- Senior Research Fellow, Endocrine Research Unit, The Mayo Clinic, 2003-2007
- Dietetic Internship (Registered Dietitian), University of Wisconsin, 2002-2003
- Research Assistant, Northrup King Seed Co, 1995-1997
- Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 2005
- B.A., Carleton College, 1991-1995
The ultimate goal of our research is to investigate the multifaceted etiology of obesity and explore in depths both sides of the energy balance equation.
Our inpatient unit is dedicated to investigating the multifaceted etiology of obesity. As a part of this, we are interested in what drives food intake. To do this, we are using a vending machine system from which study participants are allowed to choose a variety of foods at will throughout a given time period. Using the vending machine paradigm, we are working to test a wearable ingestion monitor to assess its accuracy and reliability for potential future use in outpatient settings. Additionally, one of our longer inpatient studies aims to validate the use of stable isotope biomarkers as representative of specific dietary intake patterns (meat/fish/soda).
We are also interested in exploring the validity of the thrifty and spendthrift phenotypes through intense inpatient studies that include weekly measurement of whole body metabolism as well as measurement of body composition, actual food intake, stool and urine output, body muscle and fat energy (through biopsies), and blood hormones.
Obesity and its related metabolic diseases and disorders are a major health epidemic in the United States and worldwide. Our research ultimately aims to find both better treatments and prevention for the development of obesity.
Need for Further Study
It is of utmost importance to develop more precise and accurate measures of food intake. In general, the research community has gotten fairly good at measuring energy expenditure, but we are woefully inadequate at assessing energy intake. Without this, we can never have reliable studies of how diet and intake affect obesity or health.
Research in Plain Language
The development and the physiology of obesity are the main topics of our research. To do this, we study both sides of the energy balance equation: energy in (food) and energy out (expenditure/movement). We are hoping to improve ways of measuring what people are actually eating so that we can truly know if food intake is a major factor in obesity. Also we can hopefully begin to determine if some types of foods contribute more to obesity than others. Additionally, we are studying the expenditure side of the energy balance equation to see if there are differences in how people respond to long term (6 week) periods of weight loss or overfeeding.