Tag Archives: HNFE

Janet Rankin served as panel moderator at United Nations Climate Summit

Various civil society and side events are held around the United Nations Climate Summit, which was held in New York City in September. The summit highlights global climate change and engages commitments for a low carbon economy to mitigate climate change. Janet Rankin, a professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, was on the planning committee for “Civil Society Event on Action in Climate Change and Health,” introduced Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, and served as moderator on the Active Transportation panel, where she announced the new American College of Sports Medicine initiative ActivEarth. This initiative focuses on increasing physical activity by making active transportation accessible and safe.

Janet Rankin with the UN transport panel

Andy Clark (Director of League of American Bicyclists), Carlos Dora (WHO), Janet Rankin, Rear Admiral Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, and Jim Sallis (faculty at UC-San Diego and Director of Active Living Research)

The Active Transportation panel was comprised of prominent scientists and leaders who spoke about the urgency of climate change impact, as well as the opportunities for public health when advances are made to mitigate climate change. The panel included Sir Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet; Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator; Maria Neira, Director of WHO department of public Health and Social Determinants of Health; Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, U.S. Acting Surgeon General; and John Balbus, NIH.

With the transportation sector emitting nearly 25 percent of all energy-related CO2 globally, presenters agreed that cities are crucial to action on climate change and health as they consume most of the world’s energy and are high carbon producers. Panelists shared how programs like “Complete Streets,” “Safe Routes to School,” and the design of bikeways and bike sharing networks connect active transport to priorities such as traffic safety, congestion, social equity, air quality, and economic development. Research demonstrates that substituting short car trips with walking or biking has important co-benefits of health, improved environment, and sustainable economy. Changing every day patterns of people can have large impacts on personal and planetary health.

ACSM’s civil society event focused on the link between climate change and health with “Sustainable Communities, Active Lives:  Active Transportation and Urban Design.” They partnered with the Public Health Institute, the Global Climate Health Alliance, and the University of Wisconsin on this event.

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Faculty participating in the installation of President Sands

Timothy D. Sands joined Virginia Tech as its 16th president on June 1, 2014. The installation of President Sands will be held Oct. 16-18. 

We have a large number of faculty participating in the installation in the Experience Virginia Tech: Learn, Explore, Engage portion on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to noon.

This special event will highlight Virginia Tech’s teaching, research, and outreach while offering learning and fun for all interests and ages! Lectures from dynamic faculty, interdisciplinary panels, hands-on demonstrations, and engaging displays will transform The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center into an open classroom.

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Fralin fellow examines health impact of community supported agriculture

Consuming vegetables and meat grown on local farms is the hip thing to do these days, but is it also healthy?

Hayley Billingsley of Monterey, Virginia, a senior majoring in human nutrition, foods, and exercise, is spending her summer investigating this question as part of the Fralin Life Science Institute Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program.

Working with mentor Megan O’Rourke, an assistant professor of horticulture, Billingsley recruited 20 people who invest in community supported agriculture through area farms to participate in her study.

From April to November, these people pick up a bundle of food once a week at various drop locations throughout town, including the Virginia Tech campus, Vintage Cellar, Eats Natural Foods, and Annie Kay’s Main Street market. The fee for the food is usually paid at the beginning of the growing season, but varies with each farm.

Billingsley collected a stream of baseline data from her respondents, including height, weight, body mass index, demographics, and wellness information. She will complete one 24-hour dietary recall per month this summer, in which respondents dictate what they ate the previous day.

Based on dietary recalls in June, Billingsley said, “I’m finding that the respondents’ diet composition is more plant-based.”

“They are consuming less saturated fat and added sugar and far less processed food, which is ideal. Meanwhile, they are consuming more whole grains and a lot of green, leafy vegetables, which are packed with nutritious vitamins, minerals, and fiber.”

While the results are just a snapshot due to the short duration of the study, Billingsley’s research will contribute to the larger research project of O’Rourke, who studies linkages between food systems and human and environmental health.

More information on the study can be found in the full story online.

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Employees complete UOPD certificate program

Five College of Agriculture and Life Sciences employees were recently awarded certificates from University Organizational and Professional Development in the Department of Human Resources.


Supervisory Excellence Certificate

Susan Gill, CALS administration

Office Software Skills Certificate

Vicki Keith, food science and technology
Lesley Mitchell, CALS adminstration

Administrative Professional Development Program Certificate

JoAnna Lewis, agricultural and applied economics
Angela Worrell, human nutrition, foods, and exercise


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Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise students take healthy eating message to youth around Virginia this summer

More than 3,000 low-income children will have the opportunity to learn about healthy eating as well as prepare some fun recipes through Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Family Nutrition Program’s summer internship. Eighteen students were selected to work in communities through out the state, recruiting sites and teaching children who have challenges accessing healthy food. They will teach the basics of MyPlate, the importance of physical activity, and basic food preparation skills, all using fun, hands-on teaching methods.

Edith Nault, Family Nutrition Program

Edith Nault with the Family Nutrition Program explains MyPlate to students.

Virginia Cooperative Extension delivers educational programs to citizens of Virginia within their communities. The Family Nutrition Program, offered through Virginia Cooperative Extension, teaches limited-resource families and youth how to make healthier food choices and become better managers of available food resources for optimal health and growth. Programs focus on basic nutrition, physical activity, safe food handling, and thrifty food shopping.

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Jamie Zoellner interviewed on With Good Reason

“There’s no silver bullet for battling obesity, but Jamie Zoellner believes that studying different communities and their specific food and exercise resources can help jumpstart a solution,” a radio reporter recently said.

He was interviewing Zoellner, a professor from the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, when she recently spoke on With Good Reason about her research.

You can listen to the full interview online.

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Transformative health and safety photography project of the Danville Youth City Council

With the collaborative efforts of the Dan River Partnership for a Healthy Community, Danville Parks and Recreation, and Virginia Tech Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise and marketing departments, the Youth City Council of Danville developed a transformative photography project on health and safety in the Dan River Region titled, “Make It Happen!”

Through the public display of photographs, the Youth Council (comprised of juniors and seniors in local high schools) had the opportunity to affect change in their community by bringing to light issues important to them, influencing policy makers, and amplifying their public voice. A photographic exhibit and region-wide event was held in May to raise local awareness of issues and potential solutions. More than 100 people participated in the community event. The photography exhibit will also be shared with local high schools; the Boys and Girls Club; and community members, stakeholders, and policy makers in the Dan River Region.

In the video about the project, HNFE’s Ph.D. student Ramine Alexander is interviewed around the seven-minute mark.

The Dan River Partnership for a Healthy Community consists of approximately 30 organizations and 50 members from each area of the Dan River Region. Leaders for this transformative photograhpy project were Jason Bookheimer (Danville Parks and Recreation), Jamie Zoellner (associate professor of HNFE; vice chair of the DRPHC), Julie Ozanne (professor of marketing), Ramine Alexander (HNFE Ph.D. student) and Emily Moscatto (Marketing Ph.D. student).

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Students recognized with Departmental Outstanding Senior Awards

Every year, each department in the college nominates one student as the Outstanding Senior from their unit. Stephanie Myrick of Woodbridge, Virginia, who majored in applied economic management with minors in civic agriculture and food systems and leadership and social change, was selected from these nominations as the college’s Outstanding Senior.

The Outstanding Seniors from other departments included:

  • Brent Ashley from the Department of Dairy Science
  • Colleen Beard from the Department of Horticulture
  • Laura Griffin from the Department of Food Science and Technology
  • Alyson Howard from the Department of Agricultural Technology
  • Shannon Lloyd from the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise
  • Kimberly Pittard from the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
  • Morgan Slaven from the Department Agricultural and Extension Education
  • Kirsten Ulmer from the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences
  • Kelly Young from the Department of Biochemistry
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In memoriam: Ann Hertzler, professor emerita of human nutrition, foods, and exercise

Ann Hertzler, professor emerita of human nutrition, foods, and exercise, died Feb. 6. She was 78.

Ann HertzlerHertzler, of Wilmington, N.C., served as an Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist during her two decade career at Virginia Tech, which was distinguished by numerous awards, including being a Fulbright Scholar from 1989 to 1990.

“Ann was involved in all three missions of the university,” said former colleague William Barbeau, a retired associate professor from the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, referring to teaching, research, and outreach. “Her main appointment was in Extension, but she did quite a lot of teaching, both undergraduate and graduate courses. Ann was a noted researcher in the area of community nutrition.”

Hertzler’s work focused on nutrition issues facing families and children, and she maintained her passion for that subject even after retiring in 2001. She continued to publish research, and was a generous donor to Virginia Tech University Libraries, which benefits from the Ann Hertzler Endowment for Children’s Cookbooks and Nutrition.

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College highlights

The behavioral research of Jamie Zoellner, Jennie Hill, and Paul Estabrooks continues to garner publicity. WSET-13 featured their latest program, iChoose, on Feb. 8: New three-month program helps families choose healthier lifestyle. iChoose is working with 26 families in Danville, Va., working towards the goal of a healthier lifestyle by attending nutrition and exercise classes.

The research of Robert Grange, along with graduate student Jon Doering, on the rescue of muscle function in treated dogs has been featured in several media outlets recently, including Science Translational Medicine and University of Washington Medicine. “The functional improvement was truly remarkable”, said Grange. “It is both incredibly exciting and humbling to contribute to such a meaningful project – a true highlight of our careers.”


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