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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Biobased and Other Animal Co-Products Research Unit

Cheng-Kung (C.-K.) Liu, Research Leader
Kathryn Clough, Program Support Assistant
Voice:  (215) 233-6585
Fax:  (215) 233-6795

View the BOAC Brochure (PDF)

 In the Spotlight

Winner of the 2013 International Unit of Leather Technologist and Chemist Associations Merit Award: Dr. Ellie Brown


This Award recognises significant contribution to the global leather industry by the world’s leading scientists and is a celebration of excellence. Since 1971, Dr. Eleanor (Ellie) Brown she has studied protein structure and investigated the relationships between structure and biological or technological function. From 1990 Dr Brown has been leading projects designed to reduce the environmental impact of leather production and has helped develop a basis for understanding the mechanisms of tanning using molecular modelling. Dr Brown has collaborated with researchers in the USA and worldwide to study collagen structure and its function in tanning. She has worked on developing value added products from tannery waste. Her reputation draws scientists from around the world come to her laboratory and work on the biochemical fundamentals of tanning. Dr Brown is an active member of the ALCA and a member of the Editorial Board of the JALCA leather journal.


Congratulations Ellie!




2012 ALSOP Award Recipient


Nick Latona has been selected by the American Leather Chemists Association (ALCA) to be the recipient of the 2012 ALSOP Award, in memory of the late W.K. Alsop.  This very prestigious award is bestowed by the ALCA annually for outstanding scientific or technical contributions to the leather industry.  ERRC's previous Award recipients include Maryann Taylor (1991), Ellie Brown (1996), C.-K. Liu (2001), and Bill Marmer (2008).  Nick graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a Materials Engineer in the Biobased and Other Animal Coproducts Research Unit.  He has worked at ERRC with the Hides and Leather research team for 12 years and is coauthor of 36 peer-reviewed journal articles.  Nick is the co-chair of the methods and specifications committee for the ALCA and is the secretary for the ASTM International D-31 Committee on Leather.


Congratulations Nick!




Weekly Activity Report


The annual meeting of the Research Liaison Committee of the American Leather Chemists Association (ALCA) was held on April 24-25, 2012, at the Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC), Wyndmoor, PA.  Outside participants included representatives of the US Hides Skins and Leather Association, chrome and vegetable tanning industries, suppliers to the tanning industry, and users of the collagenous byproducts of the leather industry. ARS participants in addition to BOAC scientists were Center and Area administrators and the National Program Leader. This meeting brings together stakeholders and customers of the ERRC hides and leather research program.  Stakeholders greatly appreciated ERRC’s progress, particularly on airborne ultrasonic inspection of hides, tanning mechanism, eco-friendly unhairing, manure removal, and new applications for tanning wastes.  Stakeholders commented ERRC’s hides/leather research is needed to secure a viable future for the American hides and leather industries.  They also suggested Hides researchers need to take the lead in developing methods to simultaneously protect both the meat and the hide.  A tentative date was set for the next meeting at ERRC in April 2013.



Weekly Activity Reports



The Bioprocess Team (team members: Dan Solaiman, Rick Ashby, Jon Zerkowski, Nicole Crocker, Bun-Hong Lai, and Nereus W. Gunther IV) of the Biobased and Other Animal Coproducts Research Unit at Eastern Regional Research Center, NAA is the Gold Medal recipient in the Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment group category of the 2011 Philadelphia Federal Executive Board’ Excellence in Government Awards program.  The team is recognized for their research accomplishment in the development an integrative biotechnology platform for the utilization of surplus agricultural byproducts to produce biodegradable and eco-friendly plastic, adhesive, and detergent ingredients.  In this R&D effort, microorganisms were discovered or genetically engineered, fermentative production process was fine-tuned, and organic synthesis protocols were invented.  The outcome is a production system that uses cheap agricultural byproduct of choice to produce high-value industrial biobased-ingredients having the needed properties for a targeted application.  Two patents have been issued.  Research results and products have been adopted and tested in various academic, government and industrial facilities worldwide, paving the way for future commercialization.




Just tell us when-and where-we can buy that "Rear Window" black leather overnight case


Chemist Maryann M. Taylor and her colleagues at our ARS Biobased and Other Animal Co-Products Research Unit at Wyndmoor, Pa., have put enzymatically modified waste agricultural proteins to work improving the quality of leather, boosting the usefulness of "spring break" hides and opening the door to a renewable replacement for the petroleum feedstocks now used in tanning hides to make luxurious leather goods.



George Piazza and Rafael Garcia

Drs. G.J. Piazza and R.A. Garcia from the Biobased and Other Animal Coproducts Research Unit were cited in a recent issue of Industrial Bioprocessing Alert (May, 2010) for their innovative work on renewable flocculants as a substitute for the synthetic polymer polyacrylamide (PAM). Animal processing for meat yields byproducts which account for up to 50% of the carcass weight.  Traditionally the largest outlet for these protein-rich byproducts (rendered protein) was the animal feed market.  Due to the emergence of mad cow disease, however, regulations have progressively limited the feed use of rendered protein.  Seeking to find new uses for rendered protein, Drs. G.J. Piazza and R.A. Garcia have investigated the use of gelatin and meat and bone meal (MBM) for renewable flocculants as an alternative for the synthetic PAM.  Drs. Piazza and Garcia have found that gelatin and MBM are effective flocculants under slightly acidic conditions.  Although higher amounts of gelatin and MBM are required, they may be economically competitive to PAM in many markets.


Eleanor Brown

Invited As the Key Note Speaker of International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (Iultcs) 30th Conference, Beijing, and China


Renee Latona

Elected Chair Of Uses of Collagen and Its Coproducts Technical Committee 0f American Leather Chemists Association (2009)


Nicholas Latona

Elected Co-Chair of Methods and Specification
Technical Committee of American Leather Chemists Association. (2009) Elected Secretary of Astm D-31 Leather Committee


Cheng-Kung Liu

Elected To a 3-Year Term as Councilor, American Leather Chemists Association (June, 2010)


Mila Romas

Invited To Join Editorial Board of Journal of American Leather Chemists Association (2010)


Daniel Solaiman

Elected Vice Chair of Biotechnology Division of the American Oil Chemists' Society
Appointed Senior Editor of the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (2010)


2010 American Chemical Society Cellulose and Renewable Materials (CELL) Division Fellow Award

Dr. Jan Cardamone, Fats, Oil, and Animal Coproducts Research Unit, is the recipient of the 2010 American Chemical Society, Cellulose and Renewable Materials (CELL) Division Fellow Award.  This award is given by CELL Division to recognize members whose dedication, leadership and enthusiastic service has kept CELL moving forward. 

Congratulations to Jan for this great honor!


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Last Modified: 6/11/2013