A visit to the USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville
The highlight of the week was a day at the USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, MD. Our host was Dr. David Baer, pictured next to one of the metabolic chambers, tiny little rooms where research volunteers spend 24 hours and everything that goes in and comes out can be measured. Mr. Patrick Sullivan, pictured in the cafeteria, is the dietitian and head chef of the facility. He gave us a terrific overview of how he develops recipes and meal plans that are attractive and meet the very specific nutrition needs of each research study.
On a personal note: What I loved most about this visit was seeing a high-performing research institution in action and interacting with people who were so obviously in the perfect career and roles. Both Dr. Baer and Mr. Sullivan exuded passion and excitement about their jobs, and this was clear even when they mentioned the more routine or even frustrating parts of their jobs. Everyone we met during the day - from high-powered scientists responsible for many of the studies that tell us what we know about what to eat (!), to the technicians operating the equipment - seemed so incredibly in sync with the goals of the institution. It's so energizing to be around that kind of positivity and productivity.