Health sciences professor brings nutrition expertise and experience to UCCS

Do you know Jackie Berning? You may have spotted her at the Hybl Center or taken one of her health and nutrition classes.

With multiple degrees including a Ph.D. in nutrition, Berning is a professor and chair of the UCCS Health Sciences Department who has done a lot of work in the health and nutrition industry — including a stint with the Denver Broncos.

Besides publishing extensive research and chapters in health and nutrition textbooks, Berning has been invited as a visiting professor to universities all over the U.S. and has held multiple professional seminars. She’s received multiple awards, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2020 Medallion Award.

Berning explained that her interest in health and nutrition was first piqued when her father was diagnosed with diabetes. She remembers the healthcare worker explaining the situation to her father and giving him advice on what to eat and what not to eat. “I thought that was really interesting and something that I would like to do,” Berning said.

“The hardest part is getting people to eat right,” Berning said. A lot of people do not pay attention to what they eat, and they base their diet on taste, ease of preparation and cost, not nutritional value. She finds satisfaction in teaching about health and nutrition and impacting her students’ lives by making them aware of their eating habits.

“A lot of people need to know how [what] to eat. Seeing someone on campus who stops [me] and tells me, ‘You taught me how to eat’ just keeps me going,” Berning said.

Berning said she is proud of her work experience and overjoyed by the fact that she is making a living out of health and nutrition. Besides the Denver Broncos, she’s worked with numerous organizations including the Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Guardians, U.S. Olympic Swim Team, USA Lacrosse and many more professional sports teams.

Over Berning’s time as a consulting nutritionist, the Broncos achieved five Super Bowl appearances and two world championships.

“Dad, there are more factors involved in human performance than just diet,” Berning recalled telling her father over the phone when he would poke at the Broncos’ losses. But when they won, she was sure to ring him up and tell him that it was all diet that made them win.

Berning’s advice for those who are pursuing a career in health and nutrition is to be persistent and disciplined.

Jackie Berning is the Health Sciences Chair and a professor at UCCS. Photo by Meghan Germain.