Tag Archives: FST

Sensory lab open house at Virginia Science Festival

The first ever, state-wide Virginia Science Festival will make its debut in Blacksburg on Saturday, Oct. 4. Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands and Stephen Jurcyzk, director of NASA Langley Research Center, will preside over the opening ceremony for the statewide event at 9:45 a.m. at the Moss Arts Center, 190 Alumni Mall. The festival, which runs from Oct. 4 through 11, will feature events in more than a dozen communities across the state. Events will be held in Arlington, Danville, Hampton Roads, Grundy, Richmond, Roanoke, and Blacksburg to highlight Virginia’s growing influence as a hub of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics research and education.

Food is one of the most provoking sensory experiences that we take part in every day. If asked to think of your favorite comfort food, do you imagine the texture of creamy mac and cheese or the aroma of mom’s apple pie coming fresh out of the oven? And if asked your least favorite food, you are probably cringing with disgust remembering an overcooked dish that was less than appetizing. While you might not give much thought to all of the food you consume, the food you eat is all that food scientists think about. Part of the role of food scientists is to study the reactions consumers have to different food products through sensory science.

The Department of Food Science & Technology is excited to announce and open house for their state-of-the-art sensory laboratory. This open house will take place as part of the Virginia Science Festival on Oct. 4, 2014. It will be held at the new HABB1 building, room 205, at 1230 Washington St SW from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Everyone is welcome to come and participate in this interactive event including faculty, staff, students, friends, and family members!

You will get a behind-the-scenes look at how sensory evaluation takes place including the new video technology used to evaluate facial expression and emotional responses to food.  Attendees can participate in a mock sensory panel and experience the setting of a focus group. There will also be interactive stations such as the ‘Spice Rack Aroma Challenge’ where you can test your own sensory skills. Make sure to sign up to become a sensory panelist and participate in future sensory tests held at Virginia Tech. Sensory evaluation is an integral part of food science and this open house will allow members of the community to find out more and play an active role in the cutting edge of food science research. There will be opportunities for some free food samples and a grand prize drawing!  We hope to see you on Oct. 4!

Susan Duncan is one of several CALS researchers who will be presenting their work at the festival. A full list of events and locations can be found at the festival web page.

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Susan Duncan elected ADSA vice president

Congratulations to Susan DuncanSusan Duncan, who was elected as the American Dairy Science Association’s vice president – Dairy Foods Division. This is a one-year term after which she will become president of the organization.

Duncan is a professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology. She joined the department as an assistant professor with an emphasis in value-added dairy foods in 1990. She received her Ph.D. in food science and technology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1989. Previously, she earned an M.S. in human nutrition and foods from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. from The Ohio State University in food technology. In addition, Duncan is a registered dietitian. She has an appointment of  80 percent research, 20 percent teaching.

Her research program focuses on chemical and sensory quality of foods and beverages with emphasis on dairy foods. Over the past 10 years, she has achieved research funding of nearly $7.9 million. She has published over 85 research papers and several book chapters. She has contributed to several revisions of the Standard Methods for the Evaluation of Dairy Products as well as to Northeast Dairy Practices Council publications. Her dairy foods research priorities include modification of milk and dairy products to increase nutritional value through pre- and post-harvest technologies. She is actively involved in research associated with materials for improved packaging of food and beverages, with special interest in photochemistry of milk and functional foods.

For the past three years, Sue has been an ADSA Board member (Dairy Foods). During her activity on the board, she developed and implemented the Multidisciplinary and International Leadership (MILK) Symposium, which has become a featured symposium at the annual meeting. Recently, she has led the efforts to increase awareness of the value of ADSA membership, including conceptualizing the SAD video contest for promoting membership at all different levels. Duncan, who joined ADSA in 1986 as a graduate student, was recognized by ADSA with the ADSA Foundation Scholar Award in 1998.

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Employees complete UOPD certificate program

Five College of Agriculture and Life Sciences employees were recently awarded certificates from University Organizational and Professional Development in the Department of Human Resources.


Supervisory Excellence Certificate

Susan Gill, CALS administration

Office Software Skills Certificate

Vicki Keith, food science and technology
Lesley Mitchell, CALS adminstration

Administrative Professional Development Program Certificate

JoAnna Lewis, agricultural and applied economics
Angela Worrell, human nutrition, foods, and exercise


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Hengjian Wang – June Employee of the Month

Hengjian Wang, a laboratory specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology, has been selected as the Employee of the Month for June.

Hengjian Wang, June Employee of the Month

From left: Joe Marcy, head of the Department of Food Science and Technology; Hengjian Wang; and Dean Alan Grant.

All of Hengjian’s interactions with members of the department are professional and enthusiastic. He is always available to help with any task — no job is too small or too large. Perhaps the most noteworthy events have occurred as the food science and technology department has moved to the new Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1. Hengjian has been very active in packing up labs, organizing items for the move, fixing equipment issues, and going above and beyond while still managing to support research and teaching in the FST building.

Hengjian is someone who is willing to drop everything to help with requests both simple and complex. His expertise with equipment troubleshooting and repair has come to the forefront as the move to the new facility  progressed. This has made the transition much easier for the researchers and graduate students who need the units to continue or complete projects. His energy level increases with each challenge he faces and his continued efforts to make the department all it can be deserves to be acknowledged.

Most notably, Hengjian’s nominator praised his knowledge, dedication, and initiative, noting that he “puts more thought into every class and lab setup than anyone I’ve ever met.”

Congratulations Hengjian!

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Students recognized with Departmental Outstanding Senior Awards

Every year, each department in the college nominates one student as the Outstanding Senior from their unit. Stephanie Myrick of Woodbridge, Virginia, who majored in applied economic management with minors in civic agriculture and food systems and leadership and social change, was selected from these nominations as the college’s Outstanding Senior.

The Outstanding Seniors from other departments included:

  • Brent Ashley from the Department of Dairy Science
  • Colleen Beard from the Department of Horticulture
  • Laura Griffin from the Department of Food Science and Technology
  • Alyson Howard from the Department of Agricultural Technology
  • Shannon Lloyd from the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise
  • Kimberly Pittard from the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
  • Morgan Slaven from the Department Agricultural and Extension Education
  • Kirsten Ulmer from the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences
  • Kelly Young from the Department of Biochemistry
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Save the Date: March 21 – Alumni Awards and HABB1 grand opening

HABB1 grand opening save the date

Please plan on joining us Friday, March 21, as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences celebrates two big events.

The college’s newest building, Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1, will have its grand opening that morning. The annual Awards Program that recognizes our outstanding alumni will follow in the afternoon and evening.

The grand opening ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. with a reception and tours to follow. The Awards Program will begin at 2 p.m. and will be followed by a dinner at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.

Please RSVP to Jamie Lucero at 540-231-9666 | jlucero@vt.edu as soon as possible.

We hope to see you there!

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Students participated in USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum in Washington, D.C.

Two students from Department of Food Science and Technology recently attended the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2014 Agricultural Outlook Forum, “The Changing Face of Agriculture” held Feb. 20-21, in Arlington, Va.

Moonyoung Choi and Lester Schonberger attended the forum as part of the USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program, which is designed to introduce students to contemporary agribusiness, future trends, scientific research, and agricultural policy in today’s real world environment. Twenty university juniors and seniors were chosen on the basis of their essays on “Agriculture as a Career,” and 10 graduate students were selected for their response to “The Greatest Challenge Facing Agriculture over the Next Five Years.”

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Susan Duncan and David Schmale speak on Beyond Boundaries theme at TedX Virginia Tech

On November 9, the TedX Virginia Tech event opened to a sold out crowd in the Center for the Arts. This year, 16 faculty members, students, alumni, and community members spoke on the theme of “Beyond Boundaries”.

In the tradition of TED events, each speaker shared inspiring and thought-provoking ideas worth spreading. This year’s event expanded from 2012’s inaugural TEDxVirginiaTech event to include community members from the New River Valley who were not directly affiliated with the university.

Out of the 16 presenters this year, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences had faculty representing Virginia Tech on stage. Susan Duncan, professor with the Department of Food Science and Technology, presented on “The mixology of food and emotions”, and David G. Schmale III, associate professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science, focused his presentation on “Drone-ing for life in the atmosphere.”

If you missed the live event or would like to see the presentations again, the videos for Susan Duncan and David Schmale’s presentations have been posted online, as well as others from the event.

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College Highlights

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From the Dean — October 2012

Dear Colleagues,

Alan Grant

Alan Grant, dean

Among the many events and activities that took place in September was the final development stages of our college strategic planning process. The final version of our long-awaited 2012-2018 Strategic Plan was recently submitted to the Office of the Provost, completing a process that began many months ago and involved numerous stakeholders. I encourage you to peruse our new plan on the CALS website as we begin steps to implement the strategies and actions.

In addition to new mission and vision statements, the plan includes a list of values, emphasis areas, and four major goals with a number of strategies and high-priority action items. We also included a section that illustrates how our college plan is aligned and linked with the vision, goals, and objectives of the university’s Continue reading

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