John Byrnes, Ph.D., R.D.

  • Director
  • Penn State Center Engaging Philadelphia
John Byrnes, Ph.D., R.D.
Penn State Center
675 Sansom Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106
Work Phone: 215-471-2200

Areas of Expertise

  • Food Safety and Nutrition
  • Engaged Scholarship


  1. B.S., Mathematics, University at Albany (NY)
  2. M.S., Nutrition Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
  3. Ph.D., Health Education, Temple University

John Byrnes is the Director of the Penn State Center Engaging Philadelphia, which facilitates community-focused learning, student involvement, and solution-oriented research to help enrich the lives of urban citizens, improve the quality of communities, and enhance the success of local entrepreneurs.

Through John’s leadership, Penn State Center Philadelphia staff have created an extraordinary central point of contact for Penn State professors, researchers, and students who want to create learning and research partnerships while applying research-based knowledge to help support a sustainable future for the City of Philadelphia. The Penn State Philadelphia Center is located near Independence Hall. 

Penn State Center Philadelphia has developed strong programmatic emphasis in Horticulture, Nutrition Education, Urban Agricultural Entrepreneurship, Youth Development, and Landscape Architecture. Coordinated focus has been the key to all of the Penn State Center’s accomplishments to date. 

John received a Masters degree in Nutrition Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, where he explored the benefits of local food systems and sustainable agriculture with many of the field’s early leaders. John’s experience at Teachers College inspired him to “think globally, act locally” while providing NYC teens with cooking demonstrations and drug prevention education at The Door, a multi service center for youth located in Manhattan. 

John earned a Ph.D. in Health Education from Temple University where he encouraged teachers from the School District of Philadelphia to utilize a cross curriculum approach to exploring good health practices with their students. He has worked for Penn State since 1994, as a Food Safety and Nutrition Educator for his first 13 years and as the Penn State Center Director since 2005.