Dr. Kopec was hired under the Discovery Themes Foods for Health Initiative in August 2016. She spent her early years as a buckeye (B.S. Pharmacy, B.S. Business, 2006). After discovering the limitations of drug-based therapy, she decided to switch directions and pursue an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in nutrition where she found a greater opportunity to positively impact human health. Her thesis work focused on the deposition, metabolism, and bioactivity of carotenoids (the compounds which impart yellow, orange, and red hues to common fruits and vegetables).
After graduating in 2012, she spent 3 years at INRA (the French National Agricultural Institute) to study the metabolism of carotenoids during human digestion. Dr. Kopec’s current research program uses metabolomics, as well as targeted analytical techniques, to better understand the interplay of metabolic pathways of fat soluble vitamin uptake, utilization, and excretion. She contributes a great part of her success to local and international collaborations from a diverse group of disciplines. When Rachel is not in work mode, she likes to decompress spending time outdoors doing just about anything (gardening, running, walking the dog, etc.), cooking, yoga-ing, or building something. She tries to travel and scuba-dive whenever possible.