Research Assistant Professor
Marta's primary research focuses on plant compounds of interest to human/animal health. With an ever-increasing world population, food security is a priority. While traditionally food security may have been only related to food sufficiency, presently adequate food quality is also gaining importance to achieve nourishment and seize health benefits of plant foods. She is interested in two main areas. The first is to understand how phytochemical content of fruits and legumes could be enhanced to increase their effect on health. Phytochemicals, found in fruit and vegetables, have been associated with prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer. However, about 75% of the U.S. population consume below the recommended fruit and vegetable intake level. Her second area of interest is increasing iron bioavailability of legume grains. Iron is an essential nutrient for plants and humans and its deficiency leads to severe problems. In humans, iron deficiency affects nearly 30% of the population globally and occurs in developing and industrialized countries. To achieve these goals, she uses an interdisciplinary approach, collaborating with colleagues in different disciplines including plant physiology, biochemistry, agriculture, breeding, and animal and human nutrition.