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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Biography
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Married with two children. Dr. Peterson enjoys traveling with his family, movies, music, watching Wisconsin football and basketball, geocaching, and being active outside when the Illinois weather permits.

Education

Illinois State University Chemistry  B.S.  1995
University of Wisconsin  Chemistry  Ph.D.   2002

Professional Experience

1993-1995 Cooperative Education Student, Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, N.Y.
2002-2009  Research Scientist, Cereal Products and Food Science Unit, NCAUR, Peoria, IL.
2009-present Research Scientist, Plant Polymer Research Unit, NCAUR, Peoria, IL.

Research Accomplishments

Active in research for the past 19 years in academic and government research; 7 years as a research assistant and graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and 12 years with the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois. Dr. Peterson has authored or co-authored 23 peer-reviewed journal publications.

• Experimental proof of solvent relaxation.  It had never been fully understood why high-frequency polymer motions seemed to cease when placed in a glass-forming solvent.  Using the technique of oscillatory flow birefringence (OFB) along with time-temperature superposition, Dr. Peterson conducted very high frequency polymer conformational dynamics studies on polyisoprene in both the bulk and solution.  Dr. Peterson was the first to experimentally demonstrate the high freqency contribution of the solvent, and thus revealed that the translational motion of the solvent itself is actually impeding the high-frequency motions of the polymer chain.

• Determination of the lipid composition of jet cooked particles.  Jet cooked starch/oil composites (FanteskTM) have shown value in numerous food products as a fat replacer that reduces overall fat content yet still delivers the same taste and mouthfeel.  This technology has been licensed by several companies including Azure Waves and Heritage Fare, Ltd.  Dr. Peterson developed a method to selectively esterify the crystalline particles produced using the Fantesk process.  The particles produced using this process often have two different crystalline morphologies having different lipid compositions.  Dr. Peterson also discovered that the composition of the lipid mixture of one of the morphologies closely matched that of the starting cornstarch, consistent with observations that it formed first, while the other morphology took place more slowly. 

• Development of superior starch/biochar-filled rubber composites at low filler concentration.  Enabling rural farmers to create wealth through bio-based materials is of major importance to the agency.  Starch and biochar are renewable, non-petroleum-based filler materials that can be used as carbon black substitutes in rubber composites.  The global carbon black market is projected to reach 12.2 million metric tons by 2015, so replacing even a small fraction of this market with a product based on renewable materials that can be created by our nation’s farmers will help the economy, while simultaneously reducing our dependence on foreign oil.  Dr. Peterson demonstrated that rubber composites that contained 10% filler consisting of either corn starch or a 3:1 blend of corn starch:biochar had improved reinforcement, tensile strength, elongation, and toughness than the corresponding 10% carbon black-filled composite. 


Last Modified: 2/26/2014
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