Scientific Advisors

American Pistachio Growers utilizes the expertise of respected professionals who are recognized for their contribution to nutrition, health and wellness.

  • Constance J. Geiger, PhD, RD, CD

    Research Advisory Board
    President, Geiger & Associates, LLC
    Research Associate Professor and Past Director
    Division of Nutrition
    The University of Utah
    Expertise: food labeling, public policy, health communications

    Dr. Geiger is President, Geiger & Associates, LLC, Fort Bridger, Wyoming and a research associate professor, Division of Foods and Nutrition, the University of Utah. At Geiger & Associates, she develops effective communication strategies for conveying important health and nutrition messages to consumer, corporate, government, food industry and allied health entities. She brings a unique combination of nutrition science, marketing research, consumer communications and federal regulatory knowledge to bear on food and health claims label design and communication. As one the country's leading food labeling experts, Constance works with the nut industry and the food and nutrition professions as an active member of the Nutrition Research and Education Foundation of the International Nut and Dried Fruit Foundation (INC) and as a past director of the America Dietetic Association's Board of Directors. She has chaired the Nutrition Division, Institute of Food Technologists, where she promotes the interface between nutrition, food science and food safety and is involved in the American Society of Nutrition. Constance has won numerous awards in the field of nutrition including American Dietetic Association’s Mary P. Huddleson Award for her consumer research paper on nutrition labeling; the National Safety Council, Association of Campus Safety, Health and Environmental Management Professionals Recognition/Innovative Awards Program for "Safe Food Handling" publication (an International Recognition); Utah Dietetic Association Award of Merit; numerous recognition of service awards from the American Dietetic Association and more. She received her Masters in Science in Medical Dietetics from Ohio State University and went on to receive a PhD in Nutrition and Food Science from Utah State University.

  • Steven Zeisel, MD, PhD

    Research Advisory Board
    Kenan Distinguished Professor
    Department of Nutrition
    Director, Nutrition Research Institute
    Professor, Department of Pediatrics
    Associate Dean for Research, School of Public Health
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Dr. Zeisel is the Kenan Distinguished University Professor in Nutrition and Pediatrics; former Chairman, Department of Nutrition; Director Nutrition Research Institute and Director UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center. (MD, Harvard; PhD, M.I.T.). This new institute focuses on using genetic and metabolomic methods to discover why there is individual variation in responses to, and requirements for nutrients. The NIDDK-funded UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center is one of 12 in the nation and provides infrastructure for nutrition research at UNC. Dr. Zeisel’s research focuses on dietary requirements for the nutrient choline, genetic variation as a source of individual differences in requirements for, and responses to, nutrients, effects of choline and folate on stem cell proliferation and apoptosis and resulting effects on cancer and neurogenesis. His research team works with cells, mouse models and human clinical studies. Dr. Zeisel is the author of more than 250 peer reviewed scientific papers. He is on the editorial board of the FASEB Journal and is an editor of the nutrition textbook Present Knowledge of Nutrition, Volume 10. Dr. Zeisel is a leader in the development of an innovative nutrition curriculum used by more than 150 medical schools.

  • Larry Ellingson, RPh

    Research Advisory Board
    President, Global Diabetes Consulting
    Executive Director Diabetes Care, Eli Lily (Retired)
    Expertise: Diabetes and related diseases, building international networks of organizations and influencers in these fields

    Larry Ellingson is a pharmacist by education and has held senior roles with Eli Lilly in global marketing, sales and product management. He was leader of Lilly’s Diabetes Care Business franchise for more than half of his career. He is the former CEO and Chair of the Board of Protemix Ltd, New Zealand. Ellingson is an advisor/ consultant to several startup/ diabetes biotech companies. Ellingson is a past member of the board of the American Dietetic Association. He is a member of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a former chairman of the board of directors of the ADA and currently is involved with committee work at a national level. Ellingson is also a member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and a Life member of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). As a member or the Executive Committee of the IDF BRIDGES project, he is involved with translational research in diabetes. Ellingson serves on the Board of Trustees of North Dakota State University (NDSU) and is a member of the Research Park Board at NDSU and Chairman of the Advisory Board to the NDSU Pharmacy School.

  • Wahida Karmally, DrPh, RD, CDE

    Research Advisory Board
    Director of Nutrition
    The Irving Institute Center for Clinical and Translational Research
    Associate Research Scientist and Lecturer in Dentistry at Columbia University
    College of Medicine and Dentistry
    New York, New York
    Expertise: Diabetes and heart disease, communications

    Wahida Karmally is Director of Nutrition in the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and Associate Research Scientist and Lecturer in Dentistry at Columbia University in New York, where she also teaches in the medical and dental schools. She served as a director on the board of directors for the American Diabetes Association and has served on their Professional Practice and Scientific and Medical Programs Oversight Committees. Dr. Karmally serves on the board of directors for the Accreditation Council for Clinical Lipidology and the Northeast Lipid Association. She also serves on the expert committee on Disorders of Lipid Metabolism for the American Dietetic Association’s Evidence Analysis Library and was a member of the Evidence-Based Practice and Research Committees. Dr. Karmally is also a member of Asia Pacific Diabetes Action Council of the American Diabetes Association. As an expert in diabetes and heart disease, she was a national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association for 11 years. Dr. Karmally earned her doctor of public health in Health Policy and Management from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She is a Certified Diabetes Educator and Diplomate of the ACCL (Clinical Lipid Specialist) and is recognized as a Fellow of the National Lipid Association.

  • Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD

    Research Advisory Board
    Associate Professor
    University of Arizona
    Chair, Nutritional Sciences Graduate Studies Program
    Tucson, Arizona
    Expertise: Antioxidants and cancer, weight, communications

    Dr. Cynthia Thomson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and holds a joint appointment in the College of Public Health and College of Medicine at the University of Arizona. Dr. Thomson received her PhD from the Interdisciplinary Program in Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona. In 1998, she completed an NCI-sponsored post-doctoral training at the Arizona Cancer Center with a focus on diet measurement. She has over 18 years of clinical dietetics experience as well as 15 years of experience in diet and cancer research. Her research emphasis includes dietary intervention in breast and ovarian cancer, with an emphasis on reducing co-morbidities of cancer with lifestyle interventions. She has also actively participated in several whole food diet interventions, many of which included an assessment of exposure to bioactive food constituents (i.e., carotenoids, isothiocyanates, and d-limonene. She holds certifications in oncology and adult obesity.