Richard D. Lewis, professor of foods and nutrition, has been named to the University of Georgia Foundation Professorship in Family and Consumer Sciences.
“Since joining the College of Family and Consumer Sciences in 1986, Dr. Lewis has excelled in teaching, research and outreach,” said FACS Dean Linda K. Fox. “His research on topics related to bone strength have been on the cutting edge, and he has incorporated the newest research findings into the courses he regularly teaches on life-cycle nutrition and medical nutrition therapy, as well as seeking opportunities for students to engage in service-learning projects.”
Lewis spent his first five years at the university as a nutrition and health specialist in the Cooperative Extension, focusing on programs related to weight control for adults and healthy lifestyles for children. In 1992, his focus shifted to teaching and research and he began exploring the impact of gymnastics on bone strength.
Lewis’ research was one of two projects published nationally in 1995, putting him at the forefront of the field. Among the unique aspects of the project was the use of non-gymnast controls.
Lewis has gone on to measure bone strength in retired competitive gymnasts at the ages of 35 and 45, and is now beginning to look at 55-year-old former gymnasts to gauge whether higher bone strength continues into the menopausal years. He also has looked at children as young as 4 to determine when differences begin.
Lewis has pioneered federally funded research into the role of vitamin D in developing bone strength in children, a topic he will lecture on in a May conference in Switzerland, as well as conducting research on the use of soy isoflavones to counteract menopause-related bone loss in women. He also has begun research focusing on the role a common virus may play in bone strength among obese children.
“I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to have the support of my family, colleagues, administrators and graduate students,” Lewis said. “I’m very humbled to receive this professorship and look forward to the opportunities it provides to further the teaching, research and outreach missions of the university.”