R. Paul Singh, PhD

R. Paul Singh, PhDMy early exposure to food science in an undergraduate degree program in agricultural engineering stimulated my interest in pursuing graduate studies in food engineering. I was fortunate to advance my learning of food engineering by listening to lectures from some of the leading scientists/engineers in chemical engineering and food science at the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University.

With a strong academic foundation in food science and engineering, I was well prepared to contribute to the development of food engineering program at the University of California, Davis, where I began my professional career in 1975. In the past four decades, the food industry has undergone numerous changes. I was able to develop my research program during this time to address some of the key issues facing the industry, including energy and water use efficiencies, inventory management and shelf life of foods, emerging technologies, use of computational tools to improve food manufacturing operations, and the role of food in human health issues using fundamental engineering approaches. These topics have allowed me to develop active collaborations with other scientists in the United States as well as a number of overseas laboratories and institutions. Along with research, I have been fortunate to co-author text books that have found wide use in teaching food engineering. Developing educational materials (including web-based contents) has been most gratifying to me as it provides me with direct contact with students, instructors and practitioners in the industry. Engagement in professional societies (IFT, ASABE, ASEE) have helped me to understand the needs of a profession and how a professional society can best respond to the needs of its members. I would like to draw from my experiences over these past four decades in contributing my future service to IFT.

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What do you feel you can contribute to the growth and advancement of IFT?
Advancement of any professional society is an outcome of opportunities it creates for its members for their professional growth. By supporting venues where its members inform and engage others in the community on contemporary issues helps attract new members. Having previously served as a Chair of the Northern California Section of IFT, I witnessed the effectiveness of regional programs in the growth of the section. To help advance IFT, I will support programs that leverage social media and other innovative approaches such as IFT sponsored channel on the Internet on food science and technology with the aim of broadening the visibility of IFT. Similarly, IFT’s role in providing science-based information to government policy makers will merit my strong endorsement as it elevates IFT’s stature and ultimately its growth.

What are the three most important strategic issues facing the profession and the industry that align with IFT’s goals and how would you address these as a member of the Board of Directors?
The three most important strategic issues facing the profession and the industry are:

  • The nexus of food consumption, food safety and consumer health has created a strong sense of consumer awareness but also considerable misinformation.
  • Sustainability of the global food chain is under threat from increasing constraints on the natural resources that are also necessary for an efficient food system.
  • Despite today’s advances in information technology, methods used in knowledge transfer still remain inefficient in the classroom, and at the local, national or international level for decision making by policy makers.

As a member of the Board of Directors, I will encourage and promote innovative models that promise successful transfer of knowledge from laboratories (in academia and government) to the industry and the consumer. While current reliance on technical publications will continue to provide an important channel, the changing landscape offered by information technology suggests that other highly effective tools are emerging where IFT can play a leadership role in effectively transferring science based knowledge. Recent successes in using the web-based technologies in disseminating food science suggest that these tools need greater attention and support.

Although IFT has a strong national presence to inform policy makers, innovative approaches that involve IFT volunteers active at the city and state level merit consideration and support. Such grass root participation in food related issues would bring wider awareness of food science so that consumers make informed choices, while also increasing visibility for recruitment of students into food science.

The forthcoming constraints faced by the food industry involving water, energy and environment merit increased involvement of IFT. Programs on issues related to sustainability need enhanced support similar to the one created recently on Food Traceability.

While the preceding discussion is on three strategic issues that I feel important for IFT, I will encourage the IFT Board to promote a national discussion among its members (involving various communities and sections) in addressing Grand Challenges faced by the US and global food chain where food scientists (and IFT) can play an impactful role. IFT’s leadership role will support informed discussion to identify emerging challenges and help develop future directions.

Why do you want to serve on the Board of Directors and how has your work and volunteer experiences prepared you to be a strategic board member?
My interests in serving on the Board of Directors are to help implement key programs that will advance the leadership role of IFT in improving food supply for the consumers. I have previously served as Chair of two divisions of IFT, namely the Food Engineering Division and the Food Education Division. Through this service, I was able to contribute discussion related to the food industry (through the engineering division) and needs in the academia where IFT can play a role (through the education division). However, I found that working within the division structure, one is constrained by the boundaries of the division, and many viable approaches involve extensive involvement. I believe that serving on the Board will provide me with a broader perspective and opportunity to seek programs with wider applications. Similarly, my involvement in international activities have given me a good understanding of seeking solutions while respecting nuances of diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds. These experiences will help me in contributing to decisions involving international activities that are becoming increasingly important to IFT members.

What defines a successful board and how would you contribute?
A successful board requires participation and informed discussion of topics—a good debate involving discussion of different perspectives with an in-depth examination of the issues at hand. A spirit of collegiality and compromise are essential in this discussion. Using science-based information, decisions arrived by the board must go beyond an individual and address its impact on the profession. I will do my homework to seek out the facts and participate in the discussion to help arrive at decisions that will focus on the broader interests of the profession.

Formal Education
PhD, 1974, Agricultural Engineering, Michigan State University
MS, 1972, Agricultural Engineering, University of Wisconsin Madison
BS, 1970, Agricultural Engineering, Punjab Agricultural University, India

Career History

Company

Title

Start Date

End Date

University of California

Distinguished Professor

2006

Present

University of California

Assistant Vice Provost

1995

1997

University of California

Professor

1983

Present

University of California

Associate Professor

1979

1983

University of California

Assistant Professor

1975

1979

Michigan State University

Assistant Professor

1974

1975

Leadership Experience

Company/Org

Position

Start Date

End Date

IFT Nominating Committee

Member

2007

2009

Elsevier Journal of Food Engineering

Editor in Chief

2006

Present

ASAE Fellows Screening Committee

Chair

2005

2006

IFT Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety

Editor

2003

2005

IFT Food Education Division

Chair

2000

2001

AVI Journal of Food Process Engineering

Co-Editor

1986

2005

IFT Food Engineering Division

Chair

1985

1986

ASAE Food Engineering Division

Chair

1981

1982

Professional and Community Recognition

  • Distinguished Research Award, College of Engineering, University of California, 2013
  • Massey Ferguson Education Award, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, 2013
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, International Association of Engineering and Food, 2011
  • Harris Award, Ohio State University, 2011
  • Nicholas Appert Award, Institute of Food Technologists, 2010
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, College of Engineering, Michigan State University, 2009
  • Member, U.S. National Academy of Engineering, 2008
  • Kishida International Award, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, 2007
  • Food Engineering Hall of Fame, 2003
  • Fellow, International Academy of Food Science and Technology, 2001
  • Fellow, Institute of Food Technologists, 2000
  • Fellow, American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 2000
  • William Evans Visiting Fellow, University of Otago, Dunedin, 2003
  • Grand Prix Award, The Japan Food Machinery Manufacturers Association, 2001, 2008
  • G. Malcolm Trout Visiting Scholar, Michigan State University, 2000
  • Distinguished Food Engineer Award, DFISA/FPEI, International Food Equipment Suppliers Association, and American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 1997
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Punjab Agricultural University, 1989
  • IFT International Award, Institute of Food Technologists, 1988
  • NATO Senior Guest Lecturer, 1987, 1993
  • A.W. Farrall Young Educator Award, American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 1986
  • Samuel Cate Prescott Award for Research, Institute of Food Technologists, 1982
  • First Place Paper Award, American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 1982.
  • Two Honorable Mention Paper Awards, American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 1981