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Dallas Donohoe: Molecular Nutrition Expert, Family Man, Table Tennis Champ

The Donohoe family visits Pigeon Forge.

The Donohoe family visits Pigeon Forge.

At UT: At UT since July 2013, Dallas Donohoe is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition. His expertise is in cellular molecular nutrition. He funds his research on dietary fiber’s impact on colon cancer through extensive grant writing. “Grant writing can be depressing,” he said. “But it is necessary to make an impact on people’s lives.”

Donohoe loves juggling research and teaching. “I love to take a break from the research and positively impact students’ lives in any way I can. It is incredible to be able to impact people’s lives indirectly through research and students’ lives directly.”

Why he chose this field: While completing his postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina, Donohoe began focusing on dietary fiber and how it may prevent colon cancer. “Although we believe eating healthy foods results in good health, we do not know exactly why a balanced diet improves health,” he said. “If we can figure that out, it will be invaluable.”

Outside interests: Outside of work, Donohoe devotes himself to his wife and children. The Donohoes have 12-year-old twins. “My daughter loves to dance, and my son loves soccer. I love spending every free moment I have encouraging them to do what they love.”

Donohoe takes a “big kid” approach in the classroom, too. “They may not remember the tiny details once all is said and done, but I hope to make a long-term impact on their lives. I achieve this through playing games in order to evoke positive emotions, which are proven to lead to long-term memory formation. In the classroom and at home, we play Operation, Jenga, Chutes & Ladders, and Jeopardy.”

Favorite book: Donohoe’s favorite childhood book was Ramona the Pest, the second book in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, and he still enjoys it today. “I loved that book when I was a child,” he said. “Now I read it to my children, and they like it too.”

If I didn’t do this, I’d: “Be a used car salesman. I write so many grants that I’ve gotten very good at selling my research to anyone. I think I’d make a fine used car salesman at this point.”

One last thing: “Growing up I was one of the top table tennis players in Florida,” he said. “I used to compete in tournaments and won more than $200 one time. I don’t get to play as much as I used to, but I’d love to start teaching my kids to play. Table tennis allowed me to connect with my father, so I’d love it if my kids could have the same experience.”

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