Dr. Melissa Wdowik is a nationally recognized teacher and writer in the field of nutrition, with an exciting background that ranges from coaching the racing pit crews of Jimmy Johnson and Jeff Gordon to creating a podcast with Elle Fanning to publishing in the Washington Post. Her favorite professional experience, though, was her previous voyage with Semester At Sea.
Dr. Wdowik first sailed with Semester at Sea in 2018 as a Global Teaching Scholar. In-country activities allowed her to dive into cultural competence with students, experiencing food as medicine, sustainable agriculture, and farm-to-table practices. She also led many “foodies on foot” tours throughout the trip, helping students explore cultural components of local food and eating patterns.
Melissa earned a Ph.D. in Food Science and Human Nutrition, with accreditation as a registered dietitian and certifications in nutrition counseling, diabetes education, and mindfulness. She is passionate about helping others understand the role of nutrition in health as well as sustainable food practices.
She has spent 20 years in higher education, including at East Carolina University, Colorado State University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has won numerous teaching awards, such as the Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching Award, the CSU Best Teacher Award, Outstanding Dietetic Educator Award, and Outstanding Honors Academic Advisor. She teaches diverse topics such as contemporary nutrition, food and culture, sports nutrition, disease prevention, and food insecurity.
While a university professor, Melissa remains active as a dietitian and AND fellow. At CSU, she created and directed a successful outreach center, providing nutrition counseling for the public while leading students in experiential learning. At UNCC, she worked with homeless shelters to establish volunteer opportunities to improve nutrition for families. Currently, her teaching position allows her time to provide clients with realistic nutrition approaches to a healthy lifestyle. This real-world experience helps her relate practical (sometimes funny, sometimes strange) information to students in the classroom.
After attending high school in Mexico, Melissa continued to travel extensively throughout the world, including Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. She is a strong supporter of international learning for its gifts of perspective, diversity, and academic growth.
Melissa loves learning about other cultures through food and enjoys outdoor activities, yoga, volunteering, her dog, and her family. She is grateful to be sailing with her husband and looks forward to her daughter and son joining her at ports throughout the voyage.