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About Abby D. Benninghoff

The goal of my research program is to understand the influence of environmental factors on epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation in determining health and disease in animals and humans. In other words, we focus on the intersection of nature and nurture by investigating gene-environment interactions. My research group will strive to address three key questions: How is the fetal epigenome impacted by the environment? How are these epigenetic changes related to the health or disease status of the offspring? Can optimal maternal dietary conditions be identified to reduce disease risk in adulthood? Our studies center on a class of environmental pollutants important to Utah and the world – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), derived from burning of fossil fuels and biomass materials. We also investigate the beneficial effects of certain nutrition supplements and bioactive food components derived from a number of key food crops, several of which are important to Utah agriculture (e.g. apples, onions, various berries, tomatoes), in counter-acting the adverse effects of PAHs to prevent or suppress cancer. My research program is supported by funds from the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


Present Assistant Professor, Utah State University Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences

Curriculum Vitae

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Honors and Awards

  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (2005-2008)
  • U.S. EPA STAR Fellowship for Graduate Environmental Study (2000-2003)
  • David Bruton, Jr. Graduate School Fellowship (2003)
  • E.J. Lund Graduate Fellowship in Marine Science (2000-2003)
  • Graduate Research Fellowship (1999-2000)
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Fellowship (1995-1997)
  • Postdoctoral Research Award Finalist (2006, 2008)
  • Postdoctoral Travel Award (2007)
  • Colgate/Palmolive Grants for Alternative Research Award (2006)
  • Travel Scholarship (2003)
  • Summer Tuition Scholarship (1998)
  • Phi Beta Kappa (1996-1997)
  • Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society (1997)

Contact Information

Ag Science Bldg, Rm 240A
(435) 797-8649


Articles (11)

Contributions to Books (1)