Those interested in learning more about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are encouraged to register for the upcoming Current Issues in Nutrition online presentation. (more…)

Students are about to embark on a journey that will put their culinary skills to the test. (more…)

A group of four Iowa State University students recently returned from their trip to the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Food Institute in Chicago. (more…)

A junior at Iowa State University (ISU) was among the 20 college students from Iowa and California to be selected for the first class of the new Principal Community Scholars Program.

Mica Magtoto, a junior in nutritional science, received an email about the scholarship, which encourages students to complete projects that benefit the community. (more…)

AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University technology that improves the efficiency of wastewater reclamation using algae has gotten the attention of small Iowa communities and the largest wastewater treatment system in the world.

“This reactor greatly improves the efficiency of carbon dioxide and sunlight absorption. We found that the biomass productivity is about 10 times higher than a conventional system,” said Zhiyou Wen, professor of food science and human nutrition, who developed the system with Martin Gross, a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Crops Utilization Research.

The system uses vertical conveyor belts, about six feet tall and three feet wide, which revolve in a continual loop, cycling through the wastewater and air as multiple layers of algae grow on them.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago has tested the Revolving Algal Biofilm treatment system. It has finished a yearlong study treating waste streams from one of its water reclamation plants and extended the research project another year because of promising results.

Algae absorbs phosphorus and nitrogen from the wastewater along with carbon dioxide from the air. Wastewater is typically treated with a bacterial process, which produces sludge that creates odor and disposal issues.


Martin Gross, left, and Zhiyou Wen take a sample of algae in the portable algae water-treatment unit.

The algae produced from this new process can be harvested, pelletized and used as a sustainable fertilizer. Wen and Gross have started a company, called Gross-Wen Technologies, which obtained a USDA Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop the algae-based fertilizer. Gross serves as CEO of the company.

Wen and Gross also produced a mobile version of the system that can travel to communities and businesses around the state.

“Instead of inviting a local community’s water treatment personnel to come to our ISU facility to perform water treatment tests, we built this trailer to take to the community to treat wastewater on site,” Wen said.

The trailer was recently taken to Dallas Center for a project at its water treatment facility.

Wen said more restrictive regulations for the removal of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater, are coming for communities in the state, likely requiring costly treatment facility upgrades that could be avoided with implementation of the algae system. There are about 500 small communities in Iowa that could be impacted by the new regulations.

He said these communities are looking at upgrades to their existing treatment systems costing up to $5 million, which is a huge burden on these small towns.

“So that’s the niche for us. We have this algae cultivation system that can help these communities meet their new nutrient limits at a fraction of the cost of other systems,” Wen said.

The trailer also was recently used to test the system at CJ Bio America, a feed supplement company in Fort Dodge. It generated data to determine the cost of implementing the algae system at the plant.


Zhiyou Wen, Food Science and Human Nutrition, 515-294-0426,
Martin Gross, Center for Crops Utilization Research, 515-294-0160,
Ed Adcock, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service, (515) 294-2314,

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) is accepting nominations for the seventh annual FSHN Alumni Impact Award.

“Each year we recognize FSHN alums who are making a difference,” said Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair. (more…)

College of Human Sciences students are taking their passion for helping people to make a difference in the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses. (more…)

During the summer and fall months, nine individuals involved in Iowa State University’s Dietetic Internship had a unique opportunity to gain insight into the future of telehealth. (more…)

In keeping with the tradition of naming residence hall houses after individuals who have made an impact on Iowa State University (ISU), two of the 14 houses in the new Geoffroy residence hall have been named for women with ties to food science and human nutrition.

One of the houses, Day House, located on the east side of the building on the fifth floor, is named after Mildred “Millie” Day. Known as the creator of Rice Krispie Treats, Day is a 1928 graduate of ISU with a degree in home economics.

Before Day graduated from college, she already had a job lined up with Kellogg’s. She was in charge of testing recipes and later was tasked with leading cooking schools in approximately 38 states for Kellogg’s customers, according to information on the ISU Department of Residence

Several sources claim it was in 1939 that the Rice Krispies Treat was created by Day and co-worker Malitta Jensen. Initially, the treats were called “marshmallow squares” and were first introduced to the public six months later by Camp Fire girls in the Kansas City area who sold the treats for a fundraiser.

During the 2001 Veishea celebration, Day’s memory was honored by an effort to make the world’s largest Rice Krispies Treat. Though the oversized treat fell short of the world record, its final weight came in at 2,480 pounds and was made with 818 pounds of Rice Krispies, 1,466 pounds of marshmallows and 217 pounds of butter, according to the ISU Department of Residence website.

The other house in Geoffroy Hall is named for Charlotte Roderuck and is located on the third floor on the building’s west side. Roderuck served as an ISU employee for nearly 40 years, starting out as a Food and Nutrition faculty member in 1948. During her time at ISU, she went on to hold a number of positions, including assistant dean of the graduate college, assistant director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station and associate dean of home economic administration.

In 1977, she was named the Director of the World Food Institute at ISU. She held this position until Oct. 31, 1988, when she retired. A highlight of Roderuck’s time as the World Food Institute director was when the organization played host to the 1976 World Food Conference, according to the ISU Department of Residence website.

An endowed position within the FSHN Department is named after Roderuck – the Charlotte E. Roderuck Faculty Fellowship. The position was made possible thanks to a donation Roderuck made to the university after she retired.

“It is a great honor for the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department to have one of the houses in Geoffroy Hall named after Roderuck,” said Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair of the FSHN Department. “It’s also nice to have Day recognized as an individual who impacted the food sciences industry.”

Lisa Ludovico, assistant director of the Residence Halls Department, said any time a new residence hall is constructed, the houses within that facility are named after individuals who have made an impact on the ISU community. The University Archives, as well as other sources, are used to come up with a list of names. The 14 individuals for which the Geoffroy Hall houses are named were narrowed down from a sizable list of candidates.

“We came up with a list of about 50 names that didn’t already have something named after them,” Ludovico said.

From there, a group of student leaders and Department of Residence staff members narrowed down the list to the 14 that were chosen. Ludovico said they tried to choose a combination of males and females, as well as people who represented various backgrounds, time periods and colleges within ISU.

“Attention was paid to diversity this time around,” Ludovico said.

The other individuals for which the houses are named are:

  • Dorothy Bean
  • Clifford Berry
  • Lauro Cavazos
  • Vine Deloria Jr.
  • Larry Ebberts
  • James Geddes
  • Elizabeth Hoyt
  • Ted Kooser
  • Barbara Mack
  • Samuel Massie
  • Dan Robinson
  • Lois Tiffany

Students have already begun moving into the new residence hall, which is located on the south side of Lincoln Way next to Buchanan Hall. It will officially open during the spring 2017 semester.



Lisa Ludovico, assistant director, Department of Residence Halls, Iowa State University, 515-294-2900,

Whitney Sager, communications coordinator, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-9166,

Sarah Brekke did more than choose her adventure at Iowa State — she blazed a new trail. While taking part in the Food Science Club, she decided that students in the culinary food science major needed a club, too.

“Erica Beirman said she would serve as adviser if I wanted to put in the work of forming the club,” said Brekke, a 2011 Iowa State graduate in culinary food science who serves as a culinary specialist and food stylist at Meredith Corp. “We had a meeting, got together in a little conference room in MacKay Hall, and the group chose me as the first club president.”

Today, the Culinary Science Club has expanded its reach many times over.

Student members cook once a month for Food At First, an Ames-based free meal program and perishable food pantry. They partner with ISU Dining to cater events like the Order of the Knoll gala and the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Awards Celebration. They also support culinary teams each year who compete in the Iowa Pork Producers Association’s Student Taste of Elegance contest.

“Sarah has had a huge impact on the development and direction the club has taken,” said Beirman, a senior lecturer in food science and human nutrition who coordinates the culinary food science program. “Without the great leadership Sarah provided to the club, I do not think it would be as successful as it is today.”

Brekke learned the art and science of culinary food science by working with the club and serving as a lab assistant to complement her undergraduate coursework.

“The main thing that Iowa State helped me with was learning how to view food, and understand food quality,” she said.

Brekke’s learning and leadership was bolstered by accessible, engaged faculty like Lester Wilson, a University Professor in food science and human nutrition. For the transfer student who set foot on campus mid-year, Wilson’s welcome made Brekke feel at home.

“I went to the Food Science Club meeting, walked in, and right away, Dr. Wilson spotted me,” Brekke said. “He saw me. He said, ‘Welcome to Iowa State. Welcome to the department. Let me know if you ever need anything.’ I felt so welcomed.”

For Wilson, creating an inviting atmosphere is simply a part of the Iowa State experience.

“We need to be welcoming,” he said. “We’re a friendly campus. It’s just something you do.”

Brekke’s supportive Cyclone family led her to her first job at Meredith Corp. While she was still on campus, Beirman told her Meredith was converting its recipe database from one system to another. The company needed a person with food knowledge to make corrections on items that didn’t import into the new system correctly.

Now, as Brekke works with her Meredith teammates to prepare video shoots for brands like Parents or Better Homes and Gardens, she’s bringing her knowledge to bear — and leading with a collaborative spirit.

“It’s definitely a team effort,” Brekke said. “The work is very much in the moment, and we need to be able to go with the flow. We need to tackle whatever’s thrown at us.”


Sarah Brekke, culinary specialist and food stylist, Meredith Corp.,

Erica Beirman, senior lecturer, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-4361,

Lester Wilson, University Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, 515-294-3889,

Kent Davis, communications specialist, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, 515-294-1326,