Speaker Profiles

We are thankful to the following individuals for participating in the Foods for Health Annual Meeting.  Our event would not be possible without their involvement and overall commitment to the Foods for Health Research Initiative.


Cathann Kress serves as the Vice-President for Agriculture Administration and Dean, College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), providing leadership for the college which also comprises OSU Extension, the statewide Agricultural Experiment Station (Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center), and the Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster.  In addition, she serves as the lead Dean for the Foods for Health Research Initiative, encouraging university-wide participation in FFH activities, making recommendations on resource allocation, and ensuring that FFH is an exemplary steward of the university’s reputation and values.

As the recently appointed Senior Associate Vice-President for Research Operations, Cynthia Carnes works with key leaders across the Office of Research to support research and creative expression compliance programs, training, monitoring and reporting. She is a key liaison with academic colleges and associate deans for research, regional campuses, the graduate school, leads critical initiatives for diversity, equity and inclusion; and serves as an integral member of the Office of Research executive leadership team. Prior to joining the Office of Research, Dr. Carnes served as a professor of outcomes and translational science and senior associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Pharmacy.

Foods for Health Overview and Updates

Foods for Health Faculty Director Devin Peterson provides programmatic and operational oversight for FFH.  He was appointed to this role in 2019 and under his leadership, FFH has expanded the research focus, recruited four new core faculty members, reestablished the FFH affiliate community, contributed to over $1M in new external grants directly aligned with the FFH mission, and led the development of a Foods and Health neighborhood in the new Interdisciplinary Research Facility set to open in summer 2023.  In addition to his role as faculty director, Dr. Peterson is a Distinguished Professor of Food Science & Technology and Director of the Flavor Research Education Program (FREC), a partnership between academic researchers and industry leaders focused on the creation, exchange, and application of knowledge to drive innovation in the food flavor market space.

Flash Talks

Amanda Hummon joined Foods for Health as a core faculty member in 2018, previously serving as a faculty member in chemistry and biochemistry at Notre Dame. Her research lies at the intersection of analytical chemistry and chemical biology, with a focus on cancer biology.  Her lab develops analytical methods to evaluate both the proteome and metabolome in cancer cells, while exploring the deregulation in cancer-associated signal transduction pathways.  She is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and a 2019 recipient of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the US government to outstanding scientists at the outset of their research careers.

Rachel Kopec joined Foods for Health as a core faculty member in 2016 after completing a post-doctoral fellowship a The Institut national de la recherche Agronomique in Paris, France. Her research program uses model systems and actual humans in combination with analytical chemistry tools to decipher nutrient/nutrient and nutrient-bioactive interactions. Her group focuses on the interactions that occur with fat-soluble vitamins and phytochemicals. Dr. Kopec also collaborates on campus to develop new tools to aid in the identification of unknown metabolites and to integrate multi-omic platforms.  She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Sciences.

Lihua Ye joined Foods for Health as a core faculty member in 2021 after completing her post-doctoral training at Duke University School of Medicine.  Her research focus is on understanding how the body senses, responds to, and adapts to complex and dynamic internal environments, with a primary interest in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of the intestinal sensory machinery and circuitry. Her lab uses a combination of genetic engineering, optogenetics, in vivo microscope imaging, immunofluorescence staining, and bioinformatic approaches in the zebrafish animal model to dissect the function and regulatory mechanisms of the gut sensory machinery and the gut-brain interaction axis. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience.

Jiangjiang ‘Chris’ Zhu joined Foods for Health as a core faculty member in 2019, previously serving as a faculty member in chemistry and biochemistry at Miami University. The overarching goal of the Zhu lab is to develop technologies using mass spectrometry-based metabolomics, in combination with advanced chemometrics, for the sensitive, reliable and non-invasive detection and monitoring of human diseases, and to aid the current understanding of complicated disease mechanisms, which could ultimately promote the rapid and non-invasive disease detection and discoveries of novel therapeutic targets.  He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Sciences.

Jessica Cooperstone joined Foods for Health as a core faculty member in 2017 after completing her Ph.D. in Food Science & Technology at Ohio State and serving as a post-doctoral researcher in the department. She and her team are interested in understanding the chemical basis for the health benefits associated with fruit and vegetable-rich diets. From fundamental studies in crops to nutrition-based clinical trials, her group works across the plant-food-nutrition-health continuum. Her research looks at factors that govern the biosynthesis of health-beneficial phytochemicals in crops, how they contribute to human health, and how to make our foods better. She is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Horticulture & Crop Science and Food Science & Technology.

Mike Sovic is the Assistant Director for the Applied Microbiology Services Laboratory (AMSL), and a member of the Infectious Disease Institute team.  His teaching and research efforts have primarily fallen under the umbrella of developing and applying genomic-scale methods to address questions in diverse areas, including environmental science, biodiversity conservation, human disease, and agriculture.

Alex Davis is on staff at the Translational Data Analytics Institute as a Data Scientist.  He joined the TDAI team in May 2022 and in this role he consults on all aspects of the Research Data Lifecycle. This includes support for data management planning, collection, analysis, and preservation.  Before joining TDAI, he served as a Data Analyst Consultant at the Wexner Medical Center where he built predictive machine learning models to increase hospital efficiency.

Research Roundtables

Xia Ning is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Biomedical Informatics and Computer Science and Engineering.  She joined the Translational Data Analytics Institute core faculty in 2018, formerly serving as faculty in the IUPUI Computer and Information Science Department. The Ning lab is a highly data-driven, computational-oriented program that conducts research on AI, data mining, machine learning, and big data analytics with applications in drug discovery, and medical and health informatics.  She currently serves as PI on the FFH-funded project Machine Learning to Advance Whole Wheat Acceptance.

Foods for Health Associate Faculty Director Vicki Wysocki is a Professor and Ohio Eminent Scholar in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Director of the Campus Chemical Instrument Center.  She has held a leadership position with FFH since 2019 and provides strategic guidance for the initiative.  An area of focus for the Wysocki lab is using a multi-omics approach for biomarker discovery, disease diagnosis, and prognosis using proteomics and metabolomics methods coupled with genomics and transcriptomic.


Chris Simons is an Associate Professor in the Department of Food Science & Technology. Dr. Simons’s research interests use a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the perception of foods and how they are processed to influence reward and, ultimately, behavior. One outcome of this research is to identify the neural and physiological correlates associated with perception, liking, and food choice using a variety of methodologies including human sensory testing or psychophysics, electrophysiology, and behavioral measurements. Another outcome is to leverage the knowledge gained from these types of investigations to develop new methodologies that assist in the creation of better foods.