Sharon M. “Shelly” Nickols-Richardson

Head, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
(217) 244-4498

260A Bevier Hall
905 S. Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Sharon M. “Shelly” Nickols-Richardson PhD, RD, is head of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. She received a bachelor’s degree in food, nutrition and institution administration from Oklahoma State University and completed a dietetic internship at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. She worked as a clinical dietitian and also served as the clinical section chief for the Dietetic Service at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Columbia, Missouri. Nickols-Richardson then completed an M.S. and Ph.D. in foods and nutrition at the University of Georgia in Athens. Nickols-Richardson was an assistant and associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise at Virginia Tech, where she was an affiliate of the Center for Gerontology and director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics. She was most recently an associate and full professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University, where she directed the BONE Laboratory and served as the professor in charge of the graduate program in nutritional sciences. 

Nickols-Richardson’s research focuses on determinants of obesity prevention and body weight regulation across the life span to lower the burden of chronic diseases, ranging from metabolic syndrome to osteoporosis. She studies the impact of weight loss, weight loss diets, and restrained eating on bone mineral density and bone metabolism and the interaction of nutrient intake and resistance training on bone health. As principal investigator or co-investigator, she has been awarded approximately $3 million in research funding from federal agencies, research foundations, and institutional funding sources. Her research has been published in multiple journals, including the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Calcified Tissue International, and Bone. She has taught courses in community nutrition, nutrition across the life span, nutritional assessment, alternative and complementary nutrition therapies, and maternal and child nutrition, and she was awarded the 2006 Early Career Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Nickols-Richardson has served in leadership roles for several professional organizations, including president of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, member of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and associate research editor of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She and her husband, Dave Richardson, have two children. She enjoys traveling, reading, and managing finances for the family farm in Kansas.