Research Focus Areas

Food Chemistry & Biochemistry

Research in this emphasis area focuses on understanding the fundamental mechanisms that influence quality of food, especially, rice, soy, and their products and by-products. Areas of study include chemical transformations of lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins, how these components are affected by specific production, processing, handling and storage techniques, and ways to either enhance or prevent these transformations from occurring.

Research projects representative of work within this emphasis area include:

•  Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) synthesis from soy oil and other linoleic acid rich vegetable oils; HPLC fatty acid analysis of CLA isomers in CLA rich oil; and CLA rich soy oil oxidation
•  Structures and physicochemical properties of starch with relation to rice quality
•  Modification of starch via chemical, physical, and enzymatic means for food and pharmaceutical applications and the development of value-added productsoil
•  Functionality and physicochemical properties of proteins and  bioactive peptides during processing, extrusion. and storage
•  Value-added food products and ingredients from protein and co-products



 Food Microbiology & Safety

This emphasis area is centered around the safety and quality of food products with a focus on biological, chemical and physical hazards. Efforts are directed toward the development and utilization of advanced researchspinach technologies leading to evaluations of the factors that impact the safety and quality of foods during harvesting, production, processing, packaging, storage and distribution.

Research projects representative of work within this emphasis area include:

•  Physiology, genetics, metabolomics, and pathogenesis of food-borne pathogens chicken
•  Rapid detection and control of pathogens through innovative processes
•  Gastrointestinal microbiology 
•  Food microbial fermentation and ecology
•  Prevention of post-harvest microbial spoilage



Food Processing & Engineering 

Focus of work within this emphasis area is on facilitating and encouraging value-added research and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of processing of food and co-products. Food Processing is a long-standing tradition in the department and a major part of our department history. Current research focuses on bio-processing, oil utilization, juice processing, and canning and fermentation. Arkansas has a vibrant food industry that allows research to be conducted in close collaboration with industrial partners.   

rice bowl

Research projects representative of work within this emphasis area include:
•  Enhancement of the quality and value of rice and rice products through basic and applied research. Programmatic emphases include pre-harvest quality, drying, milling, and parboiling
•  Production of value-added foods with emphasis on the environmental impact of production and processing operations, the enhancement of sustainability, and green technologies as applied to food processing, energy efficiency, and the use of co-products from food production


Food for Health      blueberries

Researchers working in the Food for Health emphasis are seeking to gain a better understanding of the role of nutrition in health and disease. This includes identifying specific nutrients and bioactive components, determining the optimum levebabyls of intake for disease prevention, and translating findings into solutions. 

Research projects representative of work within this emphasis area include:

•  Defining the role of dietary protein on body composition, energy metabolism and metabolic health throughout the life cycle 
•  Discovering the role of dietary phytochemicals and natural extracts in health and disease

•  Identifying and characterizing bioactive phytonutrients in horticultural crops, legumes and grains 
•  Determining the bioavailability of bioactive components in natural products and food




Sensory & Consumer Science

Both basic and applied research within this emphasis area address the challenges that face the food industry with respect to the sensory quality of foods. Research focuses on increasing understanding of the physiological aspects of human perception and the role these play in food acceptability. Also being studied is the relationship between consumer acceptance and sensory properties of foods. Graduate students working in this research emphasis have the opportunity to assist in the operation of the Sensory Service Center giving them experience in organizing, cconducting, and managing industrial projects.

    sensoryResearch projects representative of work within this emphasis area include:                

    •  Sensory and consumer sciences 
    •  Chemosensory perception and multisensory integration 
    •  Food neuropsychology
    Food choice and eating behavior