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Deirdra Chester, Ph.D., RDN

Division Director

Dr. Deirdra Chester is the Division Director of the Division of Nutrition, Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition.  In this role, she provides leadership and oversight for the division’s research, education and extension activities across the nation through competitive grant programs. These programs are focused on nutrition, functional components of food, the microbiome, and the prevention of chronic diseases. She also provides leadership to the division’s strategic priorities as well as supervision and administration of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) at the federal level. 

Prior to returning to NIFA, Dr. Chester was the agency Science Advisor for US Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in the Office of the Administrator.  Prior to joining APHIS, she served as the National Program Leader for Applied Nutrition Research in the Division of Nutrition, Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA.  In her role as the National Program Leader of Applied Nutrition Research, she provided leadership in identifying emerging issues of national importance, program reviews, and grants management in nutrition, functional components of food, childhood obesity prevention, food safety outreach and the Small Business Innovative Research in Nutrition and Food Safety.  Prior to joining NIFA, Dr. Chester was a scientist at the USDA- Agriculture Research Service. Dr. Chester is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist.

Dr. Chester has spoken both nationally and internationally on nutrition topics.  Dr. Chester is on the editorial board of the Journal of Obesity and Chronic Disease.

Dr. Chester is a graduate of the American University Key Executive Leadership program.  She is also SES certified through the USDA Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program.  Dr. Chester holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Nutrition from Florida International University where she was awarded the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship and was in the inaugural class of the Gates Millennial Scholars.  She holds a Master of Science degree in Food and Nutrition Science and a baccalaureate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Florida State University. 

Dr. Chester is the recipient of numerous honors and awards.  The American Public Health Association Food and Nutrition Section awarded her the Mary C. Egan Award which recognizes pioneers in innovative approaches to public health nutrition.  She was also awarded the Circle of Excellence Alumni Award by Florida State University’s College of Human Science.

Topic Expertise
Food and Nutrition Security,
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