Molecule structure written on chalkboard with sliced orange in the foreground

Molecular Properties of Foods

This group employs the basic principles and instrumental techniques of the physical and chemical sciences to improve our understanding of complex food systems, thus enabling the production of longer lasting, higher quality, and safer foods. The faculty members within this group carry out research in the areas of molecular/structural basis of food properties; mechanical testing of foods; and development of technologies and identification of food ingredients to improve the texture, appearance, stability, and taste of foods. The Molecular Properties of Foods group has developed strong expertise in nanotechnology to help solve these problems.

  • Core Faculty: Drs. Decker, He, McClements, and Nolden
  • Contributing Faculty: Drs. Grossmann, Park, and Xiao
Food science professor looking at an ear of corn

The Safety of Food

The area of food safety encompasses microbiological and toxicological problems related to the processing, handling, and consumption of food. The Food Safety Group in the Food Science department has the expertise to address and solve numerous problems within the food industry associated with food pathogens and contaminants. The faculty members in this group have expertise in the biochemical processes involved in the growth and detection of foodborne pathogens and their toxins. Other areas of emphasis include the development of sensitive and rapid detection methods, optimization of cleaning and sanitation, mathematical models to assess and predict microbiological hazards, potential toxicological effects associated with consumption of food-grade nanoparticles, and use of natural products as bacteriostats or bactericides.

  • Core Faculty: Drs. Gibbons, He, McLandsborough, Moore, and Kinchla
  • Contributing Faculty: Drs. McClements, Lu, Park, and Xiao
Two adults and two children preparing fresh vegetables

Foods for Health and Wellness

The research focus of our Health and Wellness program focuses on areas such as identification of bioactive components in foods and food waste streams; utilization of biological models to assess the molecular mechanisms and physiological effects of bioactive food components; and development of technologies to increase the stability, bioavailability, and activity of novel health-promoting compounds added to foods such that the resulting functional foods maintain desirable quality and safety over an extended shelf life.

  • Core Faculty: Drs. Decker, McClements, Park, Sela, and Xiao 
  • Contributing Faculty: Drs. Gibbons, Grossmann, McLandsborough, Moore, and Nolden
Two prepared burgers with condiments and toothpicks

Sustainable Food Material Processing

The research focus of our Sustainable Food Material Processing group is to focus food processing to create healthy and sustainable foods for our future, such as creation of the next-generation plant-based foods, processing of novel protein-rich microbial and fungi materials, establishing influence of processing on protein functionality and texture, understanding fouling layer growth and removal mechanisms, and understanding the interfacial dynamic in food dispersion systems. 

  • Core Faculty: Drs. Lu, Grossmann, McClements, and Xiao
  • Contributing Faculty: Drs. Decker, Nolden, and Kinchla