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FCS Connections, November 2020

Director's Message

“Gratitude” is one of my favorite — if not most coveted — words. In fact, there are versions of this word peppered around both my home and office. I am tremendously grateful for all the frontline workers helping keep us safe, healthy, fed, clothed and sane during this pandemic. I am grateful for this beautiful world in which we live and humbled by the liberties we too often take for granted. Whereas many parents feel pride when they see their children accomplish great things, I instead feel grateful. Indeed, an attitude of gratitude is something I strive to emulate on a daily basis.

As director of the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences I am often struck by the attitude of gratitude combined with commitment to serving that radiates from our faculty, staff and students. This takes many forms, such as the tremendous amount of thoughtful work our faculty have put into making sure each and every student receives a world class FCS education — even in this unsettling time of COVID-19. Our dedicated faculty have been burning the candle at both ends to make this situation work, often with very few accolades in return.

For instance, imagine the challenges Katie Miner had this fall organizing and facilitating the holiday recipe competition. Not only did she have to figure out how the student teams would develop their recipes while following all the university’s health regulations (e.g., masks, social distancing), but she had to devise a way for a dozen judges to safely and adequately taste each recipe and provide face-to-face feedback to the creators. Katie succeeded beautifully, and the students were incredibly grateful that the event could be held, and a winner chosen (actually, two teams won this year).

And imagine the challenges that our apparel, textiles and design faculty have had teaching classes such as patternmaking, weaving and product development to a mix of students who sometimes come to class and other times decide to stay home and “Zoom in.” Boy have they come up with some creative solutions. For instance, Chelsey Lewallen used social media to solicit sewing machines from community members willing to part with them for the semester so that home-bound students could complete their projects. And Sonya Meyer has figured out a way to allow some students to temporarily move large weaving looms into their homes. Bravo!

There are no words to express how grateful I am for these and so many other solutions to our many challenges. As such, I dedicate this issue of FCS Connections to the amazing, dedicated and gifted faculty of the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences for continuing to deliver exceptional learning experiences in this extraordinary time. Thank you.

Shelley McGuire signature imageSincerely,

Shelley McGuire
Director and Professor of Nutrition


Our Stories

Thread of Sustainability

Hops are famous for adding bitterness, flavor and aroma to beer.

The hop flower, or cone, is used in the brewing process while the remaining plant, or bine, is often mulched into compost. But what if that hops waste could be used for something else — maybe something you’d want to wear? That’s the question University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences student Maggie Zee is hoping to answer.

A Passion for People

Spend a few minutes with Alicia Fanning and you’ll quickly discover her passion for people. She has volunteered with humanitarian organizations, completed an internship that addressed homelessness and hopes to become a FOCUS missionary. Fanning will graduate from the University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in May 2021 with a degree in consumer and community development and continue on her path of helping others.

Gaining Practical Knowledge

When Caitlynn Hewlett first enrolled at the University of Idaho her plan was to earn a degree in biology and enroll in medical school. During her first semester, the Nampa native learned about the programs in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences and those plans changed.

Hewlett will graduate in May 2021 with degrees in child and youth development and sociology and will pursue a master’s degree in social work. Practical experiences at U of I have given Hewlett the skills needed to excel in her future profession.

Faculty and Student Success

Director and Professor Shelley McGuire recently concluded work with the National Academy of Sciences to research and document what is currently known about human milk composition. This information will be used to develop nutrient intake recommendations for infants and for U.S. policies like WIC and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

McGuire, with U of I colleagues Mark McGuire, Janet Williams and Ryan Pace and others from around the nation, received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and National Science Foundation to study the potential transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during breastfeeding. She also delivered a presentation on her findings to the 2020 BMGF Grand Challenges meeting, which was scheduled to be in Mumbai, India but was instead held virtually.

McGuire, with collaborators Mark McGuire and Trillitye Paullin, received a grant from Idaho Department of Commerce entitled “Free to Feed Food Allergen Test Kit for Human Milk.” This grant will fund a clinical dietary intervention trial to evaluate a new technology designed to test human milk for cow's milk and soy allergens.

A woman breast feeding infant

Assistant Professor Shiyi Chen has received an early career grant from the American Psychological Association (APA) for her project entitled "Grow to Learn: A Novel Teachers’ Professional Development Program that Targets Metacognition to Improve Early Science Teaching and Learning." This project will help us better prepare and train teachers to successfully teach science to preschoolers and kindergarteners.

Chen received a $60,000 Mountain West Clinical and Translational Research Pilot grant to examine the effect of emotive intelligent spaces (ESI) on children’s cognitive and affective outcomes. ESI harnesses the power of machine learning algorithms, real-time emotion recognition, and human color perception to improve children’s self-regulation, physiological responses, and emotional states via environment manipulations. Chen will collaborate with U of I Associate Professor Ling-Ling Tsao and researchers at Washington State University on the project.

Assistant Professor Yimin Chen has received a $60,000 Mountain West Clinical and Translational Research Pilot grant to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of a modified 8-week mindfulness-based intervention program to improve maternal mental health in mothers of preterm infants and effects of changes in maternal stress and self-compassion on human milk immune components. Chen will collaborate with Associate Professor Laura Holyoke from the U of I College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, and researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University and Oregon State University on the study.

Shiyi Chen
Shiyi Chen
Yimin Chen
Yimin Chen

Instructor Lori Wahl received the 2020 Outstanding Service/FCS Support award from the Idaho Family and Consumer Sciences Educator Association.

FCS Lecturer Patrick Brown-Hayes has been selected as a judge for the Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards, the largest U.S. outdoor industry retail show.

Ann Brown, FCS affiliate faculty, helped establish the Fueling Center for U of I Athletics and promotes sports nutrition education to Vandal student-athletes. She worked with Chris Walsh, director of Athletic Training, to identify potential funding sources to maintain food and beverage supplies and nutrition education opportunities. The Fueling Center received a Dairy West Sports Nutrition Grant for the 2020-21 academic year and will provide dairy products, monthly sports nutrition education seminars and research-backed supplementation education. Brown will work directly with Dairy West lead, Jacyln St. John, R.D., in order to execute proposed events and market the newly established partnership. Other collaborators on the grant include Annie Roe, Mahmood Sheikh, Jennie Hall and Jim Miller.

Lori Wahl
Lori Wahl
Patrick Brown-Hayes and Ann Brown
Patrick Brown-Hayes and Ann Brown

The FCS Child Development Lab has merged with the U of I Children's Center. The lab will now be administered by the Children's Center, however, the mission, research and educational opportunities for FCS students remains the same.

Child development playground
Sarah Michaels
Food and nutrition senior Sarah Michaels was honored with the Alumni Award for Excellence by the University of Idaho Alumni Association. This award recognizes U of I’s distinguished scholars.
FCS students (top) Brittney Anderson, Caitlynn Hewlett, (center) Sarah Michaels, (bottom) Montana Keating and Margaret Zee garnered over $10,000 in scholarships from the Phi Upsilon Omicron Educational Foundation.
Postdoctoral researcher Yang Lyu received a young investigator award of $9,400 from the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation. This award will allow Lyu to apprentice with researchers at Washington University in St. Louis to learn new techniques which she can then apply to her research at the University of Idaho.
recipe contest
Dietetic students in FCS 483 Quantity Food Production and Equipment developed “Simple Comfort Foods” themed recipes for the Holiday Recipe Challenge. Recipes are featured on the U of I website and two winning recipes were selected for the president’s holiday card. Senior Instructor, Katie Miner, worked with the students to implement safety procedures for the event to maintain social distancing. FCS faculty, staff and students all collaborated to provide a safe recipe tasting experience for U of I President Scott Green and other alumni guest judges.
Gloaming design
Apparel, textiles and design graduate student Kawthar Alibrahim and her Design Gloaming were accepted for the 2020 International Textile and Apparel Association conference. The dress is 100% 3D printed with either glow in the dark, UV sensitive or heat sensitive materials.
Idaho Career and Technical Education logo
Department advisory board member and U of I Collegiate FCCLA advisor Theresa Golis received the Meritorious Service — CTE Family and Consumer Sciences Program Quality Manager award from the Idaho Family and Consumer Sciences Educator Association.

Research Corner

Human Breast Milk — The Vandal Theory

Breast milk contains all the nutrients, fats, proteins and other components a baby needs to grow. But it turns out we know very little about breast milk. FCS Director Shelley McGuire has been studying human — and even cow — breast milk her entire career and has studied everything from the microbes living in milk to whether the virus that causes COVID-19 can be transferred from mother to child. Learn more about her research in this edition of the Vandal Theory podcast.

Research participants needed!

Several FCS faculty are actively seeking individuals to participate in research projects.

Shiyi Chen is recruiting preschool/kindergarten teachers and parents to participate in her Grow to Learn research project. The focus of this project is to enhance early science instructional strategies.

Shelley McGuire is recruiting COVID-19+ mothers from around the country to study infection risk and immunity in infants. Findings will help us understand how the virus affects the health and immune responses of mothers and infants, and whether infant feeding practices play a role.

Yimin Chen is looking for excess breastmilk that women may have either stored in their freezers or are currently pumping. This research focuses on how breastmilk helps with brain growth and immunity.

Graduate student Alexandra Gogel is recruiting healthy breastfeeding women living in the Moscow/Pullman area to participate in a study designed to understand variation in the human milk microbiome. To contact Alex about the study, please send her an email at

Clinical study coordinator Cassandra Partridge is recruiting healthy breastfeeding women living in the Moscow/Pullman, Lewiston and Boise areas to participate in a study designed to evaluate a new technology that would allow women to easily test their milk for cow's milk and soy allergens.

In Memoriam

Erika Iiams, former instructor in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, passed with peace and grace on June 14, 2020.

Erika taught design and patternmaking courses for the apparel, textiles and design program while at U of I from August 2009-2017. She taught the Introduction to Fashion and the Apparel Industry freshman-level course and gave incoming students a strong foundation for later coursework. Her patternmaking knowledge was extensive and innovative, and she shared her enthusiasm for pattern solutions with students and colleagues.

One of her many accomplishments was forging the Senior Capstone class into a rigorous design course with emphasis on public presentation and critique, first through the Moscowrade showcase and later through events hosted by the ATD program. She reinvigorated interest in the Leila Old Historic Costume Collection by serving as its curator, teaching the Collections Management course, and mounting several displays at the Third Street Gallery and the Moscow Multimodal Transit Center.

Erika attended Washington State University, earning her Master of Arts in apparel, merchandising, design and textiles in 2009. Her creative scholarship was inspired by the history of fashion and women’s roles, particularly the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic dress movement. Her designs were routinely exhibited at the International Textile and Apparel Association design competition and her work was featured in Emerging Fashion Designers I in 2010.

Erika is best described as a creator, as there was nothing she could not produce. Whether she was making wedding cakes, prom dresses, vintage lamp shades or sewing matching family outfits (that her children were not very fond of), she mastered the skills necessary and took them to artisanship quality. Her kindness, generosity and wisdom will be missed by all who knew her — as well as her beautiful, contagious smile.

She is survived by countless family members and friends, as her home and arms were always open to those in need. Raised in Moscow, Erika had fond memories of running freely around the neighborhood with friends. She went on to raise four children, of whom she was always very proud.

In honor and memory of Erika Iiams, the family suggests gifts to Erika Iiams Scholarship for Excellence in Design at University of Idaho. Please send gifts to:

Erika Iiams Scholarship for Excellence in Design
c/o University of Idaho Foundation
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3143
Moscow, ID 83844-3143

Erika Iiams
Erika Iiams


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