Food scientist Kaylegian receives Nesbitt Faculty Development Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Kerry Kaylegian, dairy foods research and extension associate and director of the Center for Food Manufacturing in the Department of Food Science, has been named recipient of the Arthur W. Nesbitt Faculty Program Development Award in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Made possible by a gift from alumnus Arthur Nesbitt, this endowed award supports faculty research, teaching or extension activities in agribusiness, dairy science or food science. The Nesbitt Award also is aimed at attracting additional funding for selected faculty members' programs.

"It is with great pleasure that I assist in recognizing outstanding faculty members for their tireless efforts in educating our students," Nesbitt said. "It is my hope that the excellent quality of our faculty will encourage new students to come to Penn State."

Kaylegian's position supports Pennsylvania's dairy foods processing industry, which encompasses on-farm sales of raw milk, pasteurized fluid milk, yogurt, raw-milk and pasteurized-milk cheeses, butter and ice cream. Her role is to develop outreach programs and provide technical support to processors to maintain and improve the safety and quality of Pennsylvania dairy foods.

"There are more than 200 dairy food processors and raw milk providers in Pennsylvania," she said. "I am in the process of travelling throughout the commonwealth to meet with processors to introduce myself and the program, and to determine the needs of the industry.

"I have developed an assessment survey that will be sent to all processors this fall to determine their training and resource needs."

Processors have told Kaylegian that there is a great need for training materials in printed and video formats that can be used on-site by small and medium-sized companies.

"They cannot spare employees away from the plants for training at our annual short courses at University Park," she said. "The topics suggested by processors were varied, but many were focused on aspects of cleaning and food safety."

Kaylegian intends to use the Nesbitt Award funding to complete the needs-assessment survey, to create a resource Web page for dairy processors to be added to the existing Penn State Food Safety and Food Entrepreneur websites, and to create at least one educational video or printed lesson on a high-priority topic in cleaning or food safety.

Kaylegian directs and teaches in the following short courses focused on food and dairy foods manufacturing: Dairy Basics for Farmstead and Artisanal Processors, Dairy Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points Workshop, Fundamentals of Food Science, Pasteurizer Operator's Workshop, and The Science and Art of Cheese Making.

She assists with other departmental short courses on food and dairy foods manufacturing, such as the Ice Cream Short Course, Ice Cream 101, the Penn State Cultured Products Short Course and the Sanitation Short Course.

An international cheese and dairy product judge, Kaylegian is coach of the Penn State Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Team.

She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in food science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1985 and 1991, respectively, and her doctorate in food science from Cornell University in 2006.

Kaylegian joined the Food Science Department faculty in 2007 as the pilot plant manager and director of industrial outreach.

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Last Updated October 18, 2013