A. Simon Sidney and A.L. Nicolelis Miguel, eds. CRC Press LLC, 2000 N.W. Corporate Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33431. Call 800-272-7737 or fax 800-374-3401. ISBN 8493-2329-0. 2002. 527 pp. No price given.

The recent explosion of interdisciplinary research in olfaction, taste, and the common chemical senses led to this volume. Chiefly responsible for this explosion are new analytical methods developed in neurosciences and advances in molecular biology and genetics.

The scope and content of the book are wide ranging. In Chapter 6, old hypotheses of taste buds development based mainly on morphological analysis are reevaluated, and the present view based on molecular biology is presented. It postulates that the epithelium gave rise to gustatory genesis before innervation occurred. Chapter 7 reviews methods used to identify receptors for the basic tastes of bitter, sweet, and umani and discusses unsolved problems crucial to understanding the sense of taste.

Chapter 8 deals with the complicated mechanism of how taste receptor cells convert the chemical stimulus into electric response decipherable by the nervous system. As happens in many chapters, it raises more questions than provides answers. Chapter 12 covers the two major theories of taste coding, labeled line and across-unit pattern history, and the continuing debate on which one is closer to the truth.

Chapter 13 demonstrates how methods adopted from electrophysiology and optical sciences allowed significant progress to be made in understanding specific neural mechanisms that encode the different attributes of an olfactory stimulus. They showed that these activities are context dependent, rather than static, and can be modulated by factors unrelated to the molecular character of the stimulus.

This is a very advanced text of value to people with a good background in molecular biology who work on the cutting edge of chemosensory research.

Alina Surmacka Szczesniak, IFT Fellow and retired Principal Scientist, General Foods Corp. (presently Kraft Foods), Mount Vernon, N.Y.

The facility was the first priority of Governor Bill Graves’ 21st Century Vision Task Force, which was charged with recommending ways to enhance the future profitability of agriculture in Kansas through value-added opportunities. The Kansas Legislature approved $3 million in state funds for construction of the facility and a $4 million loan. Construction is expected to begin in December 2002 and take 18 months to complete.

The building will house an extrusion laboratory, a fermentation laboratory, and rooms for industry to test novel processes on a semi-commercial scale. The  building is the first of five facilities that will make up the school’s Grain Science and Industry Dept. Complex, which will also include an international grains program executive conference center, a grain science teaching and research building that will also house the baking science program, a feed mill, and a flour mill.

UMass Amherst hosts Alumni Weekend, announces scholarship endowment campaign 
The Dept. of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, hosted its 6th Alumni Weekend in September, where the Food Science Advisory Board announced the initiation of a new million-dollar endowment campaign for graduate student scholarships.

The campaign was announced at the opening reception and dinner and kicked off with a pledge of $100,000 from the board members. It is the department’s fifth endowment in the past 10 years.

Speaker Senator Stan Rosenberg praised the department for its research, outreach, and teaching efforts. Representative Ellen Story also spoke and presented the department with a citation from the statehouse “in recognition of the new endowment campaign for graduate student scholarships.”

Approximately 100 alumni and guests attended the events. Other Alumni Weekend activities included guided tours of the research laboratories, a cookout and raffle, a football game, and a closing reception.

Kansas State breaks ground on new facility
Kansas State University broke ground in September on its new Bioprocessing and Industrial Value-Added Program facility in Manhattan, Kans.

University researchers will use the 33,000-sq-ft facility to work with industry to turn the state’s crops into marketable products and test new production processes for grain-based food and non-food products.