Rita Strakovsky

Rita Strakovsky

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Associate Professor, Maternal Nutrition and Toxicology
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition




PhD: University of Illinois, Urbana – Champaign (Nutritional Sciences)
RD: University of Illinois, Urbana – Champaign (Registered Dietitian)
BS: University of Illinois, Urbana – Champaign (Molecular and Cellular Biology)

Professional positions 

Postdoctoral Research: University of Illinois, Urbana – Champaign (NIEHS/EPA Children’s Environmental Health Research Center):

  • T32 postdoctoral fellow in Endocrine, Developmental & Reproductive Toxicology
  • K99/R00 postdoctoral research associate, Illinois Kids Development Study (I-KIDS)

Research Interests

My research focuses on various modifiable lifestyle and environmental factors that can be targeted to protect maternal and child health.

I have worked extensively in rodent pregnancy models to study the effects of maternal diet or exposure to environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on the epigenetic regulation of energy metabolism in offspring. Driven by findings from these studies, my current research in human populations uses molecular epidemiology and biostatistics techniques to address several questions related to the health of mom and her developing fetus during pregnancy: 

  • Does exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in pregnancy impact maternal hormone levels and how does that impact fetal development via dysregulation of fetal fatty acid supply? (supported by K99/R00 award from NIEHS)  
  • Does exposure to phthalates in pregnancy impact maternal long-term cardiometabolic health, and does hormonal disruption mediate this relationship? (supported by R01 award from NIEHS) 
  • Do mixtures of dietary micronutrients impact length of gestation, and does diet quality or exposure to environmental chemicals modify this relationship? (supported by Administrative Supplement from NIH Office of Dietary Supplements) 
  • How does maternal obesity and adiposity impact biomarkers of reproductive endpoints in newborns, and does this differ in male vs. female babies? (supported by R03 award from NICHD). 
  • Is perinatal obesity associated with maternal mitochondrial epigenetic disruption and is that related to newborn weight or gestational age at birth? (supported by pilot grant from Michigan Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes cohort (ECHO)) 

Research Topics

Maternal obesity and lipid metabolism

Maternal macronutrient intake and metabolic diseases

Endocrine disrupting chemicals and interaction with diet

Epigenetics and Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD)


Women's cardiometabolic health

Recent Publications

Please see a list of my publications here.