Rachel Kopec

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Human Sciences
College of Education and Human Ecology



Dr. Kopec 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 Ph.D. 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).  Dr. Kopec was hired by Ohio State under the Discovery Themes Initiative Foods for Health in 2016.

  • AgreenSkills Postdoctoral Fellow, INRA, 2013 - 2016
  • Ph.D., Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, 2006 - 2012
  • B.S., Pharmaceutical Sciences, The Ohio State University, 2002 - 2006
  • B.S., Business Administration, Finance Specialization, The Ohio State University, 2002 – 2006   
Areas of Expertise/Interest
  • Targeted liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analyses (LC-MS/MS) for compound identification and quantitation
  • Metabolomics (lipid and water soluble)
  • Use of stable isotopes as internal standards or markers of metabolism
  • Digestion (in vitro and in vivo)
  • fat-soluble vitamins
  • fat-soluble phytochemicals (carotenoids, chlorophyll derivatives)

Dr. Kopec’s personal research interests include the use of targeted LC-MS and metabolomics techniques to better understand the interplay of metabolic pathways of fat soluble vitamin uptake, utilization, and excretion.  She also plans to 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.

Dr. Kopec contributes a great part of her success to local and international collaborations with a diverse group of specialties, and is open to discussing collaborative projects outside of her immediate research interests.  

Selected Publications

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

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

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

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., Riedl, K.M., Harrison, E.H., Curley, R.W. Jr., Hruszkewycz, D.P., Clinton, S.K., Schwartz, S.J. Identification and quantification of apo-lycopenals in fruits, vegetables, and human plasma. 2010. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 58(6):3290-3296

Publications in Preparation 

Kopec, R.E., Gleize, B., Borel, P., Demarchelier, C., Caris-Veyrat, C. 2016. Loss of lutein, lycopene, and β-carotene through the digestive process. Submitted

Kopec, R.E., Carail, M., Caris-Veyrat, C. 2016. Synthesis and separation of lutein oxidation products. In preparation

Kopec, R.E., Borel, P., Nowicki, M., Gleize, B., Caris-Veyrat, C. 2016. Lycopene metabolite absorption in healthy humans. In preparation

Kopec, R.E., Caris-Veyrat, C.,  Nowicki, M., Gleize, B., Caris-Veyrat, C. Borel, P. 2016. 13C β-Carotene stability during digestion in healthy humans. In preparation