Faculty

Faculty

Lindsay Allen, Ph.D., R.D.

  • Center Director, USDA ARS Western Nutrition Research Center
  • Research Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Allen is the Director of the USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC). Dr. Allen´s research is focused on the prevalence, causes, consequences and prevention of micronutrient deficiencies including iron, vitamin B-12, zinc, vitamin A and riboflavin.
122 WHNRC

Brian J. Bennett, Ph.D.

  • Research Leader for Obesity & Metabolism Unit, USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center
Dr. Bennett is working to identify the interaction of groups of genes, also called biologic networks regulating TMAO levels and affecting cardiovascular disease.

Gretchen Casazza, Ph.D.

  • Research Director, UCD Sports Medicine, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
Research Description: Applied research to improve the health and exercise performance of active individuals. Current research projects include optimizing exercise training and performance in competitive athletes, the effects of exercise on the treatment of depression, effects of estrogen on knee osteoarthritis, the effects of oral contraceptives on bone health and exercise performance, ACL injury prevention programs, sports nutrition and metabolism.

Reina Engle-Stone, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Engle-Stone's research is in global public health nutrition, with a focus on micronutrient nutrition among women and young children in low-income settings. Research themes include planning, monitoring, and evaluation of food fortification programs; cost-effectiveness and coherence among micronutrient intervention programs, and nutritional assessment
3253A Meyer Hall

Melanie Gareau, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Adjunct Professor and Researcher Vet Med: Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology
Characterizing the microbiota-gut-brain axis in models of inflammatory bowel disease and following infection with an enteric bacterial pathogen. Determining the mechanisms involved in the development of the microbiota-gut-brain axis in early life.

Ralph Green, M.D.

  • Professor, Departments of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Internal Medicine
Research Interests: The role of the B group vitamins folate, cobalamin (vitamin B12), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6) in normal cellular function and metabolism and how deficiency of these vitamins can result in degenerative diseases including cardiovascular, neurological, hematological, neoplastic, and immunological disorders, as well as aging. Development of new and improved biochemical tests to identify deficiency and dysfunction of these vitamins and their cofactors.
UC Davis Medical Center
2315 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento CA 95817

Peter Havel, Ph.D

  • Professor, Department of Nutrition
  • Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Havel is investigating the regulation of energy homeostasis and carbohydrate/lipid metabolism, and the involvement of endocrine systems in the pathophysiology of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
3426 Meyer Hall

Sonja Y. Hess, Ph.D.

  • Research Nutritionist, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Hess’ research interests involve the design, implementation and evaluation of programs to control micronutrient deficiencies among children and women in low-income countries, and related issues of nutrient bioavailability, nutrient-nutrient interactions and nutritional assessment. The research program is generally carried out in the context of community-based intervention trials, using an efficacy or effectiveness study design.
3147 Meyer hall

Russ Hovey, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Department of Animal Science
Dr. Hovey’s research focuses on the following areas: hormonal regulation of mammary gland growth, lactation, and breast cancer with interests in ovarian and pituitary hormone functions; role of the stromal environment in cell function; and across- species differences in mammary gland biology and hormone function.
2145 Meyer Hall

Liping Huang, Ph.D.

  • Research Geneticist, USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Huang is a Research Geneticist with the Western Human Nutrition Research Center. Her research is focused on identifying the genetic influences on zinc homeostasis at molecular and cellular levels in human and animal models. Particularly, she is interested in roles of zinc transporters in regulation of energy metabolism, body adiposity, insulin metabolism in pancreatic beta-cells and insulin resistance in muscle, fat, and liver.
430 USDA/WHNRC Building

Daniel Hwang, Ph.D.

  • Research Molecular Biologist, USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Nutrition
The goal of our research is to elucidate molecular mechanisms by which different types of dietary fatty acids modulate receptor-mediated signaling pathways, target gene expression, and subsequent cellular responses, and to determine how this modulation by fatty acids is related to risks of developing chronic diseases.
211 WHNRC

Peng Ji, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition
My overarching goal is to evaluate the risks and opportunities of nutritional factors in enhancing neurodevelopment and host resilience to early-life adverse events (e.g. infection and stress). Our research use neonatal pigs as a translational model, becasue of broad resemblance between pigs and humans in many aspects, such as digestive physiology, components of immune system, anatomic structure of brain and perinatal neurodevelopment. Specifically, our current project investigates how unbalanced iron status in early life affects systemic and CNS iron hoemostasis, susceptibility to infections, brain energy metabolism, and social cognition using nursing pigs
3145 Meyer Hall

Mary Kable, Ph.D.

  • Research Molecular Biologist, USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Kable is interested in the mechanisms governing how diet impacts the bacterial composition of the human gut and how these diet-bacterial interactions can influence human health. In particular, she is interested in how dietary fiber can affect the composition of the gut microbiota in such a way as to increase or decrease colonization resistance and susceptibility to food borne pathogens.

Carl Keen, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Nutrition & Internal Medicine
  • The Mars Chair, Developmental Nutrition
Dr. Keen's research group is primarily concerned with: 1) the investigation of the influence of maternal diet on the risk for pregnancy complications (mother, and conceptus); and 2) the influence of diet on the risk for age-related chronic diseases with a focus on phytochemicals and vascular health.
3135A Meyer Hall

Nancy Keim, Ph.D.

  • Research Chemist, USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center
  • Associate Adjunct Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Keim's research program involves evaluation of the effects of diet patterns and physical activity on energy balance and metabolic flexibility in adults at risk for chronic disease. Recent work includes the development and application of novel tools to assess satiety in response to specific foods or meal challenges.
121 Humanities and Social Science Building

Darshan Kelley, Ph.D.

  • Research Chemist, USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Kelley is interested in studying the effects of diets on inflammation and immune responses. Focus of his studies has been the modulation of risk factors for cardio-vascular disease and insulin resistance by dietary fatty acids and phytonutrients. He is also interested in the effects of fatty acids on cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis.
207 WHNRC

Janet King, Ph.D., R.D.

  • Associate in the AES, Department of Nutrition
  • Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. King's research focuses primarily on identifying biomarkers of human zinc deficiencies and deriving effective zinc interventions to reduce zinc deficiency world-wide. She focuses her research primarily on the needs of women of reproductive age, pregnant and lactating women, infants and young children.

Kevin Laugero, Ph.D.

  • Research Nutritionist, USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center
  • Assistant Adjunct Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Laugero's research is aimed at understanding the role and underpinnings of chronic psychosocial stress in dysfunctional eating behaviors, particularly as they relate to obesity and the metabolic syndrome.
430 West Health Sciences Drive

Danielle Lemay, Ph.D.

  • Research Molecular Biologist, USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition
  • Faculty Member, UC Davis Genome Center
Dr. Lemay is interested in how dietary components, especially fermentable carbohydrates, affect host response and whether that response is modulated by the functional capabilities of resident microbiota. The lab also applies big data techniques, such as sequencing technologies and machine learning, to understand the effects of diet on human health.

Yanhong Liu, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Science
The increasing public concerns about antimicrobial resistance of food-borne bacteria impose urgent needs to seek alternatives to antibiotics in agricultural animal industry. Many of feed ingredients and additives now are available as potential ‘alternatives to antibiotics’, either by altering microbial populations in the gastrointestinal tract or by influencing the immune system. However, the still-unclear mechanism hampers their application in the industry. Our research interest is to evaluate dietary effects on pig health by investigating impacts of products now available to the industry and developing new approach for the industry. Our long-term goal is to help the animal industry deploy feed-based health technologies to improve animal health.

Gerardo Mackenzie, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Mackenzie´s research focuses on the role of diet and other lifestyle factors in cancer development and prevention. Current research projects include: 1) Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the link between obesity, inflammation and cancer; 2) Evaluating the role of zinc in pancreatic carcinogenesis; and 3) Investigating the use of select nutraceuticals as potential chemopreventive agents.
3207 Meyer

Stanley Marks, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Vet Med: Medicine & Epidemiology
Research Interests: Influences of dietary composition on the intestinal microflora and intestinal integrity. Includes studies on the effects of poorly fermentable and fermentable fiber sources on intestinal permeability, bacterial translocation, intestinal morphometry, and intestinal cytokine production.
0246 Vet Med II

Christine McDonald, Sc.D.

  • Assistant Scientist, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute
  • Assistant Visiting Researcher, Department of Nutrition
Dr. McDonald’s research is primarily based in global health nutrition with an emphasis on the design and evaluation of interventions to prevent and treat maternal and child undernutrition in resource-limited settings. Specific topics of interest include: zinc nutrition, child growth and development, and environmental enteric dysfunction.

Valentina Medici, M.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine/Division of Gastroenterology
Dr. Medici’s research interests include the effects of copper accumulation in the liver, as occurs in Wilson disease, on hepatic methionine metabolism, the regulation of gene expression by methylation, and consequent interactions with pathways of liver injury in particular lipogenesis and steatosis. She uses similar methods to study the effects of alcohol drinking on methionine metabolism and the development of alcoholic liver disease. Her studies use genetically altered mouse models of Wilson disease and alcoholic liver disease.
PSSB Ste 3500
4150 V St, Sacramento CA 95817

John Newman, Ph.D.

  • Research Chemist, USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center
  • Associate Adjunct Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Newman's research group is developing and applying targeted and untargeted metabolomics tools to investigate metabolic responses to diet and their implications in the context of obesity and its associated co-morbidities. Active research areas include: 1) Investigating the functional implications of lipoprotein particle metabolomics structure on vascular and adipose physiology; 2) Investigating cross-talk between mediators of energy metabolism, inflammation, tissue growth and satiety; 3) Mapping the natural variance in metabolic responses to dietary challenges; 4) Investigating the impact of diet quality and weight maintenance/loss on metabolic indices of health.
210 WHNRC

Patricia Oteiza, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Oteiza has two primary areas of research. The first is centered on the characterization of the effects of trace mineral deficiencies, and trace mineral toxicities, on early developmental processes. Dr. Oteiza’s second area of research is focused on the putative health benefits of flavonoids.
3109 Meyer Hall

Elizabeth Prado, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Prado's research focuses on nutrition and child development. Her research interests also include caregiving, health and other influences on child development in low-resource settings, evaluating programs and policies to support children to achieve their developmental potential, and cross-cultural developmental and cognitive assessment.
3243 Meyer Hall

Helen Raybould, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Vet Med: Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology
I am an integrative physiologist with training in neurophysiology and gastrointestinal physiology. My research focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which the vagal afferent pathway (the gut-brain axis) transmits information about gut luminal contents to the brain to regulate alter gut physiology and feeding behavior. My research program is aimed at understanding how these pathways are altered in metabolic disease including obesity and type 2 diabetes, and how the gut-brain pathway contributes to altered food intake and metabolism. Recently, the research in the laboratory has elucidated the alterations in gut microbiota and intestinal permeability in rodent models of obesity and how this may drive changes in signaling in the gut-brain pathway. We have an active and funded collaboration with the Milk Bioactives Program (Food for Health Initiative, UC Davis) to help elucidate the interactions between probiotic bacteria with prebiotic substances in milk, and how this interaction produces bacterially-derived factors that are beneficial to the host and that mediate the beneficial effects of probiotic bacteria.
Vet Med 3B, Health Sciences Complex

Heidi Rossow, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor Ruminant Nutrition Management, Vet Med: Population Health & Reproduction
My primary research interests are developing ration formulation methods to minimize nutrient emissions (nitrogen, minerals, methane, etc.) to the environment, using body composition and organ size to estimate energy requirements and managing feeding systems at dairies and feedlots to optimize nutrient supply to the animal and minimize feed waste. Therefore my research focuses on using mathematical modeling techniques coupled with animal and feed measurements to represent animal nutrient metabolism in healthy and diseased states to understand nutrient use and excretion under different production systems.
VMTRC - SVM
18830 Road 112, Tulare CA 93274

John Rutledge, M.D.

  • Professor, Vice Chair of Research, UC Davis Internal Medicine
Dr. Rutledge is an expert in atherosclerosis and lipid disorders. He specializes in preventive cardiology, lipid disorders and reversal of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. His current laboratory research includes biology of the vascular wall, neuroinflammation, cognitive decline, and dementia.

Rachel Scherr, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Research Scientist, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Scherr’s research interests are mainly focused on nutrition education and promotion in school-aged children. Research efforts include the implementation of a multi-component, school-based intervention entitled the Shaping Healthy Choices Program. Additionally, Dr. Scherr is focused on the usage of sub-clinical and novel biomarkers in nutrition education to assess the effectiveness of these multi-component interventions.
3149 Meyer Hall

Carolyn Slupsky, Ph.D.

  • Chair, Graduate Group in Nutritional Biology
  • Professor, Department of Nutrition/Department of Food Science & Technology
  • Kinsella Endowed Chair, Food, Nutrition, and Health
Dr. Slupsky's research includes understanding the impact of diet on human health from the perspective of nutrition, the gut microbiome, and host-microbial co-metabolism. She uses a multi-discplinary research approach that integrates metabolomics with clinical measures, global gene expression profiles, as well as microbial community analysis to understand the intimate link between our gut microbiome, metabolism, and health. In addition, she is looking into the implication of food processing, agricultural practices, and plant health status on the nutrient content and sensory aspects of the food we eat. These studies will provide novel insight on health management and food development, and usher us into the era of personalized nutrition.
3247 Meyer Hall

Charles Stebbins, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Exercise Physiologist MED: Division of Cardiology
Research Interests: The autonomic, hormonal, and vascular control of the cardiovascular system during exercise. Both animal and human models are studied. Current areas of interest include the effects of dietary supplementation with omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on autonomic function, systemic vascular resistance, ventricular function, endothelial function, and skeletal muscle blood flow during exercise in both healthy individuals and those with cardiovascular disease.
TB 172

Francene Steinberg, Ph.D., R.D.

  • Professor, Chair, Department of Nutrition
  • Director, Didactic Program in Dietetics
Dr. Steinberg's research interests focus on the physiologic roles of food phytochemicals, particularly soy protein and associated isoflavones, with regard to cardiovascular disease and overall health promotion. She is also interested in clinical nutrition interventions to reduce chronic disease risk, and the metabolism of lipids and lipoproteins.
3135B Meyer Hall

Christine Stewart, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Stewart’s research is related to maternal and child nutrition in low income communities, primarily in developing country settings. Her focus is on both the immediate and long-term effects of poor nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood on birth outcomes, infant and child survival, child growth, and risk of chronic disease in later life.
3253B Meyer Hall

Ameer Taha, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Food Science and Technology
Research Interests: Role of oxidized fatty acids on brain signaling and function. Current projects include the assessment of human oxidized fatty acid intakes and breast milk levels, as well as applied lipidomic and electrophysiology approaches to study brain metabolism and signaling.
3162 RMI North

Natalie Torok, M.D.

  • Professor
Our lab is interested in studying liver fibrosis in non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) a major liver disease occurring in obese or diabetic patients. Our goal is to evaluate the mechanism by which reactive oxidative species play a role in fibrogenesis and generate potential antifibrogenic therapy based on these findings.
UCDMC
4150 V Street, Suite 3500, Sacramento CA 95817

Craig Warden, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor
  • MED: Pediatrics, Section on Neurobiology Physiology and Behavior, and Rowe Program in Human Genetics
Research Interests: Biological causes of obesity are identified by searching for genes that increase fat accumulation in some people and not others. These studies are directed both at genes that cause obesity on high-fat diets and at genes that cause spontaneous obesity.
4437 Tupper Hall

Carl Winter, Ph.D.

  • Director, FoodSafe Program
  • Extension Food Toxicologist
Dr. Winter researches the detection of pesticides and naturally-occurring toxins in foods, how to assess their risks and identify how to use the science in the regulatory decision-making process. His most recent work includes looking at the relationships between crop production systems and naturally-occurring toxins. He also studies how to improve educational activities through incorporation of music into food safety curricula.

Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, Ph.D.

  • Specialist in Cooperative Extension, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Zidenberg-Cherr’s research program studies the impact of multi-faceted approaches to nutrition education on the dietary and lifestyle choices of school-aged children. Her research utilizes a food systems approach in the development and testing of nutrition education curricula and comprehensive nutrition education programs for school age children. She also co-directs the Center for Nutrition in Schools in the Department of Nutrition at University of California, Davis. The goal of the Center is to provide state-of the-art research, outreach, and educational programs to improve the nutrition knowledge, skills, and health outcomes of the nation’s children, assisting them in achieving their full potential academically, socially, and physically.
3149 Meyer Hall

Angela Zivkovic, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Nutrition Department
Dr. Zivkovic’s research is focused on the role of diet and nutrition in Precision Health. Precision Health emphasizes individually tailored approaches to optimize health and prevent disease. The Zivkovic Lab has four overall research themes: 1) Investigating the functional biology of HDL; 2) Assessing the effects of diets and dietary constituents on inflammation; 3) Integrating clinical, metabolomic, proteomic, glycomic, transcriptomic, and genomic approaches to characterize metabolic phenotypes and their responsiveness to different diets; and 4) Investigating the effects of diets and dietary constituents on the gut microbiota and how they in turn affect host health.
3245Meyer Hall

Susan Zunino, Ph.D.

  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition
Dr. Zunino’s lab is interested in how phytochemicals regulate immune response. Obesity increases the risk of developing viral and bacterial infections compared to normal weight individuals. The focus of the laboratory is to understand how dietary phytochemicals may modulate the innate immune response to decrease the risk of infection in the obese.
One Shields Avenue, Davis CA 95616