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Karen Della Corte: Scientist of Faith

The College of Life Sciences is honored to welcome Dr. Karen Della Corte as a new assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science. Della Corte’s research focuses on the role of the diet—particularly carbohydrate quality—in risk disease development. With her experience in epidemiological research, Della Corte is excited to expand students’ understanding of how healthy dietary patterns can help with chronic disease prevention.

A black and white photo of Karen Della Corte standing in front of Bonn University wearing her graduation cap and gown. She's holding one of her children.
Della Corte in front of University of Bonn, where she earned her master's degree.
Photo by Karen Della Corte

Della Corte studied nutrition and health science as an undergraduate at Weber State University. Her professors encouraged her to continue developing her research skills after hearing Della Corte’s capstone presentation: “Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Communities Through Nutritional Intervention.” Inspired by her professor’s words, Della Corte pursued a master’s degree in human nutrition from the University of Bonn, one of Germany’s top universities and rated one of the top 100 universities in the world. “It’s located in an ancient, beautiful castle on the Rhine, and I dreamed of being able to go there,” she said.

The University of Bonn presented Della Corte with a multitude of opportunities to further her education. “Effect of Dietary Sugar Intake on Biomarkers of Subclinical Inflammation and Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease,” Della Corte’s master’s thesis, resulted in a publication that opened the door for a doctorate degree. She followed her doctorate supervisor who transferred to Paderborn University in Germany , where she earned her doctorate in public health nutrition in 2021.

Della Corte stands with Jennie Brand-Miller (right) and another one of her friends (left) in front of a large amphitheater. They all have their arms around each other and are laughing.
Photo by Della Corte with her PhD and post-doc supervisors, Annette Buyken (left) and Jennie Brand-Miller (right), at a conference in Croatia

After her wonderful and rigorous educational experience in Germany, Della Corte furthered her research in a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Sydney with Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller, a world authority on the glycemic index. She spent the last two years evaluating the glycemic index versus dietary sugars for risk markers of type 2 diabetes and body fat in a multi-site study. Earlier this year, Della Corte and Brand-Miller presented their published work at international conferences in Croatia and Sicily. “[Brand-Miller] not only conducts world-class research but brings the complexity of her research to the individual through her many published books on diet and health,” Della Corte said. “She’s a wonderful example to me of promoting health effectively.”

Della Corte was drawn to teach at BYU because she considers herself a disciple of Jesus Christ first and a professional second. To her, there’s no other school where she can openly consecrate herself to the Lord. “Here, I can openly involve the Lord in all I do—in interactions with the students and the way I teach—openly accessing His enabling power,” Della Corte said. Della Corte knows that teaching by the Spirit is the best way to ensure her students get the highest quality education. “I’m encouraged here to be a scientist of faith and combine professional training with deep spirituality,” Della Corte said. “I am excited to build the students through teaching, providing opportunities for research through mentoring, and thereby helping them reach their potential.”

Della Corte and her husband, an assistant professor of Physics at BYU, have four kids. They live in Provo and enjoy the mountains, the food scene, and the welcoming community. When she’s not working, she enjoys being with her children, traveling, baking bread, and exploring nature.

Della Corte is feeding kangaroos in a zoo enclosure. She's wearing a short sleeve khaki shirt and blue pants.
Photo by Della Corte got to explore a lot of Sydney, Australia during her time there for her post-doctoral fellowship