Three FSHN alumnae presented Alumni Impact Award

Three graduates of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition were presented the 2018 Alumni Impact Award to recognize the accomplishments they have made in the field of food science and human nutrition. The awards were distributed at the eighth annual Celebration Banquet, held Oct. 25, at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center.

This year's honorees were:

Julie Miller Jones

Dr. Julie Miller Jones earned her bachelor of science degree in home economics – food science from Iowa State University in 1968. She went on to receive her doctoral degree in home economics and food science and nutrition from the University of Minnesota in 1975.

Following the completion of her education, Jones joined the faculty at College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she remained throughout her 34-year career. She retired as Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emeritus of nutrition in the Department of Family, Consumer and Nutritional Sciences in 2008. A highlight of her career was twice being named the Outstanding Professor of the Year. She also received the Mysner Award, which is awarded by alumni of the College of St. Catherine in recognition of the professor who has most impacted their lives. Additionally, she was the 41st recipient of the Geddes Award, the highest science award of the American Association of Cereal Chemists International.

Jones is known for her work in the area of cereal science and is considered an expert in carbohydrates, whole grains, dietary fiber, and food safety. She is actively involved in trying to educate consumers against frauds and myths in nutrition and food safety. Because of her global perspective, Jones often is a sought-after speaker at food science- and nutrition-related events.

She is a member of several professional organizations, including the Whole Grains Task Force and Glycemic Definition Committee. She is a long-time member and past president of the American Association of Cereal Chemists – International. During the organization’s annual meeting, she has been known to take time to meet with Iowa State students over lunch or at the poster sessions, offering advice and sharing her ideas.

As one of the individuals who contributed a letter of support for Jones’ nomination of this award put, “She gives selflessly of her time, keeps it real and practical, and does it with a smile.”

Milagros Hojilla-Evangelista

Dr. Milagros Hojilla-Evangelista earned her bachelor’s degree in food technology, as well as her master’s degree in food science, from the University of the Philippines at Los Banos. She came to Iowa State University to pursue her doctor of philosophy degree in food technology, which she earned in 1990.

Hojilla-Evangelista remained at Iowa State to work as a postdoctoral research associate, then became an assistant scientist in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Working with Dr. Deland Meyer, they pioneered the use of soy protein in wood adhesives in plywood and biocomposites, and established the Biopolymers and Bicomposites Group within the Center for Crops Utilization Research. This led to the establishment of the Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, an industry and university cooperative research center on Iowa State’s campus.

Following her time at Iowa State, Hojilla-Evangelista joined the Plant Polymers Research Unit at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture as a post-doctoral research chemist. She was later promoted to her current position as research chemist for the organization. In this position, she has continued her research on soybean-based wood adhesives.

Hojilla-Evangelista is recognized internationally for her expertise on the chemistry, isolation and processing of oilseed proteins. She has authored more than 100 research publications and presentations and received five outstanding paper presentation awards.

Barb Struempler

Dr. Barb Struempler holds a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from the University of Nebraska. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in food and nutrition from Iowa State University in 1981 and 1984, respectively.

Struempler’s professional career has largely revolved around Cooperative Extension work in Alabama. She considers her research laboratory and classrooms to be the streets of Alabama.

During the course of her career, Struempler has created and implemented several programs that aim to improve the lives of Alabama’s citizens, including:

  • “Today’s Mom,” a prenatal education nutrition program to address Alabama’s high infant mortality rate
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education (SNAP-Ed) in Alabama to educate food stamp recipients about making healthy food selections
  • “Body Quest: Food of the Warrior,” a childhood obesity prevention initiative

All of these programs, and others Struempler has enacted during her career, have been made possible thanks to funding she secured – amounts that exceed $130 million.

In addition to her professional work, Struempler has held a number of leadership roles within the state of Alabama. She was the first chairperson of the statewide Healthy Alabama Nutrition Coalition, represented the state as chairperson of the Alabama Association of Family and Consumer Science, and raised support funds as chair of the Physicians’ Alabama Opportunity Fair.

2019 Alumni Impact Award

Nominees for the 2019 Alumni Impact Award will be accepted starting in February 2019. An announcement will be made early next year regarding the opening of nominations and where application forms can be accessed.

Rodent model tested to study effects, treatment of E. coli

To understand human diseases and test the effectiveness of vaccines, mice often are used. However, when it comes to researching ways to fight harmful strains of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the gut, a good mouse model that is not resistant to the bacteria has not been found, until now.

Assistant Professor Melha Mellata and her team of researchers from Iowa State University, in collaboration with Michael Wannemuehler, professor and chair of Iowa State’s Department of Vet Microbiology & Preventative Medicine, have discovered that mice with a limited number of normal bacteria in the gut can be infected with enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) for research purposes. Their findings are published online in the Disease Models & Mechanisms international biomedical research journal.

A foodborne pathogen, EHEC causes intestinal disease in humans. Mellata said children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible to complications caused by this strain of bacteria.

The problem when individuals contract EHEC, mainly from food, is there are no approved therapies to combat the bacterium. Graham Redweik, graduate student and member of Mellata’s research team, said some antibiotics can even make the infection worse. Hence the need for a mouse model to test the effectiveness of vaccines to combat EHEC infections.

Zach Stromberg, a postdoc in Mellata’s lab, began working on this project about two-and-one-half years ago. With a background in bacterial infections, Stromberg began testing various strains of the human disease to see how the mice reacted.

“Current models use antibiotics, which introduces a confounding factor when studying this bacterium. In contrast, our system is antibiotic-free,” Stromberg said.

Mice typically used for research purposes have thousands of bacteria in their digestive system. These mice often are resistant to E. coli, making them unfit for modeling the effects E. coli could have in humans. Wannemuehler provided Mellata and her team a special type of mice – known as altered Schaedler flora (ASF) mice – from Iowa State’s Veterinary Medicine College that only have eight bacteria in their gut. The purpose of the research would be to see if the ASF mice showed any E. coli resistance.

In contrast to current mouse models, EHEC was maintained in the ASF mouse gut for the entirety of the study. Furthermore, using special imaging to check for inflammation in the mice, it was determined these mice could exhibit signs of EHEC infection seen in humans.

Now that a useful mouse model has been identified, Mellata and her team have begun working to determine if any vaccines can combat EHEC in infected humans.

During a time of increasing numbers of food recall announcements due to contamination, this discovery has a potential to combat foodborne illnesses caused by E. coli.

“It’s important to have a good model to use for the questions we’re trying to answer, whether that be for this or any other projects,” Redweik said.

“More and more new bacteria contaminations are breaking out in food products. We need to be able to study foodborne E. coli and how to treat them,” Mellata added. “We need a good model to begin the steps to develop treatment for E. coli infections that are safe for human use.”

Iowa State University researcher developing new industrial uses for wax made from soybean oil

AMES, Iowa – Petroleum-based paraffin wax commonly coats cardboard and all sorts of other products to improve durability and water resistance, but it can’t be recycled and may adversely affect human health. So researchers at Iowa State University are developing wax from soybean oil that would share many properties of paraffin wax but would also be biodegradable.

The research could benefit the environment by reducing the roughly 3 billion pounds of paraffin-coated boxes that end up in landfills every year. The research also could lead to new markets for soybeans at a time when global trade tensions are roiling grain markets, said Tong Wang, a professor of food science and human nutrition who leads the research. Wang and her team have filed two patents related to their soybean oil products and recently received a $90,000 continuation grant from the United Soybean Board to develop new applications for the technology.

Read the complete story written by ISU News Service.

Entries being accepted for the Norman Borlaug Lecture Poster Competition

Students are invited to enter poster abstracts to the Norman Borlaug Lectureship Poster Competition and display preceding the Borlaug Lecture, which will take place October 15, 2018, in the Memorial Union. The posters submitted should describe work in the general area of world food issues. Finalists for the poster presentation at the Borlaug Poster Competition will be selected from the abstract submissions. To be considered, complete the Borlaug Student Poster Competition Submission survey by Monday, October 1, 2018, at 5:00 p.m.

For further details about this competition, please click here, or contact Whitney Sager, wjsager@iastate.edu.

The Borlaug Poster Competition is coordinated by ISU’s Nutritional Sciences Council. Prizes of $200, $150 and $75 for both undergraduate and graduate student competitions are made possible with funds provided by the Colleges of Agriculture & Life Sciences, Human Sciences and Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Wen named interim director for Center for Crops Utilization Research at Iowa State University

AMES, Iowa — Zhiyou Wen has been named the interim director of Iowa State University’s Center for Crops Utilization Research.

Wen, a professor of food science and human nutrition, has been an Iowa State faculty member since 2010. He assumed his new duties Sept. 1.

Wen succeeds Kevin Keener, who has served as the center’s director since 2015 and plans to return to the food science and human nutrition faculty to focus on research, teaching and industry training initiatives.

“For more than 30 years, the Center for Crops Utilization Research has been committed to increasing the use of corn, soybeans and other crops and exploring new opportunities to develop advanced technologies and high-value products,” Wen said.

Read the complete news release published by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Post-doc accepted into competitive fellowship

Ames has been “home” to Angelica Van Goor for the past seven years while she’s been at Iowa State University. So naturally, she said it will be an adjustment to pack up her things (and her family) and move to Washington, D.C., where she’ll spend at least the next year partaking in a prestigious fellowship.

After an intensive application process, Van Goor, a post-doctoral researcher in Assistant Professor Melha Mellata’s lab, found out recently she was accepted into an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellowship. She will be hosted by the USDA-NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture). Her one-year fellowship will begin Sept. 4. Depending on how it goes, she may have the opportunity to extend her experience for one additional year.

“It makes me very proud when I see the training in my lab contributed to my students and post-docs getting on pathways to success,” Mellata said. “This highly competitive fellowship will open many opportunities for Angelica and will, without a doubt, provide clear-cut paths to future careers.”

The AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships allow scientists and engineers a chance to delve into science policy at the federal government level while using their knowledge and analytical skills to address societal challenges, according to the AAAS website. Fellows serve in each of the three branches of the federal government – executive, judicial and legislative. Van Goor will be working within the executive branch.

One of Van Goor’s long-time mentors encouraged her to apply for this fellowship, saying it may be a good fit for her. Van Goor said what stood out about this fellowship was the professional development aspect. Not only will she be able to network with other fellows and those at USDA-NIFA, but she’ll take part in the fellowship’s year-long professional development program. The program helps fellows understand science policy, learn to communicate with non-scientific audiences and enhance their leadership skills.

Van Goor received her PhD in genetics in the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State. During this time, she was a USDA-National Needs Fellow, which supported a six-month international research experience at the Roslin Institute in Scotland. She also served as a teaching assistant and participated in several graduate student organizations. During her post-doc she served as a co-principal investigator for a research grant to improve the health of cage-free poultry.

“Having good communication skills that will help in the transition from the lab to science policy,” Van Goor said is what will aid her in this fellowship. “I want to gain a different perspective on science, from an under the microscope view to the societal view.”

Van Goor said she’s looking forward to the opportunity and is excited to see what role it will play in helping her determine what career path she’d like to pursue.

“It’s a really exciting time to be involved in science policy,” Van Goor said. “It’s possible to use scientific training to do high impact things outside of the lab. What attracted me to USDA-NIFA was their emphasis on capacity building, especially recruiting more women and minorities into the STEM fields.”

Micro-creamery coming to Iowa State University

June is National Dairy Month, and soon the milk produced by the dairy cows at the ISU Dairy Farm will be used to produce ice cream and cheese right here on campus.

For the past couple of years, Professor Stephanie Clark in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition has been working on plans to open a creamery at Iowa State. The first phase of her plan will come to fruition this fall with the opening of a micro-creamery in the Center for Crops Utilization Research pilot plant, located within the Food Sciences Building.

The micro-creamery will be situated in the southeast corner of the pilot plant, and will include a clarifier/separator, a pasteurizer cheese vat, an ice cream freezer and sanitation equipment. Beginning in August, Clark hopes to train as many as five to six students who will work in the micro-creamery.

“It’s meant to train students and give them valuable experience so they can take practical skills into food science careers and dairy science careers,” Clark said of the micro-creamery.

Clark and the student employees will start by making ice cream, including the much-anticipated ISU Signature Ice Cream, created by a team of food science seniors. In December 2017, the winning ice cream concept of the ISU Signature Ice Cream Contest was announced. The peanut butter ice cream with scotcheroo balls and fudge swirls, which honors Iowa State alumni George Washington Carver and Mildred Day, will be featured at various Iowa State events.

The milk needed to produce the ice cream, and later, cheese, will come from the ISU Dairy Farm.

The micro-creamery is just the first step to building and opening a large-scale creamery, to be called the ISU Dairy Products Innovation Center (DPIC). Not only will the DPIC produce ice cream and cheese, but, like the micro-creamery, it also will serve as a place for students to gain experience working in the dairy industry. Additionally, Iowa dairy farmers will come to the center to learn how to turn their milk into products in a small-scale environment, rather than selling their extra milk to other states, Clark said.

Retail space would be included at the DPIC, where cheese and ice cream products would be sold.

This summer, Clark will work with students in the CyBIZ Lab, through the Ivy College of Business. The students will go over Clark’s business plan, help her conduct feasibility studies and SWOT analyses, and further help her along the way of turning her DPIC dream into a reality.

Once the DPIC is up and running, Clark’s hope is that the micro-creamery will continue in operation in the Food Sciences Building for the sole production of the signature ice cream, to keep peanuts out of the DPIC.

Funding for the micro-creamery has come from Clark’s Virginia M. Gladney Professorship, Savencia USA, as well as from the Midwest Dairy Association. Additional funding will be sought from dairy industry stakeholders, in cooperation with the ISU Foundation.

Clark hopes the success of the micro-creamery will help push forward plans and start-up funding for the DPIC, which is estimated to cost approximately $5.7 million. Funding will be sought from private industry and alumni, in cooperation with the ISU Foundation.

Iowa State team wins worldwide 2018 Food Solutions Challenge

AMES, Iowa – For three Iowa State University graduate students, winning the worldwide 2018 Food Solutions Challenge was more than an honor – it meant they could help reduce food waste in their homeland.

The Iowa State team received $5,000 on May 20 for its proposal to improve the shelf life of cassava, which is a staple food in Africa and can rot within three days after harvest. Team members include Samuel Kiprotich, food science and human nutrition; Mike Sserunjogi, agricultural and biosystems engineering; and Emmanuel Nsamba, genetics.

“I felt this competition gave me the perfect opportunity to be part of a new generation of African youth striving to make a difference in their communities through scientific innovation,” Kiprotich said.

Read the complete story here.

Datta, Baldwin join FSHN Department

Earlier this month, two new individuals joined the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition - Mridul Datta and Kristi Baldwin. Datta is the new director of the Dietetic Internship program, while Baldwin is the new online course designer.

Datta takes lead of Dietetic Internship program

Datta holds a bachelor’s degree in community nutrition from the University of Delhi in India, as well as a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from East Tennessee State University. Her doctorate degree is from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, in the area of human/clinical nutrition.

She comes to Iowa State from Purdue University, where she was the director of the undergraduate coordinated program in dietetics. Datta said what drew her to the position at Iowa State was the ability to focus on a larger dietetics program while responding to the changing needs of dietetics education.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, all registered dietitians must have a master’s degree in order to sit for the registration exam for dietitian nutritionists. Iowa State is taking a proactive approach to that national requirement by offering the Professional Practice in Dietetics (MPP-D) program, beginning in the fall 2018 semester. Datta is looking forward to working with clinicians and faculty in the department to develop and grow the dietetic internship and new master’s degree program.

A newcomer to Iowa, Datta also is looking forward to breaking out her camera to capture various images as she explores and familiarizes herself with the state.

Baldwin looking forward to combining technology, education work

As the new online course designer, Baldwin will provide assistance to department faculty with their online courses, especially for the new Master’s of Professional Practice in Dietetics program, which will launch this fall.

Baldwin comes to Iowa State with experience in teaching online courses for a K-12 program and serving as an instructional designer for Great Falls College Montana State University. While at the community college, she worked to create a flexible learning environment classroom that served as a model for updating other classrooms on campus.

She said what drew her to the online course designer position at Iowa State was the ability to combine technology and education work.

“I love technology and I love working in education. I knew that this opportunity would be an exciting way to bring the two together in designing online courses for the department,” Baldwin said.

As she begins her new position, she is looking forward to working with faculty to come up with innovative strategies to engage students with online content.

“I think technology is providing us with so many new opportunities for communicating and demonstrating understanding that we can utilize to help our online environments feel more personal; it’s just a matter of ensuring that the tools utilized for doing this are made to be as user-friendly as possible,” she said.

Baldwin and her family have been in Ames for the past year. They moved here after her husband, John, accepted a position as an ROTC instructor for the Air Force at Iowa State. The couple has two sons, Nathan, 11, and Joshua, 9, as well as a 3-year-old chocolate lab named Duke.

In her spare time, Baldwin enjoys reading and shopping.

Announcing the 2018 FSHN Alumni Impact Award winners

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 FSHN Alumni Impact Award.

The winners are as follows:

  • Milagros Hojilla-Evangelista ('90, PhD food technology)
  • Julie Miller Jones ('68, BS home economics - food science)
  • Barb Struempler ('81, MS food and nutrition; '84, PhD food and nutrition)

The award winners will be recognized during the annual FSHN Department awards ceremony Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018, at the Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center in Ames. Additional details about the ceremony will be announced on the FSHN website once the event gets closer.

This is the eighth year the awards have been given to alumni to recognize them for the impacts they have made in their profession. Past winners include:

2017

  • Celeste Clark ('77, MS nutrition)
  • Tunyawat Kasemsuwan ('91, MS food science and technology; '95, PhD food science and technology)
  • Susan Roberts ('73, BS dietetics)

2016

  • Andrew McPherson ('92, BS food science & technology - agriculture; '99, PhD food science and technology)
  • Linda Snetselaar ('72, BS dietetics)
  • Mary Wagner ('78, BS bacteriology; '80, MS food technology)

2015

  • Charlotte Hayes ('80, BS dietetics)
  • Justin Kanthak ('07, BS food science)
  • Julie Simonson ('87, BS food science - food and nutrition)

2014

  • Barbara Harland ('46, BS dietetics)
  • Rodrigo Tarte ('87, BS food technology and science; '90, MS food technology; '96, PhD food science and human nutrition) 
  • Jill Zullo ('96, PhD food science and human nutrition)

2013

  • Jill Moline ('98, BS food science)
  • Mary Shell ('06, BS food science)
  • Kris Spence ('94, MS food science and human nutrition; '98, PhD food science and technology)

2012

  • Linda Fullmer ('00, BS food science)
  • Lori Roth-Yousey ('83, BS dietetics - food and nutrition)

2011

  • Nancy Degner ('72, BS food science)
  • Simin Meydani ('81, PhD food science)
  • Justin Moore ('93, BS dietetics - family and consumer sciences)