Lab Members

B. Pam Ismail, Ph.D.


Pam Nov 2021

Dr. B. Pam Ismail is a Professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota (U of M) and is the director and founder of the Plant Protein Innovation Center (PPIC), an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to studying plant and alternative proteins, She joined the U of M as an Assistant Professor in May of 2007 following a post-doctoral research training in the Department of Food Science at Purdue University (2004-2007). Pam received her Ph.D. degree in Food Science from Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, England (2003). She has over 20 years of experience in Food Chemistry research focused on analytical chemistry, protein chemistry, enzymology and chemistry and fate of bioactive food constituents. Her research focuses on chemical characterization and enhancement of functionality, safety, bioavailability, delivery, and bioactivity of food proteins and phytochemicals, following novel processing and analytical approaches. Her group is currently researching ways to improve functionality, thermal stability, and bioactivity of food proteins, as well as ways to reduce allergenicity following enzymatic and other natural protein modification approaches. Protein structural characterization is performed using a number of proteomic analytical tools, aiming at linking structure to function. Her lab group is also studying the stability and activity of phytochemicals, as affected by their chemical structure, storage, and processing, following novel analytical techniques. Pam is leading the effort on determining the functionality and storage stability of perineal crops for food applications as part of the ongoing Forever Green Initiative effort to develop perineal crops with environmental benefits. Pam has contributed original research papers to a number of scientific journals, including the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Food Chemistry, Journal of Dairy Science, International Dairy Journal, etc. Pam teaches a senior undergraduate level Food Analysis course and a graduate level Protein Chemistry course, and has received several teaching awards including “Distinguished Teaching Award” for undergraduate faculty in a tenured position, 2014, and “Outstanding Professor”, 2012, in recognition of outstanding contributions to the University of Minnesota and the college’s education of students.


Graduate Students

Nigel Kang, B.S.

Nigel Headshot Fall 2022

Nigel graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2020. He joined the lab in Spring 2021 as an M.S. student out of keen interest in studying protein alternatives and contributing to a more sustainable food system. His research involves screening various oat lines for differences in protein profile and studying how they affect protein quality and functionality. Nigel has competed in and won IFT student competitions such as the Protein Innovation Challenge in 2022 and the 'Don’t Spoil It!' International Digital Hackathon in 2021. In Summer 2022, he completed an R&D internship with PURIS. He transferred to the PhD program in Spring 2023 and is investigating oat proteins more deeply. Outside of academia, Nigel enjoys spending time with friends and family, playing volleyball and basketball, being outdoors, cooking, and going for all-you-can-eat buffets.

Brittany Kralik, M.F.N., RDN

Brittany Kralik

Brittany, a second year Food Science PhD student and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, completed her Bachelor's of Science in Dietetics, Master's in Food and Nutrition, and accredited Dietetic Internship at Bowling Green State University. Her undergraduate and thesis work at BGSU compared products grown in an aquaponic system to conventionally grown products with an emphasis on physical and nutritional characteristics. Her love for both research and the connection between human health and environmental health/sustainability brought her to UMN where her doctoral research involves combining oat, pea, and chickpea proteins to optimize functionality, nutrition, and flavor with a meat analogue application being the final end product. Brittany is a MnDRIVE fellowship recipient and a member of various IFT divisions including the International Division in which she is a Student Representative. She is excited to merge her background in nutrition alongside her future food science education into a plant-based research industry career. Brittany was able to experience a taste of her future first hand this past summer via a Process Engineering internship at the German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL) in Quakenbruck, Germany. Her time at DIL allowed her to dive deep into the complex process of producing various meat analogues using high-moisture extrusion (HME). Brittany has a passion for serving at her local church, Substance, and exploring the beautiful Twin Cities and beyond!

Saajewa Dasent-Swygart, B.S.


Saajewa graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2017 after completing her B.S degree in Nutrition with a minor in African and African American Studies. She then worked for Allina Health and the University of Minnesota Extension focusing on clinical and community nutrition as a Nutrition Ambassador, Dietetic Technician, and Cooking Matters Program Coordinator before joining the Ismail Lab in the fall of 2021 to begin her Masters degree. Her research is focused on screening varieties of camelina and pennycress for protein nutritional quality, functionality, and digestibility in an effort to develop optimal lines of each crop variety for food use. Saajewa has since completed an R&D Product Development summer internship with Cargill in 2022, where she worked on the application of soluble fibers in bakery and snack goods. Saajewa currently serves on the executive board of the Food Science and Nutrition Club as the Community Outreach Chair. In this position, she has been able to not only connect her love for both food science and nutrition, but also support Minnesota communities through philanthropic work.

Alisa Smovzhenko, B.S.

Alisa Headshot

Alisa Smovzhenko started out as a researcher in PPIC lab for a semester in Spring 2020, before transitioning to her Masters in the Fall. She chose this lab particularly because of her interests in plant proteins, and moved all the way from Florida, where she got her B.S. in Botany from the University of Florida! For her Masters project, she first focused on extracting protein from Alfalfa and characterizing its structure and function. It eventually became apparent that this wasn't reasonably feasible, as endogenous enzymes quickly degrade the protein once it's hydrated. With that in mind, she's now investigating how different postharvest methods affect the protease activity, degree of hydrolysis, and will be testing a few extractions and protease deactivation techniques to see what's most successful. In her free time, Alisa loves taking random classes and picking up hobbies, such as fire spinning, ice skating, hiking, and gardening. During winter, however, she finds herself staying inside more while reading, playing board games, and cooking up a feast!

Coleman Selfridge, B.S.

Coleman Headshot Fall 2022

Coleman completed his B.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota in May of 2021. He then joined the Ismail Lab group in September of 2021 as a part time researcher, assisting Leslie Loehr in her research. In January 2022, he began his masters program under Dr. Ismail. Coleman's research is focused on exploring the effect of different rates and sources of supplemental nitrogen fertilizer on the chemical composition and storage stability of intermediate wheatgrass grains. This project is a part of a larger, cross-sector collaboration led by the Land Institute and the UMN Forever Green Initiative to diversify and optimize environmental sustainability and the rural economy of the American midwest. Before working with the Ismail Lab Group, Coleman worked in the restaurant industry for over 10 years, mainly as a cook. His love for food and interest in science made food science research an obvious choice as a career path. When he is not working in the lab, Coleman enjoys exploring the local restaurant scene, vegetable gardening, and picking up shifts working for his friends in the restaurant industry (he's one heck of an oyster shucker). When he is finished with his masters degree, Coleman looks to either continue working in research that helps bridge the gap between agricultural sustainability and the food system or use his culinary and food science backgrounds to work in developing  unique, tasty products for consumers.

Charu Gupta, M.S.

Charu Headshot

Charu completed her M.S in Food Science and Technology in 2020 at the Iowa State University. During her Masters she worked with pea protein concentrate and amaranth. Then she worked for a startup as a researcher for 2 years, where she helped in developing wireless sensors to monitor cell growth. She joined Ismail lab in 2022 and works as a researcher. She currently works on enzymatic modification of hemp protein and improving its solubility. She will soon be working with protein extraction and protein extrusion. In Charu's free time, she enjoys watching movies, and traveling.

Allie Boerboom, B.S.

Allie Boerboom

Allie joined the PPIC team in January 2022 as a graduate student after working with Professor Pam Ismail as an undergraduate researcher since Fall 2018. Allie completed her B.S. in Food Science in May 2021 at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities before spending the following fall semester as a full-time PPIC researcher working closely with industry partners. For two consecutive summers (2021 and 2022), Allie interned at SunOpta working alongside their beverage and formulations team to advance the product line while also bringing enhancements to their oat extraction process. Allie is currently working on a novel procedure to produce and isolate glycated pea proteins for assessment of their structure and function. Outside of the lab, Allie continues to feed her passion for food through various leadership roles throughout the Food Science and Nutrition Club, Phi Tau Sigma's Honors Society for Food Technologists, and Boynton’s Nutritious U Food Pantry. In Allie’s free time she enjoys traveling with friends and family, hiking, and taking her roommate’s dog Rocky out for chilly Minnesotan walks.

Yi Chen, B.S.

Yi Chen

Yi is a food science master's student at Dr. Ismail’s research lab. She completed her B.S in Food Science in May 2020 at the University of Minnesota. In the same year, Yi joined Ismail’s lab, working as a PPIC researcher. She participated in 6 projects, mainly working on the structural and functional characterization of soy, pea, chickpea, cranberry, buckwheat, pennycress, and rice proteins. After being a researcher for 2 years, Yi decided to pursue her M.S. degree in Food Science under Dr. Ismail in the fall of 2022. Her research focuses on screening four varieties of hemp grains for differences in protein functionality and nutritional quality and the evaluation of the texturization potential of hemp protein using high moisture extrusions for meat analogues. Outside of the lab, Yi enjoys snowboarding, cooking, traveling, and playing with/training her little parrot Pearl.

Jeanne Goh, B.S.

Headshot of Jeanne

Jeanne completed her B.S. in Food Science in 2021 at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. After spending a year working as a Quality Control Analyst in the food and pharmaceutical industry, she decided to join Dr. Ismail to learn more about plant-based proteins. Her research involves comparing the functional and structural characteristics of winter pea proteins to spring pea proteins. She will also be working with camelina, pennycress, and pea proteins to determine the optimal blending ratio. Outside of the lab, Jeanne enjoys making Malaysian dishes, walking around parks/neighborhoods, and spending time with friends.

Research Scientists

Karthik Pandalaneni, Ph.D.


Dr. Pandalaneni joined PPIC in Nov 2020 taking responsibilities as Manager of Operations. He moved to St. Paul, MN after working as a Global Application Scientist after his Ph.D. in Food Science from Kansas State University (2018). During his Ph.D. he worked on improving dairy processing techniques in lactose crystallization and worked on evaluating high protein dairy beverage stability by studying ingredient functionality in the application. He brings expertise on ingredient functionalities and their interactions in food applications. Dr. Pandalaneni obtained his Master’s in Food Biotechnology from the University of Leeds, UK, in 2010 and his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Biotechnology from India, 2009. He has work experience working in different roles in the food industry in both the UK and India as well. Dr. Pandalaneni is responsible for managing research projects, collaborations with PPIC industry partners, in addition to coordinating PPIC events, communications, and web design.

Samira Feyzi, Ph.D.

Samira Feyzi

Samira Feyzi (Ph.D.) joined the group of Prof. Ismail and PPIC as a postdoctoral researcher on Feb 2021. Samira received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Food Science and Technology major at the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad in Iran. Her M.Sc. thesis was about optimization of protein extraction from fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seed and investigation of its functional, thermal and structural attributes. Samira completed her researches by elucidating the effect of defatting solvents and drying procedures on the structures and wide range of functional and thermal properties of fenugreek protein isolates. She also cooperated in other researches on plant proteins like grass pea protein. Samira continued her studies as a Ph.D. student in Food Chemistry on September 2014. After enrolling in different courses of Food proteins, Enzyme kinetics, Physical chemistry, Chemistry of sensory properties (color, flavor, and texture), Food additives, Spectroscopic methods, Chromatography methods, etc., she started her Ph.D. dissertation about binding properties of whey proteins with safranal using various gas-chromatography, spectroscopic and molecular docking approaches. Also, Samira completed a part of her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Naples Federico II, and did researches about the effects of whey proteins and saliva on aroma release and perception, as well as the effect of WPI, as a fat replacer, on aroma release and perception of saffron ice cream using various headspace gas-chromatography/ mass spectrometry and gas-chromatography/olfactometry approaches. She received her Ph.D. degree on January 2020. Also, she has experience in teaching the Food Chemistry and Food Engineering courses, and is interested in both teaching and research fields. Samira is completing her experience in the field of food proteins and flavor compounds in Prof. Ismail’s lab and PPIC, at University of Minnesota through collaborating in different projects of master and Ph.D. students, industrial projects, as well as review literatures. Samira enjoys the nature and traveling, and she spends her free time on visiting different new places, workout, as well as studying books.

Serap Vantansever, Ph.D.


Serap Vatansever, Ph.D., joined PPIC as a postdoctoral researcher in August 2021. Her current research focuses on nutritional, structural, functional, and flavor characteristics of various plant proteins and their processing. Serap received her doctoral degree in the Cereal Science Program as well as a graduate level certificate in the Statistics at North Dakota State University, USA, in May 2020 and then was a postdoctoral research associate at South Dakota State University (SDSU), USA, between June 2020 and August 2021. She focused on enhancing the utilization of pulse ingredients in the food system through flavor modification using supercritical carbon dioxide extraction during her doctoral program. During her postdoctoral study at SDSU, she investigated the effects of diverse storage conditions on the nutrient and functional characteristics of pulse flours as well as supervising three graduate and eight undergraduate researchers for other research activities at the laboratory. She also had experiences on pulse ingredient functionalities and their food applications, sensory evaluation of foods, food fermentation, food microbiology and biotechnology, other food processing technologies, and applied statistics over five years. Serap concluded her B.Sc. (2009) and M.Sc. (2012) in the Department of Food Engineering at Pamukkale University in Turkey. Also, she was an exchange student through Erasmus Program for a year in the Department of Food and Nutrition at University of Helsinki, Finland, during her undergraduate program. Serap has published fourteen journal articles and one book chapter, and presented various technical presentations globally. Serap is an active member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS), and Cereals and Grains Association. She is the recipients of “Elwood F. Caldwell Scholarship Award for Volunteer Service of MN IFT Section” in 2020 and “Outstanding Volunteer Award of IFT Protein Division” in 2021.

Undergraduate Student Researchers

Emily Nelson

Emily Nelson

Emily is a sophomore majoring in Food Science. She joined the lab during the summer of 2021 and has worked with Samira on Soy Protein isolates analysis and assays. In her free time she enjoys painting, drawing, spending time with her cat Fred and baking (whenever she actually has access to an oven).

Shreevats Mor

Shreevats Mor

Shreevats is a junior from India, double majoring in Food Science and Nutrition Studies at the University of Minnesota. He joined the lab in Spring 2020 as an undergraduate research assistant and started working on a literature review exploring the utilization opportunities of alfalfa in human nutrition. Currently he is working on alfalfa protein characterization. In his free time Shreevats loves being outdoors playing soccer or tennis, listening to music, watching tv or just hanging out with friends!

Rylee Gjesvold

Rylee Headshot Undergrad

Rylee is a junior majoring in Nutrition Science. She joined the lab in January of 2023 as an undergraduate researcher and is working on alfalfa protein characterization. Outside of the lab, Rylee loves to travel, bake new recipes, hang out with family, and cross-country ski!

Caleb Denny

Undergrad Caleb Denny

Caleb is a sophomore majoring in Food Science. He joined the lab during the Fall of 2022. While working in the lab, he has enjoyed meeting new people and learning about different research projects and techniques. In his free time, Caleb enjoys alpine ski racing, baking, playing tennis, watching sports and "managing" fantasy football teams.

Past Members

Leslie Loehr, B.S.

Leslie Loehr

Leslie completed her B.S. in Food Science and Technology in May 2020 at Iowa State University. She worked as an undergraduate research assistant and lab supervisor for Dr. Lester Wilson working on a variety of projects for Iowa companies. In the fall of 2020 Leslie started her M.S. degree in Food Science at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the storage stability of different intermediate wheatgrass cultivars. Leslie likes to spend her free time cooking/baking, trying different crafts, playing the clarinet, and being outdoors. 

Holly Husband, M.S.

Holly Nov 2021

Holly joined the University of Minnesota and the Ismail lab family in Fall 2018. After graduating with a B.S. in Food Science and B.S. in Nutrition in December 2020, Holly started her Masters degree under Dr. Ismail in January 2021 while also working on several PPIC projects, all involving plant proteins. Her research in this space has been enforced by R&D Product Development summer internships at SunOpta in 2019 and Cargill in 2021, in which she worked on application work involving non-dairy barista milks and whole-muscle meat alternatives, respectively. For extra-curricular activities, Holly is an active participant in the Food Science and Nutrition Club and has been part of finalist teams in IFT competitions including the 2020 Developing Solutions for Developing Countries and 2021 Smart Snacks for Kids. Outside of the lab, Holly tries her best to keep tabs on her young golden retriever, Kylo and thinks of new justifications for purchasing fresh athleisure. #Joggers

Brigitta Yaputri, B.S.


Brigitta is a senior double majoring in Food Science and Nutrition. After completing her URS and UROP on lactic acid bacteria and multidrug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg, she joined Ismail lab in Spring 2020 as an undergraduate research assistant. She is planning to pursue a master's degree in Food Science at the UMN in Fall 2020, focusing on plant-based protein. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, exercising, baking with bizarre ingredients, and spending some time at the farmer's market or grocery store. She is also passionate about the zero-waste lifestyle - especially when it comes to food waste!

Rachel Mitacek, M.S.

Rachel Mitacek

Rachel completed her B.S. in Food Science in 2015 and M.S. in Food Science in 2017 at Oklahoma State University. Her M.S. research was completed under the guidance of Dr. Ramanathan focusing on the effects of aging on beef biochemical properties and color stability. After working as a summer intern at Cargill, she decided to pursue doctoral studies under Dr. Ismail in proteins and phytochemicals, shifting her focus from muscle proteins to plant proteins. Rachel is a full-time researcher studying the functionality and quality properties of pennycress protein and oil. Outside of the lab Rachel enjoys traveling, visiting with family and friends, and exploring new places to eat. Some other fun facts about Rachel is that she has lived in 8 different states and moved 10 times, she can lick her elbow, has a pet tarantula, bearded dragon & cat, and has never mowed a lawn.

Sungil Ferreira, B. Eng, Ph.D.

Sungil Ferreira

Dr. Sungil (Sun) Ferreira is a postdoctoral associate at the University of Minnesota in the Plant Protein Innovation Center developing studies in protein extraction and characterization of oats and peas. He has a bachelor in Food Science, Technology and Engineering with a PhD in Food Science and Engineering, at the Sao Paulo State University (UNESP) in Brazil. Part of the bachelor was done in the University of British Columbia in Canada and part of the PhD was done at the University of Loughborough in the United Kingdom. Studied encapsulation using spray drying, complex coacervation, ionic gelation, emulsification, with a focus on influence of process parameters and polymer structure. In addition, Sun has a strong background in physics and mathematical approaches. Sun loves animals (all of them), sports in general, outdoor activities, rock climbing (indoor and outdoors), used to be a cheerleader (believe it or not) and always starts his day with a good cuppa of coffee and a crossfit session. He believes the world can be a better place, if we (all humans) make it happen.

Allie Schneider, M.S.

Allie Schneider 2019

Allie joined the lab in the summer of 2017 as an undergraduate research assistant. She primarily worked with Jenny to gather data for her honors thesis regarding the antioxidant content and activity of stored intermediate wheatgrass flour. After completing her B.S. in Food Science in May 2019, Allie joined Cargill for the summer as an intern. She returned to the lab in the fall to pursue a M.S. degree in Food Science under Dr. Ismail. Her work involves developing a novel procedure to produce glycated pea protein and assessing the structure and functionality of the protein. Outside of the lab, Allie loves cooking, exploring new restaurants and parks, and enjoying movies and live music with friends.

Fan Bu, B.E., M.S.

Fan Bu

In Fall 2018 Fan completed her B.E. in Food Quality & Safety at Southwest University in China. Fan joined the lab in Spring 2019 and was co-advised by Dr. George Annor. Her research focused on the utilization of cold plasma to modify protein structure and functionality. Fan graduated in 2021 and started her PhD in plant protein research at the University of British Columbia in Canada. In her free time Fan enjoys swimming, cooking, and playing the clarinet!

Laura Eckhardt, RDN, M.S.

Laura Eckhardt 2019

Laura completed her B.S. in Dietetics at the University of Georgia in 2015 and her dietetic internship program at Vanderbilt University in 2016. After surviving three winters in Chicago while working as a dietitian in corporate wellness, she moved even further north to begin her M.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota in 2019. Her work in the lab focuses on optimizing hemp protein extraction methods for structure, functionality and nutritional quality. In her free time, she enjoys doing 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles, trying out new healthy recipes, playing saxophone, and cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs in football. She is excited to work in industry combining her backgrounds in nutrition and food science upon graduation!

Sonia Han, B.A.

Sonia Han

Sonia completed her B.A. in Biochemistry in 2013 from the University of Northern Iowa.  She worked in the food industry for Cargill Inc. for two years before joining the lab to pursue an M.S. degree in Fall 2015.  Her research focuses on characterizing the structure and functionality of a vegetable protein with Cargill.  She is continuing to work at Cargill full-time while she works on her degree.  In the free time, she has she enjoys running, eating/cooking with friends, and knitting!

Misen Luu, M.S., Researcher IV

Misen Luu

Misen is from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and completed his B.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota Spring of 2015. After working in quality assurance at a baking company, Misen decided to join Ismail’s lab in the Fall of 2016 as a research assistant and subsequently joined the lab as a Master's student researching intermediate wheatgrass. Misen finished his Masters in 2020. Misen Luu joined PPIC after he graduated with his Master’s in Food Science under the advisement of Dr. Pam Ismail at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in January 2020. Now Misen is working as a Food Scientist, Project Manager at PURIS in Minneapolis, MN. During his Master’s, he researched the storage stability of a novel perennial grain called Intermediate Wheatgrass, analyzing changes in dough functionality, flavor, and sensory attributes of the stored flour at different storage conditions. Before his graduate studies, Misen got his B.S. in Food Science from the University of Minnesota. Outside of the lab, Misen is a member of the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra as a clarinetist, loves being with his dog Elio and cat Claude, and is actively involved with the Minnesota Section of the Institute of Food Technology as chair of the newsletter committee and assistant treasurer. Misen is responsible for managing and conducting PPIC projects, with emphasis on flavor associated with plant proteins. 


Vaidehi Narkar, B. Tech, M.S.


Vaidehi completed her B.Tech in Food Engineering and Technology in 2018 at the Institute of Chemical Technology, India. She completed her MS in the Ismail Lab in 2021 and started a career as a Food Scientist at General Mills in Minneapolis, MN. In Fall 2018, she began her M.S. degree in Food Science at the University of Minnesota. Vaidehi has worked on the development of bakery products and dairy-based beverages during her summer internships with General Mills and O-AT-KA. She is currently investigating the isolation methods of camelina protein, aimed at providing a functional plant-based protein ingredient for food applications. She is engaged in product development competitions and also volunteers with the IFT Food Chemistry Division. Vaidehi enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing board games, cooking, hiking, and traveling. 

Chelsey Hinnenkamp, M.S., Ph.D.

Chelsey Hinnenkamp

Chelsey completed her B.S. in Food Science in 2013, her M.S. in 2016, and her PhD in 2020 from the University of Minnesota. Her doctoral research focused on the utilization of a whey coproduct and functionally enhanced whey protein concentrate for microencapsulation. Her master's research focused on using limited enzymatic hydrolysis and partial Maillard glycation to produce a functional, hypoallergenic soy ingredient. Chelsey now works for ADM and is living in Decatur, IL as a Senior Food Scientist! A lifelong gopher (10 years and running!), she did "hop the pond" to complete seven months of her doctoral research in Germany at the Technical University of Berlin. In her spare time, Chelsey can be found making messes in the kitchen, traveling, exploring the Twin Cities dining scene, running through Minneapolis, reading anything she can get her hands on, and spending time with her nephews!

Amy Mathiowetz, M.S., R.D.

Amy Mathiowetz

Amy was introduced to the phytochemical/protein lab in Fall 2014 before being officially admitted to the Graduate Food Science program in January of 2015. She is honored to be a member of the Ismail 122 lab family and has enjoyed every moment spent with them. Amy graduated from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN in August 2014 with a B.S. in both Dietetics and Food and Nutrition Science. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Food Science at the University of Minnesota with the goal of melding her affinities for the nutrition and food sciences. Her research explores the storage stability and safety of intermediate wheatgrass, a novel grain with low environmental impact and high nutritional prospects. When she is not learning new laboratory methods or researching grains with her partner-in-crime and fellow intermediate wheatgrass research colleague, Citra Rahardjo, Amy enjoys scouring the town for new coffee joints, running, walking dogs, and going on adventures with her husband, Colin.

Madison David, B.S.

Madison David

Madison is a senior from Milwaukee, Wisconsin majoring in Food Science and minoring in Nutrition and Spanish. She joined the lab in the summer of 2021 and has been conducting research on oat proteins as an undergraduate research assistant. In her free time, Madison enjoys playing with her dog, Zola, hanging out with her friends, cooking, being outside, and exploring the city.

Maddi Johnson, B.S.

Maddi Johnson

Maddi is a senior studying Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering. She joined the lab in May 2021 as an Undergraduate Research Assistant. Her research is focused on the extraction and characterization of covercress and cranberry seed proteins. She recently joined the Innovation/Technology/Quality Dynamic Talent Bench at General Mills as a student contractor. She is passionate about plant-based and alternative proteins and is looking forward to working in this industry after graduation. Outside of school, you can find Maddi brewing kombucha, rock climbing, snowboarding, or planning her next trip out west!

Lucy Hansen, M.S.

Lucy Hansen 2019

Lucy began working in the lab as a junior, primarily helping Claire with her research on camelina protein while also working on her own Honors thesis project. Lucy graduated from the University of Minnesota in Spring 2018 with majors in food science and nutrition. After completing a summer internship in product development, Lucy returned to her home in the lab and began her M.S. program in Fall 2018 working with pea protein. Her project is looking at how different extraction methods affect the structural and functional properties of the resulting pea protein isolates. Outside of lab, Lucy enjoys spending time with friends and family, solving puzzles, trying out new foods, and traveling to escape the Minnesota cold!

Ben Millis, B.S., M.S.

Benjamin Millis 2019

Ben completed his B.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota in the Spring of 2017. He worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Antonio Lourenco studying the thermal resistance of Salmonella in dry extruded cereals. After receiving his B.S., he worked as an Operations Manager for a Minneapolis based cold brew coffee startup. After two years in industry, Ben decided to pursue his M.S. in Food Science, and joined the Ismail lab in the Summer of 2019 and will be working on a PepsiCo project that evaluates protein fractions in oat lines for protein quality and functionality. In his free time he enjoys traveling, spending time outdoors, trying new foods, and drinking coffee.

Maneka Malalgoda, Ph.D.


Maneka completed her Ph.D. at the North Dakota State University in Fall 2018 and joined the lab group as a postdoctoral research associate in February 2019. Maneka's research is mainly focused on enzymatic modification of pea protein isolates to improve functionality and analyzing protein secondary structure using FTIR. She also works on characterizing the different fractions of oat proteins.Outside the lab, Maneka likes to cook, watch movies and travel.

Jenny Hayek, M.S.


Jenny completed her B.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota in May 2017. She previously joined the lab as an undergraduate research assistant in May 2015, studying the potential of millet varieties grown in Minnesota for future use in food products.  In September 2017, Jenny returned to pursue an M.S. degree. Her research focused on intermediate wheatgrass flour storage stability, focusing on the enzymatic activity, rancidity, and antioxidant activity changes over time in various degrees of flour refinement.  Jenny finished her M.S. in spring 2020 and is now working full time at Cargill in Food Applications R&D.

Catrin Tyl, Ph.D.

Catrin Tyl

After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota under the supervision of Mirko Bunzel in August 2012, Cati has been working as a post doc research associate part-time in the lab since February 2013. Her responsibilities are instrument maintenance and working on the chemical analysis of intermediate wheatgrass varieties, which she tackles with enthusiasm after her morning coffee break with Brian. She trains our graduate students in liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry analysis. She is also the NMR wiz. Aside from their love for coffee, Catrin and Brian also share their birthday as well as the fate of always having office space in a room without windows. Catrin’s research interests include carbohydrate analysis and structural characterization.


Claire Boyle, M.S.

Claire Boyle

Claire completed her B.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota in the fall of 2014. She previously joined the lab as an undergraduate research assistant in the summer of 2013, helping Kirsten Ruud with her thesis work, as well as conducting independent research for her Honors thesis, which investigated the digestibility and nutritional quality of Maillard glycated whey protein hydrolysates. In the spring of 2015, Claire transitioned to a full-time researcher, studying the emulsification properties of enzymatically hydrolyzed proteins. After a quick year-long hiatus from lab life where she interned with a non-profit in Paris, France, Claire returned to the U of M in the fall of 2016 to pursue her M.S. degree. Her research centers on the oilseed camelina, and she investigated the characteristics and functionality of camelina's extracted protein and fiber for food applications. Claire is currently a Food Scientist at Brandless in the Twin Cities. Outside of the lab, Claire loves to paint, eat potato chips, and try her hand at pub trivia.

Citra Rahardjo, M.S.

Citra Rahardjo

Citra completed her B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign in Spring 2012. She then worked in the food industry for two years before she joined the lab as a graduate student pursuing her M.S. degree in Fall 2014.  Her research project focuses on the chemical characterizations, functionalities, and applications of intermediate wheatgrass, a novel grain with low environmental impact and high promise for use in biofuels and foods. In her free time, Citra enjoys running, singing, traveling to new places, shopping, and watching Korean dramas/ TV shows!

Chathurada Suge Gajadeera, Ph.D.


Chathurada completed her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Texas Tech University in fall 2013. She joined the lab group as a postdoctoral research associate in May 2015. Her research is mainly focused on understanding protein structure, network formation and protein functionality of intermediate wheatgrass. Also, she is working on identifying modifications (modified epitopes) in the hypoallergenic protein ingredients to optimize the modifications in the food proteins. In her spare time, she loves to watch movies, go shopping and traveling.

Ingrid Cordelino, M.S.


After getting her B.S. in Food Science at the University of Milan (in Italy) in 2013, Ingrid started her M.S. degree and decided that for her final thesis work she wanted to have a research experience abroad and chose to work on a project about gluten-free pasta made of millet, here at UMN. Like every other Italian she likes pizza and pasta! When not in the lab she likes spending time with her husband Ethan and she devotes time to her hobby: interior design.

Lu Liang, M.S.

Lu Liang

Lu completed her B.S. in Food Science at Shanghai Ocean University, China in the spring of 2012. She joined the lab group in the Summer of 2013 to pursue her M.S. degree, which she obtained in June 2016. Her research focused on optimizing proteolysis and Maillard-induced glycosylation conditions, using response surface methodology (RSM), for the production of hypoallergenic sodium caseinate ingredient, while maintaining nutritional quality, bioactivity and emulsification properties. In her free time, she loves to watch movies, go shopping, and play ping pong!

Matthew Savre, M.S.

Matt Savre

Matt completed his B.A. in Chemistry at Gustavus Adolphus College in the spring of 2011. He started pursuing his M.S. degree in the spring of 2013 and joined the lab group in the summer of 2013. Matthew’s main research focused on the effects of Maillard-induced glycation on whey protein’s solubility and thermal stability following industry-friendly techniques. He attained his Master's degree in May 2016. In his free time, he enjoys watching football and basketball, and playing any sport, especially basketball and golf.

Courtney Lasky, M.S.

Courtney Lasky

Courtney completed her B.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota in the spring of 2013. She had previously worked as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Tonya Schoenfuss’s lab working on quantifying toxins in fermented cheese using high-performance liquid chromatography. She joined our lab in Fall 2013 to pursue her M.S. degree and successfully defended her thesis in June 2015! Her research focused on studying the effect of Maillard-induced glycation on whey protein hydrolysate solubility, bioactivity, and allergenicity. She now works as a Research and Development Scientist at General Mills.  In her free time, Courtney makes her way around Minnesota’s many outdoor hiking trails, parks, and lakes. And of course, she wouldn’t be a true food geek if she didn’t visit all the top food destinations in the Twin Cities, one restaurant, winery and brewery at a time.

Kirsten Ruud, M.S.

Kirsten rUUD

Kirsten completed her B.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota in the spring of 2012. She had previously joined the lab group as an undergraduate researcher in 2011. She continued on and finished her M.S. degree in Food Science in Spring 2015. While she has worked on several research projects, her main research was on the effect of Maillard glycation on the reduction of aggregation and quality deterioration of protein hydrolysates during storage. She is currently working as a Research and Development Scientist at General Mills in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

Aimee Mortenson, M.S.

Aimee Mortenson

Aimee completed her B.S. in Chemistry at the University of Minnesota, Fall 2008. She was an undergraduate researcher for the last few semesters of her B.S. degree in the lab and now works as a Senior Technician at General Mills. She continued on to pursue her M.S. degree while working full time and graduated with her M.S. degree in Food Science in Fall 2014. Her research pertained to the quantification of sucrose crystallization using FTIR spectroscopy.

Jordan Walter, M.S.


Jordan is now a Sensory Scientist at General Mills in Golden Valley, Minnesota. Jordan completed her M.S. degree in Food Science in Spring 2014; her research focused on protein modification techniques to reduce the allergenicity of soy protein. Jordan completed her undergraduate degree in Nutrition at the University of Minnesota in the Spring of 2012.

Lauren Gillman, M.S.

Lauren Gillman

Lauren is now a Research Scientist at General Mills in Golden Valley, MN.  Lauren completed her M.S. degree in Food Science in Spring 2014; her research focused on investigating the product quality and nutritional degradation of soy protein isolate and hydrolysate powders as a result of moisture-induced aggregation.  Lauren completed her B.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota in the Spring of 2011 and then worked at Milk Specialties Global for 7 months before returning to the U of M for her M.S. degree.

Brian Folger, M.S.


Brian successfully defended his M.S. thesis in Spring of 2014.  He now works for Land O’Lakes as a Scientist. His research focused on the degradation of the mycotoxin patulin by yeast. Brian completed his B.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota in the Fall of 2010.

Qian (Cherry) Wang, Ph.D.


Cherry is currently working at Kraft. She completed her doctorate degree successfully in the summer of 2012 and stayed on in the lab as a post-doc for 9 months leading several projects and training new graduate students.  Her research was focused on improving whey protein solubility and thermal stability via Maillard-induced glycation.  Before pursuing her Ph.D. in 2008, Cherry completed her M.S. in Food Microbiology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and her B.S. in Food Science at China Agricultural University.

Vamsidhar (Vamsi) Yerramsetty, Ph.D.


Vamsi completed his Ph.D. in the Summer of 2013. His research was focused on the detection, structural characterization, and bioavailability of soy isoflavones and their derivatives.  Previous to his Ph.D., Vamsi completed his B.Tech in Food Technology at Osmania University, India, and he joined the lab group as one of the first trios of masters students in Fall 2007. He completed his M.S. degree in Spring of 2009.

Eui-Cheol (Richard) Shin, Ph.D.

Richard Shin

Richard is now a Food Science faculty member at Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology (GNTECH), Korea Republic. However, the lab was lucky to have him as a post-doctoral research associate between Oct 2010 and Feb 2012. His main research was on the antihypertensive activity in enzymatically tenderized beef cuts.

Edem-Elikplim Emmanuel (Edem) Folly, M.S.


Edem is working as a Global Product Development Specialist at Mead Johnson Nutrition. He completed his in Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Lomé, Togo. Edem joined the lab in Fall of 2009, and he completed his M.S. degree in the Summer of 2012.  His research was on enhancing the functionality of delactosed whey by enzymatic hydrolysis using response surface methodology approach.

Jookyeong (Tracy ) Lee, M.S


Tracy completed her B.S. in Biology at Kansas State University. She joined the lab in January of 2009. She completed her M.S. degree in Spring 2011. Her research was focused on improving soy protein solubility and stability in beverages and determining sensory acceptability.

Wynnie Margatan, M.S.


Wynnie is currently working in R&D at a food company in Indonesia. She completed her B.S. in Food Science at Purdue University. She joined our lab group as one of the first trios of masters students in Fall 2007. She completed her M.S. degree in Spring of 2009. Her MS research was focused on using unique and selective enzymatic systems to produce bioactive peptides from soy proteins.

Sravanthi (Priya) Malapally, M.S.


Priya is currently working as a R&D Lead Scientist at Lawrence Foods, after graduating with her Ph.D. in Food Science from Purdue University. She previously had completed her in Food Technology at Osmania University, India, and joined our lab group as one of the first trio of masters students in Fall 2007. She completed her M.S. degree in Spring of 2009. Her M.S. research was on the effect of protein content and denaturation on the extractability and stability of soy isoflavones.

Kevin C. Mathias, M.S.

Kevin Mathias

Kevin is currently working as a Scientist at Nestle in Lausanne, Switzerland, after completing his Ph.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill in Nutrition Epidemiology. Kevin completed his M.S. in Food Chemistry at Purdue University and his B.S. in Food Science at Cornell University. Kevin was the first member of our lab group! He joined us in June of 2007 as a Research Fellow. He installed and operated our major equipment, trained new students, established analytical techniques and participated in on-going research.

Past Undergraduate Researchers


Erica Chung

Erica Chung


Christina Montouri

Christina Montouri



 Felize Dangcil  


Maddy Nones

Maddy Nones



Nathan Morrison


Kory Jacquart

 Kory Jacquart  


Claire Klevorn

Claire Klevorn   


Elizabeth Ha

Elizabeth Ha


Kaylin Clark

Kaylin Clark 


Kristina Sandvik

Kristina Sandvik


Jennifer Cain

Jennifer Cain     


Sarah Brentrup

Sarah Brentrup


Brandon Kopesky

Brandon Kopesky


Amy Patel

Ami (Amy) Patel


Fatemeh Khodaei

Fatemeh Khodaei Kalaki


Marsha Sintara

Marsha Sintara   


Mathilde Lamat

Mathilde Labou 


Erica Gardner

Erica Gardner


Elizabeth Drantch

Elizabeth Drantch


Reilly McNaught

Reilly McNaught


Mal Pal Goggans

Mallory Goggans


Megan Low

Megan Low


Alex Cummins

Alex Cummins




Sheila V.
Elizabeth Holm

Elizabeth Holm


Sam Adler

Samuel Adler 

Dawn Wannasin

Dawn Wannasin

Erin McCann

Erin McCann

Al L

Al Leminh


Sandi Levine