George Liepa Sigma XI Speaker Series

The 2025 George Liepa Sigma Xi Annual Speaker event will take place on Thursday, March 20th, 2025. Dessert Reception Immediately Following

The George Liepa Sigma Xi Annual Speaker Series Endowed Fund at Eastern Michigan University presents:

Dr. Sarah Comstock, "Human Milk: Shaping Microbial Communities, Supporting Positive Child Health Outcomes"

Dr. Comstock
Dr. Comstock


Thursday, March 14, 2024, 7–8 p.m. in The Student Center Auditorium, Dessert Reception Immediately Following

About the lecture: The goal of my research program is to determine which aspects of our environments affect the microbes that reside in our guts. Further, my research group is working to understand which microbes are most important to allow for appropriate child development – growth, neurodevelopment, and prevention of allergies. We use longitudinal pregnancy, birth, and pediatric cohorts to do this. In this lecture, I will describe how maternal obesity is related to breastfeeding success. I will also describe how human milk feeding patterns affect the microbes that are found in the infant gut. Finally, I will present emerging evidence regarding the association between the gut microbiota at three months of age and child neurodevelopment. 

Sarah S. Comstock is an Associate Professor in the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition at Michigan State University. She earned her BS in Biochemistry from the University of Chicago, her PhD in Nutritional Biology from the University of California, Davis, and completed two post docs -- one with Sharon Donovan at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and one with Jenifer Fenton, at Michigan State University. Dr. Comstock’s lab at MSU is working to understand the factors that affect the microbes in our guts and how those gut microbes impact health. Recent funding from the National Institutes of Health will support research to understand how these microbes impact child growth trajectories. Though Dr. Comstock’s research focuses on pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, she also researches the microbiomes of non-pregnant adult populations. She has over 76 publications in the field of nutrition. Recently, the MSU FSHN department awarded her the Emerging Leadership and Outreach Award, and MSU named her the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year. Dr. Comstock is a member of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), and the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML). 


For more information please contact the Graduate School at 734.487.0042 or [email protected]. This event is free and open to the public.



Dr. George Liepa
Dr. George Liepa

The George Liepa Sigma XI Speaker Series Endowed Fund was established in 2011 in memory of Dr. George Liepa [PDF]. George was an active campus member of Sigma Xi, a professor of human nutrition and a department head in the College of Health and Human Services.

When the Graduate Research Fair was created, it was his idea to have a science-related speaker present at the end of the day. George secured funding from Sigma Xi National to start the event and was a key figure in helping to select the annual speaker as well as marketing the event to EMU students, faculty and local high schools.


Previous George Liepa Sigma Xi Speakers:

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