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1890 Partnerships - Nutrition Food Safety and Quality
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The following is a list of ARS scientists in Nutrition, Food Safety, and Quality research who are interested in hosting 1890 faculty members in their labs through the 1890 Faculty Research Sabbatical Program. This page will be updated on a rolling basis – please come back to visit again!

Fadi Aramouni (Manhattan, KS); 785-307-5040

Researcher’s statement: My research focuses on food uses of sorghum.  Specifically I am working on fermented sorghum drinks using various bacterial and yeasts inoculums. The objective is to improve digestibility of sorghum proteins and add value to sorghum to benefit growers and consumers.

John Beaulieu (New Orleans, LA); 504-286-4471

Researcher’s statement: Scientists in the Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research unit in New Orleans, LA use applied research and new technologies for converting rice and rice co-products into high value products. Dr. John C. Beaulieu performs independent and collaborative investigations with rice beverage formulations, including characterizing a developed green processing regime for germinated brown rice. Several horticultural and physicochemical attributes of developing beverages have been assessed. These include general quality attributes and rapid visco analyser (RVA), particle size properties, phytic acid, proximate analyses, total phenolics, γ-aminobutyric acid, arsenic and inorganic arsenic, protein characteristics, and lipid/oil characterization in raw materials through post-enzyme treatments in developed beverages. A goal is to formulate processing approaches and enzymology to deliver naturally fortified and flavored rice beverages. Further physicochemical characterization of macro and health-promoting nutrients in industrially sprouted/germinated brown rice, high-protein rice, colored bran rice and other grains, high protein crops, and high-value microgreens is planned into the future project (2020-2025) for additional value-added product development.

Atanu Biswas (Peoria, IL); 309-681-6406

Researcher’s statement: For 38 years, Dr. Biswas has made significant contributions to fields ranging from polymer/analytical/medicinal chemistry, to food research, and bio-energy. Dr. Biswas is internationally recognized for pioneering polymer synthesis and modifications and contributions to development of bio-based plastics, coatings, films, hydrogels, absorbents, and bio-lubricants derived from agricultural feedstocks such as polysaccharides, vegetable oil, protein, edible beans, cotton, agricultural byproducts. Techniques have included microwave, ionic liquid, enzyme, and extrusion, among others. Beginning in 2014, Dr. Biswas was awarded the prestigious Science Without Border Fellowship by the government of Brazil, affording funds for post-doc fellows, travel, and related research funds for polysaccharide research. In 2018, he was the keynote speaker for the Brazilian Soybean Growers Association conference, an event attended by more than 2,000 growers, processors, marketers, and research scientists. More recently (2019), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) awarded Dr. Biswas a fellowship (3.5 months) in Spain to lead and collaborate on BioPackaging for Food.

Kervin Evans (Peoria, IL), 309-681-6436

Researchers Statement: My research focuses on producing value-added bioproducts through chemical, enzymatic, or physical processes.  Currently I am researching the use of functionalized lipids and sugar-based biopolymers/oligosaccharides to create nanoparticles via high pressure homogenization.  The goal is to adapt these nanoparticles as nanocarriers and thin films for agri-based bioactives for nutritional, pharmaceutical, food safety, and disease control applications. 

Alison Gerken (Manhattan, KS); 785-537-5503

Researcher’s statement: My research focuses on the quantitative ecology of stored product insect pests from on-farm storage to transportation of grains and processed products to the consumer. I am interested in both empirical and modeling research focused on life history and reproduction, behavior, spatial variability in insect infestations, and population genetics. Research in my lab uses a variety of bioassays including physiology, behavior in response to pheromone lures, insect monitoring using traps and grain collection, and modeling using R, SAS, and Python. Insects used in assays include, but are not limited to, the red flour beetle, Indianmeal moth, rice and maize weevils, warehouse beetle, and sawtooth grain beetle.

Anthony E. Glenn (Athens, GA); 706-410-7605

Researcher’s statement: The Toxicology & Mycotoxin Research Unit (TMRU) addresses agricultural and food safety concerns involving fungi that produce harmful metabolites (mycotoxins) that cause human and animal diseases.  Plant pathology research within TMRU focuses on the adaptive fitness of Fusarium verticillioides and related mycotoxin-producing species. We investigate the physiology of these fungi, with a particular interest in the molecular genetics, genomics, and evolution of the biochemical mechanisms controlling how the fungi cope with xenobiotic compounds and environmental stress, especially as it impacts mycotoxin production, virulence, and endophytism.

Louis Hesler (Brookings, SD); 605-693-5228

Researcher’s statement: I am a Research Entomologist, and my current research interests include host-plant resistance to insects in various crops, with experience mainly in soybean and wheat.  I have also conducted research on beneficial insects, principally predators of insect pests, and I’m working to develop a research component dealing with insect pollinators as well.  My ARS research assignment broadly includes various strategies for managing arthropod crop pests, so there is plenty of latitude for establishing research ties with 1890 faculty.

Hong-Sik Hwang (Peoria, IL); 309-681-6584

Researcher’s statement: Development of 1) oleogels that can replace saturated and trans fats in foods and 2) natural antioxidants that can protect frying oil from oxidation and improve shelf-life of oil-containing food products. Particularly, I am interested in developing these materials from food processing by-products or waste. The anticipated outcomes are health-promoting food products with low saturated fats, natural antioxidants replacing synthetic antioxidants, and value-added materials from food processing co-products or waste. I am also interested in oxidation mechanisms, identification of oxidation products using NMR and other modern instruments, and the development of new analytical methods that can accurately measure oil oxidation.

Abasiofiok Mark Ibekwe (Riverside, CA); 951-369-4828

Researcher’s statement: Dr. Ibekwe is an internationally recognized expert on the following research areas with active research: (1) Microbial ecology and metagenomics of plant-microbe interactions with human enteric pathogens; (2) metagenomics based bacterial source tracking and constructed wetlands for the removal of contaminants for water quality evaluation; (3) persistence of human enteric pathogens in the pre-harvest environment; (4) metagenomics of antimicrobials in agroecosystems; (5) characterization of soil microbial community as a critical component of soil quality and health.

Charlene R. Jackson (Athens, GA); 706-546-3604

Researcher’s statement: Dr. Jackson’s research focuses on mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance and molecular typing of diverse bacterial groups, particularly commensal bacteria (Enterococcus, Staphylococcus) from food animals.  The primary aim of the research is to study the presence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria at various points during production to better understand the mechanisms associated with the development and transfer of antimicrobial resistance among different classes of antimicrobials including those used in human health. The goal of the research is to reduce or eliminate bacteria from animal feces and the environment that are resistant to antimicrobials. 

Tony Jin (Wyndmoor, PA); 215-836-6904

Researcher’s statement: My research area is nonthermal processing and active packaging. Specifically, development and application of pulsed electric field (lab, pilot and commercial scale PEF facility available on site) and antimicrobial packaging for various foods and ensure food safety, improve food quality, extend food shelf-life and reduce food waste.

Siqing Liu (Peoria, IL); 309-681-6566

Researcher’s statement: Dr. Liu studies production of fuels and chemicals through microbial fermentations. Her work deals with screening and genetic manipulations of a range of microbes including E. coli, lactic acid bacteria and Clostridia species. Specific topics including tolerance and production of biofuels ethanol/butanol, lactic acid, butyric acid from lignocellulosic biomass as well as recombinant production of antibacterial polypeptides/bacteriocins/enzymes from renewable feedstocks.

Chris Mattison (New Orleans, LA); 504-286-4392

Researcher’s statement: My research is focused on the primary and secondary prevention of peanut and tree nut allergies.  We purify and characterize peanut and tree nut allergens to better understand how they cause food allergy.  My lab uses molecular and cellular biology techniques to study antibody-allergen interactions, elucidate allergen structure-function relationships, and characterize peanut and tree nut allergens prior to and following commercial processing steps.    

Xiangwu Nou (Beltsville, MD); 301-504-8991

Researcher’s statement: My research area is in fresh produce microbial food safety. Research interests in our laboratory include foodborne bacterial pathogens (Salmonella enterica, Listeria monocytogenes, and enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli) and their transfer, survival, growth, and mitigation during postharvest packing, processing, and distribution. Special research focus also include biofilm formation and inactivation, microbiome and pathogen interactions, and recently controlled environment agriculture (CEA).

Jose Ramirez (Peoria, IL); 309-681-6195

Researcher’s statement: Dr. Ramirez’s research include the study of multipartite interactions (insect-pathogen-symbiotic microbe interactions) to identify factors  that influence pathogen infection in the arthropod host. Current efforts also involve the isolation and characterization of entomopathogenic microbes to develop novel microbe-based biopesticides to control arthropod vectors and the pathogens they transmit.

Gordon Selling (Peoria, IL); 309-681-6338

Researcher’s statement: We are developing novel uses for high amylose corn starch inclusion complexes where the ligand is either a biobased fatty acid or fatty amine salt. These biodegradable complexes are best made using steam jet cooking (commonly used in the paper industry), or microwave heating. Yields are quantitative and use very safe reagents. We have published articles showing the value for these complexes in controlling pests and pathogenic fungi or other microbes.  As the technology is very safe and uses commercially available materials/processes, it is suitable for scale-up globally.

B.K. Sharma (Wyndmoor, PA); 215-233-6459

Researcher’s statement: My research interests include biobased materials like biolubricants, biobased asphalt binders, biobased additives and chemicals, biofuels, and alternative fuels; Utilization of waste materials, like plastics, MSW, agricultural residue, food waste, coal, and MSW ashes.

Martha Vaughan (Peoria, IL), 309-681-6295

Researcher’s statement: Mycotoxins are toxic metabolites produced by fungi that infect and contaminate crops. I am a molecular biologist/ chemical ecologist with interdisciplinary training in plant stress physiology, defense signaling, and secondary metabolism. I am investigating the effects of abiotic stress on cereal crop-fungal pathogen interactions and how these effects influence downstream mycotoxin contamination grain. My goal is to identify sustainable and climate resilient strategies to eliminate mycotoxin contamination in grain and enhance food safety. 

Vivian Wu (Albany, CA)


Researcher’s Statement : My research focuses on food safety and animal health. My research team conducts fundamental and applied research to improve the safety of the nation's food supply and develop diagnostic detection to prevent the spread of animal diseases. We utilize genomic methods to elucidate the interplay between bacteriophages and their bacterial hosts in the environment to enhance the safety of food products and prevent the emergence of foodborne pathogens. We develop novel interventions to remove or minimize contamination by pathogenic microorganisms in foods. We advance molecular-, genomic-, and nanotechnology-based biosensors and diagnostic methods for the detection of pathogens.