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Faculty and Staff

Valerie Duffy, PhD, RD

Director of the Graduate Program in Allied Health Sciences
Jointly appointed in Nutritional Sciences
Address 358 Mansfield Road, Box U-1101
Storrs, CT 06269-1101
Phone (860) 486-1997
Links Curriculum Vitae


Research Overview

Valerie B. Duffy (PhD, RD) offers a wealth of experience in food, nutrition, health promotion and public health nutrition. The Duffy Lab at the University of Connecticut has two main research interests. First, we attempt to understand variation in chemosensory perception in humans and how this variation influences food flavor, food preference and food intake. More recently, we study how chemosensory variation influences responses to flavored cigarettes and e-cigarettes as well as bariatric surgery.  Our ultimate goal is to understand how chemosensory variation influences our ability to follow a healthy diet and behaviors for the prevention of chronic disease and obesity. Second, we collaborate with community agencies across the state to promote healthy diets and healthy weights of children and their families, particularly those of economic disadvantage. Through involvement of undergraduate and graduate student research, we are investigating the effectiveness of community-based interventions to improve vegetable intake and level of physical activity of children.

Dr. Duffy and her students have numerous publications and presentations at national and international meetings. She has received several awards for excellence in teaching, research and service. Students who have trained with Dr. Duffy are advancing nutrition and health promotion through research, practice or public health leadership. Dr. Duffy has served as major advisor for and completed twenty-seven students in their Masters degree and four students in their Doctoral degrees. She has served as associate advisor for numerous Masters and Doctoral students, and provides research experiences for many undergraduates into her research laboratory each year. She currently serves as major advisor for five Masters students and two Doctoral students.


Post-Doctoral Fellowship Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT (taste psychophysics and taste neurobiology)

Ph.D. University of Connecticut, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Storrs, CT, 1992 (human nutrition)

M.S. Rush University, Chicago, IL, 1984 (human nutrition)

R.D. Dietetic Internship, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, IL, 1983

B.S. Cornell University, College of Human Ecology, Ithaca, New York, 1982 (nutrition)

Featured Publications (selected from 58 peer-reviewed full journal articles; H-index=40)

Litt MD, Duffy VB, Oncken C. Cigarette Smoking and Electronic Cigarette Vaping Patterns as a Function of E-cigarette Flavorings. Tob Control. 2016 Sep 15. pii: tobaccocontrol-2016-053223. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053223. [Epub ahead of print].

Duffy VB, Rawal S*, Park J*, Brand MH, Sharafi M*, Bolling B. Characterizing and improving the sensory and hedonic responses to polyphenol-rich aronia berry juice.  Appetite. 2016 Jul 22. pii: S0195-6663(16)30293-8. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.07.026.

Hoffman HJ, Rawal S*, Li C-M, Duffy VB.  New Chemosensory Component to the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2011-2012: Preliminary Findings on Measured Olfactory Dysfunction. Invited manuscript, Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2016 Jun 10. [Epub ahead of print].

Sharafi M*, Duffy VB, Miller RJ, Winchester SB, Huedo-Medina T, Sullivan MC. Do Dietary Behaviors of Adult Born Preterm Explain Some of the Elevated Future Risk of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)?  Appetite. 2016 Jan 12;99:157-167.

Rawal S*, Hoffman HJ, Bainbridge KE, Huedo-Medina TB, Duffy VB. Prevalence and Risk Factors of Self-Reported Smell and Taste Alterations: Results from the 2011-2012 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).  Chem Senses. 2016 Jan;41(1):69-76.

Pallister T, Sharafi M*, Lachance G, Pirastu N, Mohney RP, MacGregor A, Feskens EJM, Duffy VB, Spector TD, Menni C. Food Preference Patterns in a UK Twin Cohort. Twin Res Hum Genet. 2015 Dec;18(6):793-805.

Sharafi M*, Perrachio H*, Scarmo S, Huedo-Medina TB, Mayne ST, Cartmel B, Duffy VB. Preschool-Adapted Liking Survey (PALS): A brief and valid method to assess dietary quality of preschoolers. Child Obes. 2015 Oct;11(5):530-40.
Rawal S*, Hoffman HJ, Honda M*, Huedo-Medina TB, Duffy VB.  The Taste and Smell Protocol in the 2011-2014 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES): Test-Retest Reliability and Validity Testing.  Chemosensory Perception.  September 2015, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 138-148.
Oncken C, Feinn R, Covault J, Duffy VB, Dornelas E, Kranzler H, Sankey H.  Genetic vulnerability to menthol cigarette preference in women. Nicotine Tob Res. 2015 Dec;17(12):1416-20.
Rawal S*, Hoffman HJ, Chapo AK*, Duffy VB.  Sensitivity and specific of self-reported olfactory function in a home-based study of independent-living, healthy older women. Journal of Chemosensory Perception. 2014 Dec 1;7(3-4):108-116.
Rawal S*, Hayes JE*, Wallace MR, Bartoshuk LM, Duffy VB. Do polymorphisms in the TAS1R1 gene associate with broader differences in human taste intensity? Chem Senses. 2013 Oct;38(8):719-28.

Sharafi M*, Hayes JE*, Duffy VB.  Masking vegetable bitterness to improve palatability depends on vegetable type and taste phenotype. Chemosensory Perception 2013; 6(1): 8-19.

Coldwell SE, Mennella JA, Duffy VB, Pelchat ML, Griffith JW, Smutzer G, Cowart BJ, Breslin PAS, Bartoshuk LM, Hastings L, Beauchamp GK, O’Mahony MA, Victorson D, Hoffman HJ.  NIH Toolbox for Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function:  Assessments for Gustation. Neurology. 2013 Mar 12;80(11 Suppl 3):S20-4.

Faghri PD, Duffy VB, Benson NR, Cherniack MG. Worksite weight loss intervention for employees in stressful workplaces: A pilot study and baseline survey indicators of success. J Obes Weigt Loss Ther 2012; 2:121. Doi:10.4172/2165-904.1000121.

Scarmo S, Kennedy K*, Peracchio H*, Cartmel B, Lin H, Ermakov IV, Gellermann W, Bernstein PS, Duffy VB, Mayne ST. Skin carotenoid status measured by resonance Raman spectroscopy as a biomarker of fruit and vegetable intake in preschool children. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012; 66(5):555-60.

Harrington HL*, Kennedy KE*, Sharafi M*, Hayes JE*, Duffy VB. Otitis media exposure associates with dietary preference and adiposity: A community-based observational study of at-risk preschoolers. Physiol Behav. 2012 May 15;106(2):264-71.

Hayes JE*, Wallace MR, Knopik VS, Herbstman D, Bartoshuk LM, Duffy VB. Allelic variation in TAS2R bitter receptor genes associates with variation in sensations from and ingestive behaviors towards common bitter beverages in adults. Chem Senses, 2011 Mar;36(3):311-9.

Duffy VB, Hayes JE*, Davidson AC, Kidd JR, Kidd KK, Bartoshuk LM. Vegetable intake in college-aged adults is explained by oral sensory phenotypes and TAS2R38 genotype. Chemosensory Perception, 2010; 3(3-4):137-148.

Hayes JE*, Sullivan BS*, Duffy VB. Explaining variability in sodium intake through oral sensory phenotype, salt sensation and liking. Physiology and Behavior, 2010; 100 (5): 369-380.

Duffy VB, Hayes JE*, Sullivan B*, Faghri P. Surveying food/beverage liking: A tool for epidemiological studies to connect chemosensation with health outcomes. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 2009 Jul;1170:558-68.

Hayes JE*, Duffy VB. Oral sensory phenotype identifies level of fat and sugar required for maximal liking. Physiol Behav 2008 Sept 3;95(1-2):77-87.

Hayes JE*, Bartoshuk LM, Kidd J, Duffy VB. Supertasting and PROP bitterness depends on more than the TAS2R38 gene. Chemical Senses 2008 33: 255-265; doi:10.1093/chemse/bjm084.

Duffy VB. Oral sensation and nutrition. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, March 2007, 23(2):171-7.

Duffy VB, Lanier SA*, Hutchins HL*, Pescatello LS, Johnson MK, Bartoshuk LM. Food preference as a screen for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk within health risk appraisal. J Am Diet Assoc, February 2007;107(2):237-45.

Hayes J*, Duffy VB. Revisiting sucrose-fat mixtures: sweetness and creaminess vary with phenotypic markers of oral sensation. Chemical Senses, 2007 Mar;32(3):225-36. Epub 2007 Jan 4.

* Denotes students who had trained with Dr. Duffy at the University of Connecticut

Recent Invited Chapters

Duffy VB. Nutrition and the chemical senses.  In: Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL, and Ziegler TR (ed), Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, (2012) 11th edition, Chapter 42, pp. 667 -678.
Duffy VB, Hayes JE. Smell, taste, and oral somatosensation: age-related changes and nutritional implications. In: Chernoff, R (ed.), Geriatric Nutrition: The Health Professional’s Handbook. (2014) 4th Edition, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 115-164.

Masters or Doctoral Graduated: date graduated, thesis/dissertation title and level

• Julie Peterson (2000) Genetic Variation in Taste: Associations with sweet and alcohol sensations and dietary behaviors. Masters Degree.
• Megan Phillips (2001) Genetic Variation in Taste: Associations with fat sensations and dietary behaviors. Masters Degree. 
• John Frassinelli (2001) Short-term Impact of a School-based 5 A Day Nutrition Program on Vegetable Preference and Intake among High-Risk Preschool Children. Masters Degree. 
• Audrey Chapo (2002) Age-related changes in oral sensations: Associations with preference for and intake of dietary salt and fat. Masters Degree. 
• Heather Hutchins (2003) Genetic variation in taste and risk for cardiovascular disease. Masters Degree.
• Sabrina Noel (2004) The evaluation of the Captain 5 A Day Program for Head Start children and their families. Masters Degree.
• Mary Dinehart (2005) The bitter and the sweet: Oral sensory markers of vegetable and sugar intake. Masters Degree.
• Sarah Lanier (2005) Explaining variation in abdominal obesity with food preference and oral sensory makers. Masters Degree.
• Kittie Kneeland (2006) Evaluating access to and intake of vegetables in economically disadvantaged populations through the Captain 5 A Day Program. Masters Degree.
• Elizabeth Kinsley (2006) Demonstrating the need for an evaluating a 16-week school-based intervention to increase vegetable consumption among low-income preschoolers. Masters Degree.
• Tina Dugdale (2006) Development of entry-level competence in public health and community nutrition through partnerships between a university dietetics program, state department of public health, and agencies that are direct providers of services to the poor. Masters Degree.
• Bridget Sullivan (2007) Using a preference questionnaire and mediators of dietary choice to predict chronic disease risk. Masters Degree.
• John Hayes (2007) Translating Taste Genetics to Adiposity: Sensation, Preference and Intake of High-Fat, Sweet Foods. Doctoral Degree.
• Heather Harrington (2008) Food Stamp Nutrition Education: Identification of Key Stakeholders and Development of an Intervention to Improve Diet Quality of School Readiness Preschoolers. Masters Degree.
• Kerah Kennedy (2009) Food Liking Surveys: A Tool For Explaining Dietary Intake Of Preschoolers And Mediators Of Obesity Risk. Masters Degree.
• Angie Corcoran (2010) Improving Dietary Quality of At-Risk Preschoolers: Needs Assessment And Validating an Intake Evaluation Tool. Masters Degree.
• Katryna Minski (2010) The Use of Chemosensory Markers and Liking Surveys to Develop Dietary Recommendations to Lower Diet-Related Disease Risk. Masters Degree.
• Shristi Rawal (2011) Taste intensity phenotype: Novel association with TAS1R1-intronic SNP and developing a protocol to measure this phenotype in population-based studies. Masters Degree.
• Sarah Bourque (2011) Supporting School Wellness Policies through GameOn! Implementation in 13 High-Need Connecticut Schools. Masters Degree.
• Julie Menounos (2012) Food security, diet quality and food assistance participation among food pantry users in the North End of Hartford (Katie Martin, PhD, research advisor). Masters Degree.
• Kristen Chasse (2012) Facilitating Implementation of Wellness Programs in Three High-Need Connecticut School Districts: A Pilot Project. Masters Degree.
• Stephanie Davison (2013) CP/Masters Degree; Plan B Masters degree in in Health Promotion Sciences.
• Kristen Quann (2013) CP/Masters Degree; Plan B Masters degree in in Health Promotion Sciences.
• Natalie Smith (2013) CP/Masters Degree; Plan B Masters degree in in Health Promotion Sciences.
• Shymaa Ata (2013) The effects of lutein delivered in eggs on age-related macular degeneration and cardiovascular disease risk factors: a randomized controlled trial. Doctoral Degree
• Shristi Rawal (2015) Implementing a Standardized Taste and Smell Protocol in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: Examining Prevalence, Risk Factors and Health Implications of Taste and Smell Alterations.  Doctoral Degree
• Mastaneh Sharafi (2015) Developing a valid and reliable dietary quality index from a liking survey: data from association and evaluation studies in children and adults. Doctoral Degree.
• Alexandra Dagenais (2016) CP/Masters Degree; Plan B Masters degree in in Health Promotion Sciences.      
• Esha Fletcher (2016) CP/Masters Degree; Plan B Masters degree in in Health Promotion Sciences.
• Sarah Grace-Glennon (2016) Chemosensory Function in Chronic Smokers: Findings from NHANES 2011-2014 and an E-Cigarette Intervention. Masters degree in in Health Promotion Sciences.
• Kayla Vosburgh (2016) Childhood Obesity Prevention in Income-Disadvantaged Populations: An Evaluation of Two Novel Approaches. Masters degree in in Health Promotion Sciences.

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Department of Allied Health Sciences
College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources
358 Mansfield Road, Unit 1101
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1101
Telephone: (860) 486-2834
Fax: (860) 486-5375