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Message from the Director

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LSU AgCenter, College of Agriculture name new director of School of Nutrition and Food Sciences

Dr. Louise WickerBATON ROUGE, La – Louise Wicker, a food scientist who spent much of her career on the faculty at the University of Georgia, has been named director of the LSU AgCenter and College of Agriculture School of Nutrition and Food Sciences.

Wicker started on July 1.

She spent 27 years at the University of Georgia where she was an assistant professor, then professor of food science and technology. There she coordinated the Master of Food Technology, a part-time degree program for full-time working professionals in the food industry, and managed the transition to a fully online degree program.

Wicker also served as the team leader of UGA’s Food Ingredients and Obesity group under the university’s obesity initiative. Wicker was drawn to the AgCenter because the school includes both nutrition and food sciences as well as the school’s relationship with Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

“Nutrition and Food Sciences is a great program. It has the right elements in place, and it is unique in the country,” Wicker said.

Wicker said she is interested in expanding the health and wellness programs to address obesity.

“The Southeast is the obesity belt, and obesity is home for so many chronic health problems,” she said.

Wicker also wants to engage the food industry in the process to help develop healthier food products and to develop, validate and craft messages to consumers that will help them buy and consume healthful foods.

“You can’t just say, ‘Broccoli is good for you, eat your broccoli,’” she said. “That broccoli has to be in a food form that the consumer wants to eat, and the message has to resonate with the consumer. We have to change our message to change lifestyles.”

Wicker describes herself as a foodie but realizes not everyone has a passion for food as she does. She said the food industry needs to have what she calls “food for the rest of us” – food that meets taste, cost and convenience criteria. She also said food scientists have to help make healthier an easier choice for consumers.

Food safety is a priority under the health and wellness umbrella, Wicker said. “Ensuring food safety with all players in the value-added chain from production to consumption is integral to our mission, with programs that work with private industry and regulatory bodies and those that teach people how to choose foods and to prepare them safely,” she said.

Wicker received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson University and received a doctorate from North Carolina State University.

Her research has focused mainly on pectin chemistry and looking at pectin as a delivery vehicle for encapsulated nutrients or antioxidants and as a means to protect beneficial nutrients in foods from damages of processing and digestion.

Louise Wicker can be reached at 225-578-5207 or lwicker@agcenter.lsu.edu.

revised: 10-Mar-2017 10:20