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Holscher receives prestigious Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Award for early-career innovation in nutrition

Published December 6, 2017

URBANA, Ill. – Hannah Holscher, assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois is a recipient of the second annual New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research award. The annual set of early-career grants to outstanding food and agriculture research faculty members is a program of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a nonprofit established through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Holscher received a FFAR grant of nearly $600,000 to fund a project looking at diet, the human gastrointestinal microbiome, and metabolic health over the next three years. Research in Holscher’s laboratory at U of I, the Nutrition and Human Microbiome Laboratory, integrates the areas of nutrition, gastrointestinal physiology, and the microbiome. Her research focuses on the clinical application of nutritional sciences with an overarching goal of improving human health through dietary modulation of the gastrointestinal microbiome.

“The results of my research will provide information that will help consumers to make healthful food choices,” Holscher explains. “It will also inform dietary guidance given by registered dietitians, health care providers, and extension specialists. The findings will be applicable to food consumption, food and nutrition practice, and human health outcomes.”

As part of the award, Holscher is participating in a scientific communications workshop in Washington D.C. this week. New Innovator award recipients from 2016 and 2017 were invited to participate in a day-long workshop that will help equip the early-career leaders to promote the importance of their own work and ultimately, attract young scientists to the food and agriculture research workforce. New Innovator awardees will have the opportunity to discuss their work with members of Congress and their staff while in Washington.

“The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is pleased to support Dr. Holscher’s research as part of our work to catalyze innovation and foster a strong scientific workforce for the future,” says Sally Rockey, executive director of FFAR. “I look forward to seeing the impact of the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research award not only on Dr. Holscher’s career, but also on advancing agriculture.”

In addition to publishing in top nutrition journals, Holscher also actively disseminates research findings in formats ranging from scientific presentations and webinars to podcasts, Twitter chats, blogs, and popular press articles. Holscher enjoys teaching and mentoring within her own research laboratory, as well as teaching advanced undergraduate and graduate nutrition courses. Her excellence in teaching has earned her inclusion on the "List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students" six times at the U of I. She has also served in leadership roles at both the local and national level, and is currently the chair-elect for the Nutrition Translation Research Interest Section of the American Society for Nutrition.

The New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research program supports promising scientists who demonstrate not only a commitment to catalyzing innovation in food and agriculture, but also a dedication to mentoring students.

Holscher joins a group of other 2017 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research award recipients who were selected from across the United States in five categories: nutrition and healthy food choices; plant efficiency; optimizing agricultural water use; spurring food system innovation; and transforming soil health. Diwakar Shukla, a U of I assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, was also named as a recipient of the award for his research on improving plant efficiency.

A public request for nominations for the New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award was limited to researchers within the first three years of their faculty careers. Applicants were also required to demonstrate a commitment to mentoring, supporting the Foundation’s interest in inspiring future generations of agricultural and food scientists.

The second annual set of New Innovator awards brings the total FFAR investment in the program to more than $4.5 million. Learn more about the 2017 New Innovators and their research directions.

Holscher is an assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and a member of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at U of I.