Exchange Students From Ghent Completing Research With Food Science Faculty

Pieter Callewaert (seated), with associate professor and agricultural engineer Griffiths Atungulu (left), and Valentine Rysenaer (right) with assistant professor and food engineer Ali Ubeyitogullari (right), are completing master's degree research through a student exchange program in food science.
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Pieter Callewaert (seated), with associate professor and agricultural engineer Griffiths Atungulu (left), and Valentine Rysenaer (right) with assistant professor and food engineer Ali Ubeyitogullari (right), are completing master's degree research through a student exchange program in food science.

Two master's degree students from Ghent University are in Fayetteville this semester working with U of A faculty members from the Department of Food Science on thesis research.

Pieter Callewaert and Valentine Rysenaer are here as part of the student exchange program with Ghent University in Belgium, and both are using laboratories in food science.

Callewaert is working under the guidance of associate professor and agricultural engineer Griffiths Atungulu. Rysenaer is being led by assistant professor and food engineer Ali Ubeyitogullari. Atungulu, who is also interim director of the U of A's Rice Processing Program, and Ubeyitogullari are both scientists and researchers with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the U of A System Division of Agriculture. Ubeyitogullari is also a member of the faculty in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering in the College of Engineering.

Callewaert's research focuses on improving cereal food safety by reducing poisonous aflatoxins production by Aspergillus flavus mold on stored corn. His project involves the use of various wavelengths of infrared radiation to disrupt mold metabolism, which then terminates or avoids toxin production. 

Rysenaer is working on an innovative 3-D food printing project developing pH sensitive food particles from pectin/alginate mixtures to be carriers of dietary bioactive nutraceuticals for use in food. Pectin and alginates are natural food fibers. Her research involves optimizing the formulation and processing conditions to develop the ideal texture and encapsulation properties to deliver dietary nutraceuticals in food. 

Ghent students have been conducting food science research through the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences since 2004 when federal funding was obtained for an EU-US Atlantis student exchange program, jointly funded by the E.U. and U.S. and led by Ghent University and the U of A. The funding continued with subsequent grant support until the Atlantics Program was discontinued in 2013; however, academic and research exchanges have continued.

Ghent students continue to complete research thesis requirements with assistance from food science faculty and by access to facilities. The U of A, Bumpers College and food science celebrated 15 years of collaboration and student exchanges with Ghent in 2019, and continue to strengthen interaction between education and research programs by increasing student and faculty mobility between the institutions to further globalize food science research and academic programs.  

The original student exchange program was led by Roland Verhe of GU and Andy Proctor of the U of A. Proctor is University Professor emeritus in food science and also a visiting professor with the University of Suffolk's School of Engineering Arts, Science and Technology in the United Kingdom.

"The Ghent students we host are always of the highest caliber, and they enjoy both the academic and social opportunities while making significant contributions to our FDSC faculty research publication output," Proctor said.

Atungulu regularly hosts Ghent students through his ongoing collaborative research with professor Frank Devlieghere, a leading international food scientist at GU in the field of food preservation and food microbiology. Atungulu delivered an invited guest lecture at Ghent, which helped increase student interest in food science and research, and led to collaboration with Devlieghere.

Ubeyitogullari is hosting a Ghent student for the first time. His research focuses on improving human health through innovative technologies to enhance bioavailability of micronutrients. His Food Engineering for Health Laboratory uses supercritical carbon dioxide extraction technology and 3-D printing to fabricate nanoscale functional foods from food-grade materials.

About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas' economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.


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