Kathleen Keller to receive Norman Kretchmar Memorial Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Kathleen Keller, the Mark T. Greenberg Early Career Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State, has been selected by the American Society of Nutrition (ASN) as the recipient of the 2014 Norman Kretchmer Memorial Award in Nutrition and Development. The award is given to a young investigator for a substantial body of independent research in the field of nutrition and development with a potential relevance to improving child health.

Keller will be presented with the award -- an inscribed plaque supported by Abbott Nutrition Institute and a monetary gift of $1,500 -- at the ASN Awards Ceremony on Sunday, April 27, in San Diego, Calif. The awards ceremony is part of the ASN Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2014.

Keller was nominated for the award by members of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State. Her nominators wrote that her “innovative studies on the influence of common taste genes on children’s eating behaviors have already had a huge impact on the field of child obesity and positioned her to become an outstanding future leader in the field of pediatric nutrition.”

Keller was the first to test the interaction of genetic differences in bitter taste perception with measures of the build environment assessed Geographical Information Software (GIS). Her work demonstrates that genetic taste susceptibility interacts with the food environment to determine vegetable preferences and body weight in children.

Keller also is applying functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine the neurobiological mechanisms underlying eating behaviors in children. Her studies will be some of the first to measure eating behavior in the laboratory and make connections to neural activation in lean and obese children. These studies will be instrumental in helping to develop new prevention and treatment strategies for childhood nutritional problems and obesity.

Keller serves on the editorial board for the International Journal of Obesity and on the program committee for the Society of the Study of Ingestive Behavior. She has served on the membership committee for The Obesity Society and recently became the ASN’s representative on the Advisory Committee Meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. She earned a Ph.D. degree at Rutgers University in 2002 and joined the faculty at Penn State in 2012.

Last Updated March 31, 2014