The University of Texas Nutrition Institute had organized conferences and information sessions that combine culinary arts with in-depth nutritional research and science.

The Microbiome: Eat Your Way to a Healthy Gut

The University of Texas Coordinated Program in Dietetics class of 2017 created a continuing education program for Austin-area Registered Dietitians called The Microbiome: Eat Your Way to a Healthy Gut.

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The program included a lecture on emerging research related to the microbiome and its role in nutrition as well as a hands-on cooking demonstration of foods that promote a healthy microbiome. Research is just beginning to show how important having a healthy and diverse microbiome is to a person's health.

The students, with help from the experts in the UT Nutrition department, worked on the program since the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester.



The Mindful Conference 2014

The UTNI Mindful Conference in 2014 included educational sessions, culinary demonstrations, hands-on culinary workshops, interactive dialogs on an assortment of topics, food tastings and an opportunity to learn from talented chefs and nutrition faculty from UT.

Click to view or download the complete 2014 conference program.


UTNI Mindful Conference featured the following speakers:

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Dr. Ari Brown, M.D., FAAP, is a pediatrician, author, child health advocate, and a mom.

She has been in private practice for 18 years and is the Founder and CEO of 411 Pediatrics in Austin, TX. Her passion to educate families about children’s health goes beyond the office. She is the author of the bestsellling “411” parenting book series including Expecting 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for your Pregnancy, Baby 411, and Toddler 411. She has appeared on numerous national news and talk shows including the Today Show, CNN, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and Rachael Ray. You can see a small clip of her most recent Today Show appearance here.

She is a trusted voice for children’s health, serving as a medical advisor for Parents Magazine and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. She speaks to healthcare professionals and parenting groups across the country regarding accurate and compassionate health communications with families. Dr. Brown has received the prestigious Dr. Ralph Feigin Award and 2012 AAP award for her advocacy work.


Growing up in his family’s restaurant, David Bull learned the inner workings of a kitchen and the role a restaurant plays in the community. These experiences not only showed him his love of cooking, but also taught him that creating lasting memories through taste, smell and the feelings associated with them, connects people to each other. He believes a restaurant is responsible for growing these bonds and giving back to the community that supports it, and that philosophy drives everything he does at Congress, Second Bar + Kitchen and Bar Congress.

Chef Bull graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1994, and then joined The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas. He moved quickly through the ranks at The Mansion to earn distinction as the youngest-ever sous chef employed by the venerable hotel. He then moved to Austin, serving as executive chef of the Driskill Grill, where he and his team earned the Austin American-Statesman’s Number One Restaurant Award for three consecutive years. With Chef Bull at the helm, USA Today recognized the five-star Driskill Grill as one of the country’s Top 50 Hotel Restaurants.

Food and Wine Magazine honored Chef Bull as one of “The Best New Chefs 2003.” In 2006 he appeared on the Food Network as an Iron Chef America competitor. And in 2007, Chef Bull was nominated for the prestigious James Beard award for “Best New Chef Southwest.” In 2007 Chef Bull was named chef partner of La Corsha Hospitality Group, an Austin-based company that restores and operates historic landmark hotels. As chef partner he oversees all culinary operations for La Corsha Hospitality Group. In 2009 Chef Bull released his interactive cookbook, Bull’s Eye on Food, and helped start La Corsha Restaurant Partners, the creative team behind Congress, Second Bar + Kitchen and Bar Congress.  Get a feel for his culinary teaching style here.

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Formerly a professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Michele Forman has been appointed as a Bruton Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.

Forman—whose degrees include a BA from Rutgers University in medical anthropology and music and an MSPH in epidemiology,  an MA in nutritional anthropology, and a Ph.D. in nutritional epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—began her three decades-long research career examining maternal and child health with a special focus on pregnancy outcomes in disadvantaged populations.

As her research foci have shifted from low birth-weight to chronic disease, the stillpoint has remained fixed; she examines the developmental origins of disease. The epidemiologic, anthropometric, and dietary strands of her research career meet at the nexus of early life exposures and cancer, energy balance and cancer.

Chris Jolly

Dr. Christopher Jolly, PhD, came to the Department of Nutritional Sciences from a postdoctoral position at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Texas. While in San Antonio, he obtained a National Research Service Award grant from the National Institute on Aging.

His research area examines the influence of aging and diet on immune function with special emphasis on lipid metabolism and signal transduction. The lab is currently funded by the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health.

His lab examines how changes in fat metabolism regulate immune function in childhood/young adulthood through old age. Currently, they are using genetically altered animal models of fat metabolism to mimic an aged immune system and analyze the impact on prostate cancer development and progression and the production of new immune cells. His researchers are combining these animal models with dietary factors like changing fat amount (diet induced obesity) and type (omega-3 fatty acids) as well as phytochemicals (resveratrol) to modulate fat metabolism to determine their effects on immune function. The ultimate goal is to identify dietary factors to improve immune function and subsequent health at various stages of life.

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Dr. Molly Bray’s research focuses on the relationship between energy balance and lifestyle factors such as exercise, nutrition, and circadian patterns of behavior. Her recent findings related to the genetic underpinnings of exercise adherence and the relationship between timing and quality of energy intake and weight gain/metabolic health have been featured on national and international news programs, a myriad of websites, and popular news media. Click here to see a short video of Dr. Bray talking about her work.  

Bray currently leads one of the largest genetic studies of exercise adherence established to date, the Training Interventions and Genetics of Exercise Response (TIGER) study, with a total planned cohort of more than 5,000 individuals. Her research has included investigations of aerobic fitness and resting and exercise energy expenditure in children and adolescents, circadian studies of feeding and metabolic response, and clinical studies of morbidly obese adolescents undergoing bariatric surgery. A nationally recognized expert on the genetics of obesity, energy balance, and exercise response, Bray has published extensively in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals, with her work being featured at national and international scientific meetings. Bray has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and a Ph.D. in human and molecular genetics. She has served as the director of the Heflin Center for Genomic Sciences Genomics Core Laboratory at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine Genetics Core Laboratory.

sally bowman

Sally Bowman, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD, received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin).  Sally completed the Coordinated Undergraduate Program in Dietetics in 1985 and her Master’s Degree in Health Promotion and Fitness in 1989.  Sally has practiced as a dietitian in a variety of settings such as spas, fitness/wellness centers and colleges.

Since 1996, Sally has worked with Central Texas Nutrition Consultants where she  specializes in eating disorders, weight control and sports and cardiovascular nutrition.  She has a special interest in the use of food and supplements to help the body heal from illness and maximize energy.   Sally is a consulting sports dietitian for the athletics department at UT-Austin where she is able to combine her love for sports and her keen interest in performance nutrition.   In 2007, Sally was among the first group of registered dietitians to receive the newly available board certification as a sports dietitian (CSSD).

jess kolko dietician

After over 15 years of kitchen experience in a variety of restaurants, Jess Kolko, RD, LD knew that there must be a better way to teach people that they really are what they eat.

As a devotee of whole, natural foods, Jess already knew what was good for us, but as an information and science enthusiast she wanted to know why. She returned to school to obtain an additional degree in Nutrition with honors at the University of Texas at Austin. Once she acquired her Registered Dietitian credential Jess joined the Global Healthy Eating Team at Whole Foods Market as the Healthy Eating Registered Dietitian and Culinary Educator. When not helping to change the health landscape of America through innovations in the grocery retail space, Jess can often be found running, biking, and swimming in the hot and happy town of Austin, Texas. She is a multiple marathon and Ironman finisher.

The Mindful Conference 2013

The UTNI Mindful Conference in 2013 included educational sessions, culinary demonstrations, hands-on culinary workshops, interactive dialogs on an assortment of topics, food tastings and an opportunity to learn from talented chefs and nutrition faculty from UT. Click to view or download the complete conference program. UTNI Mindful Conference featured the following speakers:

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Dr. Michelle May is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How To Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat was awarded seven awards for publishing including Best Health Book, Best Body-Mind-Spirit Book, Best Nutrition Book, and Best Self-Help Book. called Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat one of the Top 10 Notable New Diet Books for 2010 (though Dr. May insists that it is actually a how-not-to-diet book).

Dr. May is a Board Certified Family Physician with 14 years of clinical experience in Phoenix, Arizona. She has “retired” from practice to focus on mindful eating. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Arizona State University and her Medical Degree from the University of Arizona College of Medicine. She completed a three-year Family Medicine Residency at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona where she served as Chief Resident.


Additional speakers included Chef David Bull. Michele Forman, PhD, Linda Degraffenried, PhD and Jaimie Davis, PhD.