Manpreet Singh has been named head of the Department of Food Science and Technology (FST) in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences after serving as interim department head since September.
Singh, who joined the research faculty at the CAES Department of Poultry Science as a UGA Cooperative Extension food safety specialist, welcomed the opportunity to work with former Purdue University colleague Todd Applegate, head of the Department of Poultry Science. Additionally, UGA’s excellent reputation in food microbiology and food safety provided an opportunity for long-term career growth and a landing place for his family, Singh said.
“Athens is one of the best college towns in America, so I’d say I was in the right place at the right time,” Singh said of his move to UGA.
Singh will begin in this permanent role on August 1, leading a group of renowned faculty and staff members on UGA’s Athens and Griffin campuses who are working to develop new food products, ensure the safety of food systems, and discover new ways to solve issues related to food science and technology in the modern world.
Singh hopes to continue fostering the same excellence in FST that attracted him to the university, namely a culture that encourages collaboration, an emphasis on community engagement, and a commitment to elevate the visibility of FST both nationally and internationally.
An essential element in achieving those goals is the Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center (FoodPIC) located on the UGA Griffin campus. This state-of-the-art facility works with small and mid-size entrepreneurs to commercialize new food products safely and efficiently through services including shelf-life evaluation, market planning and consumer-testing opportunities.
“The FoodPIC not only helps business owners find ways to safely manufacture their products, it also guides them through regulatory approvals and marketing questions to make sure that their ideas can actually make it to the shelf,” Singh said. “Consumers are demanding new and unique food products, and FoodPIC helps the industry meet that demand.”
With an increased emphasis on bringing new products to market, Singh hopes to elevate the visibility of FoodPIC breakthroughs and continue encouraging FST faculty to lead the way in critical food science and technology research.
“I want us to start thinking about how we can make UGA the leader in food science research, as CAES and our department have the talent it takes to make a real difference,” Singh said.
The department is involved in a number of innovative projects including tracking antibiotic resistance, investigating the development of safe food ingredients from jellyfish, and determining strategies to lengthen postharvest pecan storage.
In his appointment as a food safety specialist with UGA Extension, Singh has seen first-hand the importance of leading the way in research that changes the landscape not only for the overall body of research in food science, but also in the lives of individuals who interact with food safety and quality issues every day.
“From opening the breakfast cereal box to placing dinner on the table, food scientists have a role in each part of the process, like finding ways to extend shelf life and increasing food availability and variety,” he said.
FST seeks to train the next generation of food scientists, technologists and researchers, recruiting outstanding students who will lead the industry in the future. Equipped with practical research and application skills, FST graduates go on to work in areas such as food microbiology, food processing, quality control, product development, and other areas of applied food science research.
Over the course of his career, Singh has led teams of graduate students and research staff that have garnered more than $3 million in support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and others. He has obtained nearly $1.2 million for his Extension work delivering food safety trainings to the public.
Singh earned his bachelor’s degree in food technology from Punjab Agricultural University, a master’s degree in food science from Kansas State University, and a doctorate in food science and technology from Iowa State University.