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Julie Hess



Julie Hess, Ph.D.


Contact Information

(701) 795-8146


Dr. Hess received Bachelor of Arts degrees in French and English from the University of Texas at Austin and earned a doctoral degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. Before joining the USDA ARS Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center (GFHNRC) as a Research Nutritionist, Dr. Hess served as Vice President of Scientific Affairs for the National Dairy Council. She is an active member and volunteer with several nutrition and scientific organizations, including the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), the National Nutrient Databank Conference, and the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), and currently serves as Chair of the Nutrition Translation Research Interest Section with ASN, a member of ASN’s Publications Committee, a member of the Annual Meeting Scientific Program Advisory Panel for IFT, and Content Chair for IFT’s Nutrition Division. She is also an adjunct assistant professor and member of the graduate faculty within the Department of Nutrition & Dietetics at the University of North Dakota.

Research Interests

Dr. Hess’s research is centered on identifying and evaluating strategies to help Americans meet recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Broadly, her work involves investigating how American diets currently align with dietary guidance and recognizing and addressing barriers to following recommendations, including dietary restrictions and dietary and cultural preferences. Recent studies from her lab focus on the role of “ultra-processed” foods in healthy eating patterns, the flexibility of DGA dietary patterns to accommodate a variety of vegetarian and vegan diets throughout adulthood including during pregnancy and lactation, and the ability of diets comprised of traditional Indigenous foods to meet contemporary nutrient recommendations.

Research Accomplishments

  • Established that healthy dietary patterns aligned with recommendations from the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) can contain >90 % energy from “ultra-processed foods” as defined by the NOVA system
  • Demonstrated that the food patterns recommended for adults by the 2020 DGA can be modified to accommodate vegan, egg-free, dairy-free, pescatarian, and “pesca-vegan” diets with minimal impact on nutrient adequacy, including during pregnancy and lactation
  • Developed a multidisciplinary collaboration to identify foods traditionally consumed (pre-1851) by Indigenous communities in the Northern Great Plains and designed a healthy dietary pattern using these foods that resonates with modern consumer palates and food preparation practices
  • Established that whole- and reduced-fat dairy products can be included in recommended USDA food patterns from the 2015 DGA with minimal impacts on energy and saturated fat intake
  • Determined the lowest cost food sources for nutrients of public health concern (calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and fiber) in the American diet
  • Established that “snacking” as an eating occasion was poorly defined in the nutrition literature and that, in cross-sectional studies, “snacks” were largely comprised of nutrient-poor foods, indicating an important opportunity to encourage nutrient-dense choices