Better Know a Nutrition Scientist: Meet Ali

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Every day, we at the IFIC Foundation are working hard to bring you great content by qualified experts. But who are these experts toiling away? In our series “Better Know a Dietitian” (or an expert in nutrition, food safety, or agriculture), we introduce you to the smart folks who make sure that you’ve got the very best information in food safety, agriculture, and nutrition.

We invite you to meet Ali Dostal Webster, PhD, RD, our Associate Director of Nutrition Communications. Ali joins us from the University of Minnesota, where she was a clinical nutrition researcher and registered dietitian. She is working to use her background in research and dietetics to translate science into a language that everyone can understand. In her free time, you can find her on the DC running and biking trails or scoping out new restaurants around town.

How I sum up my background in just one sentence: I collected data on what people ate and drank to find out how it affected their health, and then helped them translate and understand the information.

When I received my PhD: 2015, almost a year after I finished my dietetic internship and became a Registered Dietitian.

My favorite movie: Most of my favorite movies are best summed up as being cult classics, like The Room, Labyrinth, or Best in Show. Oh, and obviously Space Jam.

What most surprises people about nutrition researchers and RDs: We love food! And it’s not all vegetables, all the time – I love candy more than I should admit, and the photo above is of me eating gelato in Italy this past summer (aka my idea of heaven).

For breakfast this morning, I ate: Lately, my go-to has been roasted sweet potatoes and red onions with a fried egg. And always coffee.

My best memory of being a research RD so far: Getting the chance to connect with patients and research participants about their experiences with nutrition and the questions that they have on food and health. I know it’s not one specific memory and it might sound a little hokey, but it’s the truth – we learn the most from personal experiences, and their insights frequently helped us come up with new ideas to explore.

If I had to eat one meal the rest of my life it would be: orange gnocchi from Bar La Grassa in Minneapolis (this should be on everyone’s must-eat list!), bread with good, salted butter, and an apple (my favorite fruit).

A future goal of mine: I’d love to become fluent in another language. I’m about to begin Spanish lessons, so wish me luck!

One thing I cook well: Does making salads count? A well-composed salad is usually a sleeper hit of any pot luck. I also like to bake – quick breads and cookies are favorites of mine.

The best thing about working at FoodInsight is: being surrounded by people with such diverse skill sets, experience, and backgrounds. I’m always learning from my co-workers!