College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Nutrition & Food Science

Research Topics

There is a vast amount of research, covering several different topics currently being                                 conducted within the Nutrition and Food Science Department!

Dr. Buchanan, Director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Food Safety and Security Systems, received his B.S, M.S. M.Phil, and Ph.D. degrees in Food Science from Rutgers University, and post-doctoral training in mycotoxicology at the University of Georgia. Since then he has 30 years experience teaching, conducting research in food safety, and working at the interface between science and public health policy, first in academia, then in government service in both USDA and FDA, and most recently at the University of Maryland. His scientific interests are diverse, and include extensive experience in predictive microbiology, quantitative microbial risk assessment, microbial physiology, mycotoxicology, and HACCP systems. He has published widely on a wide range of subjects related to food safety, and is one of the co-developers of the widely used USDA Pathogen Modeling Program. Dr. Buchanan has served on numerous national and international advisory bodies including serving as a member of the International Commission on Microbiological Specification for Foods for 20 years, as a six-term member of the National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria for Foods, and as the U.S. Delegate to the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Food Hygiene for 10 years.

Dr. Thomas W. Castonguay is focusing on the effects of exercise, age and body composition on metabolic flexibility measured by  indirect calorimetry; The influence of sugars on the human hypothalamic BOLD response as measured by fMRI; the influence of sugars on hypothalamic genes regulating food intake and body composition; 11 beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase – 1 and its role in dietary obesity.

Dr. Robert T. Jackson is focusing on nutritional anemias, international nutrition, diet and evolution, nutritional status during pregnancy.

The research in Dr. Lee's lab has been focused on Chronic diseases such as cancer, obesity and diabetesare, the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. My researches have been focusing on the prevention of chronic diseases using strategies of gene expression/deletion or functional compounds present in human diet, phytochemicals, and drugs. In addition, we identified several genes that have anti-tumorigenic and obesity-suppressing activities. Currently, my lab is focusing on two main areas. The first area is chemoprevention and molecular carcinogenesis of human cancer.  The overall goal of this direction aims to identify new effective chemopreventive agents/human cancer susceptibility genes and elucidate their mechanisms of action using in vitro cell culture and rodent cancer models. The second area of research is aimed at the prevention of metabolic syndrome through basic and preclinical studies.

Dr. David K.Y Lei as PI has acquired a total of more than $11 million in funding, during his career, with ~$2.3 million in federal competitive grant awards. Current research is focused in the area of nutrient control of gene expression. Major efforts are being devoted to the elucidation of the mechanisms responsible for the altered gene expression modulated by cellular zinc status. Studies are being conducted to examine the influence of zinc status on the expression of tumor suppressor p53 gene and its target genes (p21, Gadd45 and Mdm2), as well as on cell cycle regulation and apoptosis, in normal human bronchial epithelial, prostate epithelial and aortic endothelial cells, and in human tumor cell lines. A new program was initiated in 2006 to examine the influence of food and medicinal plant materials with bioactivities on cell cycle modulation and on tumor suppressor genes in normal human prostate epithelial cells and prostate tumor cell lines. In mid 2008, Lei as director of equipment acquisition initiated the establishment of a new nutritional sciences biotechnology lab (NSB lab) at King Saud University (KSU), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In late 2009, Lei as PI of a collaborative research program, on target delivery of bioactives by nano particles, between the NSB lab and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Nano Science Center in Beijing, was recommended for funding by KSU.

Dr. Jianghong Meng's research focuses on food safety microbiology. They are interested in molecular identification, antimicrobial resistance, and pathogenicity of major foodborne pathogens, including Shiga toxin-producing Echerichia coli,Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes.

Dr. Abani Pradhan’s research is focused in the area of food safety and risk assessment. His research interests include food safety risk analysis, quantitative microbial risk assessment, predictive microbiology, food safety engineering, and molecular epidemiology. He along with the members in his lab have been conducting interdisciplinary research to address critical food safety issues related to foodborne pathogens (Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Toxoplasma gondii) in different food categories such as fresh produce, meat and poultry, and dairy products. Some of his research projects include predictive modeling and quantitative risk assessments for pathogenic bacteria and parasite Toxoplasma in produce, meat, and dairy products; antimicrobial resistance and dynamics of endemic infectious diseases on dairy farms. 

Dr. Shaik Rahaman’s research is dedicated to understanding the fundamentals of inflammatory and wound-healing diseases – specifically atherosclerosis and fibrosis – at the molecular level. His work on this subject has been featured in several prestigious publications including Cell Metabolism and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Rahaman’s goal is to better understand why people develop diseases like atherosclerosis or fibrosis and help to identify treatments. 

Dr. Nadine Sahyoun’s current research focuses on examining the relationship between diet and lifestyle factors on the nutrition status and health outcomes of vulnerable populations such as older adults. She is also studying the role of nutrition in the transition of care from hospital back to community living. Internationally, Dr. Sahyoun with colleagues from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and US Department of Agriculture developed and validated the Arab Family Food Security Scale and are assessing the status of food security and its determinants among vulnerable populations in Lebanon.

Dr. Hee-Jung Song’s previous work focused on developing, implementing and evaluating a behavioral, community-based nutrition intervention, which sought to modify the food environment for low-income African Americans in Baltimore. Over the years, she has been involved in several NIH-funded, community-based health promoting behavioral interventions, such as health literacy-focused intervention for the management of hypertension, community-based type II diabetes care and breast and cervical cancer control. Her primary research interests are to study how social, behavioral, environmental determinants influence health status and to develop sustainable nutrition intervention programs, particularly for underserved population including low-income family and children. In particular, studying the relationship between food environment and diet related diseases and exploring its longitudinal changes are one of main research interests. Her research focus also includes the systematic translation of research findings into sustainable practice and dietary instrument validation.

The research in Dr. Wang’s lab has been focused on design, fabrication, characterization, and evaluation of novel micro- and nano-scaled structures and vesicles from natural polymers, e.g. food proteins and polysaccharides, which can be formulated in different functional delivery systems for bioactive components, nanocomposites for packaging innovation, and edible coatings for controlled release of natural antimicrobial and antioxidant agents. Her group has been studying food science and engineering to better understand physicochemical and functional properties of food components and their interactions using nanotechnology as an approach. Her research is based on the integration of a number of multidisciplinary areas including food science, materials science, nanotechnology, and biophysics.

Dr. Liangli Yu researches value-added nutraceutical & functional food production for disease prevention and health promotion; natural food preservatives for improving food quality and safety; cellular and molecular mechanisms of bioactive food factors; general food chemistry and enzymology.

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