New Chair Will Accelerate Research, Innovation in Cereals Industry

September 06, 2007 - News Release

The University of Guelph and the Ontario Cereals Industry Research Council (OCIRC) today launched a prestigious Industry Research Chair in Cereal Technology designed to expand uses for Ontario-grown wheat and to market growth.

Koushik Seetharaman, a recognized researcher, food science consultant and former faculty member at Penn State, was selected for the position following an international search. He joined Guelph's Department of Food Science this week.

"This new chair will greatly accelerate research in cereal processing and baked goods, which are a multi-billion-dollar sector of the Ontario agri-food industry," said Alan Wildeman, Guelph's vice-president (research). "It will be at the core of emerging innovation and a growing economic cluster in wheat and related cereals science."

Funding for the $1.1-million endowed chair was provided by the OCIRC, the federally funded Agricultural Adaptation Council and U of G. The funding will support research startup costs, including equipment, materials and support for technical staff, post-doctoral researchers and graduate students.

"The industry research chair is very important to the future of our sector," said Henry Olechowski, OCIRC president and director of research for Hyland Seeds. "We are very excited to have a scientist of the world-class calibre of Dr. Seethamaran with an outstanding track record of working with industry."

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is providing $750,000 through a Rural Economic Development Program grant to help people working in industry access the skills development courses and internships offered through the research chair. The announcement was made in Guelph today by Leona Dombrowsky, Ontario's minister for agriculture, food and rural affairs.

As chair, Seetharaman will lead the development of a research program, including providing research-based solutions for issues faced by the cereals industry, creating education and training programs for the industry, and developing undergraduate teaching in the cereal technology area. He will also liaise with cereal industry companies and government agencies, and work with industry to develop a centre of excellence for cereals research.
"It's an honour to be part of a such a high-calibre research community here at the University of Guelph and in the Department of Food Science, in particular," he said.

Seetharaman added there is a need to add value to the agricultural sector in northeastern Canada, as well as to boost the productivity and quality of commodities produced by the cereals industry in the region.
"The opportunity exists to build a multidisciplinary research program that takes advantage of the expertise available in the University research community, such as plant breeding and genetics, human nutrition and physical chemistry."

Seetharaman currently heads Cibus Consulting Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company that applies science-based solutions to food manufacturing issues. He was a professor at Penn State from 2000 to 2006, did post-doctoral research at Iowa State University and has received more than $1 million in research grants.

The author of more than 40 journal articles, book chapters and manuscripts, he has presented more than 60 papers around the world and has served as a reviewer or editor for the Journal of Food Science, Cereal Chemistry and the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, among others. He holds a PhD in food science from Texas A&M University, a master's degree in food chemistry from Cornell University and a bachelor's degree from Gujarat Agricultural University in India.

Media Contacts:

University of Guelph
Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338/

Ontario Cereals Industry Research Commission
James Farrar, 905-945-6791/

University of Guelph
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Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1