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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.

PSIFT Winners

Puget Sound Section Institute of Food Technologists (PSIFT) 2016 Achievement Awards

  • Poonam Bajaj and Shuxiang Liu are recipients of Outstanding Student Award.
  • Ravi Kiran Tadapaneni, Ellen Bornhorst, Jungang Wang and Deepali Jain are recipients of Travel award.
  • Hongchao Zhang is recipient of Scholastic Award.

PSIFT 2016

The awards were presented to recipients at the Student Awards Dinner on Thursday May 12th in Seattle by PSIFT.

$11M funds food safety center, tech transfer to markets

March 30, 2016 | WSU News, by Sylvia Kantor, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences
and Alyssa Patrick, Office of Economic Development

PULLMAN, Wash. – Consumer demand for safe, high quality, additive-free packaged foods is on the rise. Washington State University is advancing toward meeting this demand thanks to two recent investments in innovative food processing technology based on microwave energy.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded WSU a $4 million grant to establish a Center of Excellence ( that will accelerate the technology transfer to mainstream commercial markets. This is the first Center of Excellence on Food Safety Processing Technologies funded by USDA NIFA’s flagship program, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (

Meanwhile, a $7.2 million investment was announced in March by the Australian government to adopt microwave assisted thermal sterilization (MATS) technology. WSU and industry partner 915 Labs ( will provide the system to Australia’s Ministry of Defence.

The two investments will provide improved ready-to-eat meals for convenience-oriented consumers and soldiers alike.

Microwave-based food processing

MATS and microwave assisted pasteurization systems (MAPS) use a combination of microwave heat and a hot water tunnel to rapidly heat packaged food to sterilization or pasteurization temperatures and hold it there for a minimum amount of time before quickly cooling it down.

Two MATS food products filed by WSU and one by AmeriQual Foods have received U.S. Food and Drug Administration acceptance, paving the way for commercialization in the U.S.Regents professor Juming Tang and his team in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering developed the technologies and processing methods at WSU. Both technologies are licensed and sold through Denver-based 915 Labs. The company’s MATS/MAPS systems are in operation at several locations around the U.S., and major consumer food companies in Singapore and India have recently purchased systems.

Small and midsized food companies

MAPS research at WSU. The new center will provide hands-on facilities for small and medium sized companies to develop their own products using MATS and MAPS.

Over the next four years, the WSU Center of Excellence for Food Safety Using Microwave Energy led by Tang will focus on reducing technical and regulatory hurdles for small and medium sized companies to use the novel technologies in production of high quality, safe, ready-to-eat meals for a wide range of consumers.

Tang expects the technologies will help food companies comply with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and will particularly benefit rural communities, where most small and medium companies are located.

“Typically, small to midsized companies don’t have the expertise and infrastructure to develop and test new technologies like this themselves,” he said. “This funding allows us to bridge that gap. We’ll be able to provide hands-on facilities for them to develop their own products using MATS and MAPS.”

The WSU Center of Excellence research team includes Shyam Sablani, Carolyn Ross and Karina Gallardo.

Better food for soldiers

The $7.2 million Australian investment demonstrates the global interest in the technology. Like the U.S. military, which has long provided critical support for Tang’s research, Australia’s military is interested in healthier, better-tasting food options for its troops – as well as other consumers.

“Defence investment in next-generation technologies, such as MATS, will have spill-over effects into other areas of the economy and help create local jobs,” said Marise Payne, Australia’s minister of defence, in a recent press release (

Australia will establish a research and development plant at the Defence Food and Nutrition Centre in Tasmania as well as a production facility with the systems purchased by 915 Labs. Australia is also interested in the commercial potential of MATS.


Juming Tang, WSU Biological Systems Engineering, 509-335-2140,
Sylvia Kantor, WSU College of Agriculture, Human & Natural Resource Sciences communications, 206-770-6063,
Alyssa Patrick, WSU Office of Economic Development, 206-219-2427,

SURCA 2016

PULLMAN, Wash.—At Washington State University’s largest-ever Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) on March 28, 52 of the 231 students presenting just over 200 posters landed a total of 46 awards, announced Shelley Pressley, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, event host.

The awards total $10,300. There were 20 crimson awards (the highest possible), 17 gray awards (the second highest), 7 novice awards (for students working up to two semesters on their research and who show exceptional promise), and 2 early career awards (for freshmen and sophomores only).

In the category of Engineering and Physical Sciences, BSE student, Lauren Celmer, mentored by Shyam Sablani, received a Gray Award for “Microencapsulation of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Rich Flax Seed Oil Using Pea Protein Isolate;”

[ more ]

WSU Faculty wins IFT Achievement Award

Sablani200-15 home-iftaward

Food science and technology matters. Professionals in the field improve availability, nutrition, and safety of the world’s food supply. They bring scientific and technological innovation to an increasingly global marketplace. They give back to the community through teaching and leadership.

Congratulations to BSE faculty member, Shyam Sablani, the 2016 recipient of the Marcel Loncin Research Prize.

The Marcel Loncin Research Prize, given every other year, was first awarded in 1994. It honors and provides research funding to an IFT member or nonmember scientist or engineer conducting basic chemistry/physics/engineering research applied to food processing and improvement of food quality.

Sponsor: The Lomi Foundation Endowment Fund of Feeding Tomorrow

Purpose: The prize, given every other year, was first awarded in 1994.  To honor and provide research funding for an IFT-member or nonmember scientist or engineer conducting basic chemistry/physics/engineering research applied to food processing and improvement of food quality. Prize money is to be used by the recipient in directing and carrying out a proposed research project and to allow a successful scientist to help a young scientist(s) to also become successful.

Award: $50,000 paid in two annual installments and a plaque

more information

Research for specialty crops boosted by $1.7 million

by Sylvia Kantor, CAHNRS News

PULLMAN, Wash. – More than $1.7 million was awarded to Washington State University for specialty crop research including berries, potatoes, grapes, tree fruit, onions, carrots and Christmas trees, the Washington State Department of Agriculture announced today.

WSU received grants for 10 of the 24 projects funded through the 2015 U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The total award for the state was $4.1 million. [read full article]

One of the 10 projects funded is within the Department of Biological Systems Engineering:

  • Developing Value-Added Products from Washington Grown Red Raspberries; Shyam Sablani, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Pullman;  $91,878
Washington State University