Professor granted leadership role


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center has named a UVM medical school professor as their new director.

Dr. Naomi Fukagawa is a professor of medicine at UVM and started her career 20 years ago. Despite retiring from UVM, Fukagawa will continue to serve as professor emeritus in the College of Medicine for her current research program, she said.

The program concentrates on studying all of the possible consequences that alternative fuels could have, Fukagawa said.

“It’s about understanding what the advantages and disadvantages are on the environment, people and animals. A lot of times we only look at one fear, we don’t look at the whole living space,” she said.

As the new director, Fukagawa said she looks forward to being able to  further her research, as well as implementing change in the nutrition world.

“This is an opportunity that would allow me to work in a bigger pond because it’s so close to Washington. In some ways, I can take what I’ve been trying to do here to a different level in different areas and make a difference,” Fukagawa said.

Fukagawa said that her new position will involve dietary choices and enhancing human health. The Nutrition Research Center’s main goal is to understand how nutrition choices impact the quality of life, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

“I think that it is important that people have a better understanding of what a healthy diet consists of because there are so many different claims of what a healthy diet is and what not, that someone without an education in nutrition can get confused with,” first-year Kathryn Jablonksi said.

The research center is comprised of five laboratories, two service units and federal employees as well as over 60 other scientists that are affiliated with the Research Center, according to the United States of Department of Agriculture.

Fukagawa will be overseeing the staff, as well a budget of $22 million annually, according to a March 3 press release.

“To be named director of a national center, one of the world’s premiere human nutrition research facilities, is a great honor,” UVM President Tom Sullivan said in the press release.