debby Good) 
    • Emily Craft, "Using RE-AIM to Assess the Reach and Implementation of Nutrition and Exercise Programs Targeting Low-Income Youth" (Jennie Hill) 
    • Lindsey Kummer, "Kids really don't eat their vegetables: A look at the cost of school lunch waste" (Elena Serrano) 
    • Maja Tyhurst, "Talking Health: Exploring baseline to six-month changes in The Theory of Planned Behavior constructs related to sugar sweetened beverage consumption and physical activity in Lee and Giles County, VA (Jamie Zoellner) 
    • Maggie Reinhold, "Talking Health: Exploring the representativeness of enrolled participants in Southwest Virginia" (Jamie Zoellner) 
    • Justin Resendes, "Effects of acute and chronic lipopolysaccharide treatments on the insulin signaling machinery in human primary skeletal muscle cells" (Matt Hulver) 
  • The Virginia Cooperative Extension Leadership Council visited campus and the department July 25. VCELC is made up of representatives from each of the 22 planning districts in Virginia, representatives of programmatic advisory groups, and administrators. The mission of the council is to advance and promote the educational program of VCE. Faculty and student presentations highlighted work with FNP, childhood obesity prevention, the Dan River Partnership for a Healthy Community, and sugar sweetened beverage consumption in southwest Virginia.
  • Rising junior Lindsey Kummer is one of a handful of students participating in HNFE's Summer Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, which is sponsored by the department and the Fralin Life Science Institute. From VT News: It's lunchtime at a local elementary school. Kids snake through the line as they do every school day, grab an entrée, a piece of fruit, a side item, and a beverage, then pay for their meal and take their places to a lunch table. Nothing out of the ordinary here. But then those kids, on average, throw half of their food away, sometimes as much as 70 percent of it. Read more about her research
  • It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's HNFE grad Paul Darnell. The Warner Bros. motion picture "Man of Steel" opened this summer and Paul Darnell was on set as Superman's stunt double. For many little boys, the notion of growing up big and strong like Superman is dangled in front of them like a rare gem by parents who are eager for finicky tots to eat their vegetables. "You want to be big and strong like Superman, don't you?" Paul, a 2005 HNFE graduate, actually did grow up to be Superman—or at least his stunt double. 
  • Dr. Ristow (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and Zhiyong Cheng recently edited a journal issue on mitochondria and metabolic homeostasis, which documents the latest research of mitochondria and metabolic diseases (diabetes, obesity, cancer, and aging). It was published in the July issue of Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. An editorial article was also published.


  • Postdoc and alumni Valisa Hedrick received a two year American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship, which will allow her to examine the long term effects of sugar-sweetened and artificially-sweetened beverage intake on cardiovascular disease markers (blood pressure, lipids, glucose) as well as weight status. Valisa completed her BS in Dietetics, Dietetic Internship, and PhD (under Brenda Davy) from HNFE, and she her AHA mentor team includes Jamie Zoellner, Brenda Davy, Paul Estabrooks, and Wendy You.
  • Alumni Stacey Snee, MS, RD (Dietetic Internship Program, 2009), is serving as National Deputy Director for Mission: Readiness, a national security non-profit that falls under the umbrella of Council for a Strong America. She was selected for this position based on her military background, experience as a registered dietitian, policy acumen, and advocacy work for childhood obesity prevention as Mrs. Hawaii (2012).
  • Amy LaFalce is the new Northern Site Director for the VT Internship in Nutrition and Dietetics. She replaced Susan Moore, who held the position for eight years. Amy has degrees in both dietetics (BS) and exercise science/kinesiology (MS and BS). Her experience includes being a clinical dietitian, preceptor and intern speaker, Clinical Nutrition Manager, nutrition consultant, wellness dietitian, and program coordinator. She is a past president of the DC Metro Area Dietetic Association (DCMADA) and was awarded Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year for DCMADA.
  • HNFE undergraduate Heather Savage was honored for performing with distinction in both the classroom and her sport by Virginia Tech Athletics. She is on the VT Women's Swimming and Diving team. The award is given annually to the top junior or senior student-athlete in their respective sport. Candidates for the award must have maintained a 3.0 grade point average for their career as well as a 3.0 for each of their last two semesters.
  • HNFE graduate student Tanya Halliday received the Foundation's Commission on Dietetic Registration Doctoral Scholarship from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


  • Frank Conforti was honored for his many years of outstanding service as he retired for the second time!
  • Congratulations to HNFE's ILSB Research Poster Symposium winners held May 1st: (pictures on Facebook)
    • 1st: Kacie Allen,"Testing smart phone game applications for physical activity promotion in middle school students in after school programs at Boys & Girls Clubs"
    • 2nd: Erin Smith,"Associations between middle-school characteristics, physical activity policy quality, and physical activity rates within a sample of Mid-Atlantic middle schools"
    • 3rd: Kimberly Saunders, "Patient Preferences and Characteristics Influence Development of a Diabetes Prevention Program in Southwest Virginia"


  • The Dan River Partnership for a Healthy Community hosted their 3rd Annual Community Garden Forum in Danville on April 19th. Attending were local residents who have participated in a community garden in the past and those interested in starting one, local VCE agents and Master Gardeners, academic partners, parks and recreation, and more! The evening began with an introduction by Jamie Zoellner, academic partner and former vice chair of the DRPHC. HNFE Graduate students Karissa Grier, Felicia Reese and Lorien MacAuley, all active research partners, gave a presentation on CG progress including results from 2012 summer youth gardening program.
  • Dietetics students presented their service learning work at the VT Engagement Showcase on April 17, hosted by VT Engage: The Community Learning Collaborative. Graduate and undergraduate students present posters demonstrating their community engagement efforts while attending the  university.
  • Elena Serrano was awarded a grant by The Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs for her project "The Effect of School Cafeteria Noise on Student Food Consumption and Waste." While Wansink (2004) has highlighted eating atmospheric factors associated with food consumption, such as temperature, lighting, odor, and noise, few studies have been conducted to fully examine the effect of these dimensions, especially noise, on dietary intake, particularly among young children. Serrano's study will utilize an inter-disciplinary approach to answer the research question: To what degree does school cafeteria noise, as well as potential mediators of noise, influence food consumption and food waste of young children?
  • HNFE Senior Emily Lauten was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi on April 15th and was awarded the Outstanding Senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for this organization.
  • 2013 Summer Scholars announced: Emily Craft (Mentor, Jennie Hill), Justin Resendes (Mentor, Matt Hulver), Maja Tyhurst (Mentor, Jamie Zoellner), Lindsay Kummer (Mentor, Elena Serrano), and Maggie Reinhold (Mentor, Jamie Zoellner). Students attend a weekly seminar course, and the summer experience culminates with a symposium to present research results and to hear about ongoing summer research projects with other VT undergraduates and faculty.
  • USDA Summer Scholars program featured in VT News: Students develop skills and build relationships through summer undergraduate research programs
  • VT News Feature: James Kiefer of Baltimore, a senior HNFE major, is busy taping injured ankles, molding mouth guards, and doing whatever else it takes to help get the Hokies ready for a big game. Kiefer is one of more than 50 HNFE student athletic trainers who help VT sports teams excel while gaining valuable experience for their own careers. "Students love this program because it gives them hands-on experience that they can't gain anywhere else," said Undergraduate Program Director Renee Selberg-Eaton. "Many of our students go on to be doctors, physician assistants, physical therapists, and professional athletic trainers, and they say that their experience here was invaluable."
  • Undergraduate Allie Sivak is the recipient of the Evan Turek Memorial Scholarship and the Mondelez International Internship from Feeding Tomorrow: the Foundation of the Institute of Food Technologists. Allie, a double major in Dairy Science and HNFE, will intern at Mondelez International this summer where she will apply her passion for food product development and production.
  • Zhiyong Cheng was one of six assistant professors in CALS to receive a mentoring grant from the Provost's Office.
  • Renee Eaton received a $45,000 grant from the Virginia Tech First Year Experience Office for the CALS First Year Seminar project, which has allowed for the creation and development of a first year program for six units within CALS. Components of the project include tutoring in first year sciences, a peer leader/mentoring program, and starting in 2013-2014, an optional one credit service learning course.
  • Bill Barbeau and the Science of Food class took the annual "Food, Nutrition, and Wellness Tour" to the New World Pasta company (which is one of the largest pasta makers in the country), and Hood Dairy (which makes Lactaid, Almond Breeze milk, and coffee creamers). Both companies are in Winchester,Virginia.
  • Nicolin Girmes-Grieco was selected as a "Favorite Faculty." This recognition program, hosted by the Favorite Faculty Committee of Housing and Residence Life, is a way for students to honor faculty members for their hard work, contributions to academia, and dedication to student learning and success.
  • Dietetics programs earn high exam pass rates: based on the five year Registration Examination for Dietitians reports received in April, the Undergraduate Dietetics Program has a 95% first time takers pass rate over the past five years and ranks at the 80% percentile nationally, educating 132 new Registered Dietitians over the past five years. The Dietetic Internship Program has a 96% first time takers pass rate over the past five years and ranks at the 79% percentile nationally, preparing 81 new Registered Dietitians over the past five years.
  • Graduate students Angela Bailey and Tanya Halliday were both selected to be College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Graduate Teaching Scholars.


Two alumni and one student were honored at the CALS Alumni Awards Ceremony in March: Outstanding Alumna: Chrissie Chawanje Mughogho (PhD, '98), Recent Alumna: Heidi Hertz (BS, '04), and Outstanding Ambassador: Kiley Petencin (BS, '13).

  • Outstanding Alumna Chrissie Chawanje Mughogho: after returning to Malawi following completion of her doctorate in HNFE, Chrissie, a Fulbright Scholar, rose through the academic ranks at the University of Malawi to become the first woman dean of applied sciences. She is a strong advocate for the improvement of the education of girls in Malawi and was elected national Chairperson of the Forum for African Women Educationalists in Malawi from 2004 to 2005. In 2005 Chrissie embarked on a career as a diplomat, becoming Malawi's ambassador to Zambia.  She was appointed as Malawi's ambassador to India in 2010, and Malawi's ambassador to Bangladesh in 2012.
  • Outstanding Recent Alumna Heidi Hertz: her mission is to promote healthy communities through increasing access to healthy and nutritious foods, opportunities for physical activity, and preventing and reducing obesity. As the Obesity Prevention Coordinator for the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, Heidi manages funds related to childhood obesity including General Assembly appropriation of $1 million per year for obesity prevention activities. She directs initiatives and projects including a statewide conference on childhood obesity; the Virginia Youth Obesity Prevention initiative; serving as a liaison to the office of the first lady, Mrs. McDonnell; the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth internship program; and media outreach and communication. Heidi contributes to the department by collaborating with faculty on research and outreach, supervising undergraduate student interns, mentoring dietetic interns and graduate students, and serving in an advisory capacity to their accredited dietetic programs.
  • Outstanding Ambassador Award Kiley Petencin: an ambassador since 2010, she has been a leader in the organization, always bringing a well-rounded wealth of knowledge and experience to discussions and committee work. Kiley has served the program in several capacities, from chairing the committee to plan the ambassador-organized brown bag lunch on generational diversity in the classroom, to fundraising for the program's Relay for Life team, to sharing a presentation with the members about her semester-long internship with Heifer Ranch, she puts her passion for Ut Prosim and the college behind every project. She has been a major spokesperson for the Civic Agriculture and Food Systems minor and has participated in a service learning trip to Honduras as part of the minor. Her resume includes multiple examples of health and fitness-related activities, community service, outreach, and proactivity in issues pertaining to diversity and social justice.
  • Felicia Reese, a George Washington Carver scholar, presented her thesis defense "Implementation and Evaluation of a Community Gardening and Nutrition Program among at-risk Youth" on March 18. Dr. Randy Grayson, director of the scholarship program, attended her defense.
  • Researchers have a 'gut feeling' about the link between a high fat diet and metabolic dysfunction. Matt Hulver, Kevin Davy, and Brenda Davy featured in VT News.
  • Six VT students will present at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in April at the University of Wisconsin, including HNFE senior Gregory Rodden, who will give a poster presentation titled, "Chronic low-dose endotoxin treatment suppresses insulin signaling and impairs insulin-mediated glycogen synthesis in skeletal muscle cells." Greg was a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF) at Fralin Life Science Institute.
  • HNFE students helped organize events for Eating Issues/Body Image Awareness Events, which promoted positive body image, encouraged healthy eating and fitness habits, and educated community members about how to recognize eating and body image disorders.
  • Nicolin Girmes-Grieco was CAL's Certificate of Teaching Excellence awardee for 2013 and will be recognized for this achievement during the college's undergraduate ceremony May 18th.
  • Fabio Almeida participated in the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's The Center on Health, Aging, and Disability's Expert Roundtable, "Physical Activity, Health, and Well-Being in Brazil."
  • Jamie Zoellner's proposal "Planting Seeds for Change: Community Garden Initiative of The Dan River Partnership for a Healthy Community" received funding of $45,000 from the CALS Integrated Internal Competitive Grants Program.
  • The USDA Scholars Program: Innovations in a Summer Undergraduate Research Program by Debby Good was highlighted in NACTA Journal.
  • Elaina Marinik's research was featured in Hematology Week: "Reports on Hematology Findings from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Provide New Insights."
  • Two McNair Scholars won awards at the NC AT&T McNair Research Symposium. Kenny Basham (HNFE) won first place in the undergraduate oral presentation category and Erica Lee (Sociology) won first place in the undergraduate poster presentation category. Kenny's presentation was "The Role of Toll-like Receptor 4 in Skeletal Muscle Adaptation to High-Fat Feeding" (Mentor Matt Hulver). Erica's poster was "Racial Identity, Campus Involvement, and Progress toward On-Time Graduation."


  • Kaleb Bekele, HNFE undergraduate student, received an American Diabetes Association Undergraduate Internship Award for the project entitled "Identifications of novel botanicals for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes."During the next year, Kaleb will conduct diabetes research under the direction of Dongmin Liu..
  • Brenda Davy was conferred Fellow status by the Obesity Society.
  • The recently approved Fralin Translational Obesity Research Center at Virginia Tech was highlighted in the VT News Jan 10th. Serving as co-directors are Kevin Davy and Paul Estabrooks. In line with the land-grant mission of the university, the center's aim is to improve health and quality of life in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation. The center's approach is unique; scientists from a variety of backgrounds including human nutrition, psychology, cancer biology, economics, and pediatrics will receive support to explore collaborative, translational projects with the goal of obtaining large-scale external funding to support obesity research.