Retiring Department Head Mike Pagliassotti leaves a legacy of excellence

Mike PagliassottiAfter 18 years in Colorado State University’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Mike Pagliassotti (“Pag” as he is known to his colleagues, students and friends), is retiring from CSU in June of 2021. During his tenure at CSU, Pagliassotti, who currently serves as department head, has been a role model for service leadership, mentorship, early career faculty research, innovative thinking, academic program development, and donor engagement.

Pagliassotti received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Vanderbilt University Medical School. He was a faculty member in the Departments of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences prior to being recruited to CSU in 2003. As professor and Lillian Fountain-Smith Endowed Chair in nutrition, his research focused on the role of the liver in type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

“Mike was an ideal postdoctoral mentor,” said Chris Gentile, associate professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition. “He provided incredible training in all of the areas necessary to become a successful scientist, from developing testable hypotheses and fundamental laboratory skills, as he was regularly in the laboratory working side-by-side with lab members, to grant writing and setting up a laboratory. Above all, he did everything in his power to ensure the success of his trainees.”

Department head role

Mike Pagliassotti
Mike Pagliassotti makes welcome remarks at the 2014 Lillian Fountain Smith Conference for Nutrition Educators.

In 2013, Pagliassotti became the department head of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Over the last eight years, and with the assistance of great faculty, staff and students, the department has continued to thrive. Some notable accomplishments include adding a new major in Fermentation Science and Technology, expanding the reach and impact of the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center, expansion of online educational opportunities for students and the public, and developing multiple industry and single-donor partnerships that have advanced educational, research and engagement activities.

”Mike has been instrumental in establishing high performance standards while facilitating an inclusive and nurturing research and learning environment,” said Chris Melby, professor and former department head. “He has engaged new and existing donors to enhance classroom technology, provide research and travel funds for our graduate students, and renovate and significantly expand research and clinical/outreach space in our department. Pag’s accomplishments are many, his impact on his colleagues and students is long-lasting, and he serves us with strong leadership, integrity, and equanimity.”

Karen Morris-Fine and Mike Pagliassotti at an event
Karen Morris-Fine and Mike Pagliassotti

One of our generous donors, Karen Morris-Fine stated, “Through Mike, I have been able to establish relationships with the early career faculty and their students receiving the grants. I feel good about this investment and it gives me hope for the future to know such talented scientists. In some small way I feel I have helped contribute to their success and I am very appreciative to Mike for being honest and straightforward about the areas of need where my funds could have the most impact.”

To celebrate Pagliassotti’s incredible legacy at CSU, gifts can be made to the Nutrition Research Leadership and Innovation Fund.  This fund was established to support the expansion of research related to Food Science and Human Nutrition.

Melby will take over as interim department head while the college conducts a national search for a new leader for the department.

Contributors to the story: Kelsey Burket, Gretchen Gerding, and Zara Hopkins

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.