Q: What is your current position and what type of work do you do?
A: I am a distinguished professor in food and bioprocessing engineering and director of the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL.
Q: When and how did you first decide you wanted to work in cereal grain science?
A: In 1992 when I started my M.S. program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Q: How have you been involved with AACCI — Cereals & Grains Association? How has your involvement enriched your career?
A: I have been a student and professional member of the association. I have also served as chair of the Awards Committee and as a Session Program chair; in the Engineering and Processing Division as vice chair and chair; and as an invited speaker and professional course instructor. AACCI has helped me make several industrial and professional connections that have resulted in collaborative research projects and peer-reviewed publications. I have also received several AACCI student and professional awards throughout my career.
Q: In 2019, Cereal Foods World (CFW) will focus on the global food system (GFS). What is your perspective on how global societal and technology trends are affecting cereal science and the cereal grain industry overall? How will cereal scientists need to adapt to these global trends?
A: In term of global trends, sustainability is becoming a mega trend. Advances in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering will allow us to produce all kinds of food, fuel, and industrial products sustainably. Growth in industrial biotechnology will be driven predominantly by fermentation as a major unit operation. Innovations in cereal grain processing will allow production of large quantities of renewable carbon to enable this fermentation industry.
Q: This issue of CFW explores how analytical systems and tools are needed to support the GFS. Do you have any perspectives concerning analytical systems in the context of the GFS?
A: The analytical systems and tools needed to study the nexus of food, energy, and water systems are very important globally. The grain production and processing in the midwestern states that make up the U.S. Corn Belt are reliant on highly interconnected food, energy, and water systems.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I am very excited about my role as director of the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL; https://ibrl.aces.illinois.edu). IBRL is a $32 million brand-new, state-of-the-art industrial biotech translational research facility that is accelerating the path from discovery to commercialization of processes utilizing chemical, physical, and biological conversion of renewable feedstocks to biofuels and other value-added products.