Our Team

team at thanksgiving 3



Barry PopkinShu Wen Ng

Jennifer Poti

Lindsey Smith-Taillie

Phil Bardsley

Donna Miles

Kuo-Ping Li

Emily Yoon

Jessica Ostrowski

Bridget Hollingsworth

Greg Bricker

Julie Wandell

Frances Dancy

Tania AburtoLauren Butler

Nancy Lopez

Lilia Pedraza

Elyse Powell

Juan Carlos Salgado



Barry Popkin PhotoBarry M. Popkin, Ph.D., W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, at UNC-CH
Barry has a PhD in Economics and established the Division of Nutrition Epidemiology at UNC. He has developed the concept of the Nutrition Transition, the study of the dynamic shifts in dietary intake and physical activity patterns and trends and obesity and other nutrition-related noncommunicable diseases and his research program focuses globally on understanding the shifts in stages of the transition and programs and policies to improve the population health linked with this transition (see www.nutrans.org). He has developed a series of international cohort studies (China, Russia, Cebu), fostered long-term research on the environmental and diet and activity in the US and been involved for decades in studying all facets of US dietary change with a focus on foods, eating locations, eating events, and portion sizes. He is actively involved at the national and global level in policy formulation for many countries, particularly Mexico and China. He has published 370 refereed journal articles, is one of the most cited nutrition scholars in the world, and is the author of a new book entitled the WORLD IS FAT (January 2009, Avery-Penguin Publishers), translated into 9 languages.

The craziest things I’ve ever eaten range from fish eyeballs to dozens of kinds of fried spiders and insects to poison-removed Japanese blowfish.
My family’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving when my entire Popkin family gets together for a 4-5-day period.
My favorite drink is great red wine.


Shu Wen Ng PhotoShu Wen Ng
Shu Wen is an Associate Research Professor in the Department of Nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Trained as a health economist, she is interested in studying the role of dietary change and shifts in physical activity patterns in weight gain among those experiencing rapid economic and social change. Some of her work involves investigating the basis for using food pricing policies to influence food purchases and dietary consumption, and how people and households spend time in food-related or physical activities. On the Global Food Research Program @ UNC team, Shu Wen leads studies that use commercial food purchase, food sales data and Nutrition Facts Panel data. Shu Wen has extensive modeling experience with multi-level and instrumental variable models, survival analysis/hazard modeling, propensity scoring, time-series and dynamic panel estimation analyses. She teaches National Nutrition Policy.

When I’m in a time crunch, I love to make avocado soup! Puree 3-4 ripe avocados with ~1 cup skim milk (adjust based on preference), dash of cayenne & black pepper, hint of salt, and juice of ½ a lime. Top with cooked shrimp and/or cilantro for garnish, and voila! Best if made a few hours ahead, chilled and served cold (great on a hot summer day!)
The craziest thing I’ve ever eaten is fried tarantula (in Cambodia).
After a good workout, nothing beats a glass of cold chocolate almond milk.


Jennifer Poti PhotoJennifer Poti
Jennifer Poti is a Research Assistant Professor at UNC Chapel Hill. Her background is in laboratory research, and she earned a degree from Johns Hopkins University in Molecular and Cellular Biology. She is interested in studying the association of obesity with eating away-from-home and decreases in home-cooked foods. Her current work has examined the influence of eating location on increasing calorie intake among US children, the role of fast food restaurants and schools in empty calorie consumption, and the association between fast food and at-home dietary intake. Her dissertation examined the effects of processed, ready-to-eat foods on dietary quality using our unique longitudinal commercial data set.

Favorite quote related to food: “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food.
My favorite food for fall is spaghetti squash! Just slice the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, place cut side down in a pan with a shallow layer of water, and bake for about 45 minutes. Then shred the squash, top your “spaghetti” with homemade marinara sauce, and enjoy!
When I’m in a time crunch, I love to make salads! I toss fresh greens and cherry tomatoes with oil and vinegar, add some sliced hard boiled eggs, and have a fast, easy lunch!


Lindsey Smith PhotoLindsey Smith-Taillie
Lindsey Smith-Taillie is a Research Assistant Professor of Nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Lindsey received her PhD in Nutrition, with a minor in epidemiology, from UNC, and a master of public health degree from Yale University. Lindsey’s research is focused on the intersection between dietary behaviors and obesity, in the context of changes in the social, economic, and food retail landscape, using nationally representative nutrition and health surveys, time use surveys, and datasets of household purchases. Lindsey’s work seeks to understand and eliminate local and global health disparities, by examining differential diet and health outcomes among low-income and race/ethnic minority populations in the US, as well as shifts in diet and anthropometry among countries with an increasing burden of obesity-related disease, such as China and Mexico. Currently her work with the Global Food Research Program @ UNC focuses on evaluating the effects of industry- and government-led food policy initiatives on food purchasing and nutrition, in the US and internationally.

When I’m feeling down, my “go to” comfort food is a bowl of iceberg lettuce, no dressing. Just kidding. A buttery, perfectly browned grilled cheese sandwich, all the way.
When I’m in a time crunch, I love to make salad. Chopping veggies is a great stress reliever, and I like to use frozen veggies, quinoa, or beans when I’m short on time. Add a splash of olive oil and balsamic and you’re good to go!
My favorite food for fall is: I love orange foods in the fall: stuffed sweet potatoes, butternut squash soup, pumpkin “pie” smoothies, apple cider…I can’t get enough!
My favorite condiment or topping is Marie Sharp’s hot sauce, by the gallon.


Phil Bardsley PhotoPhil Bardsley
Phil Bardsley has a Ph.D. in public health and has worked as a survey data analyst for 35 years. He has specialized in nutrition data for the past 7 of his 23 years at the Carolina Population Center, where he also manages the Research Programming Services unit. Phil loves to cook new vegetarian dishes and brew hoppy and unusual beers.

One of my family’s favorite recipes is: 3Miso Soup
We lived in Japan for two years and brought home a love of tofu. Here’s our favorite comfort food, our adaptation of a Japanese staple.

3 cups water
3 tablespoons white miso
3 sliced shiitake mushrooms
3-in square of dried kombu (kelp)
1/2 to 1 block of silken tofu cut into bite-sized pieces

Combine all except the tofu in a small pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the tofu and simmer for another 3 minutes. Remove the kombu before serving. We serve it over brown rice and garnish with spring onion slices.


Donna Miles

Kuo-Ping Li


Emily Yoon
Emily Yoon manages the Global Food Research Program @ UNC team of Research Assistants and helps coordinate the many team activities and tasks. Prior to working with the Global Food Research Program @ UNC, Emily worked as a Registered Dietitian in Pediatric Diabetes. After years translating current literature for her patients, Emily wanted to help do the research. She returned to school to pursue a Master’s in Public Health at UNC-CH. During that time she met the Global Food Research Program @ UNC team and began working as a grad student on the team. She quickly embraced the research environment and ever since has worked on the team of Research Assistants.

When I’m feeling down, my ‘go to’ comfort food is home-made mac and cheese.
My favorite combination of food and drink is a good glass of red wine with high quality cheese, bread and chocolate.
Favorite Quote about food by Wendell Berry: “Eating with the fullest pleasure – pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance – is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living in a mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.”
My favorite food comes in summertime, but I crave it year-round: fresh summer tomatoes (with a hefty dose of fresh basil)


Jessica Davis PhotoJessica Ostrowski
Jessica is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Public Health. She is a Research Assistant for the Global Food Research Program @ UNC. Her interests center primarily on studying the US food system as it relates to health, from food production to nutrient databases to consumers’ dietary behavior.

Favorite quote related to food: “As the days grow short, some faces grow long. But not mine. Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness comes early, I am suddenly happy. It’s time to start making soup again.” ~ Leslie Newman
My favorite food for fall is butternut squash.
My favorite food-related smell is peppers roasting in the oven.


Bridget Hollingsworth PhotoBridget Hollingsworth
Bridget is a Registered Dietitian with her Master’s Degree in Public Health from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-CH. She joined the Global Food Research Program @ UNC team as a Research Assistant after several years working in Community Health Centers as a Public Health Nutritionist. She enjoys learning about all things food-related, and with the Global Food Research Program @ UNC is constantly discovering new things about foods and drinks available in the US.

My least liked food is Brussels sprouts. (I know, I know… Somehow they still let me become an RD!)
My favorite food for fall is a baked Sweet Potato with cinnamon, butter, and brown sugar.
The first thing I learned to cook was Chili! When I was 3 or 4 years old, my father taught me the secret ingredient to his delicious chili – after I was in on the secret, I loved to join him at the Chili Cook-Off competitions and help cook and sell to the judges.


Greg Bricker
Greg Bricker is a Research Assistant with the Global Food Research Program @ UNC. He has a Master’s degree in Food Science from The Ohio State University, where he studied the effects of thermal processing on the metabolism and bioavailability of anti-cancer compounds in broccoli. Greg also has experience in the food industry, serving as a R&D intern at Nestlé. With the Global Food Research Program @ UNC, he works to estimate the amount of added sugars in consumer packaged goods, using a batch-mode, linear programming approach. Greg has always had a keen interest in reading food ingredient labels, which serves him well in this position.

Foods I must have in my home are Greek yogurt, fruit, and Raisin Bran.
My favorite food-related smell is snickerdoodle cookies baking in the oven.
Favorite quote related to food: “Everything is a poison… it is the dose which differentiates a poison from a remedy!” –Paracelsus (the “father” of toxicology)
My favorite song about food is Heyward Banks’ “Toast!”


Julie Wandell 1Julie Wandell
Julie is a Registered Dietitian with a Bachelor’s degree in Food Science and a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition/Dietetics. Before joining the Global Food Research Program @ UNC team as a Research Assistant, Julie worked in the food industry as a Nutrition Labeling Consultant. Her interests include research related to dietary intake and public health, such as trends in health behaviors and physical activity.

The craziest thing I’ve ever eaten is kangaroo in Australia.
My least liked food is a toss-up between olives and pickles.
After a good workout, nothing beats Greek yogurt and fruit.
My favorite food-related smell is freshly baked banana bread.



Tania Aburto

Jennie Lauren ButlerLauren Butler
Lauren Butler, RD/LDN, is a doctoral student in the Department of Nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Lauren obtained her BS degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from Florida International University in Miami, FL. Trained as a Registered Dietitian (RD), Lauren is interested in examining socio-demographic and behavioral determinants of nutrition-related disease outcomes among groups with health disparities. As part of the Global Food Research Program @ UNC team, Lauren worked as a Research Assistant to create a database linking foods purchased at the Universal Product Code level to foods consumed as reported in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.  Additionally, she was involved in work that will provide the foundation for monitoring saturated fat and added sugars in the US food supply. As a research dietitian Lauren has studied the nutrition transition among multi-ethnic and vulnerable populations including Canadian Inuit and Inuvialuit, Alaskan Native peoples, Japanese Brazilians, African Americans and US Preschoolers.

The most interesting thing I’ve ever eaten is muktuk: whale skin and blubber.  I tried boiled muktuk with a little HP Sauce at a traditional foods workshop in the community of Tuktoyaktuk, NWT, Canada.
My favorite food for winter is my grandma’s homemade chili. She uses lots of garlic, onions, tomatoes and love!  I aspire to make mine taste as good as hers.
My favorite condiment/topping is a toss-up between guacamole, salsa and ketchup!


Nancy LopezNancy Lopez
Nancy is a doctoral student in Nutrition Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health and research assistant for the Global Food Research Program @ UNC. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition for the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City, and a Master Degree in Health Sciences for the Public Health Mexican School in Cuernavaca, Morelos. She has worked in several projects related to diet analysis, including the last 24 hour recall from the National Health and Nutrition Survey in Mexico. Her work is currently focusing on the impact of taxes on sugar sweetened beverages and junk food in Mexico.

The craziest thing I’ve ever eaten is a kind of grasshopper with chili. It is a typical food of Southern Mexico.
When I’m in a time crunch, I like to make salad with lettuce, strawberries, mango, pear, walnuts, cranberries and cheese.

Lilia Pedraza

Elyse Powell
Elyse Powell is a doctoral student in Nutrition Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She has her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, where she worked in a laboratory studying sugar consumption in the context of models of addiction. Prior to starting the doctoral program at UNC, she worked as a junior policy associate for the New York Academy of Medicine, supporting their obesity prevention policy coalition. Her research interests are in economic and sociodemographic disparities in diet, and in particular how these factors relate to purchasing of dietary sugars.

My favorite condiment/topping is sriracha. I love spicy foods.
When I’m in a time crunch, I love to make ‘eggplant stew’; one diced eggplant, a large can of crushed tomatoes, and any other veggies that happen to be in my fridge, plus salt, pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Juan Carlos Salgado

Former Team Members/Alumni

Carolina Batis batis@email.unc.edu

Chris Ford cnford@email.unc.edu

Jiyoung Kang

Kevin Mathias kmathias@unc.edu

Carmen Piernas piernas@live.unc.edu

Dalia Stern sternd@live.unc.edu

Meghan Slining meghan.slining@furman.edu

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