American Society For Nutrition

Interview with Dr. Katy Tucker, Editor of Advances in Nutrition

Interview with Dr. Katy Tucker, Editor of Advances in Nutrition

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
A Conversation with Advances in Nutrition Editor-in-Chief Dr. Katherine Tucker

Dr. Katherine Tucker began her five-year term as the new Editor-in-Chief for ASN's prestigious review journal, Advances in Nutrition, in August.  Advances is the first review journal for ASN, and joins The Journal of Nutrition and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition to form the Nutrition Science Collection.  Under Dr. Tucker's leadership, Advances provides a synthesized view of the latest research and current best practices in all areas of nutrition as well as insight into ongoing controversies and suggestions for future investigation. Dr. Tucker also acts as Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology in the Department of Clinical Laboratory & Nutritional Sciences at U-Mass Lowell.  She previously served as an associate editor for The Journal of Nutrition and for the British Journal of Nutrition, and is currently an associate editor for Public Health Nutrition. She is an immediate past chair of ASN's Nutritional Sciences Council where she led the graduate student award competition. In this interview, Dr. Tucker discusses her current research and her views on the state of the nutrition field, her vision for the future of Advances in Nutrition, and her experience as an active, long-term ASN member.

Interviewer: How would you describe the nutrition field?  What are the biggest challenges facing nutrition researchers and clinicians in the coming years?

Dr. Tucker: It's an exciting time to be in nutrition science, but at the same time, the pace of research has accelerated so rapidly that it is difficult for those of us in the field, researchers and clinicians alike, to keep up with everything that's being discovered.  The volume of information: the new developments in genetics and metabolomics, methodology, computer algorithms, and complex multi-level analyses have amazing potential to further advance what we know about diet and health. So it is exciting, and there are continued opportunities for lifelong learning, but it can be difficult to stay abreast of it all. 

Interviewer: What role do scholarly journals like Advances in Nutrition play in addressing such challenges and how does Advances in particular offer a unique opportunity to do so?

Dr. Tucker: The sheer volume of research out there is precisely what makes a review journal like Advances in Nutrition so important.  As we begin to view nutrition science as a much more integrated and interdisciplinary field, there are so many individual articles relevant to our research and clinical work that it is impossible for everyone in nutrition to be an expert in every part of nutrition research, especially as it reaches from social sciences to genetics.  Advances in Nutrition allows us to present information from experts in nutrition subfields in ways that researchers and clinicians can digest in a shorter amount of time. By having these summarized articles, we can keep up with the cutting-edge work without having to read all the individual articles, making it easier for us to understand some of these complex new methodologies. Advances is where you can go to get the summarized updates or reviews that help you understand the complex and diverse aspects of nutrition that can help to inform your own work.

Interviewer: How did you initially get involved with Advances in Nutrition? What do your duties as editor-in-chief entail, and how do you envision the publication changing in the next few years?

Dr. Tucker: I started many years ago by reviewing for the different ASN journals. I then worked with The Journal of Nutrition as an associate editor.  When I was offered the opportunity to become the editor-in-chief for Advances, I was delighted to take the lead here.

We are already making some changes to the journal: we're expanding the editorial board and the breadth of the associate editors.  We will be recruiting review articles from more diverse aspects of the field. We are additionally very interested in taking on more controversial topics so that in addition to standard systematic reviews, Advances will be a journal where we can provide a more open forum for publishing on controversies, hypotheses, and new theories.

Interviewer: What advice would you give to ASN members interested in getting involved with the organization's publications?

Dr. Tucker: Volunteer, attend all of the ASN meetings and activities, get involved in the research interest sections, and let the journal editors know that you do want to review for the journal. The more you volunteer, the more you will be asked to do.  Your interests and efforts will always be welcome.

Interviewer: Could you tell us a bit about your current research interests?

Dr. Tucker: I'm a nutritional epidemiologist with a specific focus on diet and health. I'm particularly interested now in dietary quality and its effects on metabolism and chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and osteoporosis.  Beyond that, I'm interested in how the interactions between diet and disease contribute to health disparities in low-income populations.

Interviewer: What drew you to pursue a career in nutrition? Where in your career path did you encounter ASN?

Dr. Tucker:
I've always been interested in nutrition. When I was in high school, I used to read Jean Meyer's columns on nutrition and ended up working for him many years later when he served as President of Tufts University.  I didn't know in high school that I could have a career in nutrition, but at the University of Connecticut I discovered that there was a wonderful program and many wonderful opportunities to explore in the field.
I then joined ASN as a graduate student in nutrition at Cornell because it was (and is) the association that all of my professors were involved in. The wonderful thing about ASN is that over the years I have been a member, I have watched it grow so many of the sub-areas of nutrition.  As a result of those efforts, ASN has reached a point where we have expansive representation on everything from complex molecular biology to food policy.

Interviewer: How has ASN been most helpful to you in your professional career?

Dr. Tucker: ASN has been absolutely central to my career via networking at the annual meeting and other events and through the many, many opportunities to volunteer and work with colleagues to co-author papers or develop ideas for other kinds of research.  It's difficult to quantify the impact that ASN has had on my career because it has been so important!  

December 2013