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FSHN Fall Term 2021


Greetings to friends and supporters of FSHN!   We are so excited to be back to many face-to-face classes and a campus that is vibrant with the traditional sounds of fall and the many students in our midst. We have a majority of FSHN courses taught in person, with masks, and a few that are online as well. Many things that we thought impossible a few years back are seemingly so simple, such as virtual meetings and courses. I want to personally thank all of our students, faculty and staff for being so adaptable over the past three semesters. It has been a constantly changing environment, and although the pandemic is not completely behind us, we are stronger because of it. Also, every day there are so many expressions of excitement to see people in person. This newsletter is just a glimpse at some of the highlights; we already know of lots to populate the next one. It is great to see such great scholarly activity and also news from our alumni (we love to hear from you all!).


Research Highlights

  Yong-Su Jin

A study by FSHN's Dr. Yong-Su Jin, professor of food microbiology, unveiled the new health benefits of red seaweeds.

Learn more

Professor Yanina Pepino  

FSHN’s associate professor Yanina Pepino reported in U of I News that Cancer survivors' tongues are less sensitive to tastes than those of healthy peers. FSHN assistant professor Anna Arthur was a co-author on this study.

Read more at the Illinois News Bureau here

  Longer lunch

Kids eat more fruit and vegetables with longer seated lunch time

Assistant professor Melissa Pflugh Prescott and study co-authors compared fruit and vegetable consumption during 10 and 20 minutes of seated lunch time, and the results were clear.

Yong-Su Jin  

FSHN professor Yong-Su Jin led a team that developed a bioprocess for converting plant materials into valuable chemicals.

Read more…




Please join us in congratulating the following FSHN faculty for their successful promotions that will take effect August 16, 2021.

Hannah Holscher – from Assistant to Associate Professor with tenure

Yanina Pepino – from Assistant to Associate Professor with tenure


Honors and Awards

Zeynep Madak-Erdogan  

FSHN’s Dr. Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, has been named editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Endocrine Society. Madak-Erdogan leads the Women’s Health and Metabolism lab at University of Illinois. Her research focuses on understanding how hormones and metabolism affect women’s health. Journal of the Endocrine Society is an Open Access journal providing rapid publication of clinical research, clinical practice information, and basic research in all areas of endocrinology. Read more.

  2021 IFT Fellow

Congratulations to Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia, PhD, on being inducted into the 2021 Class of IFT Fellows! Thank you for your significant contributions to food science and nutrition, active engagement in international research collaborations, and commitment to educating future food scientists.

Learn more

IFT Awards  

Congratulations to Graduate Paper Competition Winners

Mengyi Dong (Ph.D. student in Dr. Hao Feng’s laboratory) – 1st place in IAFP Competition – “Hydroponic/Aquaponic Farming Food Safety Risk Identification by Food Safety Practice Survey and NGS Microbial Community Analysis”

Ragya Kapoor (Ph.D. student in Dr. Hao Feng’s laboratory) – 1st place in IFT Nonthermal Processing Division Graduate Competition – “Ultrasound-assisted formation of vitamin E delivery systems stabilized by plant-based natural biopolymers”

Yanlin Lei (Ph.D. student in Dr. Yi-Cheng Wang’s laboratory) – 2nd place in IFT Food Packaging Division Graduate Oral Competition – “Intelligent packaging films for food-freshness monitoring made from guar gum, locust bean gum, and anthocyanin extracted from red cabbage”

AJ (Alexander) Taylor (Ph.D. student in Dr. Nicki Engeseth’s laboratory) – 1st place in IFT International Division Competition Graduate Student Oral Competition – “Comprehending the microbiome associated with spontaneous cacao fermentations from around the world”


FSHN Retirements


We congratulate the following individuals and thank them for their many years of service to FSHN! Also, we wish them all the best in their next chapters!

Dr. Graciela Padua, Research Professor, who was with FSHN since she started as a Visiting Research Associate in 1991, retired as of July 31, 2021.  She influenced all of our FS undergraduates with her dedicated instruction of FSHN 260 (raw materials for food processing) and taught upper/grad level courses in the food processing arena. She was passionate about educating students and brought this enthusiasm into the classroom.

For three decades, she conducted exciting, innovative research in the area of food material sciences, with research on protein organization and use of nanotechnology and making impactful applications to agriculture, food and medicine. For example, her research on edible films changed the way we view packaging; she also utilized these proteins as scaffolding in medical applications. She also developed a number of interactions with industry to develop delivery vehicles for important bioactives. So many students have worked under her guidance and have gone on to have wonderful, challenging, careers. She stays connected to her students, like family.

It is a mixed emotion to have Graciela retire; we will miss her! However, it is exciting for her to be able to pursue new interests and, of course, spend more time with her family.


Janice Trudell, who had worked in FSHN since 2009, most recently as Accountant II, decided to retire as of July 31, 2021.

This is a bittersweet announcement – as we will really miss Janice! Yet, she will move on to her next chapter and enjoy her friends and family. Janice was influential in the day-to-day operations of almost everyone in FSHN and provided invaluable support related to everything accounting. She guided FSHN through difficult times with audits and complex grant issues; she was always helpful in resolving any challenge we encountered with accounting in FSHN. She worked on a full range of projects, from gifts to large center grants. She dealt with multiple audits and diligently worked to assure that FSHN and our faculty are protected. Many of us have been very dependent on her knowledge and skills and helpful nature. She’s the only one I know who knows just about every account FOPAL that exists in FSHN. She dedicated many hours to resolving issues and helped us stay on track. 

Janice took her job very seriously and thus, this is a big loss for FSHN! But we realize that this is a very special time for Janice – to enjoy her life and her grandchildren.


Dr. Stoyan Toshkov was in charge of the cobalt-60 irradiator that is housed in the Nuclear Engineering Laboratory on Goodwin Avenue. The irradiator is state-of-the-art, and Dr. Toshkov is an irradiation expert.  Before coming to Illinois, he was employed by the Florida Accelerator Services and Technology, Division of Plant Industry, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services where he was in charge of dosimetry and quality control programs since 1994.

He was at the University of Illinois June 2002 – July 2021; and his position was shared between the FSHN Department and Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering - Senior Research Scientist.  We will miss having his friendly face at all of our FSHN faculty meetings – he has assisted many of us with research and is a genuinely great person to collaborate with.



FSHN Faculty Departures

Andrade and Arthur  


We congratulate the following individuals in their new positions and thank them for their years of service to FSHN! Also, we wish them all the best in their next chapters!


Last year we said farewell to our colleague, Dr. Juan Andrade.  He moved to a tenure-track faculty position at the University of Florida in Gainesville (Food Science & Human Nutrition Dept.). For the past year he was on a one-year leave, because of the uncertainties with moving during a pandemic and has formally resigned as of August 15, 2021. Juan began his time at UIUC as a Postdoctoral Associate in 2005, became a faculty member in 2010 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2019.

Juan has traveled all over the world conducting research and educational programs that enrich the lives and improve the health status of many people living in developing countries.  He was an active member of the Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services (INGENAES) program and served as the Lead Project Investigator of the Utilization for Human Nutrition Management Research Area 5 for the Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) – a ($10M USAID-funded ACES-led project).  He is passionate about improving the quality of life and health status of individuals suffering from micronutrient deficiencies.  He is a great teacher and has consistently been on the “Teachers Ranked as Excellent” multiple times during his time at the University of Illinois.

Juan has a great attitude and feels it is truly an honor to be a Professor and this positive attitude is evident in his daily interactions with faculty, students and staff. We will miss this enthusiasm and his strong connections with students, faculty and staff!  At the University of Florida he has been able to create a great set of new affiliations and programs and has been very productive in the past year.  This move also allowed him to reunite with his wife and children. He has been keeping in touch with individuals in FSHN to set up some interactive programs for students between the University of Illinois and University of Florida.


Dr. Anna Arthur has announced that she is leaving the campus of University of Illinois to pursue a faculty appointment at Kansas University Medical Center (KUMC). This position is tightly linked at the Medical Center so she will be able to establish a strong clinical research focus with their collaboration.  She is excited about the new opportunity and stated she will still continue her collaborative efforts with folks from the University of Illinois. 

She began her appointment in FSHN in January 2016 as Assistant Professor and Sylvia D. Stroup Scholar of Nutrition and Cancer. Anna has been actively involved in teaching FSHN 429 (Nutrition assessment and therapy), co-teaching FSHN 595 (Diet, nutrition & cancer) and teaching graduate level nutritional epidemiology courses.  She has received excellent reviews on teaching, and we will miss her unique course contributions, such as Nutritional Epidemiology. 

She has been a strong mentor to several graduate students, who have done very well in the research area of the role of diet and nutritional status in managing cancer survivorship. These students have been well placed upon graduation. She has been a great example of a dedicated researcher and mentor and we will be sad to have her leave FSHN! 


Extension News

Doris Kelley Christopher  

Revered Illinois alumna’s $45M ‘visionary gift’ lifts connection to a new level

Strengthening families and communities through gathering and connection have been important themes throughout Doris Kelley Christopher’s life and career. Now, a $45 million gift from the University of Illinois alumna will support the creation of an engagement-rich center located in the Arboretum on the Urbana-Champaign campus. Read more.


Alumni In the News


Cassandra Nikolaus, PhD (class of 2019)
Dr. Nikolaus was promoted to Research Assistant Professor in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health at Washington State University. This is one of three early career researchers awarded a Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Career Development KL2 Award from the Institute for Translational Health Sciences at the University of Washington. The project is titled “Characterizing the ‘real-world’ implementation of food security screening in healthcare settings” and the award provides funds to complete research and career development activities for 3 years. Dr. Nikolaus was also awarded 18-month funding from the USDA Economic Research Services under their 25 Years of Food Security Measurement program. This funding will be used to collaborate with Dr. Brian French, a psychometrician in the College of Education at Washington State University, to assess the validity of commonly used food security questionnaires among American Indian and Alaska Native adults.


Janet Kolmer Grommet, PhD, RDN, CDCES, FAND
BS '70 ACES (MS '72, PhD '78 Michigan State)  

Dr. Grommet recently presented the following poster at the American Society for Nutrition's Nutrition 2021 (annual meeting):
Grommet JK, Fischer V.  Development of a Practice-based Assignment in Diabetes Care to Enhance Clinical Nutrition Coursework. 
In addition to a clinical nutrition research agenda in chronic disease management, Dr. Grommet teaches in the graduate-level clinical nutrition course sequence at Hunter College, City University of New York in Manhattan.


Please send alumni updates to: fshn-general@illinois.edu 

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