Dr. MacDonald received a Ph.D in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. She completed an MS in Nutrition also from the University of Minnesota and has been certified as a Registered Dietitian. She was an NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School, Joslin Diabetes Center, in Boston MA. before joining the faculty in the Department of Food Science at the University of Missouri, Columbia MO, where she rose to the rank of Professor and was Department Chair.
In 2004, Dr. MacDonald moved to Iowa State University as Professor and Chair of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. She is a member of the American Society of Nutrition, American Association for Cancer Research, Sigma Xi, and the Institute for Food Technologists. She has served as chair of the ASNS Diet and Cancer Research Interest Section, and was an executive committee member Sigma Xi. She has been recognized as an Outstanding Faculty member by the MU Food Science Association and was awarded the Gold Chalk Award from the MU Graduate Professional Council.
Dr. MacDonald has published over 40 manuscripts and 80 abstracts that have been presented at national and international meetings. She currently serves on the Economic Development Board for the state of Iowa and the Technology and Commercialization Committee. She was co-leader of the Advanced Food and Feed Platform within the Bioscience Alliance of Iowa. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Nutrition, the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, the Korean Journal of Nutrition, and has been on grant review panels for the US Army Breast Cancer program, USDA-CSREES, NIH, Komen Foundation and other funding groups.