V.M. Balasubramaniam, Innovator of the Year Award
V.M. Balasubramaniam is a professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology and Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering based in Columbus. He was selected for his research on developing creative High Pressure Based Clean Process Technology Development for Healthy Processed Foods as well as entrepreneurial efforts in subsequent technology transfer into industrial practice. Consumers seek food and beverages that are healthier, so meeting the growing demand for processed foods with substantiated health benefits is a major challenge. Development of cost-effective, next-generation gentler food processing technologies for healthy processed foods is a critical need.
For the past two decades, Balasubramaniam and his multidisciplinary collaborators from Ohio State, together with food industry and equipment vendors, have focused on solving these challenges through the development of high pressure based food manufacture technological solutions. High pressure involves exposing food to very high pressures (87,000 pounds per square inch) with or without heat to inactivate harmful microorganisms and spoilage microorganisms with reduced or minimal impact on product nutrients and quality. Technological solutions Balasubramaniam and his colleagues have developed include commercialization of high pressure, pressure-ohmic thermal processing, ultra shear technology, and high pressure crystallization of lipids.
Balasubramaniam helped establish a global network of experts through the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), which conducts annual workshops and short courses around the globe to transfer laboratory research to industrial practice, thus receiving the 2017 Cal Willey IFT Distinguished Service Award. His work has also received media attention; Popular Mechanics highlighted his research under “10 Tech Concepts You Need to Know for 2012,” and the Columbus Dispatch (February 2017) noted how Ohio became a hub for high pressure food processing in part due to Balasubramaniam and his colleagues’ contributions. Balasubramaniam was elected a Fellow of Institute of Food Technologists in 2017 and a Fellow of International Academy of Food Science and Technology in 2016. His innovative and creative contributions have served as a catalyst for implementation of high pressure based technological solutions in the food industry and has impacted society at large.
Erdal Ozkan, Luis Canas, Michael Reding, Christopher Ranger, Heping Zhu; Innovator of the Year Award
The Intelligent Sprayer Development and Testing Team consists of Erdal Ozkan, professor, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Luis Canas, associate professor, Entomology; Michael Reding, adjunct professor, Entomology; Christopher Ranger, adjunct professor, Entomology; and Heping Zhu, adjunct professor, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. In addition, recognition is also given to support staff Adam Clark, Barry Nudd, and Andy Doklovic, who are engineering technicians in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
The team was selected for its development of the Laser-Guided Variable-Rate Intelligent Sprayer for Nursery, Orchard, and Grape Applications. The sprayer developed and field tested by the team is the first automatic spraying system of its kind in the world. It can detect the presence of crop canopy, map the canopy architecture, calculate the sectional canopy volume for individual nozzles, and activate individual nozzles to discharge variable spray outputs to match crop architectures and foliage volume in real time. This innovation was nominated based on its uniqueness, its potential impact (cost and time savings to producers, protecting the environment from potential pollution from excessive use of pesticides), and for leading to obtaining significant funding from USDA. It has also received national awards and recognition.
The new spraying system eliminates excessive waste of pesticides when spraying trees or similar plants with conventional air-assisted sprayers. This waste reduction is beneficial to ecosystems and saves growers money. It also saves growers time by requiring fewer spray tank refills to cover the same area. The new spraying system will significantly advance spray technologies and offer an economically and environmentally responsible approach for growers to controlling insects and diseases as well as applying other foliar products.
Click here to see the full list of award recipients from the CFAES Annual Research Conference.