Dr Kathleen M. Rasmussen is the Nancy Schlegel Meinig Professor of Maternal and Child Nutrition in the Division of Nutritional Sciences and International Professor of Nutritional Science at Cornell University. She received her AB degree from Brown University in molecular biology and both her ScM and ScD degrees from Harvard University in nutrition. Professor Rasmussen is internationally known for her research on maternal and child nutrition. Her research has included studies in experimental species, observational and intervention studies in human subjects in the US and several developing countries, and epidemiologic studies based on data from medical records and large cohorts. She and her students have established that interventions to improve maternal nutritional status can increase the volume and improve the composition of human milk and, thereby, improve infant nutritional status. They have also shown that women who are overweight or obese at conception have problems establishing and maintaining breastfeeding and have babies who are heavier at one year of age than those of normal-weight women. In addition, they have shown that there is a trade-off between meeting the needs of the pregnant or lactating mother and the needs of her fetus/breastfed infant, respectively. Most recently, her students have explored many aspects of the process of using human milk expression to meet breastfeeding goals.
Professor Rasmussen has been a member of several expert committees at the Institute of Medicine. She served as the chair of the Committee on Reexamination of IOM Pregnancy Weight Guidelines, and more recently as the Chair of the Committee to Review WIC Food Packages. Her research was recognized by the Agnes Higgins Award of the American Public Health Association in 2012 and the Macy-Gyorgy Award of the International Society for Research on Human Milk and Lactation in 2016. She the Conrad A. Elvehjem Award for Public Service in Nutrition from the American Society for Nutrition in 2017.
Professor Rasmussen has served as program director for two NIH-sponsored training grants in maternal and child nutrition. She teaches a nationally recognized course in maternal and child nutrition for graduate students that support these training grants. She also teaches a unique course on public health nutrition for undergraduate students. In 2006, she was the first recipient of the Excellence in Nutrition Education Award from the American Society for Nutrition. Continuing her long interest in mentoring the future leaders in nutrition, Dr Rasmussen helped to develop the Dannon Nutrition Leadership Institute in 1998 and served as its principal faculty member until it ended in 2017. She received the Dannon Institute Mentorship Award from the American Society for Nutrition in 2009.
At Cornell, Professor Rasmussen has served as what is now called the Director of Graduate Studies in the Division of Nutritional Sciences; she is currently the Director of Undergraduate Studies. She was elected by the University Faculty to serve as the Associate Dean and Secretary of the University Faculty and subsequently as a member of Cornell's Board of Trustees elected by the University Faculty.