Melissa Wdowik has spent 20 years teaching in higher education, including at Colorado State University, UNC Charlotte, and East Carolina University. At CSU, she created and directed the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center, where she provided nutrition education and outreach to the public while training students through experiential learning with a wide variety of cultural and socioeconomic groups.
She earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Illinois, an M.S. in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University, and a Ph.D. in Food Science and Human Nutrition from Colorado State University, with subsequent accreditation as a registered and licensed dietitian, as well as certifications in nutrition counseling, diabetes education, lifestyle coaching, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and leadership.
Melissa has won numerous teaching awards, including the Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching Award, the C.S.U. Best Teacher Award, Outstanding Dietetic Educator Award, Outstanding Honors Academic Advisor, and Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has taught diverse topics, including nutrition science, food and culture, community nutrition, sports nutrition, health and disease prevention, and food insecurity.
She first sailed with Semester at Sea on the Spring 2018 voyage as a Global Teaching Scholar. In-country activities allowed her to deep dive into cultural competence with students, experiencing food as medicine, Ayurveda, sustainable agriculture, and farm to table approaches. She also led “foodies on foot” tours of local towns. Melissa took a Study Abroad student trip to Zimbabwe in 2020 and will continue to explore cultural components of food and eating patterns on the current voyage.
Melissa engages regularly in writing and public speaking, with publications in newspapers and academic journals; interviews for magazines, radio and television; and presentations for professional and social organizations. She is passionate about helping others understand the role of nutrition in health as well as the complicated issue of sustainable food practices.
She has traveled extensively throughout the world, including Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and both eastern and western Europe, and lived for two years in Mexico. She is a strong supporter of international learning for its gifts of perspective, diversity and academic growth. She loves learning about other cultures through food and drink, and enjoys outdoor activities of all kinds, yoga, volunteer work, and her family. Her husband, daughter and son will each be joining her at different ports throughout the voyage.