Dr. Whigham received her B.S. degree in biochemistry from Iowa State University. After working for 2 years in the DNA Core Facility at the University of Iowa, she attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences. While in graduate school, she was awarded the American Society for Nutritional Sciences Graduate Student Research Award. Her post-doctoral training, which was partially funded through a fellowship with the University of Wisconsin Center for Women's Health, a National Center of Excellence in Women's Health, was conducted in the Departments of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Following her post-doctoral training, Dr. Whigham worked as a scientist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. In December 2009, Dr. Whigham joined the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center (GFHNRC) as a Research Nutritionist.
Dr. Whigham's research interests in the past have included effects of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) on immune function and body composition, investigations of the molecular mechanisms involved in virally-induced obesity, and efficacy of a high-vegetable diet for weight loss. Ongoing research includes investigation of energy expenditure mechanisms involved with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and obesity, as well as development of a new approach for modeling metabolic dynamics; development of biofeedback methods for weight loss; and approaches for decreasing excessive gestational weight gain in obese pregnant women.
- First to show that conjugated linoleic acid decreases antigen-induced histamine and eicosanoid release in a type I hypersensitivity (allergy) model.
- Conducted the first long-term safety trial of conjugated linoleic acid in humans.
- Contributed to research showing that human adenovirus Ad-36 promotes weight gain in non-human primates.
- First to show that human adenovirus Ad-37 increased adiposity in an animal model.