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June 6, 2007

Purdue Department of Foods and Nutrition honors five for contributions to field

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue Department of Foods and Nutrition inducted five people into its Hall of Fame, which recognizes Purdue alumni and other professionals who have made a significant contribution to the varied fields of foods and nutrition and established a unique record during their work and life.

The Hall of Fame Awards, announced at a May 4 luncheon in the Purdue Memorial Union East Faculty Lounge, honor people who have made significant contributions to academia, industry and their communities.

The 2007 recipients are:

* R. Paul Abernathy, who was head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition from 1974-1991. He received his bachelor's degree from Berry College, his master's degree from the University of Georgia and his doctorate from Cornell University. His research primarily centered on protein needs of children, but in later years he focused on obesity and longevity with an emphasis on healthy lifestyle. During his tenure at Purdue, external grants for research increased from $30,000 to more than $1.5 million per year.

* Helen E. Clark, who was on faculty in the department from 1954 until her retirement in 1977. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1939 and her doctorate from the University of Iowa in 1950. Researchers today continue to reference her pioneering work in protein metabolism and amino acids. Her work on the adult requirements for lysine has been widely used by national and international policymakers to formulate changes for improved nutrition that impact world food problems. She was the first woman to receive a distinguished professor designation at Purdue. Clark died in 2001.

* Avanelle Kirksey, who is the Meredith Distinguished Professor of Foods and Nutrition Emeritus and the second woman named a distinguished professor at Purdue. She was on the faculty in foods and nutrition since 1961. Kirksey received her bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas, a master's degree from the University of Tennessee and a doctorate from Penn State University. From 1982-1992, she was principal investigator for the Nutrition Collaborative Research Support Program, a joint effort among scientists from several disciplines in the United States, Egypt, Kenya and Mexico to test the effects of marginal malnutrition on human functions.

* Karen L. Konzelmann received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Purdue in foods and nutrition. She is a certified health education specialist and has worked in nutrition education and nutrition research for more than 30 years. In the 1980s, she joined Purdue's Department of Foods and Nutrition as coordinator of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. In 1993 she was asked to establish a partnership position with the Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Baylor College of Medicine at the Childrens Nutrition Research Center in Houston. Her focus was to foster increased communication between nutrition research and education across the land-grant system.

* Barbara Shannon received her doctorate from Purdue. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee and a master's degree from the University of Illinois. She became assistant professor at Penn State University and retired in 1999 as dean emerita of the College of Health and Human Development and distinguished professor of nutrition. Her research focused on eating behavior as it impacts on disease prevention and health promotion, and her studies were funded by both private and public sector foundations and agencies.

Foods and nutrition has been a department in the College of Consumer and Family Science  since its inception in 1927. The Hall of Fame includes Diane Birt, Mary Fuqua, Sarah Johnson, Sue Palmore, Karyl Rickard, Linda Van Horn, Virginia Hartmuller, Karen Jamesen, Judith Roepke, James Thomas and current department head Connie Weaver.

More information on each honoree is available at

Writer: Maggie Morris, (765) 494-2432,

Source: A. Marlene Troyer, (765) 494-1340,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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