Food and Nutrition Sciences faculty and students present research to industry leaders


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (October 19, 2012) — In conjunction with an on-campus advisory board meeting today, faculty and students from the Department of Food and Nutrition Sciences presented their research and talked about their experiences in the food and nutrition industry Thursday. Members of the Food and Nutrition Sciences Advisory Board got the opportunity to hear about a variety of faculty projects during presentations Thursday morning in Campbell Hall. Thursday evening at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center at Tuskegee University, some of the department’s students presented their work in poster displays and shared their internship experiences. 

The faculty projects included: work on the anti-cancer and anti-cardiovascular disease properties of rarely consumed foods such as sweet potato plant tips and purslane; the development of biodegradable films and coatings for food; and youth anti-obesity programs. 

Ralphenia Pace, the department’s head, focused her presentation on nutritionally beneficial food and cardiovascular disease prevention. She said the number of cardiovascular disease cases in Macon County outpaces the national rate so preventative measures are critical, especially for youth. 

“Young people maybe think they have nothing to fear. But, it’s at that age we need to protect ourselves,” Pace said. 

She gave an overview of the benefits of traditional foods eaten in the area, such as okra, collard greens, mustard greens and sweet potatoes. Pace said the tender tips of the sweet potato plant are edible, rich in antioxidants, and have properties that reduce inflammation and significantly lower blood pressure. Pace said the plants tips take very little time to prepare, are similar to spinach and “delicious.” 

Byunglin “John” Min, a professor in the department, presented his work on developing coatings and films that will extend the shelf life of foods and be anti-microbial. A gelatin coating was made from catfish products and a film was made using sweet potato starch. 

“What we make as a film, we can apply to various products… keep the color and delay oxidation,” Min said. 

Sophomore, Zemira Barnes, said she was impressed with the extensive information on the health benefits of foods like the sweet potato plant and purslane. The Birmingham, Ala. native said she decided to participate in the advisory board events to establish connections in her field of interest. 

“It’s a way for me to branch out and network with a lot of people. And, the opportunity to see research by our professors,” Barnes said Thursday morning.

Established in 1995, the Food and Nutrition Sciences Advisory Board is a compilation of food industry leaders and academicians who help provide scholarships and mentoring to the department’s students. 

Eric Milgram, director in Pepsico’s metabolomics and nutrient physiology division, is new to the advisory board, but he feels that involvement with the students is important. He said he was impressed with the research going on at the university and the potential food products. 

“We need people doing research for the sake of research. But when you look at the legacy of Tuskegee, what you see is the ability to take research and translate it into something,” Milgram said. “The idea of going from the laboratory to the consumer is very possible here.” 

©2012 Tuskegee University

Back to News Listing