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Graduate Program Faculty

The faculty listed below are those who hold permanent positions at Virginia Tech. They have demonstrated a high level of expertise and scholarly achievement in their respective fields, making them excellent potential advisors for graduate students seeking mentorship and guidance throughout their academic journey in our program. These faculty are categorized in three tracks: Behavioral and Community Science, Clinical Physiology and Metabolism, and Molecular and Cellular Science. Graduate students applying to our program will need to identify the track they wish to pursue on their application. 

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    Julia Basso, PhD, CYT , bio

    Assistant Professor: The effects of mind-body-movement practices on brain function and physiology; at the intersection of art and science

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    Siobhan Craige, PhD , bio

    Assistant Professor: Exercise metabolism; redox signaling in health and disease; vascular influence on diet and exercise

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    Brenda M. Davy, PhD, RDN , bio

    Professor: Obesity and body weight regulation; behavioral and metabolic aspects; diet and cardiovascular diseases; dietary intake assessment; water and beverage intake and health

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    Kevin P. Davy, PhD , bio

    Professor: Etiology, prevention, and treatment of cardiometabolic dysfunction in aging and obesity

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    Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, PhD , bio

    Assistant Professor: Food choice and food reward; neuroscience and metabolism

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    Joshua C. Drake, PhD , bio

    Assistant Professor: How molecular mechanisms responsible for monitoring cellular energetics change with age and their relationship to the development of age-related disease

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    Deborah J. Good, PhD , bio

    Associate Professor: Molecular regulation of body weight, exercise, fertility, and puberty; prader-willi syndrome; phylogenetic analysis; nutraceutical functional foods; Pedagogy research

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    Robert W. Grange, MS, PhD , bio

    Professor, Assistant Department Head, and Director of the Virginia Tech Metabolism Core: Role of exercise in the treatment of neuromuscular disease

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    Samantha Harden, PhD, 500 RYT , bio

    Associate Professor: Yoga as an affordable, accessible public health practice; dissemination and implementation science; group dynamics for long-term health behaviors

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    Valisa E. Hedrick, PhD, RDN , bio

    Associate Professor and Director of the Dietary Assessment Laboratory: Dietary intake and health; dietary assessment methodology; non-nutritive sweeteners; evaluation of nutrition intervention programs

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    Young H. Ju, PhD , bio

    Associate Professor: Effects of functional food and supplements on chronic disease; effects of integrative health on health

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    Vivica I. Kraak, MS, PhD, RDN , bio

    Associate Professor: U.S. and global food and nutrition policy; public health; governance for sustainable diets and food systems; food and beverage marketing

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    Enette Larson-Meyer, PhD, RD, CSSD, FACSM , bio

    Professor, Director of the Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics (MSND) Program, and Director of the Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (NEM) Lab: How nutrition and exercise influence health and physical performance; special interest in energy, vitamin D and iodine metabolism

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    Dongmin Liu, PhD , bio

    Professor: Identification of bioactive compounds for preventing obesity and diabetes and promoting metabolic health; discovery of phytochemicals to delay aging

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    Sumita Mishra, PhD , bio

    Assistant Professor: Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction; Interorgan cross-talk, Cardiometabolic links; focuses on mitochondrial, cGMP-protein kinase G signaling

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    Sarah Misyak, PhD, MPH , bio

    Research Assistant Professor and Assistant Director and Program Manager for Research and Evaluation for the Virginia Cooperative Extension Family Nutrition Program (EFNEP and SNAP-Ed): Food Access; food and nutrition security; public health nutrition; program evaluation; health disparities

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    Charles Najt, PhD , bio

    Assistant Professor: Lipid metabolism with a focus on the relationship between lipid metabolism and disease development and how these diseases impact healthspan

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    Carlin Rafie, PhD, MS, RD , bio

    Assistant Professor and Senior Extension Specialist: Community based participatory methods for evaluation of community health knowledge, resources, and needs; development, dissemination and implementation of lifestyle management programs

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    Eva Schmelz, MS, PhD , bio

    Professor and Principal Scientist of Integrated Life Sciences Building: Ovarian cancer prevention; mitochondrial plasticity of ovarian cancer aggregates during metastasis; obesity and cancer

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    Elena Serrano, MS, PhD , bio

    Professor, Extension Specialist, and Director of the Virginia Family Nutrition Program: Effectiveness of food and nutrition programs and initiatives to promote nutrition security; examination of contributors to food and nutrition security

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    Sora Shin, PhD , bio

    Assistant Professor: How stressful situations induce maladaptive behaviors and brain circuit dysfunctions

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    Jeff Stein, PhD , bio

    Assistant Professor: Type 2 diabetes management; obesity; health behavior; tobacco use; decision-making; behavioral economics

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    Stella L. Volpe, PhD, RDN, ACSM-CEP, FACSM , bio

    Department Head and Professor: Nutrition and exercise in the prevention of obesity and diabetes; sports nutrition

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    Junco Warren, PhD , bio

    Assistant Professor: Energy metabolism and mitochondrial bioenergetics in the healthy and diseased hearts (i.e., heart failure and Type 2 diabetes); metabolomics-based identification of biomarker for heart failure therapy

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    Jay Williams, PhD , bio

    Professor: Muscle physiology and biochemistry; human performance; athlete monitoring; sports science

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    Zhen Yan, PhD , bio

    Professor: Exploring the role of exercise in preventing cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer

Collegiate Faculty

Collegiate faculty are those who teach and support undergraduate and graduate students' academic growth at Virginia Tech. They play a crucial role in delivering courses, facilitating discussions, and providing valuable practical insights to students in various disciplines. Collegiate faculty can also serve on graduate committees and are integral to mentoring students in the Online Master of Agricultural and Life Sciences (OMALS) Program. Their research tends to focus on pedagogical practices with nutrition and exercise.

Program and Instructional Faculty

Program and instructional faculty are those who focus on curriculum development, instructional design, and teaching methodologies at Virginia Tech. They are essential in shaping the overall academic experience for students, ensuring effective learning outcomes, and maintaining the quality of educational programs.

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    Kristen Chang, MS, RDN, CSSD , bio

    Instructor and Assistant Director of the Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics (MSND) Program: Nutrition counseling for behavior change; sports nutrition; management and leadership in nutrition and dietetics

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    Heather K. Cox, MS, RDN , bio

    Senior Instructor and Director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics: Management and communications in nutrition and dietetics; training future registered dietitian nutritionists

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    Renee Eaton, MS, MS, ATC , bio

    Senior Instructor and Undergraduate Program Director: Undergraduate education in health sciences; injury prevention and treatment; connections between human, animal, and environmental health

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    Nicolin Girmes-Grieco, MS , bio

    Senior Instructor and Director of the HNFE Foods Teaching Laboratories: Nutrition across the life span; food selection and preparation to promote human health and planetary sustainability; food cultures and dietary behaviors

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    Amy LaFalce, MS, RDN , bio

    Assistant Director of the Virginia Tech Internship in Nutrition and Dietetics: Dietetics education, medical nutrition therapy, leadership in dietetics

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    Carol Papillon, MPH, RD , bio

    Senior Instructor and Director of the Virginia Tech Internship in Nutrition and Dietetics: Education of future dietitians; nutrition counseling for behavior change

Administrative and Professional Faculty

Administrative and professional faculty are those who support various administrative functions and provide specialized expertise in non-teaching roles at Virginia Tech.

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    Ginger Dempsey, MA , bio

    Academic Advisor: Advising; Recruitment; Admissions

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    Kim Dowdy, MAT , bio

    Assistant Director for Business Operations: Leads HNFE in strategic consultation, ensuring efficient operations, and compliance with Virginia Tech, CALS, and departmental policies in finance and operations

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    Elizabeth Engel, MEd , bio

    Academic Advisor: Provides academic advising to HNFE undergraduate students pursuing the Exercise & Health Science major

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    Stephanie Nelson, MS , bio

    Undergraduate Advising Director: Undergraduate academic advising for course selection and degree focus, internships, study abroad, career opportunities, and support services offered through the university

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    Deborah Pollio, MSE , bio

    Academic Advisor: Undergraduate academic advising for course selection and degree focus, internships, co-ops, study abroad, career opportunities, and support services offered through the university

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    Charlie Stylianos , bio

    IT Manager and Research Engineer: HNFE IT support; development and maintenance of physical activity subcore laboratory equipment in ILSB; operator and engineer of whole room calorimeters FBRI at VTC

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    Kevin Wogenrich, MS, RYT 200 , bio

    Director of Meraki, the Well-Being Living Learning Community: Student health and well-being, leadership development, and college transition

Adjunct and Affiliate Faculty

Adjunct faculty are part-time instructors hired by Virginia Tech to teach specific courses or fill temporary teaching needs. They often bring real-world expertise into the classroom and complement the core faculty, providing students with diverse perspectives and practical insights. Affiliate faculty are individuals who collaborate with Virginia Tech, but may not hold full-time positions within the institution. They often bring external expertise, research collaborations, or industry insights to the academic community. Affiliate faculty also may participate in teaching, advising, or research activities on a part-time or temporary basis.

Retired/Emeriti Faculty

Retired/emeriti faculty are former professors who have concluded their full-time teaching and administrative duties at Virginia Tech. Although no longer actively employed by Virginia Tech, some retired faculty may continue to contribute through part-time teaching, mentoring, or engaging in scholarly pursuits. Some retired faculty are conferred the title of emerita or emeritus for giving exemplary service to the university. Emerita and emeritus faculty are specifically recommended to the Board of Visitors for approval by the president.