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Brian E Jacobson

Blue corn waffles a winner in FSHN Food Challenge contest

URBANA, Ill. – Sammie Golemba is getting a head start on her college experience. As an incoming freshman in food science and human nutrition (FSHN) at the University of Illinois, she participated in this year’s FSHN Food Challenge and won a $500 scholarship for her efforts.

“I decided to make egg-free and gluten-free blue corn waffles for the challenge. I have had dietary issues regarding gluten and dairy, and I wanted to make sure to create something that would be ‘dietary friendly’ to eat,” she says.

“I really enjoyed the food challenge. I think it was a very clever way to get the FSHN students involved and invested in their major before college even started. Also, any opportunity to make food is always a fun opportunity,” she adds.

FSHN launched the food challenge in 2020 as a way to engage incoming students before they arrive on campus, says FSHN Department Head Nicki Engeseth. Learn more about FSHN undergraduate studies here.

“We send all accepted students within the U.S. a box with three kinds of flour­­ – white long grain fancy rice, Illinois blue corn, and soft red winter wheat – milled at the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory pilot processing plant on the U of I campus,” she explains.

The students must prepare food using at least one kind of flour. They then submit a photo of the food, a recipe, and a description of how they’ve met the challenge criteria. A panel of judges evaluate the entries, and the winners receive a $500 or $1,000 scholarship toward their studies.

“We created different challenges for each of our four concentrations,” Engeseth explains. “For dietetics it is tasty food with low calories, low fat, low sodium, or no added sugar. For hospitality management, the student must take a perfectly styled photo and describe how they styled the food. For human nutrition, the criteria is ‘eating healthy on a budget’. And for food science, they must create a product that can be shelf stable for two weeks.”

Golemba, an incoming student in the human nutrition concentration, and she was enthusiastic about her topic.

“The idea of ‘eating healthy on a budget’ is a really important concept for me as an incoming freshman, and participating in this challenge really showed me it is possible to do. I did think the ingredients we had to choose from were a little tough to work with, but being challenged is a good thing,” she says.

“I am beyond excited to start studying human nutrition in FSHN. I have had many issues regarding my stomach and dietary restrictions, and I always wondered ‘why does food react with me the way it does and not the same way with another person?’ Really delving deeper into the chemistry and biology of the human body and understanding the impacts of food is what I am most excited to learn about. I want to understand what food will make my body and my mind feel the healthiest and happiest,” Golemba states.

While she has not settled on a career goal, she knows she’ll want to help people with nutrition and dietary choices.

“I have thought about being a dietician, or possibly teaching nutrition to students. I would also like to help change school lunches to be healthier, yet still enjoyable. I’m not sure what I want to do yet, but I know I’m very excited to learn about it all.”

Golemba says while she’s thankful for winning a scholarship, her decision to accept admission was already firm.

“I knew right away when I was accepted into this college that I wanted to attend it. This challenge, however, definitely made me excited to see what FSHN has to offer once I am officially a freshman,” she says “The advisors I have talked to already have been so welcoming and kind. I truly cannot wait to start learning about my major.”

Engeseth says the contest helps the department connect with students and get them excited about coming to U of I.

“We plan to run the contest again next year, so admitted students should watch out for their box in the spring,” she adds.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois.

The FSHN Food Challenge and other students-focused projects like this are funded through donations to the College of ACES. To learn more, or to contribute, please contact the College of ACES Office of Advancement.





URBANA, Ill. – It’s officially cookie-baking season, and University of Illinois food scientists and chefs are showing their Illinois pride with a new cookie recipe, fully vegan, baked in the shape of the beloved Illinois “Block I.”

And as an even-bigger nod to Illinois, the cookie’s featured ingredient is pumpkin. After all, Illinois is the highest pumpkin-producing state in the nation.

The idea for the cookie first came about a few semesters back as part of a recipe development week at the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) Pilot Processing Plant in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at U of I. Students and staff at the pilot plant were joined by chefs from U of I’s Housing Dining Services to find ways to use produce and grain from the college’s Student Sustainable Farm (SSF) and grain breeding programs. The goal was to produce items dining services regularly uses in the university’s dining halls.

Chef Crystol Smith, head production chef for U of I Housing Dining Services, says some of those recipes included kale pesto, chimichurri marinade, marinara sauce, and breadsticks.

But it was one FSHN student’s idea for a vegan pumpkin cookie that stood out for Smith.

“The students were working on recipes to utilize the flour that was being processed. Additionally, there was a lot of pumpkin puree available. Jedi [Brown] came to me with a recipe for pumpkin cookies that was in development. We had recently lost our source for vegan cookies and wanted to know how to make it vegan. I have been working on plant-based desserts for a few years now, so it was natural for me,” Smith says.

Jedi Brown, pilot plant specialist, was working with student interns and employees that summer who were tasked with processing flour—from campus-grown wheat—and developing recipes using the flour.

“It was a great opportunity to have the chefs come over because they were able to work with us on developing these different products to utilize what we get from the farms here on campus. And just as [dining services] was having some supply issues and no longer had a vegan cookie, we had a really talented student who loves baking and she had made some pumpkin cookies,” Brown says.

That’s how then FSHN student Isabella Velasco introduced her pumpkin cookie. At the time she was following a vegan diet.

“The pumpkin plus chickpeas is a base for the cookies, and we don’t use butter, we use margarine,” Velasco explains. “It was amazing working with Chef Crystol. I learned a lot from her. She was like a mentor. I really got to mix my scientific knowledge with her cooking skills.”

Not a fan of pumpkin’s flavor? Brown says you’ll never notice it’s in there.

“People love pumpkin in the fall, but we’re looking for ways to utilize it throughout the year. People don’t know the pumpkin is even in the cookies because pumpkin doesn’t really have a taste,” he says. “The tastes people associate with pumpkins actually are the spices that usually accompany them. So it’s great in the cookie base.”

Even better news, Velasco’s cookie includes chocolate chips.

To get the recipe just right, Velasco says they tried different variations of the pumpkin, chocolate chip cookie recipe. They then did sensory testing with the cookies—both vegan and non-vegan versions—in university dining halls. “People actually liked the vegan cookies over the regular chocolate chip cookies,” she says.

And now, thanks to the recent edition of updated extrusion equipment in the pilot plant, staff and students can begin mass producing the cookies. In the future, as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and as the pilot plant and other outlets on campus return to normal operations, they will produce the cookie dough cutouts, freeze, and send to campus dining halls and the Bevier Cafe to be baked fresh.

The new Unifiller Uni-X extruder can process up to 790 lbs. an hour and 60 cookies a minute. “It’s a versatile machine able to produce all types of products, from cookies, pie sheeting, dough ropes, sports bars, pastes, ground meat, and more,” Brown says.

The equipment was purchased using funds from the Student Sustainability Committee, as it will process pumpkins from the SSF and grain from ACES’ wheat breeding programs into a variety of products including cookies and bars.

Visit ACES future students page to learn more about ACES programs of study or to apply by Jan. 5.

Much of the work done in FSHN’s Pilot Processing Plant is part of the Illinois Sustainable Food Project bringing together FSHN, the Department of Crop Sciences, and University Housing Dining Services. Grain and produce grown as part of research and teaching programs, student initiatives, and local collaborations are processed by students in the pilot plant into finished products that are served in the university dining halls. The finished products typically travel less than five miles from field to fork, and create innovative student learning and research opportunities.



FSHN-PPP Enables Grain Variety Research

The University of Illinois’ (U of I) pilot-scale facilities—the Food Science & Human Nutrition Pilot Processing Plant and the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab (Pilot Plants)—were opened in 2018 after much construction and renovation. The goal of these facilities is to engage and provide resources to U of I students, researchers, the area community, and industry clients in food and bioprocessing. Full of dozens of specialized machines and pieces of equipment, the Pilot Plants are fun-factories for food testing and processing, equipped to perform a range of functions on fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and grains. Full equipment lists for the facilities can be viewed here and here.

The work done in the Pilot Plants and the efforts of its staff range widely. In one afternoon, the Pilot Plants’ Assistant Director Brian Jacobson may be working with a food scientist from an international agribusiness company, providing space, supplies, and expertise for them to conduct proprietary research, while simultaneously helping students process hundreds of pounds of tomatoes grown on U of I’s sustainable student farm, creating pizza sauce for the campus’ dining centers.

Specific to research and efforts related to the development of niche food-grade grain markets, the Pilot Plants are a critical AGC partner. Brian chairs AGC’s Variety Testing Working Group—coordinating farmers, processors, and researchers—and works with AGC staff to advance technical support for the regional grain value chain. With support from a USDA LFPP (Local Food Promotion Program) grant awarded in 2017, the Pilot Plants have conducted compositional testing on hundreds of grain samples grown in research stations and on Midwestern farms over the last several years including many varieties of barley, rye, and wheat. This data establishes important technical parameters that help researchers and bakers understand which grain varieties are likely to perform well for specific culinary functions, particularly artisan bread baking.

While COVID-19 has significantly disrupted typical business protocols for many of the Pilot Plants’ operations—the space has been primarily utilized for large-scale hand sanitizer production since April—some initiatives have forged ahead. In March, the Pilot Plants began installing a still and other grain fermentation equipment (shown above) to support craft distilling research. Over the next year, the Pilot Plants will be working with U of I grad, farmer, and distiller Will Glazik of Cow Creek Farm to test five varieties of heritage, open-pollinated corn for yield and flavor composition compared to yellow #2 dent corn most commonly used in whisky production. This NCR SARE-funded research will be instrumental in helping area farmers to make good planting decisions around corn varieties that are desirable to spirits producers.

To learn more about the Pilot Plants, check out the links below and read on to learn how they supported AGC’s bake test this spring. Last summer, Brian hosted AGC members for a tour of the Pilot Plants, which you can read about here.

—Alyssa Hartman, AGC Executive Director

Dehydrating plant proteins at the speed of sound

By Stephanie Henry

URBANA, Ill. – A new extrusion line installation at the University of Illinois will usher in new research capabilities and industry partnerships. The equipment is housed in the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL), in partnership with the Food Science and Human Nutrition Pilot Processing Plant (FSHN-PPP) in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES).

Read more: https://aces.illinois.edu/news/new-ibrl-extrusion-equipment-allows-more-research-opportunities-industry-partners

Promoting the Use of Artisan Grains

URBANA, Ill. – Food system professionals working to promote local and artisanal grain use recently attended a unique tour  at the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) and the Food Science and Human Nutrition Pilot Processing Plant (FSHN-PPP), in the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

The Artisan Grain Collaborative (AGC) funded the tour. Amy Cook, executive director of The Farmer Chef Alliance and a member of the AGC, worked with Brian Jacobson, assistant director of Food and Bioprocessing Pilot Plant operations, and Beth Conerty, business development manager of IBRL, to coordinate and promote the tour.

Adam Davis, department head for crop sciences opened the day with remarks. Jessica Rutkoski, an assistant professor of small grains breeding provided an overview of genetics and environmental effects on grain quality and research programs focused on artisanal grains.

In the afternoon, Ece Gulkirpik, a FSHN doctoral candidate, and representatives from Perten Instruments gave a demonstration of grain testing equipment. Perten provides a variety of testing equipment used by the FSHN-PPP and IBRL. Participants were able to watch a demonstration of equipment such as the Inframatic 9500, which analyzes grain and flour composition, and the Doughlab, which tests for dough quality. They also learned about Falling Number, a test for an enzyme that can significantly reduce grain quality when present.

“We’re all too much in our own little worlds sometimes,” says Cook. “It’s eye-opening for a baker to see the equipment that does the testing. It helps them understand the numbers they read in the reports they get from the miller or the farmer.”

Jill Cummings, head miller for The Mill at Janie’s Farm, demonstrated the grain milling operation that included mill operations and settings, flour quality, sifting on both an 8-inch test mill, as well as a 20-inch production mill. Demonstrations on packaging included semi-automatic filling equipment, plastic pouch sealing, and bag sewing.

“Harold Wilkens, the owner of Janie’s Farm,  has over 2,000 acres and has farmed organically for more than 15 years. His son Ross is an Illinois alumnus, and was my first student worker in the Pilot Plant, so we know that group well.”

Cook says, “One of our participants was an instructor from National Louis University and was very excited to take this information back to her students. She’s talked about all these things in the class room, but now she’ll have photographs to share and a more in-depth knowledge of the things she’s been teaching.”

Jacobson says both demonstrations were very well received, and an added bonus for the participants was the lunchtime roundtable discussion. Carrie Anderson, the administrative executive chef for residential dining at Illinois, and members of her staff spoke with participants about the challenges of using small grains in an institutional setting, and addressed how farmers and institutional chefs could develop stronger relationships. The Illinois catering team provided the lunch using locally sourced ingredients including some grown at the Sustainable Student Farm.

“It was very interesting for our participants to get the perspective of a group that does thirty-some thousand meals a day,” says Jacobson.

“They were able to talk with the food service director of a large institution and ask how they could get more local foods into those institutions,” Cook says. “One of the greatest benefits was having everyone in the same room sharing information.”

Jacobson adds, “This was the first time we offered a comprehensive tour of this type and I’m sure we’ll do it again. It might not be exactly the same, because the area of artisanal grains grows and changes all the time. But if an opportunity arises, we’ll take advantage of it.”



News writer: Leanne Lucas, llucas@illinois.edu


FSHN Product Development Competition 2018

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS (WCIA) — You know the saying “You are what you eat?”

Some UI students are giving that a new twist. They’re developing foods specific to people’s conditions or dietary needs.

For example, one student developed a special breakfast sandwich for Alzheimer’s patients. She says it’s high in calories because many people with Alzheimer’s can’t absorb them as well, so they need to consume more.

Some other products include vegan pot pies which non-vegans would like and a food to fit a keto diet. The students are pitching them to judges in hopes of getting the money to set their ideas in motion.





URBANA, Ill. – Students in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois are learning hands-on about food systems, starting from seed improvement and soil science to commercial food processing, as well as bioprocessing technologies for industry, thanks to new facilities and renovations across the ACES campus.

The College of ACES is celebrating the completion of multiple renovated and newly constructed facilities with an open house on Friday, Sept. 28, on the Urbana-Champaign campus.

This event highlighting the new Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL), Turner Hall Transformation, and the renovated Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) Pilot Processing Plant, located in the Agricultural Engineering Sciences Building, will provide an opportunity to learn more about the broad range of research and learning in the College of ACES through facilities that bridge the gap between scientific discovery and industry application.

“Friends and partners of the College of ACES will have the opportunity to see first-hand the types of amazing teaching, research, and outreach experiences that can be created in state-of-the-art facilities,” says Kim Kidwell, dean of the College of ACES. “These new spaces represent translation zones where researchers, industry partners, and students come together to create innovative solutions to the challenges in food and agricultural systems.

“We are grateful to the dedicated alumni, donors, and legislative representatives whose unwavering support made these projects happen,” Kidwell adds.

The $3 million renovation of the FSHN Pilot Processing Plant has provided a multi-purpose facility for student instruction, cutting-edge research, and collaborative exploration with external food-industry partners. Some of the key improvements include: food grade and instructional suites, an industrial test kitchen/teaching lab, and upgraded processing equipment.

“We are very excited to share the newly renovated pilot plant facilities,” says Brian Jacobson, assistant director of food and bioprocessing pilot plant operations. “The open house will showcase the updated space and equipment, including demonstrations of processes used in our classes and research programs. We hope visitors will learn more about the exciting new capabilities and discuss ways to access the growing list of resources provided by the program.”

Because the pilot plant facility serves as a small food processing plant on campus, students are also learning to follow good manufacturing processes, including proper procedures for food handling, equipment cleaning, and personal sanitation. Products such as tomato-based sauces are processed in the plant and consumed in university residence halls.

The Turner Hall project transformed crop science and soil science laboratories into 21st-century learning environments. The three-floor renovation includes updated classrooms on the first and second floors of Turner Hall, and advanced laboratories in the basement. Classrooms feature new technologies, state-of-the-art equipment, new flooring, HVAC, and lighting. The new classrooms allow for greater learning capabilities in crop sciences, entomology, and weed science undergraduate courses. Updated shared student spaces as well as upgrades to the north annex of Turner Hall are part of the renovation.

“As visitors tour the newly renovated areas of Turner Hall, one of the first things they’ll notice are the inviting public spaces distributed around the first floor,” says Adam Davis, department head of crop sciences. “We want students, visitors, staff, and faculty to feel welcomed by these spaces and to use them to meet, collaborate, or just relax.

“Our redesigned classroom spaces include large lecture areas and smaller active learning classrooms, all outfitted with advanced communications technology hubs that can be easily reconfigured and updated as needed. Teaching labs have been reorganized around lean design principles, increasing the amount of usable space, and providing easy access to essential equipment. All of these changes work together to make Turner Hall a learning environment that supports flexibility in teaching styles and enhances our students’ experience,” Davis adds.

The new, 42,000 square-foot IBRL is a state-of-the-art pilot-scale facility that will accelerate the commercialization of bioprocessing technologies in renewable chemicals and fuels. The facility is designed to scale bioprocessing technologies and help bridge the gap between academic research and industrial commercialization. Unique IBRL resources include facility space, equipment use, support staff, and access to the intellectual capital housed at the University of Illinois.

“IBRL is designed as a flexible plug-and-play facility,” says Vijay Singh, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and director of IBRL. “You can roll in different types of equipment, connect them to quickly develop a process in eight different bays, with each bay equipped with a full suite of process utilities. This capability is unique and allows us to easily use our equipment with specialized equipment from our industrial partners.”

Guests are invited to start their visit at the ACES Library, Information and Alumni Center for check-in, videos chronicling construction, and hospitality beginning at 8:30 a.m. Turner Hall, IBRL, and the FSHN Pilot Processing Plant will be open 9 a.m. – noon. Each facility will also have specific scheduled activities.

Scheduled activities during the open house include:

9:30 a.m. – FSHN Pilot Processing Plant Donor Recognition
10:15 a.m. – IBRL Presentation
11 a.m. – Turner Hall Donor Recognition

Maps and schedules will be available at check-in. A formal ribbon cutting for IBRL will be held on Sept. 27. For more information, contact the College of ACES Office of Advancement at acesadvancement@illinois.edu or 217-333-9355.


Source: https://emails.illinois.edu/newsletter/184247.html