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News for Alumni and Friends of the Department of Food Science

Greetings from the Chair

Dear Food Science Alumni, Family and Friends,

I am thrilled to share the outstanding achievements of our faculty, staff, and students who consistently demonstrate excellence in their scientific pursuits at the highest levels. With great pride, I highlight the remarkable success of Food Science in securing a substantial grant from the NSF, in collaboration with partners across campus and the UW System—an accomplishment that stands out given the agency’s historical focus outside of the realm of Food Science.

While maintaining our strong conventional funding channels for research, we have actively explored innovative avenues for advancement. In addition to the NSF, we now collaborate with entities like the Dairy Innovation Hub, the US Department of Energy, and various commodity boards, seeking fundamental advancements that add significant value. Alongside our continued strength in traditional journal publications, we are expanding our presence in cutting-edge journals such as Green Chemistry, Microbiome, Frontiers in
Bioengineering and Biotechnology, and Cell Press. These journals, with their high impact factors, symbolize the integration of diverse disciplines into the field of Food Science. Our
research capabilities remain agile and resilient in response to the evolving landscape impacting our endeavors.

While facing challenges in instructional outcomes, we are actively responding to the changing landscape. Campuses adopting funding models incentivizing majors with large enrollments have led to approaches that attract students seeking flexibility within baccalaureate degree curricula. To enhance coursework flexibility, many departments are
considering altering curricular designs by reducing sequential prerequisite constraints. This allows students to tailor their coursework sequence, pursue diverse academic goals, and smoothly transfer across majors.

Undoubtedly, these changes and financial strategies pose challenges, particularly to thoughtfully designed curricula. Nevertheless, both the shifts in extramural funding profiles and the impact on curricular design are realities that demand thoughtful responses. It is
imperative that Food Science remains relevant and impactful for the upcoming generations of faculty, staff, and students.

With warm regards,

Scott A. Rankin

Professor and Chair

Creativity Update:

Food Science Club

This past semester, students involved in the UW-Madison Food Science Club took advantage of the many opportunities offered. Starting in the summer, many participated in IFT (Institute of Food Technologists) competitions, with a smart snack for kids product development team and one team in the college bowl competition!

Throughout the semester, students were able to explore different professions through meetings with companies in the industry, such as Agropur, Kerry, Lindt, and more. They also learned from faculty member Dr. Bradley Bolling about health trends and antioxidants through an informative presentation. On the social side, they had events like a pumpkin pie social, a potluck and a study day to finish off the semester. Overall, the Food Science Club had a great year!


Instructional Spotlight:

Dr. Richard Hartel: Van Hise Outstanding Teaching Award

Dr. Richard Hartel is the 2023 recipient of the Van Hise Outstanding Teaching Award. Charles Van Hise, president of the University of Wisconsin (1903-1918), developed the doctrine known today as the Wisconsin Idea. The Wisconsin Idea is the guiding philosophy of UW-Madison’s outreach efforts to extend the borders of the University to touch the lives of people throughout Wisconsin and around the world. The Van Hise Outreach Teaching Award was established in 1990 to honor distinguished teaching by a member of UW-Madison’s faculty.

As a leading confectionery scientist, Dr. Hartel translate complex material science phenomena to application in confections and similar foods. Dr. Hartel is recognized as an exceptional instructor in the food science courses he teaching and in outreach programs uniquely designed for the professionals in the confections industry. His Candy School short course, offered every summer, is highly regarded in the industry and attracts learners from all over the world.

Research Spotlight:

Dr. J.P. van Pijkeren: Pound Research Award

The Department of Food Science is proud to announce that Dr. Jan Peter (J.P) van Pijkeren is the 2023 recipient of the Pound Research Award. This prestigious award is given to honor an outstanding, early-career CALS research scientist and to promote continued excellence in research.

Dr. van Pijkeren research groups studies a probiotic bacterium called Lactobacillus reuteri found in the intestinal tract of many vertebrates, including humans. He made an early impact on this field with the development of sophisticated, effective genome editing tools for use in this bacterium, which is known for its resilience against genome editing. The van Pijkeren lab group’s work collectively opened a novel field of research on the interplay between dietary sugars, prophages and microbial physiology with implications for both animal and human health. This work has attracted global interest. The tools developed by Dr. van Pijkeren are used in more than 75 research laboratories in academia and industry around the world.


Student Spotlights:

Katelyn Brockman

One student, Katelyn Brockman, was able to work this past summer as an operation management intern at Schreiber Foods. She worked at a plant that produced dairy products, and she was able to learn about its workflow and how to maximize efficiency through communicating with others. Additionally, she had a great time with her coworkers, and was able to participate in a parade where the company gave out cheese stickers to the attendees! When asked for advice for incoming food science interns, Brockman said, “take risks and go somewhere or do something that is out of your comfort zone. It may seem intimidating at first, but you really do learn a lot from pushing yourself.”

Bea Sutton

Bea Sutton was able to participate in an internship, working with Agropur Dairy back in Summer 2023. She worked in quality assurance with a focus on communication and SAP implementation. Sutton learned a lot about the industry and through her leadership training programs, preparing her for future careers. During an interview about her experience, Sutton stated that her favorite part was “being in the plant.” “Every day was different, I got to meet people from all steps of life and see products go from beginning to end. I even enjoyed taking inventory in the cheese cooler, even if my nose was runny by the end.”

Hailey Tang

As our final student spotlight of the semester, Hailey Tang, took advantage of the research opportunities through the Food Science Department. She worked in the Girard Laboratory, focusing on plant protein research with sustainability and food quality. Tang is aspiring for a career in research with product development and quality assurance, and her work in the lab has been an excellent resource for experience. When asked about her time, Tang emphasized, “I love that I get to work in a fun and welcoming environment that pertains to my study.” Tang provided this as advice to younger generations of food scientists, “If you find [a lab] you’re interested in and [they] need a lab assistant, I would highly encourage you to reach out to that lab.”


Moving On:

Hope Nicholson

The Department of Food Science bid a fond farewell to our former Administrative Assistant, Hope Nicholson! Hope accepted another position with UW-Madison. We will miss Hope and her happy-go-lucky attitude, but we are happy for her new endeavors. Good luck and stay in touch, Hope!


Emma Temme

The Department of Food Science welcomes our new Administrative Assistant, Emma Temme! Emma joined the department in December 2023. Please stop by and introduce yourself!

Emma graduated from Iowa State University in 2020 with a degree in Communications. In her free time, you can find her hiking, biking, baking, reading, and spending time with her husband EJ, and dog, Ripley. Fun fact, Emma was born in Alaska and has visited all 50 states!

Celebration of Life

In Memoriam:

Dr. Joachim von Elbe

We are sadden to see the passing of Dr. Joachim “Joe” Hermann von Elbe. Those of us lucky enough to work with him, remember his steadfast dignity, good cheer and unconditional kindness. Upon retirement in July 1998, Joe wanted to leave the department with a means to celebrate simple joys and beauty in everyday life. He was able to establish the Joe von Elbe Science Endowment Fund to provide support for those activities that are difficult to fund through the normal budget process. When asked about his vision for it, he said, “like if you want to buy a bouquet of flowers to brighten the front office.” That was Joe, always kind and thinking of others.