Dr. Ruth MacDonald received a Ph.D in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. She completed an M.S. in Nutrition also from the University of Minnesota and has been certified as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She was an NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School, Joslin Diabetes Center, in Boston MA before joining the faculty in the Department of Food Science at the University of Missouri, Columbia MO, where she rose to the rank of Professor and was Program Leader.
In 2004, Dr. MacDonald moved to Iowa State University as Professor and Chair of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, leading the department of 60 faculty and staff. She established the Cyclone Scholars program that secured USDA funding to support tuition for underrepresented students majoring in food science and human nutrition. She developed a course in food systems and co-authored a text book 'Understanding Food Systems in the US". In 2021 she was appointed Associate Dean for Personnel and Finance in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at ISU. She is a member of the American Society of Nutrition and the Institute for Food Technologists. She has served as chair of the ASNS Diet and Cancer Research Interest Section, Chair of the IFT Higher Education Review Board, and was an executive committee member Sigma Xi. She was recognized as an Outstanding Faculty member by the MU Food Science Association and was awarded the Gold Chalk Award from the MU Graduate Professional Council, and received the ISU Departmental Leadership Award.
Dr. MacDonald has published over 40 manuscripts and 80 abstracts that have been presented at national and international meetings in the area of diet and cancer relationships. She has served on the Economic Development Board for the state of Iowa and the Technology and Commercialization Committee. She was co-leader of the Advanced Food and Feed Platform within the Bioscience Alliance of Iowa that funded the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center. She has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Nutrition, the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Nutrition Reviews and the Korean Journal of Nutrition, and has been on grant review panels for the US Army Breast Cancer program, USDA-CSREES, NIH, Komen Foundation and other funding groups.