Meet our Lightning Talk Speakers
Beth Racine, Dr.PH.
Director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center El Paso, associate department head for Extension in the Nutrition Department
SNAP, WIC, and Food Retail : The SNAP and WIC program rely on partnerships with thousands of food stores throughout the US. This lightning talk will highlight how the types, availability, and SNAP and WIC redemptions made at food stores impact communities.
Marco Palma, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, director of the Human Behavior Laboratory
Using Altruism to Propel Behavioral Changes: Extensive literature in economics showcase that people care about the welfare of others much more than what economic theory predicts. In some circumstances, people willingly sacrifice their own well-being to help others. This previous work presents altruism and warm-glow as potential powerful drivers for behavioral change. In this presentation we introduce the desire to help others as a motivation to change our own behavior. More generally, we present social preferences as possible drivers for healthier food and physical activity choices.
Sunil Dhoubhadel, Ph.D.
Assistant professor of AgriBusiness, College of Agriculture and Human Sciences, Prairie View A&M University
Understanding the Economics of U.S. Meat Goat Markets Although goat meat has superior nutritional value and health benefits compared to other meats and is widely consumed in many countries, it is not a mainstream product in the United States. There are various reasons for the lack of growth in the domestic meat goat industry. The two most crucial factors are: (1) the U.S. goat production systems are inefficient, making it relatively an unprofitable enterprise (2) The U.S. meat goat markets are not well developed compared to other livestock. There is a lack of market information that helps goat producers to make informed production and marketing decisions. Given this scenario, the overall goal of this project is to contribute to enhancing the understanding of U.S. meat goat markets. Specifically, we will analyze the drivers of meat goat markets at different levels of the marketing chain and examine consumer preference for goat meat.
Regan Bailey, Ph.D.
IHA associate director for Precision Nutrition
Leveraging Precision Nutrition for a Healthier Texas: Maternal mortality in Texas is twice as high as the national average. Poor maternal nutritional status is associated with gestational morbidity and increased risk adverse birth outcomes and developmental delays in the child. In the long term, poor pregnancy nutrition is linked to chronic disease risk in children. Nutritional and environmental exposures during the first 1,000 days (i.e. from conception to 24 months of life), contribute more towards risk of obesity and cardiometabolic disorders in adulthood than that of genetics alone. Low resource and minority populations are at high risk of low diet quality, and have significant risk for poor maternal and child outcomes. Given the nutrition risk and vulnerable communities in Texas, scalable solutions to improve maternal and child health are critical. COMMIT (Cohort of Mothers/Madres in Texas) will be the first concerted effort to create a prospective cohort of diverse reproductive-aged and pregnant women that we will follow throughout pregnancy and post-partum including their infants and children. A unique feature of COMMIT is the use of mobile RVs that function as clinical research sites that can travel to remote areas of Texas. Data from COMMIT will be used to create a biorepository of parent-child dyad data that can leveraged to understand how nutritional guidance should be tailored to improve the health of Texans.
William Rooney, Ph.D.
Regents professor and senior AgriLife faculty fellow, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences
Developing Specialty Grain Sorghum Hybrids for Health Food Markets: The use of sorghum as a food grain has increased exponentially in the U.S. over the past ten years. This growth is based on numerous factors but the slower disgestability and the gluten-free status of the grain are key components. Further, the unique presence of tannins and deoxyanthocyanins that increase high antioxidant concentration in sorghum are especially to health food market. However, grain supply of these specialty sorghums has been limited. To that end, our program has focused on the development of these hybrids and their use in commercial production and processing of these grains.
Yuxiang Sun, Ph.D.
AgriLife Research, professor in the Department of Nutrition
Nutrient-Sensing Ghrelin Signaling in Health and Disease: an Immunometabolic Perspective: Immunometabolism is an emerging frontier in metabolic research, linked to a series of metabolic dysfunctions. Chronic low-grade inflammation is prevalent in obesity and aging. Nutrient sensing hormone ghrelin, functioning through its receptor growth hormone secretagogue receptor, GHS-R, promotes obesity and insulin resistance. We have found that GHS-R expression in macrophages increases under diet-induced obesity, DIO, and normal aging. Using a gene-targeting approach, we discovered that inactivation of GHS-R in macrophages attenuates DIO – and aging – associated inflammation and insulin resistance. Our studies suggest that GHS-R is a critical nutrient sensor linking immunity and metabolism; GHS-R may serve as a novel immunotherapeutic target for metabolic disease and aging.