Foods for Health & Well-Being


Our vision for the Department is to be the preeminent program in identifying bioactive, nutritional, microbial, sensorial, and structural elements of food related to health and well-being by establishing mechanisms of action and translating that knowledge into food products and ingredients, bioactive interventions, prevention programs, and educational platforms for promoting public health.


  • Develop innovative research programs to establish mechanisms of known and new bioactive compounds and microbes and elucidate how food structure contributes to bioactivity.
  • Develop science-based technologies for producing and distributing appealing, healthy foods and ingredients.
  • Translate scientific discoveries to food, bioprocessing, nutrition and health professionals, stakeholders, policy makers, and the public.
  • Create interdisciplinary approaches to investigate foods for healthy living.

Jon Allen

  • Fortifying vitamins A and D in low-fat foods
  • Identification and stability of sweet potato components that lower blood glucose
  • Whey permeate, delactosed permeate, and delactosed whey as ingredients to lower sodium content of soups

Rodolphe Barrangou

  • Biology and genetics of CRISPR-Cas immune systems in bacteria
  • Building phage resistance in probiotic strains and starter cultures used in foods

Lisa Dean

  • Determination of phytochemicals in peanut plant parts
  • Characterization of peanut seed for nutritional components
  • Flavor aspects of peanut seed as affected by cultural practices

MaryAnne Drake

  • Identification of chemical components responsible for flavors in WPC80 and WPI
  • Flavor and flavor chemistry of cheese with reduced fat contents across ripening
  • Identifying new market opportunities for dairy beverages in the Hispanic market

Allen Foegeding

  • Improving whey protein foaming functionality
  • Stabilizing various forms of whey proteins in beverages
  • Determining factors that control the development of astringency in high acid whey protein beverages

April Fogleman

  • Improving maternal and infant health care by providing evidence based research to inform health care protocols and policies

Suzie Goodell

  • Exploration of the relationships between preschoolers and their caregivers (parents and teachers) and the impact of those relationships on eating behaviors, food consumption, and weight status
  • Qualitative and quantitative examinations of the nutrition education and mealtime environments in preschool settings
  • Development and evaluation of nutrition education programs focusing on obesity prevention for low-income, low-resource parents and their preschool-aged children

Eduardo Gutierrez-Rodriguez

  • Preharvest practices that influence the nutritional quality of fresh fruits and vegetables; targeting Muscadine juice production and leafy green quality

Keith Harris

  • Solving technical problems for local fruit and vegetable growers and processers (muscadine, chocolate, and elderberry producers)
  • Assisting growers/processers to bring products to market
  • Analyzing plant-based foods for phenolic and antioxidant content

Suzanne Johanningsmeier, USDA-ARS Research Food Technologist

  • Develop reduced salt fermentation procedures for cucumbers
  • Preserve the textural, sensory, and visual qualities of fermented and acidified vegetables and sweetpotatoes
  • Develop fundamental knowledge of the biochemistry of bacterial responses to acid environments

Todd Klaenhammer

  • Purification, taxonomic identification, and genetic modification of lactic acid acid bacteria used in bioprocessing and as probiotics
  • Genomic properties of probiotic and starter culture microbes impacting bioprocessing and health
  • Understanding mechanisms of probiotic cultures that modulate GI integrity and immunological health
  • Use of GRAS lactic acid bacteria to orally deliver biotherapeutics (vaccines, antimicrobials) to the GI tract

Slavko Komarnytsky

  • Role of diet and nutrition in preventing chronic metabolic diseases and inflammation
  • Pathological mechanisms of insulin resistance and muscle loss
  • Botanicals and healthy aging

Mary Ann Lila

  • Discovery and pre-clinical characterization of bioactive plant compounds with benefits for human health, including hypoglycemic and adaptogenic properties
  • Extraction/fractionation of bioactive phytochemicals from in vivo fruit or vegetative tissues, and in vitro cell and root cultures
  • High protein and polyphenol bar formulation

Tim Sanders

  • Enhancement of flavor and shelf-life of domestic and export peanut products
  • Qualitative and quantitative determination of peanut components which contribute to nutrition and health