Rhonda Bell

Rhonda Bell, Professor, Department of Agriculture, Food & Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


I have long-standing interest in promoting maternal-child health through optimal dietary intake and nutrition. To this end, I have conducted studies in animal models (NSERC-funded) and humans (ENRICH: Promoting Appropriate Weights in Pregnancy and Postpartum; Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON); Sweet Moms)) to examine the interactions between maternal nutritional intake in pregnancy, particularly refined sugars, and long-term health of mothers and their offspring. Most of my work focuses on health outcomes related to increased adiposity, insulin resistance, impaired insulin secretion, increased risk of diabetes and compromised nutritional intake. I have made important contributions in this area as primary author on the Health Canada background paper that was used in revising the weight gain guidelines for pregnancy (2010) and as senior author on a manuscript documenting that 56% of women in the APrON cohort gain weight in excess of these new guidelines.

I have worked on many successful, multi-disciplinary, collaborative teams related to nutrition across the lifespan and lifestyle interventions, including ENRICH (PI; 15 investigators), Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) study (Co-I; 13 investigators), Sweet Moms (PI; 9 investigators), Physical Activity and Nutrition for Diabetes in Alberta (PANDA, Co-I Nutrition Strategy; 13 investigators), and clinical trials examining the efficacy of dried beans/peas on heart health (PI: 9 investigators) and gut health (Co-I: 6 investigators). I have run an NSERC-funded, lab-based research program since 1995. These projects use methods that range from basic physiology/biochemistry to qualitative studies of behaviours and motivators. I have a strong appreciation for the value of these different methodological approaches and the importance of integrating information from these different methods to identify solutions to complex issues. Through my involvement in these studies, my administrative responsibilities at the University of Alberta (e.g. Chair, Nutrition/Food Science Undergraduate Program; University Executive Committees) and my teaching portfolio (10 different courses over 13 years; Introductory Nutrition with >400 students/yr; Nutrition Research courses to >50 students/yr) I have developed the administrative skills to manage, make decisions and set priorities to ensure the timely execution of projects. I have supervised 17 graduate-level trainees and >90 undergraduate student conducting research projects. Through this I have developed a broad range of people-skills and a communication style that motivates others to act responsibly and achieve our common goals.