Four disciplines, one mission

Four disciplines, one mission

Feb 27
Shelly Nickols-Richardson, Head, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Melodic and memorable, the opening tune from Oliver! asks the question, “Why should we be fated to do nothing but brood, on food…?”1 Whether in the discipline of dietetics, food science, hospitality management, or human nutrition, faculty and students in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) collectively find it a privilege to dwell on food. And to find solutions to food supply limitations and malnutrition that Oliver experienced, when singing of glorious food. In FSHN, we explore food, touch it, feel it, smell it, taste it, break it down into its chemical components and build it up again to create new stuff, all with an eye toward who will eat the food, where they will obtain it, how they will consume it, and how it will affect their bodies and environments in the short-term and long-run. We conduct research about food and all of its aspects to teach the next generation of food fanatics how to discover and disseminate knowledge that is vital for human health, as well as to share our findings with folks who match with our passion. Our longstanding mission has been to implement research, education, and outreach programs designed to promote a safe, nutritious, accessible, and affordable food supply that enhances human health, and we intend to continue delivering on this mission.

Through the integration of food, nutrition and health, we create foods, explore diets, and identify food and nutrition patterns for optimal health. Particularly interesting to us is how food impacts gastrointestinal health (or the human gut), weight management, cancer prevention, and metabolic health (such as blood pressure and blood sugar regulation). Those who want to develop new products explore food materials and apply engineering principles to play with food ingredients, properties and interactions, and the microstructures, micro-carriers, and nanoparticles that allow for novel and nutritious food creation, packaging, and distribution. Making sure that the macro- and micro-components of foods, namely nutrients and bioactive compounds, are helpful to energizing people in their work, play, and daily functions is the forte of our biochemical and molecular nutritionists. And through applied microbiology, we convert biomass for food, fuel, and fiber sources, along with contributing to a safe and accessible food supply.   

As Oliver knows - and we have the good fortune to obsess over - good food and healthy dietary patterns are made of more than just gruel. We in the FSHN Department are fortunate to work in a diverse, inclusive, interdisciplinary, and enabling environment to fixate on food, and we too find it magical, marvelous, fabulous, and glorious!

1Bart L, Oliver! 1960.

Chicken Salad