Food Chemistry & Biochemistry

Dr. Navam Hettiarachchy

Dr. Navam Hettiarachchy
University Professor

Research Emphasis: Protein Chemistry

Dr. Hettiarachchy's research program is focused on basic and applied food proteins and peptides with an integrated approach to value addition in nutraceuticals, natural antioxidants, and antimicrobials from Arkansas-grown crops and industry co-products.

Current Research Projects: 

  1. Preparing and optimizing processing conditions, and modifying to improve protein concentrate, isolate and investigating for enhanced functionality from rice, rice bran, soybean, and other alternate crops.
  2. Investigating peptides and phenolics for bioactivities (anti-cancer, anti-hypertensive, anti-obesity, anti-Alzheimer’s in human cell lines), and peptides as vehicles to deliver micronutrients in food products.
  3. Enhancing proteins and nutraceuticals (macronutrients and micronutrients) in innovative and creative product development.
  4. Improving nutraceutical properties of rice, soybean, and other grains through germination and fermentation
  5. Investigating plant derived compounds for natural antimicrobial (food safety) and antioxidant activities

Download a sampling of Dr. Hettiarachchy's research impact statements from 2014 and 2015.

Dr. Luke Howard

Dr. Luke Howard

Research Emphasis: Functional Foods

The goal of Dr. Howard's research is to improve human nutrition through the enhancement of existing plant-based products and development of new value-added products with disease-preventative and health-promoting benefits.

Current Research Projects: 

  1. Identification and quantitation of bioactive compounds in berries
  2. Mitigation and polyphenolic losses during berry processing
  3. Isolation and purification of tocols from Rice Bran Oil Deodorizer Distillate (RBODD)
  4. Recovery and utilization of polyphenolics from berry co-products

Download Dr. Howard's research impact statement.

 Dr. Ya-Jane Wang

Dr. Ya-Jane Wang

Research Emphasis: Carbohydrate Chemistry

Dr. Wang oversees the Carbohydrate Chemistry Program which addresses basic and applied research challenges related to carbohydrates.

Current Research Projects:

  1. Optimizing parboiling conditions to improve milling, cooking and sensory properties of  fresh and aged rice from different cultivars and crop years
  2. Investigating parboiling conditions on rice fortification with minerals 
  3. Modifying starch as complexing agent to improve solubility and bioavailability of bioactive molecules
  4. Developing novel properties from rice through germination

Download Dr. Wang's research impact statement.

Dr. Renee Threlfall

Dr. Renee Threlfall
Research Scientist

Research Emphasis: Fruit Program

The goal of Dr. Threlfall’s research is to address basic/applied research problems related to postharvest processing and storage of fruits (grapes, blackberries and peaches), including composition, nutraceuticals, sensory and marketable attributes.

Current Research Projects:

  1. Identifying attributes of Arkansas fresh-market blackberries that impact marketability 
  2. Postharvest and physiochemical analysis and nutraceutical evaluation of Arkansas grown peaches, table grapes, and Muscadine grapes
  3. Identifying consumer perceptions of fresh-market blackberries
  4. High-tunnel grape production: A novel sustainable approach to growing grapes
  5. Viticulture and enological management of University of Arkansas wine grape advanced selections and cultivars
  6. Postharvest evaluation of commercially-ripe and tree-ripe peaches