Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Career Highlight: Nutritional Biochemist

As a nutritional biochemist, Bruce Daggy studies how food duels the body and affects health and disease. This month's issue of The Science Teacher wanted to highlight him, and so do we! Daggy is driven to see improved nutrition and better lifestyle habits incorporated into health care. He's previously done work with pharmaceuticals, sports nutrition and Third World nutrition, but his current work focuses on obesity's role in disease and heads the research and development division of Nutrisystem.

Daggy, who earned a BA in biology from the University of Virginia and a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from Cornell, says that while he has a passion for helping people get healthy, his favorite part of his job is hearing from customers and knowing that his work is making a difference in people's lives.

Daggy also explains that he was always interested in science, but didn't plan on a science career until his freshman year of college when he became interested in biology. Then, after college he was working with an anesthesiology researcher at a university hospital when he found a fascination with nutrition.

So what kind of skills are required to become a nutritional biochemist? Daggy insists that he wouldn't be able to do what he does without a PhD. He also notes that math skills and good record keeping skills come in handy when dealing with statistics and submitting studies to the FDA.

Daggy's advice for students is to work with people of different disciplines. While science sometimes promotes working in isolation, he explains that you can solve problems you couldn't solve on your own when you collaborate with others. Look for people whose knowledge compliments yours and adsorb as much math as you can. And, Daggy's last tip: internships. He states that they are a great way to explore different work environments and figure out which ones you like and don't like before you graduate.