Birch and Kris-Etherton receive American Society for Nutrition awards

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Leann Birch, distinguished professor of human development and family studies and professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State, and Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State, have received awards from the American Society for Nutrition.

Leann Birch

Birch has received the E.V. McCollum Award from the American Society for Nutrition. The award is given to a clinical investigator who is perceived by his or her peers as a major creative force, actively generating new concepts in nutrition and executing studies that test the validity of these concepts.

Birch’s research investigates the factors that influence the development from infancy through adolescence of factors -- such as individual, familial, and other contextual factors -- that control food intake. This research focuses on both predictors and consequences of eating behavior, including the development of food preferences and problems associated with energy balance, particularly obesity, dieting, and disordered eating. One of her ongoing projects is an investigation of the relationships among feeding, sleeping, and growth in infants, and the subsequent influence of these factors on eating, growth, and weight status later in life. Birch’s other ongoing projects include research on the effects of altering energy density and portion size of meals and snacks on preschool children’s energy intake, and a ten-year longitudinal study of the development of the controls of food intake among young girls, with a focus on the emergence of weight concerns, dieting, and problems of energy balance, including childhood obesity and disordered eating.

Birch is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2010 Bar-Or Award for Excellence in Pediatric Obesity Research from The Obesity Society, the 2003 Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Penn State, and the 2000 Pauline Schmitt Russell Distinguished Research Career Award from the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State. She is the director of Penn State’s Center for Childhood Obesity Research.

Birch received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University, Long Beach. She earned master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The E.V. McCollum Award recognizes the late Elmer Verner McCollum, an American biochemist who was known for his work on the influence of diet on health.

Penny Kris-Etherton

Kris-Etherton has received the David Kritchevsky Outstanding Nutrition Career Award from the American Society for Nutrition in recognition of an outstanding career in nutrition.

Kris-Etherton’s research focuses on cardiovascular nutrition. For over 25 years, she has conducted numerous controlled clinical nutrition studies designed to evaluate the role of diet on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. She and her colleagues have studied many different populations, including healthy people, overweight and obese people, and people at risk for cardiovascular disease. More recently, her group has examined molecular mechanisms at the gene level as a means to explain the effects of diet.

Kris-Etherton has served on many national committees that have established dietary guidelines and recommendations, including the Dietary Reference Intakes for Macronutrients Committee of the National Academies, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association. She is a Fellow of the American Heart Association and National Lipid Association, and she is the recipient of many awards, including the 2007 Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award from the American Dietetic Association, the 2005 Elaine Monsen Research Award from the American Dietetic Association Foundation, the 1998 Foundation Award for Excellence in Research from the American Dietetic Association, and the 1991 Lederle Award for Human Nutrition Research from the American Society for Nutritional Sciences. She currently serves as president of the National Lipid Association.

Kris-Etherton has been a member of the Penn State faculty since 1979. She earned a bachelor’s degree in medical dietetics at the Rochester Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in nutrition at Case Western Reserve University, and a doctoral degree in nutrition at the University of Minnesota. She completed a dietetic internship at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1973, and she conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University.

The David Kritchevsky Outstanding Nutrition Career Award honors the late David Kritchevsky, an internationally recognized expert in the role of dietary fats in heart disease and cancer.

Leann Birch can be reached at llb15@psu.edu. Penny Kris-Etherton can be reached at pmk3@psu.edu.

Last Updated April 17, 2012