Areas of Research Interest and Specialization
The Kansas State University Food Science program offers research opportunities in several different disciplines and product areas for students' specialization. The major areas are highlighted as follows:
- Grain Science
- Dairy Food Technology
- Food Chemistry
- Food Engineering
- Food Microbiology and Safety
- Meat Science
- Product Development
- Sensory Analysis
Graduate students have the opportunity to focus research on cereal products with faculty in the Department of Grain Science and Industry. The students may be involved with projects that are designed to answer practical industry-related problems as well as study basic chemical and molecular interactions in cereal-based products. These projects are frequently funded by companies that have high expectations for immediate application of the research, allowing students to witness each stage of research and development with practical goals in mind. The department manages projects in the areas of milling science, primarily focusing upon the engineering aspects of processing, baking science, nutrition, extrusion technology and feed science. Learn more about the grain science facilities.
Dairy Food Technology
A complete dairy processing facility is available for teaching and research within the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry. The dairy research laboratories are equipped with modern analytical instruments for chemical and physical analysis. The potential research may include product/process development, new process technology, enzyme modification, flavor technology, and quality assurance. Learn more about dairy food technology facilities.
Students have opportunities to study in several areas such as food chemistry, food flavor, chemical residue and toxicology as part of the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry. One major area of study encompasses the evaluation and toxicity of Fusarium mycotoxins. This is a major area of concern throughout the world because we know so little about these natural food contaminants. Other potential areas of research include the production of toxic compounds, such as heterocyclic amines during processing/cooking of muscle foods. Students in flavor chemistry have opportunity to work on the development of methods for isolation, separation, and identification of flavor compounds using advanced instruments and techniques.
Physical Chemistry and Rheology research is directed towards the explanation of the molecular level interactions and functionality of food systems through an understanding of their physical and chemical properties. Some of the principal methods employed are rheological approaches using characteristics of steady shear, dynamic testing, and transient behavior of food systems measured by the Bohlin VOR and Vialastic 3 Viscoelasticity Analyzer. Learn more about food chemistry facilities.
Two major areas of food engineering research are related to the application of process engineering to cereals and meats. Other areas of research include dairy, environmental issues of food processing plants, and byproduct utilization. Classes in food engineering are offered through the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biological and Agricultural Engineering. Learn more about food engineering facilities.
Food Microbiology and Safety
K-State's food microbiology program addresses issues affecting the quality and safety of food products from the farm-to-fork. This program is a part of the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry. Pre-harvest research is defining programs at the farm level that improve the microbial status of final products. Processing technologies such as irradiation, thermal treatments, chemical washing, and Steam Pasteurization are investigated for food decontamination purposes. These developments are transferred to the food industry and their performances verified by K-State food safety researchers. In addition, K-State is internationally recognized for its development of rapid and automated microbial detection systems and training programs in this subject area. Students gain extensive practical training in concepts such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point programs and risk assessment/management that prepare them for exciting careers in the industry. Learn more about food microbiology facilities.
The meat science program within the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry is among the world leaders. Research expertise among the faculty includes the effects of animal breeding, feeding and handling on carcass value and quality, effects of new technologies on meat safety, chemistry of meat color and methods of control, development of value-added products, and the packaging and handling systems for case-ready meat products. All include the applications of basic science to meat and meat products.
A modern USDA-inspected meat processing facility and supporting analytical labs allow for innovative basic and applied research. Research findings in recent years have had a major impact on several government regulations and methods of processing, handling, packaging, and marketing of meat and meat products. Learn more about meat science facilities.
Have you ever wondered where all those new food products are created? Food product development is an exciting field combining food chemistry, processing, microbiology, statistical design, and food regulations. Graduate students at Kansas State University have opportunities to be involved in research projects utilizing their food science knowledge to create new food products that enhance economic development by expanding uses of food commodities and satisfying new consumer demands. Recent projects have included a variety of soy-based drinks and dips, new yogurt with pre-teen appeal, flavor enhancers for snack foods and edible packaging films. Product development courses are found in several departments. Learn more about product development facilities.
Understanding the sensory attributes of food is the basic element needed for delivering value-added quality attributes such as odor, flavor, and texture to consumers. In the sensory analysis program, graduate students can concentrate their course work on sensory measurement of food characteristics and the effects of those attributes on food acceptance. Graduate students can conduct research on various aspects of sensory analysis in product areas that include cereals and snack foods, dairy products, meat, condiments, and beverages.
Students also have the opportunity to use the Sensory Analysis Center located in the College of Human Ecology. The center was created to provide students with opportunities to gain practical experiences and outstanding research capabilities for university researchers and the food industry. Learn more about sensory analysis facilities.