2017 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research 

Hannah Holscher, Ph.D.
University of Illinois

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research awarded eight awards to the 2017 New Innovators in Food and Agriculture Research. These awardees will receive a total of $4.8 million over five years. The New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award is designed to provide the early investment needed to launch new faculty members into successful scientific careers in food and agriculture. Learn more about the FFAR New Innovators.

Research Project: Diet, the Human Gastrointestinal Microbiome, and MetabolicHealth

Hannah Holscher (left), Ph.D., helps a graduate student analyze avocados.

The trillions of microbes that live in and on our bodies are known as the microbiota.  Their genes are referred to as the microbiome. These microbes and the substrates they produce are important because they impact health. Dietary fiber is a food sources for the gut microbiota. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes are plant sources of dietary fiber. Eating lots of different types of plants helps promote a diverse gut microbiota. Eating a varied diet rich in fiber also helps support health.

Dr. Holscher's research will include laboratory and computer experiments to further our understanding of how foods impact the gut microbiota and health. The results will provide information that will help consumers to make healthful food choices. It will also inform dietary guidance given by registered dietitians, health care providers, and extension specialists. In summary, the findings will be applicable to food consumption, food and nutrition practice, and human health outcomes.

About Hannah Holscher, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, University of Illinois

Dr. Hannah Holscher is an assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois, where she joined the faculty in 2015. Prior to joining the faculty, she completed postdoctoral training focused on the human microbiome, as well as her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences and her B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois. She is also a Registered Dietitian.

Research in Dr. Holscher’s laboratory, 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. In addition to publishing in top nutrition journals, she also actively disceminates research findings in formats ranging from scientific presentations and webinars to podcasts, Twitter chats, blogs, and popular press articles. Dr. 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 University of Illinois. 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.

Learn more: http://hdh.fshn.illinois.edu/