Catherine Andersen, Program Director & Associate Professor
Dr. Catherine Andersen is an Associate Professor, and the Academic Program Director of the MS in Personalized Nutrition program, in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut. Her research employs clinical, nutrigenomic, and translational approaches to investigate the relationship between diet and lifestyle factors, metabolic health, and immune function in the context of acute and chronic diseases. Dr. Andersen teaches Clinical Nutrition and Advanced Clinical Nutrition.
Christopher Blesso, Associate Professor
Dr. Christopher Blesso is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut. He has been working at the University of Connecticut since 2013 and teaches graduate courses on macronutrient metabolism and regulation of energy balance. His research focuses on preventing cardiometabolic diseases through dietary modification, with an emphasis on pathways related to lipid metabolism. He conducts molecular nutrition and human nutrition studies, with the former using mouse models of human disease.
Molika Chea, Associate Director & Lecturer
Dr. Molika Chea is a Lecturer in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut. Her doctorate research focused on interviewing low-income populations in Connecticut about meeting the recommendations for plant-based food groups and the ability to identify whole-grain foods. She is also a registered dietitian and received the Commission on Dietetic Registration Faculty Fellowship Award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Dr. Chea is an exceptional teacher who received the CAHNRA Excellence in Teaching Award in 2021. She teaches several undergraduate courses and NUSC 5326 Principles of Nutritional Assessment course for the Master's in Personalized Nutrition Program.
Sangyong Choi, Assistant Professor
Dr. Sangyong Choi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut. His research in Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics has focused on understanding the interactions between genes and nutrients with a primary interest in zinc nutrition in physiological and pathophysiological conditions. Dr. Choi teaches graduate courses – Vitamins & Minerals, Precision Nutrition, and Nutrition & Gene Expression.
Ji-Young Lee, Professor and Department Head
Dr. Ji-Young Lee is a Professor and Head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut. Her research in Nutrigenomics centers around identifying molecular mediators involved in energy metabolism, inflammation, and fibrosis and how dietary factors play regulatory roles in the signaling pathways. In particular, studies on how dietary factors regulate histone deacetylases as an epigenetic mode of action to regulate gene expression in metabolic, inflammatory, and fibrogenic pathways are actively underway in her laboratory.
Maria Luz Fernandez, Professor Emeritus
Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez is a Professor Emeritus at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Fernandez was a faculty member at UConn for 25 years before she retired in 2022. Her area of research focuses on the effects of dietary strategies, life style factors and drug treatment to prevent cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. She has established the lack of association between eggs and heart disease risk factors. She has used the guinea pig as an animal model to study how diet and drugs affect lipid metabolism, inflammation, oxidative stress, fatty liver and atherosclerosis. She co-teaches the Vitamins and Minerals course.
Clinton Mathias, Associate Professor
Dr. Clinton Mathias is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut. He is an immunologist by training and completed his doctorate and post-doctorate work at UConn Health and Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, respectively. Dr. Mathias’s research focuses on the mechanisms by which mast cells mediate allergic responses. He is specifically interested in elucidating mechanisms governing mast cell homeostasis and activation during food allergy with an emphasis on understanding the roles of diet, epigenetic modifications, immunoregulatory cytokines, and crosstalk between immune cells.
Susan Mitmesser, Adjunct Professor
Dr. Susan Mitmesser is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut. She is currently Vice President of Science and Technology at Pharmavite, one of the largest dietary supplement companies in the world. She provides scientific leadership at Pharmavite to advance innovation and new product development strategies, and ensure the scientific integrity of all products made under its brand portfolio. She brings her extensive experience in US Food Laws and Regulation to the MSPN program.