Grain Processing Corporation Showcases Demos Inspired by Iowa State University Food Scientists

Tonya Armstrong, Natalie Haag, Kate Gilbert, Claire Collins and Kelly Belknap showcase food demonstrations at the IFT 2016 Expo.

Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) showcased appetizers created by Iowa State University Food Science and Human Nutrition students at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2016 Expo. GPC provided ISU students a hands-on product development learning experience through the new GPC Ingredient Application Challenge.

ISU study suggests ‘use it or lose it’ to defend against memory loss


Auriel Willette used data from brain scans and memory tests to track the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Photo by Blake Lanser


Iowa State University researchers have identified a protein essential for building memories that appears to predict the progression of memory loss and brain atrophy in Alzheimer’s patients.


Ashley Swanson

Auriel Willette, an assistant professor of food science and human nutrition;
and Ashley Swanson, a graduate research assistant, say the findings also suggest there is a link between brain activity
and the presence of the protein neuronal pentraxin-2, or NPTX2.
The research, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, found a correlation between higher levels of NPTX2 and better memory and more brain volume. Lower levels of the protein were associated with diminished memory and less volume.

“NPTX2 seems to exert a protective effect,” Swanson said. “The more you have, the less brain atrophy and better memory you have over time.”

The discovery is encouraging as it offers an avenue to track the progression of Alzheimer’s disease over time, but it also generates a lot of questions.
Researchers want to know how best to boost NPTX2 levels and if there is an added benefit. They were struck by a trend in the data that points to a possible answer. Study participants with more years of education showed higher levels of the protein. Willette says people with complex jobs or who stay mentally and socially active could see similar benefits, supporting the notion of “use it or lose it.”

“You’re keeping the machinery going,” Willette said. “It makes sense that the more time spent intensely focused on learning, the more your brain is trained to process information and that doesn’t go away. That intense kind of learning seems to make your brain stronger.”                                                                       

Good vs. bad proteins

Willette and Swanson used data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative to assess which aspects of the immune system were most relevant to tracking Alzheimer’s disease progression. They consistently found two proteins (NPTX2 and Chitinase-3-like-protein-1, or C3LP1) that predicted aspects of the disease. Among 285 older adults, they examined memory performance at baseline, six months, one year and two years. At the beginning of the study, 86 participants had normal brain function, 135 expressed mild cognitive impairment (the precursor to Alzheimer’s), and 64 had Alzheimer’s disease.  

ISU researchers also focused their attention on the medial temporal lobe, an area of the brain that shows the first signs of memory loss or cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. While C3LP1 modestly predicted atrophy in the medial temporal lobe, it did not track memory decline over time, researchers said. After two years, the presence of NPTX2 explained 56 percent of the fluctuation in memory loss and 29 percent of medial temporal lobe volume.

Willette and Swanson say they were somewhat surprised by the comparative results. They expected C3LP1, which causes brain inflammation and is thought to degrade the brain and memory, to be a stronger indicator. However, the memory forming benefits of NPTX2 proved to be consistently significant during the two years that researchers tracked memory decline and medial temporal lobe atrophy.

“We see this as a promising biomarker that affects a lot of key aspects of Alzheimer’s disease,” Swanson said. “It’s a revolutionary approach and we’re looking at it in a more holistic way, rather than a reductionist viewpoint, to understand how the immune system and brain are connected.”   

Willette added, “With this disease you have to be comprehensive. There are so many aspects of our environment, our lifestyle, our immune system that influence the degree to which you’re at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.”


Auriel Willette, assistant professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, awillett@iastate.edu, 515-294-3110

Ashley Swanson, graduate research assistant, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, ashleys@iastate.edu, 515-294-3011

Angie Hunt, communications specialist, ISU News Service, Iowa State University, amhunt@iastate.edu, 515-294-8986

Land O’Lakes, Inc. Offers Global Internship Opportunity for Class of 2019 for 2016-2017

GFC Announcement for Universities

Land O’Lakes, Inc. will again offer members of the class of 2019 the opportunity to be a part of our Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders for Food Security program.

Sophomore students during the 2016-2017 academic year interested in exploring solutions to world
hunger and inspired to help solve the global food challenge are encouraged to apply for the program that runs from December 2016 through August 2017.

The fellowship offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain experiences outside the classroom during a year-long fellowship program. Those experiences include:

  • An 11-week paid summer internship in 2017
  • Travel to Washington, D.C. and a to-be-determined global destination as a part of the summer internship (included in the program)
  • Solving real-world agricultural issues through the development of a team proposal for Land O’Lakes
  • Participation in a number of special events between December 2016 and October 2017
  • Serving as an ambassador for agriculture and the food industry

Eligibility requirements

  1. Expected graduation date of May 2019 or December
  2. Students from the following Universities are eligible to apply:
    • Purdue University
    • Iowa State University
    • The George Washington University
    • University of Minnesota
    • Northwestern University
    • University of Wisconsin – Madison (NEW)

Apply August 25 – October 31, 2016

  • Learn more and apply LandOLakes.com
  • Students must submit a one-minute video that identifies a problem or challenge directly related to food security and a proposed



George Washington Carver Interns Work with Food Science Faculty

Terry Vines, Jasmine Roberts, Jasmine Moreno and Spencer Finch spend the summer
assisting FSHN Faculty with extension and research.

George Washington Carver Interns spent their summer working with Food Science and Human Nutrition faculty to learn about the agricultural food industry and assist with research. This summer from June 4 to July 30, two undergraduate students and two high school students are interns in this program working with assistant professor, Angela Shaw and associate professor, Aubrey Mendonca. 

The George Washington Carver Summer Research Internship Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) has been inspiring young scientists for more than 25 years. Both undergraduate and high school students from around the country are part of this program every year, working side by side with faculty mentors on research projects. While the program helps students explore science through experiential learning opportunities, it also helps increase diversity within the world of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, and recruit new bright minds to undergraduate and graduate programs.

Interns Spencer Finch, junior at Marshalltown High School, and Jasmine Moreno, senior at Roosevelt High School are assisting Aubrey Mendonca by researching common pathogens found in foods, and the shelf life of a variety of foods. More specifically, they are testing the destruction of Salmonella enterica by cinnamaldehyde in carrot juice and the effectiveness of cinnamaldehyde for killing Escherichia coli in carrot juice. The goal of their research is to find a natural antimicrobial from a plant source that will decrease bacteria in fruit and vegetable juices. Finch, Moreno and Mendonca used the compound, cinnamaldehyde, for its organic and antimicrobial properties and appealing cinnamon flavor. The compound was tested in stimulators to replicate refrigerator and room temperatures. In just 24 hours the bacteria had significantly decreased under both temperature conditions.

Jasmine Roberts and Terry Vines, undergraduates at Tuskegee University in Alabama, are working with Angela Shaw researching the business of agricultural production. The goal of this internship is to teach students about all the career paths that agriculture has to offer while providing professional development activities such as grant writing and improving communication skills.  Students met with various faculty and staff throughout Iowa State University and toured with an agricultural company. 

   “Essentially, everything that we eat has to come from somewhere and it’s important to know where that is and what it takes to get to consumers. Agribusiness is a field where you can learn the many benefits of self-grown produce as well as food production,” shared Roberts.

Besides getting a foot in the door, George Washington Carver interns accumulate new skills, establish relationships with mentors, build a network, and gain real world perspective on the agriculture and food industries. Aspiring to be agriculture business owners, future food scientists, and working to eliminate hunger, interns also get the chance to discover new passions.

  “This was my first internship and it helped me a lot in deciding if I want to work in a food science lab,” Finch said. “Because of this opportunity, I can now see myself as a future food scientist.”


Key Contacts:

Megan Pulse, marketing and communications, Food Science and Human Nutrition
Theressa Cooper, Director of George Washington Carver Summer Research Internship Program, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Aubrey Mendonca, associate professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition
Angela Shaw, assistant professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition


Tong Wang named Fellow of American Oil Chemists’ Society

Dr. Tong Wang, Professor of FSHN, Iowa State University being recognized along with other Fellow inductees (Eric A. Decker, University of Massachusetts; Thomas A. McKeon, USDA; James A. Kenar, USDA; and Leonard M. Sidisky, Sigma Aldrich, with AOCS outgoing president Manfred Trautmann [R] and incoming president W. Blake Hendrix [L]).


Dr. Tong Wang, professor in the department of food science and human nutrition, was recognized as one of five 2016 Fellows with the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS). The AOCS Fellow Award recognizes exemplary achievements in science or extraordinary service to the Society. This award began in 1998 and has been given to 108 members of AOCS. Only five women have earned this distinguished title, and two of the five women (Tong Wang and Pamela White) are from the department of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University. Lawrence Johnson and Earl Hammond, FSHN Professors Emeritus, are also AOCS Fellows. 

Wang is recognized this year for her outstanding contributions to the field of basic research in lipid chemistry and its extraction and novel applications. Specifically, her original work on lipid oxidation and antioxidation, structural modification for desirable nutritional properties and functionality, and developing alternative and sustainable extraction methods has gained wide recognition. She has served as Chair of the AOCS’s Phospholipid Division, and also served as an Associate Editor of AOCS’s primary scientific journal (JAOCS) for 15 years.

“I am honored and thankful for the great mentors I have had, such as Drs. Pam White, Larry Johnson, and Earl Hammond, as well as Gary List with the USDA who has helped recognize and support many junior and women scientists in our society,” shared Wang.     

Wang has taken time for involvement in the American Oil Chemists’ Society, belonging to its divisions of Processing, Lipid Oxidation, Phospholipids, Edible Applications Technology, and Protein and Co-products Divisions, from 1995 until the present. She has been particularly active in the Phospholipids Division, serving as secretary, treasurer, member-at-large, and chair. Since 2006, Wang has served as associate editor for the Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, and been a member of many significant AOCS committees.

Wang’s work spans new uses for fats and oils, innovative new low-cost oil refining technologies, characterizing soy sphingolipids, new lecithin technologies, egg yolk lipid utilization, oil recovery from microalgae, and extrusion-expelling of soybeans to produce oil and protein. Her work on low-cost technologies for refining extruded-expelled soybean oil has considerable potential allowing farmers or farmer owned cooperatives to add value to crude soybean oil produced by low-cost extrusion-expelling. Extrusion-expelling, invented by Insta-Pro International, is now commercialized for processing soybeans into crude oil and meal at over 70 locations.

It is evident that Wang’s work has already had a significant impact on the lipid industry. Her work has shown that the oil produced by extrusion-expelling is of superior quality. She has developed low-cost adsorptive technologies to refine crude oil into edible oils, thereby enhancing profitability by allowing them to produce bottled oil for retail sales.

Wang’s technologies are also critical to commercializing identity-preserved specialty soybeans with enhanced oil and meal traits. The large traditional plants just cannot effectively handle and retain identity-preservation of the low volumes of specialty soybeans. Her work may lead to many new opportunities to add value to one of Iowa’s major crops and to new economic activity and jobs in rural areas.

Wang performs her work with care and precision, yet is timely in completing all aspects of the research, including compiling, writing, and interpreting the results. She is an extremely hard worker, and is obviously very devoted to the research process of her specialized research areas. She has an impressive list of published peer-reviewed manuscripts in these areas with over 132 in press or in print, and she is sole or first author of 8 out of 11 book chapters. Wang’s increased rate of productivity over the years is especially noteworthy, with 14 peer-reviewed manuscripts published in 2014, 13 in 2015, and 8 in print or in press for 2016. She has averaged over 8 published peer-reviewed manuscripts each year since she began as an assistant professor at Iowa State University, and has received total external research funding of $7.9 million since 2000 for a total of 74 funded projects.

Her well-defined accomplishments provide additional evidence of her professional impact, making Wang most deserving of this recognition for her life-long contributions to lipid science and the American Oil Chemists’ Society.



Schalinske Receives 2016 Regents Award for Faculty Excellence


Kevin Schalinske, Professor in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN), was named as one of five recipients of the 2016 Regents Award for Faculty Excellence by the Board of Regents. Throughout his career with FSHN, Schalinske has taught numerous undergraduate courses, as well as within the FSHN graduate program and the more recent Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences. A common thread across his teaching is that Schalinske is one of the most highly rated instructors in our department, one that focuses on developing the critical thinking skills of students, and is someone that utilizes all of the available resources to enhance the teaching experience for his students.  He has received numerous recognitions from students and his peers for his impact at Iowa State University, including the 2012 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Award, the 2012 Board on Human Sciences Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, and the 2013 Iowa State University Award for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching.

Schalinske is widely recognized as an expert in the field of nutritional sciences and the biochemical pathways associated with folate metabolism and methylation. His research program has explored the regulation and perturbations of the enzymes and intermediates of this complex system and identified novel aspects. Because methylation is essential to a wide range of physiological and biochemical systems, Schalinske’s work has examined several disease models including diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease, and birth defects. He has been successful in securing funding for his research from the USDA, NIH, Egg Nutrition Center, United Soybean Board, American Heart Association, American Institute for Cancer Research, the American Diabetes Association, and other agencies. In 2006, he received the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) E.L.R. Stokstad Award for outstanding research. Schalinske has rendered significant service to Iowa State University, making him an admirable recipient of the 2016 Regents Award for Faculty Excellence.

“I’ve won awards for my research and my teaching, but this is something different. This award recognizes above all else significant institutional service. I take pride in providing such service, that benefits the entire university community, when asked to do so,” shared Schalinske.

Schalinske is a strong advocate of providing research experiences for undergraduate students. Teaching and mentoring go well beyond the conventional classroom setting, and include the further development of undergraduate and graduate students to be professionals in their field.  Over the years, students have conducted research projects for credit, as hourly workers, and as interns while working for him. For each student, Schalinske strives to help them realize their passion for research, and occasionally this resulted in a new career direction. His laboratory is much more than just an avenue for graduate students to conduct research and earn a degree, it is an environment for them to grow and develop as professionals, and ultimately pass on their passion to future students.

Schalinske has prioritized service to the department, college, university and profession throughout his career. His contributions to the department include leadership on numerous key committees for faculty recruitment and strategic planning. He has served as the college as chair of the promotion and tenure committee and is a member of several other key committees. He has continually been engaged in university service, including perhaps the highest level of faculty leadership, serving as Faculty Senate President in 2014-15. Schalinske has also maintained an active and extensive service role in his profession. He has served in leadership roles within the ASN, including organizing numerous mini-symposia, currently serving as the ASN Director of Research Interests Section, as a current a member of the ASN Board of Directors, and as an Associate Editor for The Journal of Nutrition. He is sought after for grant review panels, including the USDA, as a standing member of the NIH Integrative Nutiriton and Metabolic Processes study section, and international research councils.

In his 17 years at Iowa State, Schalinske has taught 14 undergraduate and graduate courses, received 13 honors and awards, and has completed 21 peer-reviewed publications, 8 invited reviews, and 1 book chapter. Schalinske’s achievements and passion for teaching, research and professional service are prominent in his record of accomplishments.

Key Contacts:
Megan Pulse, marketing and communications, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, mjpulse@iastate.edu
Kevin Schalinske, professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, kschalin@iastate.edu

Stewart Receives 2016 Regents Award for Staff Excellence


Jeanne Stewart, Assistant Scientist II in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN), and Laboratory Safety Coordinator for FSHN and the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center (NWRC), was named as one of only four recipients of the 2016 Regents Award for Staff Excellence by the Board of Regents. She dedicates her time running key research projects, developing and standardizing assays, recruiting and managing human subjects, and training faculty and hundreds of students on proper laboratory safety. Jeanne has been the research support on numerous NIH and industry-funded grants awarded to FSHN faculty that have investigated nutrients and foods that impact human health. Over the past 37 years, she has contributed significantly to the research mission of the department and college, making her a rightful recipient of the 2016 Regents Award for Staff Excellence at Iowa State University.

As Assistant Scientist II for FSHN, Jeanne’s responsibilities include managing the NWRC clinical laboratory, phlebotomy facility, kitchen and dining rooms, exercise facility, body composition assessment equipment, and serving as the Clinical Coordinator and Safety Officer. In addition of her wide-ranging responsibilities, Jeanne completed the requirements to become a Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP). She has established protocols and standard operation procedures to enable the NWRC to become a certified center that follows guidelines for Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP). The safety standards that she established have been emulated by the Iowa State University Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S). Jeanne’s diligence and outstanding commitment to laboratory safety has undoubtedly prevented injuries and other mishaps.

“I am honored to receive this award and look forward to more research projects with our faculty, staff and graduate students,” shared Jeanne.  “We will be performing further testing on the interactions between food and exercise on metabolic health indicators in humans at the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center sites. It is exciting to work with all of my collaborators as we strive to improve human health.”

Jeanne’s colleagues often use her as a model for others to follow, and describe her as the essential component that takes a project from an idea to a successful conclusion and publication. These projects are primarily in the area of Clinical Nutrition research studies within the department and as part of her role at the NWRC. The NWRC is a significant resource for conducting clinical studies and is used by faculty in both the FSHN and Kinesiology departments.   

All view Jeanne as caring, dedicated, accomplished, invaluable, and the ultimate team leader whose efforts have benefited the university and broader community in tangible ways over the entire course of her lengthy career. Her efforts directly translate into successful research and dissemination of the results, benefitting the faculty, students, and staff involved in the science, as well as the entire university community.   

Key Contacts:
Megan Pulse, marketing and communications, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, mjpulse@iastate.edu
Jeanne Stewart, assistant scientist II, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Nutrition & Wellness Research Center, jws1@iastate.edu

Shaw Provides FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Foods Course

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition will begin providing FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventive Controls for Human Food training in summer of 2016. This three day Basic Preventive Controls training is designed for people in the food industry desiring to understand and be trained in the food safety system for manufacturing safe food. This course will meet the FDA FSMA regulations as an approved course under Food Safety Preventive Control Alliance (FSPCA). 

This is a standardized, industry-oriented training curriculum that will provide participants with the knowledge that is needed to create a food safety plan to comply with the Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Foods rule. The course content is focused on the food safety activities and documentation that support the creation and implementation of a preventive controls food safety plan. This course will be presented in a manner that will serve participants from all foods under FDA regulations. The FSPCA training materials are designed to meet the requirements for training under Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations Part 117.155 for the “qualified individual” who conducts certain Food Safety Plan activities and is recognized by the FDA.

This course will be offered June 13-15, 2016 at Iowa State University campus in Ames, Iowa.  Class size is limited to 30 people and the cost is $750.00 per person. Sign up today at http://www.fshn.hs.iastate.edu/angela-shaw-food-safety/haccp-short-course/.


Key Contacts:

Angela Shaw, assistant professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, angelaml@iastate.edu
Megan Pulse, marketing and communications, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, mjpulse@iastate.edu

Jay-Lin Jane-Topel and David Topel Receive 2016 Order of the Knoll Faculty and Staff Award

Congratulations to Jay-Lin Jane-Topel and David G. Topel on receiving the 2016 Order of the Knoll Faculty and Staff Award. While faculty members, the couple spent as much time serving the university as they did in the classroom. This award recognizes individuals or couples who are current or retired Iowa State University faculty or staff members for their substantial commitment to promoting and expanding philanthropy at Iowa State through both personal philanthropy and significant professional and volunteer service.

“Iowa State University provided me with the professional experiences and support to work with many people. This allowed me to help develop the agricultural industry in Iowa and for Iowa to become a world leader in production agriculture,” said David Topel. “I was fortunate to work in this special and stimulating environment in the 1990s. Iowa State provides the foundation for students, faculty and staff to achieve their goals.”

David had always been heavily involved with the university - his time as a faculty member was spent serving Iowa State as much as he spent within the classroom. He served on the Iowa State University Alumni Association board of directors, the Academic Council, the Committee for Agricultural Development, the Council of Deans, the President’s Council, the selection committee for both the athletic director and the vice provost for extension, the University Student Services Committee, and the Governor of Iowa Science Advisory Council, where he represented Iowa State.

No stranger to service, Jay-Lin Jane-Topel has given her time as the president of the Starch Roundtable, a member of the American Association of Cereal Chemists Nomination Committee, the Starch Update Conference Scientific Committee, and the European Polysaccharide Network of Excellence Scientific Committee, and has been on the editorial board for six leading scientific journals.

“I have received tremendous philanthropic support throughout my life and career, which enabled me to achieve all that I have,” shared Jay-Lin.

This award is one of many the Topels can add to their list of accomplishments, but that doesn’t make it any less special. “It is always good to know what individuals appreciate professional and personal contributions made to our society to better the way of life for current and future generations,” said David.


Key Contacts:
Karen Simon, AVP Communications, ISU Foundation, kasimon@iastate.edu
Jay-Lin Jane, Distinguished Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, jjane@iastate.edu


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.

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