Two of our graduate students, Cynthia Tang and Jack Zheng, received the Rucker Family Fellowship! This is a great honor and a wonderful recognition of Cynthia and Jack’s accomplishments as PhD candidates in Nutritional Biology. Dr. Rucker was and still is one of my most valued mentors. When I was a graduate student in the program Dr. Rucker was still actively involved in research and teaching, and was doing wonderful work in the discovery and characterization of the impacts of PQQ on human health. Dr. Rucker was ahead of his time and was a strong supporter and advocate of my work in the area of what was then called “personalized nutrition” and is now referred to as Precision Nutrition. This was at a time when this concept of personalizing nutrition was not generally appreciated or accepted in the broader nutrition community. Dr. Rucker’s support was invaluable in helping me to achieve my goals and dreams. It is therefore even more of an honor to have some of my own students now receiving recognition in the form of the Rucker Family Fellowship ¬†for their work.

Cynthia is a computational guru who is exploring the contributions of glycosylation pathways in the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease, and how nutritional components may be involved in regulating these pathways. She is using cutting edge computational biology tools to explore the complex regulatory networks of glycosylation machinery in the human brain integrating RNA sequencing and -omic data. She is also interested in the interconnections between glycosylation and lipid metabolism and how this impacts brain health.

Jack is reviving the use of a tried but true imaging technology to study the most complex and difficult class of nanoparticles, high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Although electron microscopy (EM) is not new, it is still one of the only ways to “see” these tiniest of nanoparticles, which are only 5-12 nm in diameter, and therefore too small to image using most other techniques. EM is traditionally considered too cumbersome and difficult to image more than a few samples at a time. Jack is developing methods to use EM to image hundreds of clinical samples, including tens of thousands of HDL particles for every sample, to understand the biological variability in particle size and morphology.

Congratulations Cynthia and Jack!!