Research in the Division of Nutritional Sciences falls into several overlapping core areas: molecular nutrition, human nutrition and metabolism, systems approaches to nutrition, and nutrition and disease in populations.

The faculty, postdoctoral associates, technical staff, and graduate students have expertise in the physical, life and social sciences, and they are jointly committed to fundamental and multidisciplinary research and its translation to nutrition practice and policy.

Nutrition at Cornell is committed to knowledge generation, discovery and improving human health in the areas of: Precision Nutrition and Metabolism; Lifecycle Nutrition; Food and Nutrition Systems; and, Healthy and Thriving Communities.

Faculty Profiles

Tolunay Aydemir, PhD; Assistant Professor
Nutritional Chemistry; Biochemistry, Metabolism, Obesity Prevention

Laura Barre, MD, RD; Assistant Clinical Professor
The overarching goal of Dr. Barre's research program is to reduce obesity and sarcopenic obesity in late life adults.

Joeva Barrow, PhD, RD; Assistant Professor
Dr. Barrow's primary research focus is Mitochondrial disease. This group of diseases represents one of the most commonly inherited human diseases.

Daniel Berry, PhD; Assistant Professor
Dr. Berry's lab focuses on understanding adipose tissue biology and systemic metabolism by studying adipose stem cells (ASC).

Patricia Ann Cassano, MPH, PhD; Professor & Interim Director
The overarching goal of the Cassano Lab's research is to understand the role of nutrition and its interaction with genome in the etiology of chronic disease.

Marie Caudill, PhD; Professor
A primary goal of the Caudill laboratory is to generate data that will inform the development of nutrient intake recommendations that promote mother and child nutrition, health and well-being.
Current research activities include: Cholkids Cognition Study.

Kate Dickin, PhD; Associate Research Professor
Dr. Dickin's research interests include collaborative implementation research and evaluation to build local government capacity to address the myriad causes of child stunting and contribute to the evidence base for what works best, in five regions of Tanzania. Dr. Dickin is also closely involved with the CENTIR Group.

Jamie Dollahite, PhD; Professor and Director, NE Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Center of Excellence, Food and Nutrition Education in Communities
Dr. Dollahite's research fall into two broad categories of projects: 1. use of the socio-ecological model in research and practice and 2. program effectiveness.

David Erickson, PhD; Joint Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences; Sibley College Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
Current research interests include smartphone-based nutrition and cholesterol analysis. Dr. Davidson is a co-founder of INSiGHT, along with Dr. Saurabh Mehta, Associate Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences. INSiGHT is Cornell's Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Global Health and Technology.

Martha Field, PhD; Assistant Professor
Dr. Field's research interest is folate-dependent one-carbon metabolism, which is required for synthesis of DNA precursors and methionine. Her research uses several in vitro and in vivo model systems to study the mechanisms that underlie physiological outcomes associated with perturbed one-carbon metabolism.

Julia Finkelstein, DSc; Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition | The Follett Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow
The goal of the Finkelstein Lab is to elucidate the role of iron, vitamin B12, and folate in the etiology of anemia and adverse perinatal outcomes, to improve the health of mothers and young children.

Zhenglong Gu, PhD; Professor
The Gu Lab investigates the evolution of mitochondrial functions and the role of mtDNA mutation in aging and various diseases, including but not limited to tumor, autism and neural degenerative diseases.

John F. Hoddinott, D.Phil; Babcock Professor of Food and Nutrition Economics and Policy
Dr. Hoddinott's current research interests focus on the links between economics, food security and early life nutrition. He has ongoing collaborative projects in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Guatemala.

Elizabeth Johnson, PhD; Assistant Professor
Dr. Liz Johnson's focus is on lipid dependent host-microbe interaction centering on how the gut microbiome influences mammalian metabolism.

Tashara Leak, PhD; Lois and Mel Tukman Assistant Professor
Lois and Mel Tukman Assistant Professor
Dr. Leak is a health disparities researcher who conducts interventions that address sociaoeconomic and environmental influences on food choices. Learn more about the Leak Lab.

David Levitsky, PhD, Professor
Dr. Levitsky and his students are currently investigating (a) the efficacy of a weight monitoring program called Caloric Titration as a means of safely losing and maintaining weight loss (b) examining the effect of being weighed before eating on amount of food consumed at a meal in the laboratory, (b) examining the effect of being weighed before eating on amount and kind of foods purchased in the dining hall,(c) evaluate the effect of self-weighing on recalls of foods eaten (d) examine the priming effect of exercise and health on food consumption, (e) exam the effects of holidays on weight gain and the recover from the weight gain.

Marla Lujan, PhD, Associate Professor
The Lujan Lab investigates the link between nutrition, metabolism and fertility in women. Specific interests include elucidating the endocrine, cellular and molecular mechanisms that to lead amenorrhea (loss of regular menstrual cycles) in overweight and obese women as well as improving the diagnosis and treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) - a condition of impaired fertility that is tightly linked to insulin resistance and excess male hormone production.

Charles McCormick, PhD; Associate Professor
Dr. McCormick's research activities focus on literature review of topics relevant to teaching.

Saurabh Mehta, MD; Associate Professor of Global Health, Epidemiology, and Nutrition.
Dr. Mehta is a physician and an epidemiologist with expertise in infectious disease, nutrition, maternal and child health, and diagnostics. He is co-founder of INSiGHT with David Erickson. This collaboration seeks to reduce health care disparities through technology.  INSiGHT in the news.
The Mehta Research Group primarily works in India with a focus on vulnerable populations including mothers and children, and those suffering from infectious diseases such as HIV infection, Tuberculosis, Dengue virus infection, Zika virus infection, and Malaria.

Dennis Miller, PhD; Professor of Food Chemistry and Nutrition in the Department of Food Science at Cornell with a joint appointment in the Division of Nutritional Sciences.
The overall objectives of Dr. Miller's research program are to increase knowledge about factor that influence the nutritional bioavailability of iron in foods. A variety of techniques are used including in vitro gastrointestinal digestion, cell culture, and animal models.

Kimberly O'Brien, PhD; Professor
The main research interests of the O'Brien Lab focus on mineral dynamics with an emphasis on pediatric and pregnant populations.

David Pelletier, PhD; Professor
Dr. Pelletier's research interests relate to the formulation, implementation and evaluation of nutrition policy, primarily in low and middle income countries. He approaches this work from a transdisciplinary, engaged and problem-oriented perspective, in which the key research questions and choice of methods emerges in the course of engaging with policy and program actors at global, national or sub-national levels.

Prabhu Pingali, PhD; Professor and Director, Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (TCI)
Dr. Pingali is the Founding Director of TCI and a Professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, with a joint appointment in the Division of Nutritional Sciences.

Angela Poole, PhD; Assistant Professor
The goal of the Poole Lab is to elucidate the interactions between host genetics, dietary intake, and gut microbes in order to benefit host health. Current projects focus on  the amylase locus, a result of gene copy number variation, which encodes an enzyme involved in starch degradation.

Shu-Bing Qian, PhD; Associate Professor
How is mRNA translation controlled by nutrient signaling?  How does protein folding and degradation occur during protein synthesis?  How do cells get rid of misfolded proteins?  These are a few of the problems the Shu-Bing Qian Lab would like to understand. Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying protein quality and quantity control will ultimately define new therapeutic strategies to human diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders.  

Kathleen Rasmussen, ScD; The Nancy Schlegel Meinig Professor of Maternal and Child Nutrition
Dr. Rasmussen's focus is studying the relationship between maternal nutritional status during the reproductive period and short- and long-term maternal and child health outcomes.

David Sahn, PhD; International Professor of Economics in the Division of Nutritional Sciences and the Department of Economics
Dr. Sahn's research is focused on issues of poverty, inequality, and the economics of health, nutrition, and education.

Rebecca Seguin, PhD; Associate Professor
Dr. Seguin's current research interest: Community-based nutrition and physical activity interventions; civic engagement/citizen science interventions to catalyze social, built environment, and policy change; dissemination research for chronic disease and obesity prevention, targeting underserved populations, such as low-income and rural); environmental influences of food, social, and physical activity on behavior and health.

Jeffery Sobal, PhD, MPH; Professor; Food Choice Research Group
Dr. Sobal's research focuses on marriage and body weight, food choice processes and food systems.

Barbara Strupp, PhD; Professor
Dr. Strupp's research activities include maternal choline supplementation research using animal models, maternal choline supplementation research with human subjects; investigating whether the lasting cognitive benefits of maternal choline supplementation in the Ts65Dn mouse model of Down syndrome and normal littermates are mediated by epigenetics effects due to choline's role as a methyl donor and; collaborating on a project with collaborators at UC Santa Cruz and the University of Illinois to investigate the lasting cognitive and neural effects of early developmental exposure to Manganese.

Anna Thalacker-Mercer, PhD; Assistant Professor
Dr. Thalacker-Mercer's research activities in the Thalacker-Mercer Lab include characterizing primary human satellite cells/muscle progenitor cells; Identifying mechanisms/metabolic disturbances underlying impaired muscle regeneration; Identifying and characterizing metabolic disturbances underlying the aging skeletal muscle phenotype.

Nate Vacanti, PhD; Assistant Professor
Dr. Vacanti's research interests include combining high-throughput proteomics, metabolomics, and bioinformatic analyses with targeted metabolic investigative methods including stable-isotope tracing and respirometry measurements to identify pharmaceutical or dietary interventions to correct/exploit metabolic dysfunctions.