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    Hundreds of research papers were submitted to compete in 2021 IFT Division oral competitions. The first-, second-, and third-place winners are as follows:

    Aquatic Food Products Division Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Yun He, National University of Singapore
    “Preservative Effect of Slightly Acid Electrolyzed Water Ice Generated by Developed Sanitizing Unit on Shrimp (Penaeus Vannamei)”

    Summary: Sustainable preservation technologies are necessary for safety and freshness of seafood products. The slightly acid electrolyzed water generated by developed sanitizing unit exhibited great preservative effect of shrimp in terms of spoilage microorganism inhibition and quality preservation.

    • 2nd Place: Peter Chiarelli, University of Georgia

    • 3rd Place: Tharindu Senadheera, Memorial University of Newfoundland

    Biotechnology Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Federico Bueno, Louisiana State University
    “Optimization and Production of Bacterial Cellulose from Coffee (Coffea arabica) Kombucha Fermentation Using Different Carbohydrate Substrates and Concentrations”

    Summary: This study investigated the optimization of bacterial cellulose production from coffee kombucha by comparing different carbohydrate substrates and concentrations over fermentation time. Physicochemical and microbiological analysis were performed to select the best treatment.

    Carbohydrate Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Oluwatoyin Sangokunle, Florida State University
    “Some Pulse Starches Have Slow Digestibility Property in an in Vitro Study”

    Summary: With an increasing population, the demand for healthy and sustaining food ingredients that will mitigate against diseases and increase longevity is gaining interest in the food science field. This global need makes food industries and researchers source for alternative healthy and sustainable food ingredients such as pulse starches with a slow digestibility profile.

    • 2nd Place: Debomitra Dey, Washington State University

    • 3rd Place: Andrew Ledley, The Pennsylvania State University

    Dairy Foods Division Graduate Student Oral Competition in Honor of John C. Bruhn

    • 1st Place: Angelina Schiano, North Carolina State University
    “Conflicted Health Seeker” Parents Purchase Plant-Based Milk Alternatives Despite Implicit Bias in Favor of Dairy Milk”

    Summary: Consumption of milk during childhood increases chances of lifelong milk consumption, thus children of conflicted health seeker (CHS) parents who consume plant alternatives may never develop the habit of drinking dairy milk. CHS parents associated dairy milk with nutrition, but expressed concerns about processing, animal welfare, food intolerances, and growing bored with available dairy milk options. These results suggest that the dairy industry should focus on developing and widely distributing marketing messaging educating CHS parents about the benefits of dairy milk.

    • 2nd Place: Bailey Gong, Cornell University

    • 3rd Place: Shruti Sharma, University of Georgia

    Education, Extension & Outreach Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Christina Wormald, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    “Improving the Adoption of Food Safety Plans and Raising Food Safety Awareness for Small and Medium Sized Processors Through Webinar and Workshop Initiatives”

    Summary: Previous work has indicated a lack of education and technical support for food processors that are directly working with food products, which limits their capacity to properly establish appropriate food safety controls. After taking the one-hour educational webinar, evaluations of participants’ knowledge showed that the average score for each question was lower than that of pre-evaluations, which may indicate that participants learned that there is more education needed for food processors to help manage food safety risks than they originally anticipated.

    • 2nd Place: Janae Brown, Kansas State University

    Food Engineering Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Liz Astorga Oquendo, The Pennsylvania State University
    “Effect of High-Pressure Jet Processing on the Physicochemical and Structural Properties of Pea Protein Isolates”

    Summary: This research demonstrated that high-pressure jet processing can change structure and improve the functional properties of pea protein isolate dispersions. With this, it could allow for the creation of novel plant protein ingredients and reduce the need for additives, allowing for the production of food with “clean label” claims. 

    • 2nd Place: Michael Shen, Rutgers University

    • 3rd Place: Bindvi Arora, Cornell University

    Food Chemistry Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Danielle Voss, The Ohio State University
    “Influence of Cofactor Structure and Anthocyanin Aglycone on Formation Efficiency of Pyranoanthocyanins”

    Summary: Small differences in the chemical structure of anthocyanin aglycone and cofactor impacted the formation efficiency of the more stable pyranoanthocyanin pigments with malvidin-derived anthocyanins and caffeic acid cofactor as the most efficient pairing under the conditions of this study. This understanding and improvement in formation efficiency may facilitate the development of pyranoanthocyanins as viable, naturally derived food colorants. 

    • 2nd Place: Yu-Ping Huang, University of California, Davis

    • 3rd Place: Xueqian Su, Virginia Tech

    Food Microbiology Division Graduate Student Oral Competition in Honor of Z. John Ordal

    • 1st Place: Yue Wang, National University of Singapore
    “Metabolic Responses of Eight Escherichia coli Strains Including ‘Big Six’ in Pea Sprouts to Low Concentration Electrolyzed Water”

    Summary: The study evaluated the sanitizing efficacy of low concentration electrolyzed water (4 mg/L free available chlorine) against eight Escherichia coli strains including “big six” in pea sprouts and detected the underlying metabolic changes in the strains using NMR-based metabolomics. An overall positive correlation between sensitivity to low concentration electrolyzed water and magnitude of metabolic variation was observed and the disturbed metabolic pathways found are helpful in developing green sanitizing technologies controlling “big six” contamination for the fresh produce industry.

    • 2nd Place: Surabhi Wason, University of Arkansas

    • 3rd Place: Emily Camfield, University of Tennessee

    Food Packaging Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Clara Lang, Oregon State University
    “Investigation of Eco-Friendly Chemical Treatments of Apple Pomace for Producing High Quality Molded Pulp Packaging”

    Summary: Eco-friendly chemical treatments were compared with traditional chemical treatments in their effectiveness to remove pectin and hemicellulose from apple pomace (AP) for use in AP-based molded pulp packaging with incorporation of recycled newspaper, glycerol, and cellulose nanofiber. Citric acid (CA) treatment adequately improved cellulose content and strength of fibers compared to AP control to produce high quality molded pulp packaging, thus converting waste into sustainable packaging.

    • 2nd Place: Yanlin Lei, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

    Fruit & Vegetable Products Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Xiaoyan Tan, The Ohio State University
    “Rapid Phenotypic Approach for Early Identification of Microbial Spoilage in Tomato Products”

    Summary: This research focuses on the rapid detection of microbes for tomato paste’s spoilage using vibrational spectroscopic techniques coupled with chemometrics. Compared with the existing methods in this field, it can hold great promise for the food industry by reducing the cost while increasing the testing efficiency for rapid screening of microbial contaminants in the samples.

    • 2nd Place: Sydney Grouge, The Ohio State University

    • 3rd Place: Boran Yang, The University of Georgia

    International Division Graduate Student Oral Competition in Honor of George F. Stewart and Malcolm C. Bourne

    • 1st Place: Alexander (AJ) Taylor, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
    “Comprehending the Microbiome Associated with Spontaneous Cacao Fermentations from Around the World”

    Summary: Spontaneously fermented cacao has a large number of parameters that influence the quality and flavor/aroma profile of cacao, with its microbiome as the core parameter. This study attempted to compile all known literature that identified microbes associated with spontaneous cacao fermentations.

    Muscle Foods Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Samuel Adegoke, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
    “Physicochemical and Microstructural Properties of Edible Protein Coated Chicken Breast Deep-Fried in Corn Oil”

    Summary: This study highlights the use of novel edible coating derived from chicken protein. Corn oil was used as the frying medium. We found out that chicken protein–based edible coating can reduce fat uptake and improve quality attributes when deep-fried for a short period of time.

    Nonthermal Processing Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Ragya Kapoor, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
    “Ultrasound-Assisted Formation of Vitamin E Delivery Systems Stabilized by Plant-Based Natural Biopolymers”

    Summary: In this study, a low frequency ultrasound (US) based method was evaluated for the formation of microemulsion systems stabilized by pea protein. We also examined the influence of environmental stresses on their stability, i.e., pH, ionic strength, and temperature.

    • 2nd Place: Sonali Raghunath, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

    • 3rd Place: Wen Rivero Pena, North Carolina State University

    Nutraceutical & Functional Foods Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Gonzalo Miyagusuku-Cruzado, The Ohio State University
    “Study on the Cytotoxicity and Cellular Antioxidant Activity of Novel Pyranoanthocyanin Pigments Using Caco-2 Cells”

    Summary: Pyranoanthocyanins can have a stronger cellular antioxidant activity than their anthocyanin counterparts on Caco-2 cells. However, this antioxidant effect seemed to be dependent on the type of glycosylation of the molecule.

    • 2nd Place: Abul Hossain, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

    • 3rd Place: Andrea Nieto, University of Tennessee

    Nutrition Division Graduate Student Oral Competition in Honor of Mark L. Bieber

    • 1st Place: Hualu Zhou, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    “Fortification of Plant-Based Milk with Calcium may Reduce Vitamin D Bioaccessibility: An in Vitro Digestion Study”

    Summary: The purpose of this study was to fortify a common plant-based milk (almond milk) with these two micronutrients (Vitamin D and calcium) and then use a standardized gastrointestinal tract model to examine the impact of product formulation on their bioaccessibility. Our results are useful for the development of nutritionally fortified plant-based milks with improved physicochemical and bioaccessibility properties.

    • 2nd Place: Rajwinder Kaur, Alabama A&M University

    • 3rd Place: Jayani Maddakandage Dona, North Dakota State University

    Product Development Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Ran Yang, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
    “Development of a Multiphysics Modeling Supported Online Machine-Learning Approach to Optimizing Microwavable Food Geometry for Better Heating Uniformity”

    Summary: A novel model consisting of a machine learning algorithm and multi-physics modeling was developed to optimize the geometric design of microwaveable food products for higher heating uniformity. The proposed model, compared with the traditional “trial-and-error” method based on exhaustively simulating all possible geometries, was proved to save up to 85% of the computation time to determine the most suitable geometry for optimal microwave heating uniformity.

    • 2nd Place: Jayshree Majumdar, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

    • 3rd Place: Yue He, University of Saskatchewan

    Protein Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Alexandra Hall, Cornell University
    “Comparative Effects of High Pressure Processing and Heat Treatment on Pulse Protein Structure and Function”

    Summary: This work evaluated the effects of HPP and heat treatment on pulse protein structure and function at protein concentrations characteristic of protein-fortified beverages and protein gels. The study demonstrates that HPP is a viable tool for inducing novel structural and functional changes in pulse proteins that can expand pulse protein applications.

    • 2nd Place: Rachel Mitacek, University of Minnesota

    • 3rd Place: Fan Bu, University of Minnesota

    Quality Management Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Ivan Wongso, University of California, Davis
    “Quality Characteristics of Intact-shell, Cracked-shell, and Kernel Walnuts under Hot-air Drying”

    Summary: The objective of this study was to evaluate the quality characteristics and shelf-life stability of intact-shell, cracked-shell, and kernel walnuts under different conditions of hot-air drying. This study shows that hot-air drying can be used for cracked-shell and kernel walnuts without affecting the quality and shelf-life of the dried products.

    • 2nd Place: Veeramani Karuppuchamy, The Ohio State University

    Refrigerated & Frozen Food Division Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Elio Villasmil Gonzalez, Louisiana State University
    “Effect of Ultraviolet-C treatment on Physicochemical and Microbiological Characteristics of Fresh Strawberries (Fragaria X Ananassa) During Refrigerated Storage”

    Summary: This study evaluates the effect of Ultraviolet-C light (UV-C) on the shelf-life of strawberries under refrigerated conditions. Additionally, a surrogate for Listeria monocytogenes is used to determine the effectiveness of UV-C against this pathogen.

    Sensory & Consumer Sciences Division Pangborn Graduate Student Oral Competition

    • 1st Place: Kym Man, The Ohio State University
    “Evaluating the Efficacy of an Interactive Virtual Reality System to Conduct Contextual Sensory and Consumer Testing of Food and Beverages”

    Summary: To our knowledge, this is the first study incorporating the hand-tracking feature into a virtual system designed for sensory evaluations, as well as system usability in conjunction with virtual presence to assess the efficacy of a VR system to restore relevant context during product evaluations, which is important for guiding sensory scientists to optimize the system for sensory and consumer testing. Study results showed that interactive VR applications can provide participants, regardless of age and prior VR experience, a realistic virtual evaluation experience that reflects natural consumption scenarios, which can be leveraged to generate more reliable consumer data.

    • 2nd place: Heather Keefer, North Carolina State University

    • 3rd place: Angelica de Castro Lobbi, Oregon State University

    Toxicology & Safety Evaluation Graduate Student Oral Competition in Honor of Susan L. Hefle

    • 1st Place: Bade Tonyali, Kansas State University
    “Comparison of Antifungal and Mycotoxin Inhibitory Activities of Clove Essential Oil (EO) Nanoemulsions From Different Clove Oil Types”

    Summary: Physical stable clove bud and clove leaf essential oil nanoemulsion exhibited remarkable antifungal activities against F. graminearum mycelium growth and spore germination through changing morphologies of fungal hyphae and spores. Meanwhile, both clove bud essential oil nanoemulsion and clove leaf essential oil nanoemulsion showed excellent mycotoxin inhibitory efficacy on Fusarium mycotoxin production, including deoxynivalenol, 3-acetyl-deoxynivalenol, and 15-acetyl-deoxynivalenol, with no significant differences.

    • 2nd Place: Haiyang Jiang, North Dakota State University