Dr. Adam Heuberger is an Assistant Professor in Horticulture and Landscape Architecture (HLA) at Colorado State University. He is originally from the Midwest, where he received B.S. (Molecular Biology, 2005) and M.S. degrees (Plant Breeding and Genetics, 2008) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then completed a Ph.D. program at CSU (Plant Genetics, 2011) that would develop into his current career area, known as Crops for Health. Crops for Health is a focus within HLA that explains relationships between plant genetics, agriculture and human health.
Adam’s research and teaching is based on plant chemistry. Plant chemistry is central to understanding what is in plants, how they grow, their end-use quality, and how they influence health. Horticultural plants such as fruits and vegetables are central to a healthy diet. Adam’s laboratory studies potato chemistry to understand how they can reduce blood pressure, and onion chemistry to study how they act against cancer. His lab also evaluates plant cultivars and growing conditions to improve overall health benefits.
The Heuberger laboratory also investigates plant chemistry important for food flavor. His studies in barley and wheat have found cultivars that provide unique flavor for beer and bread. In beer, he evaluates different plant ingredients for their effects on flavor. One study found that post-harvest processing of hops can influence the expiration date of beer. Adam’s flavor research is usually done in collaboration with the brewing and flour industries, including testing at an industrial scale to understand how different plant ingredients are important to the everyday consumer.
Dr. Heuberger developed a new course for HLA called Phytochemicals and Probiotics for Health. The course was developed based on feedback from students at CSU; they urged that while there are many CSU classes focused on human health, no class integrates human health content with where food comes from and how it is produced. The class is co-taught with Dr. Tiffany Weir, Associate Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Faculty Affiliate of HLA. The course provides an overview of plant biochemistry and production, how this influences food chemistry, and how these chemicals are metabolized by gut microorganisms and the human body to influence health and disease. Adam developed a second HLA course called Metabolomics Methods and Analysis to teach students how to study plant chemistry in the laboratory. The class is computer-based and introduces ideas of ‘Big Data’ in horticulture.
Adam’s career has led to 40 publications of peer-reviewed manuscripts, proceedings, book chapters, and articles in trade magazines. His research program is driven by 2 postdoctoral scientists, 5 graduate students, and 3 undergraduate technicians. His funding is from federal, state, and industry grants, and he has developed new collaborations at CSU and with other academic institutions. Dr. Heuberger is the upcoming Chair of the Biomedical, Health Beneficial, and Nutritionally Enhanced Plants division of the Crop Science Society of America for which he also serves as an Associate Editor. He has a wife (Courtney) and two children (Alda, 6 and Saul, 4) who challenge him to be greater each day.