FSHN Faculty Named Jane Armstrong Endowed Chair of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Faculty News Honors and Awards News
Sarah Francis receives her medallion from Dean Jolly

The College of Human Sciences (CHS) and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) are pleased to announce Dr. Sarah Francis as the Jane Armstrong Endowed Chair of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

Awarded through the College of Human Sciences and the Iowa State University Foundation, endowed chairs and professor positions are considered the most esteemed positions in academia. This endowed chair enhances and strengthens the department through awarding exceptional leaders in the field of preventative nutrition.

Francis, an associate professor with FSHN, was previously the Lura M. Lovell Faculty Fellow, (CHS) as of 2019. Since joining FSHN faculty in 2009, Francis has worked on a number of Iowa State Extension projects to improve the lives of older adults. Her career highlights include extensive experience participating in evaluating and assessing the short- and/or long-term impacts and outcomes of nutrition, food safety, and wellness programs.

“I am humbled and excited to be named the Jane Armstrong Chair in Food Science and Human Nutrition,” Francis said. “This professorship will support community nutrition and health Extension, and research activities and the training of future nutrition, dietetics, and/or gerontology professionals.”

As a Nutrition Extension State Specialist for Iowa State, Francis’ goal is to develop community-based nutrition programs and materials that produce measurable behavioral changes. She has received and managed over $2.9 million in grant funding for community and educational projects, including current projects: Undergraduate Student Training in Aging Research (STAR) Internship: A comprehensive translational, multistate nutrition experience; and the National Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging: A partnership with Iowa and the Administration for Community Living (ACL).

“On behalf of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, I am pleased to see the Jane Armstrong Chair in Food Science and Human Nutrition bestowed on Dr. Francis,” said Lorraine Lanningham-Foster, interim chair of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. “Sarah is a leader in the field of Dietetics as well as Human Sciences Extension and Outreach.  She exemplifies the characteristics intended by the donors. We are excited to see the impact of this honor has for Dr. Francis, the department and college, and ultimately the students and community members who will benefit from her work.”

The Jane Armstrong Endowed Chair is named for Jane (Janie) Armstrong-Byrne, who graduated from Iowa State with high honors in 1957. She immediately pursued a career as a Registered Dietitian (RD), and remained one her entire working career.

In addition to her time as an RD, Armstrong-Byrne was a part of sweeping nutritional advancements for consumers. As Vice President for Consumer Affairs for Jewel Food Stores (1971), the company was the first to develop open dating on milk, dairy, and other perishable products. Prior to this innovation, freshness dates were logged in code that consumers could not understand.

In addition to her long career, Armstrong-Byrne served on several national committees at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In her service, she assisted in the development of nutritional labeling to allow consumers to identify the nutrient content of a product. She also led grocers to use unit pricing where the price per ounce was listed on all packaged products. In 1970, Armstrong-Byrne was named outstanding Young Alumnus of Iowa State, and in 2019, FSHN granted her the department’s Distinguished Alumnus Award for her significant contributions to the dietetics and nutrition fields.