Editor’s note: Nancy Hudson, the assistant program director of the UC Davis nutrition department, has had the chance to visit 72 different countries to pursue her professional and recreational interests. She recently sat down with The California Aggie to discuss her travels, her career in dietetics and more.
What courses do you teach at Davis?
I teach food service management. That’s a series of three courses: a lecture course that focuses mostly on food, a laboratory course in which we actually go out into facilities to work in food service and then a third course which focuses on food relations, food resources management, budgeting, finances, that kind of stuff.
When did you begin working at UC Davis?
I transferred here from [UC] Berkeley in January of 2006.
And were you teaching similar courses at Berkeley?
I was teaching community nutrition and also doing the management there. I also teach medical nutrition therapy lab [here at UC Davis]. I was not teaching medical nutrition therapy at Berkeley.
Could you tell me a little more about your professional interests?
I’m a little different than most faculty in that I’m masters trained, I am not a Ph.D., and I don’t do research. My major area of interest is curriculum and curriculum design, so in addition to teaching here I accredit dietetic education programs throughout the country. Two weeks from now, I’m going to a school in Illinois to accredit their program. I’ll be going to another one in Cleveland in the spring and I did two last spring: one in Colorado and one in Milwaukee. So my [two] areas of expertise are management and accreditation curriculum design.
You said you’ve been out of town this last week.… Where were you?
I was at the American Dietetic Association meeting in Chicago. It’s called the Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition.
It [was] a good experience, it’s a good meeting. But when you’re teaching nutrition you don’t learn a whole lot new at the meeting – you mostly use it for networking and finding out what the newest trends in education are so you can bring home new ideas.
Do you work as a dietician right now?
I did work as a dietician. My master’s degree was in clinical nutrition, clinical nutrition therapy (it’s called now), but that was a long time ago. I taught and then I worked, taught, and then worked and my last position was managing clinical nutrition services, but my boss left, so I ended up managing the entire food service.
When I went to Berkeley in 1992, I was told I could teach anything that I wanted to teach, but that I had find someone to teach everything else, since I was managing the program there. I never could find anyone to teach management, so I decided to start teaching it. I liked management so well, that I continued teaching it and eventually wrote a textbook for management courses.
When you say clinical dietetics, what do you mean?
Clinical dietetics is the branch of the profession that takes care of sick people. If you have diabetes, then the clinical dietician will help you use your food to control the diabetes. If you have heart disease, it’s the clinical dietician’s role to help you identify which foods are good and which foods aren’t good and then help you facilitate change.
What sort of interesting opportunities have you had?
I do so many things in addition to teaching and writing. I consult at the American University in Beirut, I’ll be going over there in December to work for a week. I work with a university in Japan to bring their students here in the summertime to do an in-depth course in nutrition and dietetics. I have done work as an expert witness for medical legal suits on wrongful death.… You get to [examine] medical work records and get to see things from the lawyer’s perspective instead of from the medical perspective, so that’s kind of an interesting thing that I do. I [also] consult for babycenter.com and I do some writing for them.
What’s your favorite part about teaching?
In the short term, it’s watching the students learn, but in the long term it’s watching them get better than me. So when they come back and say, “I published a book,” or, “I’ve gotten this great new job,” or they’re profiled in a magazine, that’s just great!
Do you live in Davis?
Oh, well that’s kind of an interesting question. My grandkids are in the Bay Area, where I lived when I taught at Berkeley, so we still live in that house. But it’s too long to drive up here every day. So we have a camper and we live in a camper the days that I’m up here.
So, what other interests do you have?
Travel and grandkids.
How old are your grandkids?
Two, three and four.
How many countries have you been to?
Seventy-two, and we’re going to add two this winter. We’re going to Lebanon to work and then to Jordan and Cypress.
Do you have any favorite places that you would like to revisit?
The best place I ever visited was Machu Picchu in Peru; [the] Inca ruins – they’re outstanding. The second most beautiful thing I’ve ever done was snorkeling in the Red Sea off the shore of Saudi Arabia
Is there anything that you would like to add?
Yes, related to food and culture. One of the things that I try really hard to get across to students is that different is different – it’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s just different. And it’s really difficult when you’re teaching about food for people to understand that it’s OK to eat mealy bugs, insects, raw fish, when it’s not part of their culture. So, the students in this major need to learn to respect different food ways, and not make faces when someone tells them that they have eaten something that sounds really awful, like guinea pig. So, I try to stretch that from food to other cultural patterns because I think that’s really important.
DARCEY LEWIS can be reached at email@example.com.