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Nutrition - Research


The faculty members of the Section of Nutrition have broadly based research interests in human and basic nutrition. Areas of particular focus include micronutrients, especially trace mineral nutrition and bioavailability, with emphasis in pediatric populations and women during the reproductive cycle in both the U.S. and in developing countries; mineral metabolism in normal infants (breastfed and formula-fed) and those with pathologic conditions, e.g., cystic fibrosis or prematurity; prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity; energy intake regulation and eating behaviors; and the impact of community-based prevention programs in clinical and school-based settings.


Dr. Richard Boles
investigates pediatric obesity via the interaction of physical and social environments and by testing behavioral interventions to improve dietary intake, physical activity, and health outcomes in young children and their families.

Dr. Paul Fennessey has interests and experience in the development of analytical and biochemical techniques that use stable isotopes, in vitro and in vivo models, and improved mass spectrometric capabilities to investigate basic nutritional questions.

Kimberly Gracey, PA-C's interests include growth faltering/failure to thrive and obesity management in children with special health care needs.

Dr. Matthew Haemer interests are in designing and testing the effect of interventions to support childhood obesity screening, prevention, and treatment in the setting of primary care practices linked to community resources for healthy lifestyles.

Dr. K. Michael Hambidge's primary interests are in international research directed to maternal-child health, especially nutrition, in resource-poor countries. Current work includes a broad range of efficacy trials to determine effective, sustainable strategies, including biofortification, for the prevention of micronutrient deficiencies.

Dr. Janine Higgins studies novel methods of assessing dietary intake and the effect of nutrition, in particular carbohydrate quality, on obesity, diabetes, and anorexia nervosa in children, adults, and rat models.

Dr. James Hill’s research in the obesity field involves the study of lifestyle factors that affect body weight regulation. In particular, he is interested in how diet and physical activity influence body weight and how high-fat diet and inactivity may contribute to the current global epidemic of obesity.

Dr. Jill Kaar's​ primary research will focus on maternal and child health including the following topics: dietary exposures during pregnancy and lactation, and how these exposures may impact children's eating habits in early childhood. Another focus is to understand the social contexts (food neophobia, parental feeding practices) that promote healthy dietary patterns in children. An additional line of research will investigate whether and how both food preferences and total food intake impact infant growth and adiposity.

Dr. Susan Johnson
's research focuses on the development of children's eating behaviors and weight outcomes and the impact of the mealtime environment upon children's eating patterns. A recent focus includes the nutrient and food intake patterns of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Her goal is to develop research-based clinical, consumer, and community education and prevention programs in the area of early childhood nutrition. These programs will provide knowledge and opportunities for learning for students in nutrition and early childhood education, and for health care providers, parents, and caregivers.

Dr. Nancy Krebs' primary research interests include micronutrient requirements (especially zinc and iron) in women and infants. Current work includes examination of effects of nutrition interventions on the enteric microbiome; and effects of maternal obesity on composition of breast milk and infant weight gain. Research settings include Colorado and several low-resource countries. 

Dr. Sian Lei's research interests involve specialized training and expertise in the operation of an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer. He has developed a methodology for both elemental and isotope ratio analyses of several mineral elements.

Renee Porter, MS, ND, PNP clinical and administrative interests involve adolescent obesity, safety for the hospitalized obese child, and increasing education for Medical Providers and nurses related to pediatric obesity.

Dr. Darcy Thompson's research seeks to identify modifiable family and individual level factors contributing to the development of obesity in preschool-aged children. She is particularly interested in contextual factors related to obesity in low-income Latino families. A portion of her work also focuses on enhancing the care provided to limited English proficiency families.