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Rachel Kopec

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Sciences

Program Area: Human Nutrition

(614) 688-0954


Rachel Kopec is an assistant professor of human nutrition in the Department of Human Sciences. She was initially interested in using chemistry to improve the human condition and spent her undergraduate years studying pharmacy.  However, after discovering the limitations of drug-based therapy, she decided to switch directions and pursue an interdisciplinary PhD in nutrition, where there was a greater opportunity to positively impact human health through disease prevention.  Her thesis work focused on the deposition, metabolism, and bioactivity of carotenoids (the compounds which impart yellow, orange, and red hues to common fruits and vegetables).  She continued her studies on carotenoid metabolism during human digestion throughout her postdoctorate at INRA (Institut national de la recherché agronomique).  

Kopec was hired by Ohio State under the Discovery Themes Initiative Foods for Health, and plans to use targeted LC-MS/MS and metabolomics techniques to better understand the interplay of metabolic pathways of fat soluble vitamin uptake, utilization, and excretion.  She will also use these techniques to study the capacity of chlorophylls to reduce the adverse impact of persistent fat-soluble environmental toxins (like those found in plastics) on human health. Kopec contributes a great part of her success to local and international collaborations with a diverse group of specialties – from horticulturalists to medical doctors to statisticians.   


  • AgreenSkills Postdoctoral Fellow, INRA, 2013 - 2016
  • PhD, Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, 2012
  • BS, Pharmaceutical Sciences, The Ohio State University, 2006
  • BS, Business Administration, Finance Specialization, The Ohio State University, 2006

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  • Goetz, H.J., Kopec, R.E., Riedl, K.M., Cooperstone, J.L., Narayanasamy, S., Curley, R.W. Jr., Harrison, E.H., Schwartz, S.J. 2016. An HPLC-MS/MS method for the separation of α-retinyl esters from retinyl esters. Journal of Chromatography B. 1029:68-71
  • Kopec, R.E., Schick, J., Tober, K.L., Riedl, K.M., Francis, D., Young, G.S., Schwartz, S.J., Oberyszyn, T.M. 2015. Sex differences in skin carotenoid deposition and acute UVB-induced skin damage in SKH-1 hairless mice after consumption of tangerine tomatoes. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 59(12):2491-2501
  • Biddle, M.J., Lennie, T.A., Bricker, G.V., Kopec, R.E., Schwartz, S.J., Moser, D.K. 2015. Lycopene dietary intervention: a pilot study in patients with heart failure. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. 30(3):205-210
  • Kopec, R.E., Cooperstone, J.L., Schweiggert, R.M., Riedl, K.M., Harrison, E.H., Francis, D.M., Clinton, S.K., Schwartz, S.J. 2014. Avocado consumption enhances human post-prandial provitamin A absorption and conversion from a novel high β-carotene tomato sauce and from carrots. Journal of Nutrition. 144(8):1158-1166
  • Schweiggert, R.M., Kopec, R.E., Villalobos, M.G., Högel, J., Quesada, S., Esquivel, P., Schwartz, S.J., Carle, R. 2014. Carotenoids are more bioavailable from papaya than from tomato and carrot in humans: a randomized crossover study. British Journal of Nutrition. 111(3):490-498
  • Kopec, R.E., Schweiggert, R.M., Riedl, K.M., Carle, R., Schwartz, S.J. 2013. Comparison of an HPLC-PDA and HPLC-MS/MS method for the analysis of carotenoids and fat soluble vitamins in triglyceride rich lipoproteins. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. 27(12):1393-1402
  • Garzon, G.A., Narvaez C., Kopec, R.E., Riedl, K., Schwartz, S.J. 2012. Characterization and quantification of carotenoids in Arazá (Eugenia stipitata McVaugh) an Amazonian fruit. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 60(18):4709-4717
  • Eroglu, A., Hruszkewycz, D.P., dela Sena, C., Narayanasamy, S., Riedl, K.M., Kopec, R.E., Schwartz, S.J., Curley, R.W.Jr., Harrison, E.H. 2012. Naturally-occurring eccentric cleavage products of provitamin A β-carotene function as antagonists of retinoic acid receptors. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 287(19):15886-15895
  • Pickworth, C.L., Loerch, S.C., Kopec, R.E., Schwartz, S. J., Fluharty, F.L. 2012. Concentration of pro-vitamin A carotenoids in common beef cattle feedstuffs. Journal of Animal Science. 90(5):1553-1561
  • Barona, J., Jones, J.J., Kopec, R.E., Comperatore, M., Andersen, C., Schwartz, S.J., Lerman, R.H., Fernandez, M.L. 2012. A Mediterranean-style low-glycemic-load diet increases plasma carotenoids and decreases LDL oxidation in women with metabolic syndrome. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 23(6):609-6153.

Book Chapters

  • Kopec, R.E., Schwartz, S.J. Carotenoid cleavage dioxygenases and presence of apo-carotenoids in biological matrices. In: Carotenoid Cleavage Products. P. Winterhalter, ed. Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society. 2013: 31-41
  • Kopec, R.E., Schwartz, S.J. Absorption, bioavailability, and metabolism of carotenoids. In: Forschung und Lehre am Lehrstuhl Lebensmittel pflanzlicher Herkunft: Eine Zwischenbilanz. R. Valet, ed. Aachen, Germany: Shaker Verlag GmbH. 2012:126-141
  • Kopec, R.E., Cooperstone, J.L., Cichon, M., Schwartz, S.J. Analysis Methods of Carotenoids. In: Analysis of Antioxidant-Rich Phytochemicals. Z. Xu and L. Howard, eds. Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell. 2012: 105-148
  • Kopec, R.E., Schwartz, S.J., Hadley, C. Lycopene. In: Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. P. Coates and M. Blackman, eds. 2nd Ed. New York, NY: Informa Healthcare USA, Inc., 2010:504-517