Sarah Francis, right, associate professor and Nutrition and Wellness Extension State Specialist, is presented a plaque in recognition of her being named the Lura M. Lovell Faculty Fellow by Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair.

Francis named Lura M. Lovell Faculty Fellow

Sarah Francis, associate professor and Nutrition and Wellness Extension State Specialist in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, has been named the Lura M. Lovell Faculty Fellow.

Created by the David C. and Lura M. Lovell Foundation, the Lura M. Lovell Fellowship honors Lura Lovell, who graduated from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at Iowa State in 1951. The fellowship originally was established to fund faculty fellowships in the College of Human Sciences to support research in dietary supplements. It recently was updated to also support research in integrative health and wellness. Suzanne Hendrich, who retired from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition in December 2017, held the fellowship previously.

Since joining the food science and human nutrition faculty in 2009, Francis has worked on a number of Extension projects to improve the lives of older adults. Those projects include developing the Wellness and Independence through Nutrition (WIN) food assistance program for older adults, working with the Department of Public Health to evaluate the SNAP-Ed program, and creating Stay Independent: A Healthy Aging Series.

Part of the Stay Independent program involves curriculum that teaches individuals how to cook healthy, low-cost meals for one or two people. Program participants learn the importance of eating three meals a day and including fruits, vegetables and protein into those meals. They’re also provided with exercise tips to get them moving more.

Francis will use the money from the fellowship to fund undergraduate research assistant positions and conduct pilot tests for the research projects and Extension programs on which she is working.

When it comes to deciding what type of research to do, Francis said she goes “wherever the needs lead me.” If she sees a health- or wellness-related need in a community, she’ll work on creating a program to address the issue. She’s constantly assessing the research projects, asking participants for their thoughts to gauge if they would continue to take part in a program after the study concludes.

“It’s the research that guides where I go,” she said.

Originally from North Carolina, Francis said she chose to come to Iowa State because of how strong Extension is in Iowa.

“I am grateful that my journey led me to Iowa State. I continually feel challenged and rewarded with the work I do here,” Francis said.