Brehm-Stecher Receives 2016 Mid-Career Achievement in Research Award

Photo By Blake Lanser

Byron Brehm-Stecher, Associate Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, focuses on developing methods to improve food safety and quality, such as a cutting-edge effort to develop applications for functional food ingredients that will provide food scientists with new tools in the fight against harmful bacteria.

Mellata Receives Patent for Methods of Inhibiting Tumors

By Megan Pulse, FSHN Marketing and Communications
Melha Mellata_CHS_Blake Lanser
Melha Mellata, an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition, now has a patent that covers new methodology for safer and effective cancer treatments.

Melha Mellata, Assistant Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, researches the development of effective intervention strategies against diseases. Mellata focuses primarily on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of bacteria, host response to infections, and developing vaccines to control infections in humans and food-producing animals, such as chickens. Her research has significantly advanced the field, resulting in high-impact publications, federal funding, and patents such as the recently awarded U.S. patent 9198950, Recombinant bacterium comprising a toxin/antitoxin system, for the invention of new methods for inhibiting tumors and improving safety of live vaccines.

 “I am honored to have this patent awarded as only approximately 20% of all inventors are female. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, and I hope my invention will lead to a cure that will play an important role in lowering that statistic, as well as lowering the impact of infectious diseases,” said Mellata.  

Mellata’s invention consists of genetically modifying a bacterial toxin-antitoxin system and utilizing it in a live vaccine, such as Salmonella, to selectively deliver the toxins into the tumor cells and destroy them. This system can also be used to make live vaccines safer. Current cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can be harmful to normal cells, while Mellata’s system will be successful in terminating cancerous tumor cells, leaving normal cells healthy. The recombinant bacterium comprising a toxin/antitoxin system works by activating the promoter of the toxins that naturally target tumor cells.

“By studying living cells, such as bacteria at the molecular level, researchers have elucidated many systems used by these cells to survive and cause diseases. These bacterial systems can be modified to be used for purposes that will benefit us. Lastly, bacteria can teach us new ways to improve human, and animal health,” shared Mellata.

Live attenuated vaccines are considered among the most influential tools for disease control and potential disease elimination. Weakened bacteria that are unable to cause clinical diseases, but trigger a self-limiting infection leading to the stimulation of protective immunity, represent an attractive method to prevent and/or treat infections. Overall, Mellata’s research will benefit both human health and agricultural animal production.


Key Contacts:
Megan Pulse, mjpulse@iastate.edu, Marketing and Communications
Melha Mellata, mmellata@iastate.edu, Assistant Professor

Shaw Receives 2016 Creativity in Service to All Iowans Award

By Megan Pulse, FSHN Marketing and Communications

Angela Shaw, Assistant Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Extension and Outreach Food Safety Specialist, is determined to educate farmers, retailers, industries, and food manufacturers across Iowa to use good agricultural practices.

Litchfield Receives 2016 Excellence in Research-Based Programming Award

By Megan Pulse, FSHN Marketing and Communications

Ruth Litchfield, Associate Professor and Associate Department Chair of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Human Sciences Extension and Outreach Nutrition Specialist focuses on youth, school and community nutrition programs using the socio-ecological model of behavior change. Litchfield dedicates her time to connecting the needs of Iowans with Iowa State University research and resources, which makes her deserving of the 2016 Iowa State University Extension - Excellence in Research-Based Programming award.

“Extending the resources of Iowa State University through Extension and Outreach to improve the quality of life for all Iowans is very rewarding,” shared Litchfield.

As an Extension educator, Litchfield provides training on school meal program regulations, school nutrition education, competitive foods, school gardens and overall improvement of the school food environment in her work with the Team Nutrition Training Grants. She has also been engaged in providing food safety messaging for families with young children, and training programs for child care providers, which reaches approximately 1,700 childcare providers annually.

Litchfield engaged with the Healthiest State Initiative to develop and/or coordinate the State Fair Food Finder app (over 2 million app/website views), Master Gardener trainings for HyVee staff, Preserve the Taste of Summer (PTTS) training for HyVee Registered Dietitians, and 8 nutrition education lessons for consumers featuring Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommendations. Each lesson included 8 videos and 7 recipes, which engaged 1,302 consumers.

Litchfield engages citizens by using research and evidence-based educational programs, leading the world in advancing the land-grant ideals of putting science, technology, and human creativity to work. A collaboration with the Department of Education to provide training and technical assistance to schools relative to federally mandated school wellness policy development/implementation and school meal regulations, resulted in 100% of school districts in the state being in compliant, 98% receiving additional federal reimbursement, and the number of schools receiving the Healthier US School Challenge award has increased from 15 to 70 over six years.

In all of her work in Extension and Outreach, Ruth Litchfield incorporates research and student training, resulting in an impressive research output. She has generated over $3 million in grant funding and produced 100 Extension publications.


Key Contacts:

Megan Pulse, mjpulse@iastate.edu, Marketing and Communications
Clark Ford, cfford@iastate.edu, Associate Professor, Chair - FSHN Awards Committee
Ruth Litchfield, litch@iastate.edu, Associate Professor and Associate Department Chair

March 2016 Student Spotlight

Justin Banach, Graduate Assistant-Research, Food Science Club, Food Product Development Team

Justin Banach - Photograph

Why did you choose to attend Iowa State?
I came to ISU to work on an interesting research project involving the modification of an underutilized dairy protein ingredient. At that time, I had just learned about the proposed modification techniques in one of my classes and I felt confident to carry them out.

What factors influenced your choice of major?
It was an easy switch from studying Biological Systems Engineering as an undergrad to Food Science as a graduate student.

What do you enjoy most about your student club or organization experience?
I enjoy being involved with our Food Science Club. I co-planned a multi-state club trip during Spring 2014 that was attended by 17 students. I have also enjoyed helping students get involved with our Food Product Development Team and providing them with an opportunity to highlight their skills on a national stage.

Please describe your most rewarding experience for you being a part of and working with the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at ISU?
The people in our department are awesome. My lab group is diverse, both in our backgrounds and our research, and we continually learn from each other.

What do you see yourself doing in three to five years?
I won’t be a student anymore, but will hopefully be working in an industry job helping a company produce goods that consumers want to buy. I certainly plan to have more hobbies in the future, as well.

What is something that faculty/staff members wouldn’t know about you?
I try to make things happen. No excuses!

Would you like to recognize a faculty member for their hard work and/or inspiration?
My adviser, Buddhi Lamsal, has always given me full ownership of my work such that successes and opportunities for improvement are on me. This approach has allowed me to learn exponentially.

Iowa State University to Host Regional Center for Food Safety, Receives FDA Grant

Angela Shaw

February 29, 2016
By: Fred Love, ISU News Service

AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University will become a regional center for food safety in an effort to help businesses that grow and process food comply with new federal regulations in the coming years.

The federal Food and Drug Administration awarded Iowa State a three-year, $950,000 grant to establish the new North Central Regional Center for Food Safety Training, which will provide guidance to food processors and growers in 12 Midwestern states.

Angela Shaw, an assistant professor of food science and human nutrition, will lead the effort to get the regional center off the ground. Shaw said food safety has grown as a topic of concern for the American public, and the food safety regulations needed to be modernized.

“We’re able to document more foodborne outbreaks now as detection and health care technology have improved,” Shaw said. “And social media and news media have helped food safety grow in stature as an important issue to people. Food safety rules should reflect those changes.”

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011, aims to strengthen the U.S. food safety system by preventing foodborne outbreaks before they occur. The produce safety rule, one of seven major rules under FSMA, requires fruit and vegetable growers to meet science-based minimum standards for safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. FSMA also establishes a national center and four regional centers – which includes the new center at Iowa State – to help guide companies that will have to comply with the law.

Shaw said the size of a firm determines the date on which it will need to comply with one of the law’s major rules. The largest companies will have to make a deadline in September, while the smallest firms have about four years. She said large companies will be able to devote the necessary resources to make the transition, but small companies likely will need the most help in updating under the new rule.

“This is going to be a feat for large companies to comply with the new rule, but they’ll have the money and the personnel to help them get there,” she said. “The smaller firms will have a harder time getting fully compliant because they don’t have access to the same kind of resources.”

Companies will have to update their recordkeeping and training policies regarding food safety, Shaw said.

But in order to help companies make those changes, Shaw said the first step for the regional center will be to reach out to the firms that will have to comply with the new rules for a needs assessment. Catherine Strohbehn, an adjunct professor of apparel, events and hospitality management, and Linda Naeve, an extension program specialist in value added agriculture, also will contribute to the effort.

Shaw said the new center fits well with Iowa State’s land-grant mission.

“This undertaking will be very research based,” she said. “We’ll have a very robust outreach effort to work with the companies, and we’ll also be working with the other regional centers to see what sort of overlap exists.”


- See more at: http://www.news.iastate.edu/news/2016/02/29/foodsafetycenter#sthash.QEkHCikh.dpuf



Angela Shaw, Food Science and Human Nutrition, 515-294-0868, angelaml@iastate.edu
Fred Love, News Service, 515-294-0704, fredlove@iastate.edu

Webb Receives 2016 Wallace E. Barron All-University Senior Award

JoeWebb_2016 Wallace E Barron Award Winner
February 24, 2016
By Megan Pulse


Joe Webb, senior in nutritional science, is driven to serve others and passionate about expanding human potential through conducting research that improves human health. These qualities make Webb deserving of the 2016 Wallace E. Barron All-University Senior Award.

The award, given by the Iowa State University Alumni Association, is granted upon two to five seniors who have dedicated their time to making Iowa State a better place to live, learn, and grow.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to be named a recipient of the Wallace E. Barron All-University Senior Award. This award is the most prestigious honor that I have received and I would like to express my sincere gratitude for this opportunity because there are so many other deserving students at Iowa State University,” said Webb.

Joe’s decision to major in nutritional science was rooted by a family health diagnosis. When his family was given the news that his step father was diagnosed with high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and high cholesterol, Joe helped his family to lead a healthier lifestyle. This resulted in a change of diet for Joe and his family as they began to eat healthy. Around the same time, Joe assisted in founding a weight lifting program at his high school in Murray, Iowa. Joe and his family lost a combined total of 175 pounds within a short few years, Joe losing 90 pounds himself. After witnessing the profound influence nutrition can have on peoples’ lives, Joe knew that he wanted to spend his life helping others experience the same joy he discovered from leading a healthier lifestyle, and turning his life around.

Joe’s leadership is evident with his involvement in numerous organizations and committees on and off campus, such as: President of Acacia Fraternity, advising in the President’s Leadership Class (alongside President Leath), S.H.O.P., ISU Honors Program, American Alzheimer’s Association, American Society for Nutrition, College of Human Science Dean’s Advisory Board, and many more organizations. He has been named a Coca-Cola National Scholar, College of Human Sciences Student Sensation, Department of Defense National SMART Fellowship Finalist; and has received the Iowa State Interfraternity Council Most Valuable Member and International Acacia Fraternity Most Outstanding Undergraduate awards, to name a few.

Joe attributes his success to the guidance provided by several mentors during his time at Iowa State. From involvement in student organizations to working in research labs on campus, Webb’s mentors had a large impact in helping him identify opportunities to continue his personal growth and mark his college career by his servant leadership.

“Dr. Auriel Willette, Mr. Stewart Burger and Dr. Matthew Ellinwood have been the most influential mentors in my life thus far, helping clarify that I want to spend the rest of my life conducting research that will positively impact human health. Their guidance, knowledge and dedication to serving others extends far beyond anyone else I have met. I deeply venerate these gentlemen and their wisdom has left a resounding impact on my life,” said Webb.

Immediately after graduation, Joe will begin conducting research through a scientific fellowship through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the American Physiological Society (APS). He will spend his summer studying Alzheimer’s disease before entering into a Ph.D. program in the fall of 2016. Joe plans to complete his Ph.D. in four years before traveling to begin a post-doctoral fellowship through the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) in Bethesda, MD.

In Joe’s short four years at Iowa State, he has had a multitude of experiences that will impact the rest of his life. Most importantly, he believes that attending college should pick a student up and place them back down with new opportunities, and a newly gained perspective on life.

“The best advice I have to give those that would like to receive this honor is to discover your passion,” said Webb. “If you let passion drive you, let reason hold the reigns. As long as at the end of the day you know you are making a difference in others’ lives, you are doing the right thing. Immerse yourself in everything you are interested in and make the most out of your adventure here at Iowa State because this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you will never forget.”


Key Contacts:
Joe Webb, Senior in Nutritional Science, jlwebb@iastate.edu
Megan Pulse, FSHN Marketing and Communications, mjpulse@iastate.edu

Accepting Nominations for 2016 FSHN Alumni Impact Award

If you know an FSHN alum that deserves recognition, you may nominate them for the FSHN Alumni Impact Award.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) has opened nominations for the sixth annual FSHN Alumni Impact Award.
“There are so many FSHN alums out there making an impact,” says Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair. “We are excited to have this opportunity to honor their good work and connect them with our students, who are the future.”

A maximum of three awards are given each year to recognize those FSHN alumni who have made significant impacts in their profession and/or in their community and keep Cyclone Pride alive. Candidates must be 5 years post-degree from ISU.

Selected award winners are invited back to campus during Homecoming (October 28 -29, 2016) for activities with current students and faculty. Winners are then recognized at a banquet and are honored guests at a department tailgate and Iowa State football game.

Applications will be accepted through Monday, April 11, 2016. All details can be found on the nomination form (2016-FSHN-Alumni-Award-Nomination-Form).
Please direct inquiries and completed nomination packets to Megan Pulse.


Previous winners include:

Justin Kanthak
Charlotte Hayes
Julie Simonson

Barbara Harland
Rodrigo Tarté
Jill Zullo

Jill Moline
Mary Shell
Kris Spence

Linda Fullmer
Lori Roth-Yousey

Nancy Degner
Justin Moore
Simin Meydani




Iowa cheese industry on the rise

While Iowa may be known for its corn, soybeans and pork, an associate professor at Iowa State University is part of a growing group eager to put Iowa on the map for cheese production.

“What I’m hoping to do is help consumers to recognize that Iowa also has dairy products and they don’t have to search for European or exotic products,” said Stephanie Clark, an associate professor in food science and human nutrition at ISU. “We have a good selection right here to be proud of.”

Since she began working in Iowa six years ago, Clark said she has seen the cheese industry continue to expand. Iowa now has more than 20 cheesemakers, most of them categorized as small or medium-scale producers, and several large opportunities offered in the state this year are showing industry professionals could be starting to look at Iowa cheeses.

Clark is also the co-chair of the American Cheese Society’s “Cheese in the Heartland,” an annual international conference that will be July 27 to 30 in Des Moines. The conference is expected to bring in more than 1,200 cheese industry professionals, and showcase more than 1,700 entries.

In August, Clark will lead a project she co-founded, the Iowa Quality Dairy Products Showcase, which features cultured dairy products and cheeses from across Iowa.

Events like the showcase and the “Cheese in the Heartland” conference are showing there is a growing interest in the Iowa market, and local producers are seeing the change.

One of those producers is Picket Fence Creamery, based out of Woodward. Jill Burkhart, the co-owner and ice cream maker at the creamery, said her family opened 13 years ago and started introducing cheese curds into their business 12 years ago.

The idea began when the family had 300 to 400 gallons of milk left after bottling each week, and Burkhart said they wanted to put it to use. The farm does not have an aging facility for cheese, but the family began making white cheddar cheese curds from the Jersey milk they made. Now, Burkhart said the family can sometimes make 250 pounds of curds in a week. The increase in production is similar to the growth she’s seen in cheese production around the state, Burkhart said.

“Local is the buzz word in marketing today, as far as food goes,” she said. “The Midwest is just catching up here with the organic and local thing that started in the 70s and 80s in California … so I think we jumped in at the right time, but I see nothing but growth potential.”

As the industry continues to grow, Clark and other producers from around the state are creating even more efforts to strengthen local businesses.

Along with the conference and showcase, Clark has also helped to create the new Iowa Cheese and Cultured Dairy Products Guild, a networking opportunity for cheese producers, sellers and buyers across the state to meet monthly. Clark said up to 18 people have attended the meetings, and she hopes there will be more growth in the future. But the overall message of the meetings, she said, is to encourage producers to support each other.

“I want it to stress being colleagues, not competition, to build the Iowa cheese industry,” she said. “If they make a good product, it’s helping Iowa’s cheese reputation overall … It’s really important that everybody puts their best foot forward.”

Junior Musser, of Milton, serves as president of the guild.

Musser, who owns Milton Creamery, has been producing cheese for almost 10 years, and said he has seen a 30 percent growth of his in-state cheese production for the last two years.

“We’re seeing a very steady growth on the amount of products we sell both in the state and out of state,” he said.

While Musser said part of the reason for growth could be the growing “shop local” emphasis, he credited the majority of the growth to a “Renaissance movement” toward higher cheese quality across the country. While coastal cheese producers have been influenced by European production for years, Musser said the Midwest is “a little later catching up, but it’s just as strong.”

As Iowa’s industry continues to grow, Clark said dairy farmers looking into cheese production must consider several factors. First and foremost, Clark said they should “do their homework,” and talk to their regulators and the Iowa Department of Agriculture. For instance, if producers are looking for equipment that might be on sale, they should first contact their regulator and ensure the equipment would be acceptable to them. Clark said they should also get involved in workshops or meet with other cheesemakers for recommendations about getting started.

As more farmers could be expressing interest in cheese production, Musser said stores across Iowa are also improving the way they sell cheese. Stores such as Hy-Vee, he said, are adding larger cheese selections in-store and are hiring staff with a larger passion in selling high-quality local cheese. He hopes to see the guild continue to grow, and raise awareness about Iowa’s cheese potential.

“I think the guild will be here to raise the awareness of the dairy industry, especially the cheese industry,” he said. “Iowa’s known for corn and pigs and eggs, but there’s also a lot of dairy here. We’re more diverse than a lot of states.”

- See more at: http://amestrib.com/news/iowa-cheese-industry-rise#sthash.3vg3Mj07.dpuf

Iowa State’s Master of Family and Consumer Sciences in dietetics ranks sixth among affordable online degrees in nutrition.

Iowa State’s Master of Family and Consumer Sciences in dietetics ranks sixth among affordable online degrees in nutrition: OnlineU.org has ranked Iowa State University’s online master’s program in dietetics sixth highest among the 20 most affordable online degrees in the field of nutrition. Iowa State’s 36-credit Master of Family and Consumer Sciences degree program with a specialization in dietetics prepares Registered Dietitians to practice at an advanced level. The coursework develops research skills, stimulates independent thought, and provides the latest information on foods, nutrition, food service, and business management. The program is offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance.

For more information, contact Sarah Francis in food science and human nutrition at 515-294-1456 or slfranci@iastate.edu.


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