When I visited the new food science building at Purdue University recently, I was greeted with proud and happy smiles wherever I went. And no wonder! This is the first new food science building for some time in the entire country, and it is indeed state-of-the-art. It’s also one of the largest, with 20 faculty members and 180 undergraduates. There are 60–65 graduate students, about 30% of whom are from other countries.
The result of the vision of Department Head Philip E. Nelson, the 120,000-sq-ft building is well designed. Laboratories are in the center of the building, with noisy equipment such as pumps located far away in the basement. Teaching classrooms, where one can duplicate laboratory projects, are adjacent to pilot laboratories. All offices are located around the outer rim, thus providing windows and natural light, and these are furnished attractively with appropriate equipment. Three graduate students are assigned per office, which ensures adequate space and enough computers for everybody. Classrooms are mainly on the first floor, which helps with crowd containment, while administrative offices are upstairs along with a well-equipped conference room. There are 36 laboratories, including a 9,000-sq-ft pilot plant, a sensory testing laboratory, a food microbiology teaching laboratory, a food analysis teaching laboratory, and an NMR molecular structure laboratory. There are three laboratories for the cereal group, an area of research for which Purdue is well noted. An independent team of students won the 1999 IFT Student Association Product Development Competition with a new cereal called “Soy Pro.”
The most repeated comment I heard from the happy faces was “we have much more space!” They have the most modern, up-to-date equipment too, including one of only ten RiboPrinters in the entire U.S., an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) spectrometer, and X-ray crystallography equipment, to name only a few. Looking ahead, all equipment will be upgraded, maintained, and replaced as needed with funds provided by interest earned from a Kresge Endowment Grant.
Also located in the building are the Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research, which involves industrial partners; a computer-integrated food manufacturing center; and a food safety program supported by a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture grant ($1,000,000 per year for five years). The enology program, with a well-stocked library downstairs, is unique in the department. State funded, with about 22 wineries in Indiana, the program is impressive.
Nelson is strong on involving industry and other entities in the research and education of food science; as a result, the Purdue Department of Food Science has programs with 22 major industrial associates across the country. A mixture of research, sales and marketing, these programs are working on enhancing nutraceutical foods to protect health (from genetics through processing and delivery); the above-mentioned food safety programs which brings together microbiologists, analytical chemists, and engineers; and an active international program involving technology transfer and training. With more than 20 countries represented among the food science student body, there are also Memoranda of Understanding with such educational institutions as the University of Zamorano, Honduras; ETH in Zurich, Switzerland; and the Dresden University of Technology in Germany.
Three specific disciplines make up the department: chemistry, microbiology, and engineering, all of which are influenced by nutrition. Nutrition is the underlying factor—the common “glue” that ties together these three disciplines to form the foundation for food science, something that is cleverly illustrated in the department’s logo. This innovative department is known to “take its show on the road,” picking up its mobile laboratory equipment and giving workshops across the country four or five times per year. Students are exposed to the best in faculty and equipment, and are given all the tutorial help and encouragement they need to succeed. Nelson claims a 100% placement of Purdue food science graduates in industry—90% immediately, and 10% going on for more advanced degrees, then entering industry.
Nelson, who has guided Purdue’s Food Science Department since it was established in 1983, is a creative fundraiser. The four-level building was totally funded by the Indiana legislature for $22,000,000; an alumni campaign geared to equipping laboratories raised $5,000,000 in 18 months; and seven rooms in the building are specially sponsored and furnished by companies or individuals. Plaques commemorating these generous donors decorate a corridor wall. Nelson’s method of student recruitment is modeled after football recruitment programs, resulting in doubled faculty and quadrupled student enrollment over the past 15 years. Plans are already in the works for a new addition to the building when the time comes.
Nothing has been overlooked, including aesthetics. When the building was dedicated in late 1998, the Purdue Department of Foods and Nutrition gifted the Department of Food Science with a special work of art, “Quadratic Quilt” by Indiana artist Scott Frankenburger. It hangs on the second floor outside the administrative offices, where Nelson plans to add other examples of Indiana art to enhance the walls of this proud example of a university’s state-of-the-art food science department building.
IFT Continuing Education programs go global; USAID programs help Egyptian food processors
Following IFT’s goal to become recognized as a global source of technical expertise and information related to food science, a series of IFT Continuing Education Committee’s basic programs are being presented in Egypt to food processing, university, and government regulatory representatives.
In August 1999, six IFT programs were presented in ten days in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria, and 10th of Ramadan, Egypt. Included in these programs were two-day workshops on Sanitation & Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Compliance: Prerequisites for HACCP and Food Quality, and one-day briefings on Integrated Pest Management and New Rapid Methodology Systems for Microbiological Analysis.
A team of IFT members, including Rick Stier, P.C. Vasavada, Jim Bowyer, and Dean Duxbury, handled registration and presented the programs. The workshops were organized as part of many such programs being offered to Egyptian processors by Agriculture-Led Export Businesses (ALEB) in an effort to get their products to meet the standards for distribution in the U.S. and European markets. Financial sponsorship of the programs is by the U.S. Aid for International Development agency (USAID), which sponsors ALEB and contracts for programming expertise through the Center for Advanced Food Technology (CAFT) at Rutgers University.
Additional IFT programs are planned. An Introduction to Food Labeling Laws and Regulations in the U.S. is scheduled for presentation in Egypt in early February, and Sanitation, Pest Control, and Food Microbiology in May.
For the past three years, IFT has also presented a seminar at the International Food Ingredients & Additives (IFIA) Exhibition held in Tokyo, Japan, and will again have IFT leaders and speakers presenting information on Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals at IFIA 2000 in May. A program on Food Sanitation & GMP Compliance, to be presented at the 2000 IFT Annual Meeting in Dallas, will offer simultaneous translation into Spanish. The same program, in Spanish, is being scheduled for two cities in Mexico in the Spring.
IFT is going global in continuing education. If you are interested in participating, contact IFT’s Professional Development Department at 312-782-8424 or Email [email protected].
Morris receives Award from American Wine Society
Justin Morris, Distinguished Professor of Food Science at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, who has received national and international recognition for his work, has been awarded the American Wine Society’s Award of Merit.
The award recognizes Morris for research achievements that have benefited producers and processors throughout major grape production regions in the United States and Europe; for tireless work educating viticulture and enology students now prominent in the food and wine industry; for his many educational publications; and for his enthusiasm for the field.
Morris was also named by Wines & Vines magazine as one of about 80 people contributing to the growth of the wine industry in the 20th century. He was one of five academicians named, and the only one without a academic career in the State of California. The magazine cited Morris’ American Society for Enology and Viticulture 1996 Merit Award, presented for a lifetime of accomplishments and contributions to the grape and wine industry, and called him a scholar and “a welcome voice for wine in the South.”
His research team has developed techniques for the production, harvest, handling, and processing of juice and wine, which have doubled production over old systems without loss in juice or wine quality.
What’s New on IFT’s Web site? Take a look . . . www.ift.org
Regional Section and Division News
The Penn State Department of Food Science, the Penn State Food Industry Group, and the Keystone Section are sponsoring a special tribute to Professor Manfred Kroger in honor of his retirement from the Department of Food Science at Pennsylvania State University.
The tribute will be held March 1, 2000, at the Blue Ridge Country Club near Harrisburg, Pa. It will begin at 3:00 p.m. with the Food Industry Group annual meeting,followed by a series of short talks from the Penn State faculty, former students, and colleagues. The talks are expected to recall many of the memorable events and experiences associated with Dr. Kroger over his 30-year career. Following these reminiscences will be Dr. Kroger’s after-dinner address to the attendees.
The Keystone Section hopes to reach many of Dr. Kroger’s friends and colleagues for this event. If you are interested in attending the dinner on March 1, please contact Aimee Taylor, Hershey Foods Corporation, (phone 717-534-5253; e-mail [email protected]).
by BETSY BAIRD