Seminar - Chithra Karunakaran, Canadian Light Source, Saskatoon

Date and Time


Food Science building addition - Training Room 246


Food Science Seminar

Title: Advancements in plant and food sciences research using synchrotron imaging techniques

Speaker: Chithra Karunakaran, Ph.D., Canadian Light Source, Saskatoon

An agricultural engineer by training, Dr. Karunakaran is the manager for the Environmental and Earth Sciences department at the Canadian Light Source (CLS), and leads the CLS plant imaging
and innovation research program, promoting the innovative use of synchrotron techniques for agricultural and food sciences research. She has been recognized for excellence and contributions in agriculture research through several awards. She was a nominee for the 2014 YWCA Saskatoon Women of Distinction Award in Science, Technology and Research. Dr. Karunakaran  completed her Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering from the Tamilnadu Agricultural University in India, and her Masters and Ph.D in Biosystems Engineering from the University of
Manitoba. Her research work has been published in 59 refereed journal articles and 4 book chapters. Currently, she is an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan and at the  University of Manitoba, Canada.

A good understanding of the structural organization, chemical composition, and correlation the between structure and composition of biochemicals in plants and plant products is essential to continually improve quality by plant breeding, to preserve quality through processing and storage, and to extend efficient utilization through new product development. Laboratory based microscopy and analytical techniques have limitations with respect to chemical sensitivity or inadequate information about the spatial distribution of biochemical components.  Synchrotrons produce tunable beams of X-rays and infrared light used by researchers to understand the structure (X-ray imaging) and nature (X-ray or infrared spectroscopy) of molecules in samples. Synchrotron based imaging and spectroscopy can be applied to study any plant parts or products from macro to nano-scale with no or minimal sample preparation. The synchrotron techniques have high detection sensitivity for the molecules of interest compared to laboratory methods due to a combination of a brilliant light source and state of the art detectors.
The Canadian Light Source (CLS) is one of the leading synchrotrons in the world that has unique suites of experimental stations to characterize plants and plant based bioproducts. Relevant examples will be shown on how the CLS is used by researchers for plant and food sciences research. Details on the access mechanisms to this facility for academic researchers through different service programs will be also presented.

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