New and Noteworthy

The School of Human Ecology welcomed several new faculty members this year, including three tenured and tenure-track professors in nutritional sciences.

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Marissa Burgermaster


Marissa Burgermaster, a new assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and for the Dell Medical School, does research applying data science and human-computer interaction methods to improve nutrition and community health. Burgermaster holds a Ph.D. in behavioral nutrition from Columbia University, where her research at Teachers College’s Tisch Center for Food, Education, and Policy focused on improving the evaluation of school-based childhood obesity prevention interventions. She previously had a career as a teacher and school administrator.


Elizabeth Widen


Elizabeth Widen is another new assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences. She joined the department a year ago and became an assistant professor this academic year. Her research focuses primarily on maternal and child nutrition and health, and she uses interdisciplinary approaches to evaluate the role of nutrition in the health of fetuses, babies, toddlers and their mothers. She previously served as an Intramural Research Training Award Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.


Heather Leidy


Also joining the Department of Nutritional Sciences in 2019 is Heather Leidy, a new associate professor. Leidy’s research focuses on the relationship between protein and weight management, particularly in young people. She also studies the connection between breakfast consumption, circadian rhythms and sleep behavior. She earned her B.S. in biology from Shippensburg University, her M.S. in physiology at Penn State and her Ph.D. in physiology from Penn State, and conducted postdoctoral research at the Ingestive Behavior Research Center and the Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University. 

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Su Yeong Kim


In the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, Su Yeong Kim is preparing to take on a new role, as editor of Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, a journal of a division of the American Psychological Association. The publication is one of the leading journals for the study of cultural diversity and ethnicity. Kim is a widely published expert who researches the role of cultural and family contexts that shape the development of adolescents in immigrant and minority families in the U.S. Learn more about her research here.