University of Memphis Launching New Research Cluster Focusing on Agriculture and Food Technologies

February 6, 2019 - The Division of Research & Innovation at the University of Memphis is launching a new interdisciplinary research initiative in agriculture and food technologies. With world population estimated to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, critical supply issues, along with environmental concerns, point to the need to engage in fundamental and applied research that will improve innovation and efficiency in food production while protecting the environment.

Leveraging expertise in core biological, chemical and environmental science research alongside expertise in big data, artificial intelligence and engineering, the UofM will seed interdisciplinary research that will contribute new knowledge and solutions to agriculture and food industry challenges.

"This initiative supports the regional push to attract new agriculture and food technology companies and bring good jobs to our region," said Dr. Jasbir Dhaliwal, executive vice president for Research and Innovation. "We are uniquely positioned to bring expertise that will help address opportunities within this field as it rapidly moves to adopt technology solutions to challenges in food safety and quality, fraud management, logistics and new product development in a highly regulated environment."

The Agriculture and Food Technologies Research Cluster will be housed at the FedEx Institute of Technology and co-led by Dr. Duane McKenna, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Pratik Banerjee, associate professor in the School of Public Health. McKenna is a world-renowned entomologist who studies the evolution and genomic basis of plant-feeding and interactions between beetles and plants. Banerjee is an expert on food safety, regulatory policy and the molecular, immunological and cell biological aspects of host-microbes and host-environmental hazard interactions. They will be joined in this effort by faculty with expertise in plant/crop research, bioproducts development, food processing and packaging, immunology, water resources, computer and network security, and chemical analysis.

For more information on this initiative, contact Dhaliwal at jdhaliwl@memphis.edu. To learn more about research opportunities at the UofM, visit https://www.memphis.edu/research; for more information on the FedEx Institute of Technology and other supported research clusters, visit https://www.memphis.edu/fedex.


Mary Ann Dawson | 901.678.1592 l mdawson@memphis.edu