Food Science faculty member receives Rasmussen professorship

University Park, Pa. -- Ryan Elias, assistant professor of food science in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, recently received the inaugural Frederik Sr. and Faith E. Rasmussen Career Development Professorship in Food Science.

The professorship, awarded for a three-year term to provide financial support and encouragement to a food science faculty member's academic career, was established by Frederik Rasmussen Jr. and Ruth Pearce Rasmussen.

Elias, who holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Hamilton College and a doctorate in food science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, served as a postdoctoral fellow in viticulture and enology at the University of California, Davis, where he worked in the area of wine oxidation.

Since joining Penn State's faculty in 2008, his research has focused on the study of free-radical chemistry of foods and beverages, in particular the basic mechanisms involved in the interaction of plant polyphenols and typical food ingredients, such as lipids and proteins.

Elias is a co-principal investigator with Penn State food scientist John Coupland and Devin Peterson of the University of Minnesota on a project aimed at understanding and developing novel food emulsions. A major goal of this research is to explore how these emulsions, consisting of stable nanoscale oil droplets, can be engineered to stabilize and deliver bioactive ingredients in foods.

This work is funded by the USDA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grants program.

Elias teaches courses in the chemical methods of food analysis and the science and technology of plant products. In addition, he teaches a popular embedded study tour in northern Italy with Penn State food science professor Robert Steele, former dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, focusing on comparative food and agricultural practices.

"It is a great honor to accept the Rasmussen Career Development Professorship in Food Science," Elias said. "Support of this type is important for helping new faculty members to build competitive research programs and to provide the best training for graduate and undergraduate students in the College of Agricultural Sciences. I thank the Rasmussen family for their continued support of the Penn State community."

Frederik Rasmussen Jr. and his wife, Ruth, of Moorestown, N.J., designated $500,000 to endow the professorship in honor of Mr. Rasmussen's parents. The gift was part of a $1 million contribution to the University by the Rasmussens.

Frederik Rasmussen Sr. served as head of Penn State's animal husbandry department from 1916 to 1919 and as state secretary of agriculture from 1919 to 1923. Governor Gifford Pinchot once called him the "father of the Pennsylvania Farm Show." At the time of his death in 1932 at age 56, he was executive secretary of the International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers. Faith Elliot Rasmussen was a dietitian in Penn State's home economics extension program.

Frederik Rasmussen Jr. graduated from Penn State in 1942 with a bachelor's degree in dairy husbandry. He spent his career in the food industry and retired in 1985 as vice president and director of operations for Kraft Foods dairy group. Ruth Rasmussen also graduated from Penn State in 1942 with a bachelor's degree in education.
 

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Last Updated March 21, 2011