Department of Nutrition Science - Food for Thought


February 2014
  Save the Date


Thursday May 15, 2014     

Annual May Conference and Hall of Fame

Changing the Course: Decoding Epigenetics, The Role of Nutrition and Fitness

  Dividing Dots  

Nutrition science research…in a museum?

In elementary school you learned about five different tastes – sweet, sour, salty, umami (savory), and bitter. But could there possibly be more? Dr. Richard Mattes, distinguished professor of Nutrition Science, and Dr. Nicole Garneau, curator of human health at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, are collaborating on a study that will investigate this idea by exploring humans’ ability to taste fatty acids - "fat taste."

MattesAll of this will be undertaken as part of a community science initiative at the Denver Museum of Nature& Science. The study will enroll 3,000 participants over two years. Each will rate the intensity and quality of a series of dissolvable taste strips containing different concentrations of fatty acid , provide a DNA sample and complete a questionnaire eliciting dietary and health information.In addition to the research goal, there is an educational component.Participants will leave with a packet of at-home games and experiments, a commemorative photo, a set of nose clips and, hopefully a better understanding of the sense of taste. Families are encouraged to participate in the experience since family linkages are important to determinewhether the taste of fat is genetically determined. "This is a unique research collaboration focusing on the taste of fat that will generate a large and rich data set," said Mattes, director of Purdue’s Ingestive Behavior Research Center. "Understanding the taste of fat will provide insights about our biological systems, how to develop food products to optimize health and improve public health recommendations about diet and chronic disease risk reduction."

If you’ll be in the Denver area, check out The Genetics of Taste Lab at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Adapted from original article written by Charlotte Hurley


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Sports Nutrition Clinical Experience

Sports nutrition at the collegiate level is growing rapidly.  Ten years ago, there were five full-time sports RDs at the NCAA Division 1 level – currently there are 46.  Another 75 sports RDs are working on a part-time basis or as consultants in the university setting.  The science and practice that a sports RD adds to an athletics department is the missing piece of optimal sports performance for many athletes and teams, not to mention the life skills that a better understanding of nutrition provides these student-athletes long after their athletic careers wrap up.  In the Nutrition Science department, we are proud to offer our undergraduate students the opportunity to experience this exciting area of dietetics. 

It didn’t happen Fueling Station all at once.  It’s been an evolution…

Spring 2012      A new position is created and Whitney Sweat, MS, RD hires on with a split assignment between Nutrition Science (teaching the Nutrition, Fitness and Health practicum) and Intercollegiate Athletics (practicing as a Sports RD for Purdue student athletes).  She joins Rachel Clark, MS, RD, CSSD, who directs both programs and has the same split appointment.   The additional expertise accommodates the growing enrollment of the Nutrition, Fitness and Health major, and at the same time, it allows for sports nutrition programming efforts in the Athletics department to be doubled.

Fall 2012   A callout brings together 19 motivated Nutrition Science undergrads who volunteer their time (5-10 hrs/wk) to assist Rachel and Whitney in their expanded sports nutrition duties in the Athletics department.

Spring 2013      An application and interview process is introduced, and Nutrition Science students can receive 1 credit hour for experiential learning in sports nutrition.  Under Rachel and Whitney's guidance, 24 students enroll in temporary courses NUTR 39200/49200.  In addition to their volunteer time, students in the class come together once weekly to hear from Athletics department professionals about the collegiate sports environment.  A team physician, athletic trainer, communications director and sports performance coach are among the guest speakers.

Fall 2013   19 students enroll in NUTR 39200/49200.  Efforts are initiated to create and assign permanent course numbers.

Spring 2014      A record high number of students apply for participation in NUTR 39200/49200.  Ultimately, 26 students are accepted and enroll in NUTR 39200/49200.  A new sports RD and Nutrition Science alum, Lauren (Varnau) Link, comes on board to fill the vacancy left by Whitney Sweat in January 2014.

Fall 2014   NUTR 24500: Rookie Experience in Sports Nutrition and NUTR 34500: Continuing Experience in Sports Nutrition will become permanent courses in the Nutrition Science catalog.  We anticipate an enrollment of 20-25 students. 

In NUTR 24500/34500, students participate in one of four project groups:

FUELING STATION.  The Fueling Stations are physical locations in both the Mollenkopf and Mackey training facilities where food and dietary supplements are stored, prepared and distributed to the Purdue student-athletes.  Each Fueling Station has a commercial grade smoothie maker for preparing large quantities of custom shakes for post-workout consumption.  Additional foods and supplements are provided at strategic times – pre-workout, during workout, or post-workout – for hydration, fueling and recovery purposes; these include various bars, flavored milk, chews, fruits,  and nuts as well as liquid multivitamins and vitamin D.  None of this would be possible without the Nutrition Science students who staff the Fueling Stations and help manage the inventory, preparation and stocking of all our foods and supplements.

MEDIA.  Nutrition Science students in the Media project group work towards reaching all of our 500+ student-athletes every day.  By using social media like Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram (follow us on all three at BoilerFuel), and more traditional means like a monthly newsletter, sports nutrition information can reach the athletes with more frequency than Rachel and Lauren could reach on an individual basis alone.

TEAM NUTRITION.  Each of our 18 varsity teams at Purdue has different nutritional needs and the Nutrition Science students in this group assist in meeting those specific needs.  They play a role in team nutrition education, DEXA body composition analysis, and competition fueling requirements, just to name a few.

TRAINING TABLE.  About 120 of our student-athletes eat a dinner meal five nights a week at a small-scale dining facility in the basement of Cary Quad – that’s “Training Table”.  Food served here supports the athletes’ extraordinary dietary needs.  In this project group, Nutrition Science students may be trying new recipes, helping to formulate menus, managing point-of-service food labeling or creating at-the-table nutrition education pieces.

We are so grateful for the time, effort and commitment these students have dedicated and continue to dedicate to expanding and improving sports nutrition programming in the Athletics department.  It’s no exaggeration to say that it would not be possible without them. 

For more information contact Rachel Clark,

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Faculty Receive University Awards

The Department of Nutrition Science has a history of excellence in discovery, learning and engagement.  Recently three faculty received special acknowledgment. We celebrate their achievements.

QingQing Jiang was celebrated by the faculty in January as a University Faculty Scholar.  The University Faculty Scholars Program recognizes outstanding faculty members at the West Lafayette campus who are on an accelerated path for academic distinction. Eligible faculty must hold the rank of tenured associate or full professor and have been in that rank for no more than five years. Faculty Scholars are appointed for a nonrenewable five year term and receive an annual $10,000 discretionary allocation.

SavaianoDennis Savaiano was named the Virginia C Meredith Professor of Nutrition Policy.  He has started a food policy initiative that will provide scientifically-based information to policy-makers both locally and globally. Two courses have been created as part of the initiative, a food policy course and a world food problems course that involves five Purdue departments.

StoryJon Story was named to the Book of Great Teachers in December 2013. This honors outstanding teaching faculty who have demonstrated sustained excellence in the classroom. Everyone inducted into the Book of Great Teachers is listed on a bronze-and-walnut wall display in the west foyer of the Union. The display was first unveiled in 1999.





In this issue:

:: Save the Date

:: Nutrition science a museum?

:: Sports Nutrition Clinical Experience

:: Faculty Receive University Awards

The Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University is recognized nationally for its vital research contributions to disease prevention and health promotion as well as its outstanding academic programs. We are a rapidly growing department with special strengths in:

:: Calcium, vitamin D,
and bone

:: Botanicals and Bioactives for Health

:: Appetite, Metabolism and Obesity

:: Cancer prevention


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Department of
Nutrition Science
Stone Hall, Room 213
700 West State Street
West Lafayette, IN

Tel: (765) 494-8228
Fax: (765) 494-0674