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IFT Program of the Month

Oct 2017  | IFT Food Engineering Division Newsletter

The department highlighted this month is the Department of Biological Systems Engineering (BSE), in the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at the Washington State University located in Pullman, WA. BSE offers the Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Biological and Agricultural Engineering with four areas of emphasis, including Food Engineering. As of Fall 2017, 25 graduate students are enrolled in the Ph.D. degree and 2 in M. S. degree programs with an emphasis in Food Engineering. Under the supervision of three core faculty members, these students conduct cutting-edge research in advanced thermal and nonthermal food technologies as well as polymeric packaging technologies to help the food industry address challenges of increasing consumer demand for safe, nutritious, and high-quality food products. These students are often involved in multi-institutional programs supported by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture CAPS projects, USDA National Needs Program; their dissertation committee members represent from different disciplines, including Food Science, Electric Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Veterinary Sciences.  In addition, students are members of a very active Food Engineering Club which organizes various activities to enhance their professional and social experiences.  Students participate in summer internships at food processing and polymer companies and actively support faculty members in technology transfer boot camps, among other professional development activities. Our past graduates are working in major US and international universities, federal government agencies and global food companies.

Cellulosic Revelation

Sept 2017  | BIOFUELS JOURNAL

Snippet of Biofuels Journal cover, Second Quarter 2017Researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington have discovered that newly combined spectroscopy processes can reveal the differences between the inside and the outside of the molecular structure of cellulosic biomass.

view pdf of article in Biofuels Journal]

view digital magazine – requires Flash ]

 

CSANR, BSE researchers seek sites to grow tomorrow’s produce

Chad Kruger, director of CSANR; Claudio Stöckle, Biological Systems Engineering professor; and Kirti Rajagopalan, assistant research professor with CSANR,Thanks to a changing climate, production of fruits and vegetables may be more challenging in some regions of the country in the future.

To help ensure tomorrow’s fruits and vegetables, researchers with the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) and Department of Biological Systems Engineering are on a four-year, $3.4 million research project to find more places to grow produce, led by the University of Florida.

At WSU, Chad Kruger, director of CSANR; Claudio Stöckle, Biological Systems Engineering professor; and Kirti Rajagopalan, assistant research professor with CSANR, received more than $490,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“The fruit and vegetable industries make very significant investments in infrastructure and logistics to produce, process, pack and distribute products,” said Kruger. “Having better information to understand future risks to these investments is critical to the sustainability of fruit and vegetable production in the U.S.”

“The Pacific Northwest has growing advantages and opportunities that we want to explore,” added Rajagopalan. “We’re excited to help chart new strategies to sustain the fruit and vegetable value chain, while maintaining our nutritious, reliable and environmentally-sound food supply.”

WSU Faculty, Dr. Lav Khot, Presents at 2017 APS Annual Meeting in San Antonio

Dr. Lav R. Khot
State-of-the-art on Sensing Technologies for Plant Disease Detection

Lav Khot, Assistant Professor,
Department of Biological Systems Engineering
IAREC, Washington State University

APS Annual Meeting 2017 website headerBrief description: Site-specific disease detection is one of the key aspects of effective crop (loss) management. Recent advances in detectors (optical, chemical) have improved feasibility of development and use of rapid non-contact/nondestructive sensing techniques in plant diseases detection. Advances in versatile ground-, aerial-platforms, and internet of things (IOT)-enabled data acquisition, in-field onboard processing, and near-real-time delivery techniques have also helped in easing logical concerns, about time and labor, of field level crop scouting. This talk will thus focus on state-of-the art in the field of chemical and optical sensors, platforms (e.g. small and mid-sized unmanned aerial systems), and IOT based technologies that could be an aid in rapid disease detection. Through case studies in specialty crops, the talk will discuss the feasibility of the technology in field level disease detection as well as challenges that need further research before its commercial use.

[ more information about the Annual Meeting ]

 

WSU Research Gets Closer to Cost-Effective BioFuels

June 5, 2017 | ENVIRONMENTAL MOLECULAR SCIENCES LABORATORY  [ full article ]

June 6, 2017 | PHYS.ORG [ full article ]

Molecular-level understanding of cellulose structure reveals why it resists degradation and could lead to cost-effective biofuels.

A major bottleneck hindering cost-effective production of biofuels and many valuable chemicals is the difficulty of breaking down cellulose—an important structural component of plant cell walls. A recent study addressed this problem by characterizing molecular features that make cellulose resistant to degradation.

 

 

WSU Tri-Cities team earns CleanTech Big Picture prize at UW business competition

May 26, 2017 | by Maegan Murray

WSU Tri-Cities Lignin Biotech team

RICHLAND, Wash. – A team from Washington State University Tri-Cities took home the Wells Fargo “CleanTech” Big Picture prize during the University of Washington’s Business Plan Competition this week.

With the award, the team, which includes Libing Zhang, a recent doctoral alumna, and Manuel Seubert and Taylor Pate, who are master’s in business administration students, was presented with a $5,000 check.

“We believe that we performed very well,” Zhang said. “We received extremely positive feedback regarding our business plan and presentation. Each team had a great product and were very convincing. We felt fortunate to be a part of it all.”

[ full article ]

WSU Tri-Cities team in UW business competition ‘sweet 16’

April 28, 2017   |  WSU News

RICHLAND, Wash. – A team from Washington State University Tri-Cities whose business plan is to commercialize a WSU-patented jet fuel technology has advanced to the University of Washington Business Plan Competition’s “sweet 16” round.

The sweet 16 round of the UW Business Plan Competition kicks off May 25.

full article on WSU News ]

 

Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge

April 3, 2017  |  WSU News

Manuel Seubert, master’s of business administration student, and Libing Zhang, postdoctoral researcher standing at table with presentation postersRICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities technology and a business plan for converting the plant material lignin into biojet fuel won third place among 21 teams at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge finals last week.

The team of Libing Zhang, postdoctoral researcher, and Manuel Seubert, master’s of business administration student, worked regularly with researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to prepare for the competition. They won the Starbucks $5,000 prize.

[ full article at WSU News ]

New way to characterize cellulose, advance bioproducts

MARCH 23, 2017  |  by Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Researchers at Washington State University Tri-Cities and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have found a new way to define the molecular structure of cellulose, which could lead to cheaper and more efficient ways to make a variety of crucial bioproducts.

For the first time, researchers revealed the differences between the surface layers and the crystalline core of cellulose by combining spectroscopy processes that use infrared and visible laser beams to analyze the structure of molecular components. The findings appear this month in Scientific Reports, an online open-access journal produced by the Nature Publishing Group (http://www.nature.com/articles/srep44319).

[ full article at WSU News ]

Washington State Professor Finds Sky-high Opportunities for Drones in Agriculture

February 27, 2017  |  Washington Farm Bureau

Many farmers and ranchers are already benefitting from drone technology, but the work of researchers like Dr. Lav Khot is showing that we’ve only scratched the surface of what this relatively new technology can do for agriculture. Khot works for Washington State University’s Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems and in the agricultural automation engineering research emphasis area of the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. [ full article on Farm Bureau site ]