Research projects typically focus on specific aspects of raw and processed food commodities important to Arkansas such as poultry, beef, rice, soybeans, fruits and vegetables as well as processing waste materials. Food and food-related product development and manufacturing are major industries in Arkansas and the Ozark region, which closely collaborate and strongly support Food Science research at the University of Arkansas
The Carbohydrate Research Program focuses include: structure and functionality relationship of starch; structures and physicochemical properties of starch as related to rice quality; modification of starch via chemical, physical, and enzymatic means for food and pharmaceutical applications; and development of value-added products.
The Enology and Viticulture Research Program is a multidisciplinary, industry-oriented program that addresses research and extension issues in grape cultivar development, production, handling, harvesting, processing, and utilization. The Program was established to conduct basic and applied research pertinent to both the current and long-term challenges that face the Arkansas, regional and national grape industries.
The Food Processing Research Program mission is to develop processing technologies that minimize the environmental impact of food processing plants leading to the creation of more sustainable industrial practices. The program's main focus is on the research of “Green Technologies” applied to Food Processing. Research interests include the replacement of energy intensive processes, utilization of co-products and byproducts from the food industry, minimization of waste products, and optimization of processes.
The Food Microbiology and Safety Research Program focuses on developing practical solutions to basic and applied research problems involving spoilage, fermentation, and safety of foods. Research interests include bacterial pathogen detection and control on and in foods. Pathogen targets include Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter spp., Enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella/Shigella spp. Strategies involve development and use of monoclonal antibodies, PCR probes and cooperation with other research groups on development of biosensors. Also explored are evaluations of antibiotic resistances, as well as use of bacteriocins and GRAS chemicals in edible films and thermal processing for pathogen control. A current focus is the starvation responses of bacterial pathogens, primarily L. monocytogenes.
The Functional Foods Research Program is designed to improve the awareness of the nutritional quality of processed foods. Our current research involves identification of bioactive components in foods, development of new technologies to improve their retention during processing and storage, and enhance biologically active component levels in new and existing food products. Our goal is to develop foods with elevated levels of these components that will ultimately reduce health care costs through prevention of degenerative diseases.
The Lipid Chemistry and Health Research Program mission is to increase the awareness of the role of important lipids in a healthy diet and address basic/applied research problems related to food oils and related products. This includes production of a novel conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)-rich vegetable oil using an innovative ultraviolet light processing methods to develop new lipid-based functional foods. CLA is an effective anti-obesity, anti-carconogenic and anti-heart disease agent and we have incorporated these properties in soy oil. We are determining the oil composition and structure by advanced chromatographic techniques and the nutrition/health value by animal studies.
The Nutrition Research Program focuses include: identification and purification of dietary constituents in functional foods and natural extracts; effects of bioactive components in the prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis; bioavailability of bioactive components; gut metabolism of phytochemicals; and food toxicology.
The Pickle Science and Technology Research Program is dedicated to advancing knowledge and technologies for improving production and quality of pickled vegetables. The program provides research, technical service and training to assist suppliers and manufacturers of all types of acidified and fermented vegetables. Particular emphasis of the program is to apply science-based principles obtained through research to improve commercial pickled vegetable production operations and product quality.
The Protein Chemistry Research Program is dedicated to challenges in protein and peptide chemistry, and relating chemistry and structure to functionality. It also emphasizes proteomics, pro- and pre-biotics, biactivities of nutraceutical natural extracts and food components, value-added uses of industry by/co-products; edible films and coatings of fruits, vegetables, and meat and irradiation to preserve food and enhance food safety. The focus is in delivering sound chemistry-based technology for new and innovative ingredients to have health benefits.
The Rheology and Sensory Research Program mission is to conduct both basic and applied research addressing the challenges that face the food industry with respect to the sensory quality of foods. This program is directed to provide basic information to the US food industry so that food quality can be optimized. The program focuses on the evaluation of processes and their effects on sensory quality, the development of sensory and instrumental methodologies for reliably evaluating sensory characteristics of foods, and the understanding of the relationship between consumer acceptance and sensory properties of foods.
The Rice Processing Research Program mission is to conduct both basic and applied research addressing current and long-term challenges facing the rice industry. This research is being directed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of current processing operations, as well as to provide fundamental information to be utilized in the development of new products and processes. The ultimate goal is to enhance the quality and value of rice and rice products.
Jordan Teeple, a graduate student in Food Science, is conducting nutrition research on natural remedies to reduce post menopausal risk factors for cardiovascular disease in women.