Lab News

Amy For Agropur!

In August 2020, the PPIC Manager of Operations and previous Ismail Lab graduate student, Amy Mathiowetz, accepted a position with Agropur as a Food Technologist in Food and Beverage Innovation. Amy will be relocating with her husband, Colin, and pup, Chester to La Crosse, WI. We are very sad to see her go but very excited for the opportunities ahead of her!

Welcome New Graduate Students!

This Fall the Ismail Lab will welcome two new graduate students, Brigitta Yaputri and Leslie Loehr. Brigitta comes to us from our very own lab as an undergraduate researcher and Leslie joins us from Iowa State. We are really looking forward to some new faces around the lab!

Maneka Makes Money Moves!

In August 2020, our Post-Doctoral Researcher, Maneka Malalgoda, accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in The Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Manitoba where she will be teaching courses in Grain Chemistry and running her own research lab. Congrats Maneka and best of luck to you on your new adventures!

Ismail Lab Summer 2020 Achievements!

  • Lucy Hansen defended her Master's Thesis and started a new job at General Mills
  • Amy Mathiowetz accepted a job with Agropur
  • Chelsey Hinnenkamp will be defending her Doctoral Dissertation soon and has accepted a job with ADM
  • Maneka Malalgoda started a faculty position at the University of Manitoba
  • Vaidehi Narkar completed an internship with General Mils and has accepted a job position after completion of her Master's research
  • Laura Eckhardt completed a summer internship with Cargill 


Ismail Lab Members Place Second in IFT20 DSDC Competition

DSDC Product Development


The IFT Student Association (IFTSA) is committed to engaging student members from around the world to utilize their scientific skills to serve a bigger cause. The IFTSA Developing Solutions for Developing Countries (DSDC) competition promotes the application of food science and technology and the development of new products and processes that are targeted at improving the quality of life for people in developing countries.

For the 2020 competition, the University of Minnesota was chosen as a finalist and was awarded 2nd place for its product "Planting for the Future." Team Members were: Rachel Mitacek, Laura Eckhardt, Alissa Schneider, Sara Kleba, Fan Bu, and Holly Husband.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), approximately 45% of the total fruits and vegetables produced in the world are wasted each year. In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 90% of the total waste occurs at post-harvesting, packaging, and distribution level. Teams were tasked to create a nutritious food product that helps to reduce post-harvest fruit and vegetable loss in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ismail Lab Graduates Two Master's Students

In March 2020, Jenny Hayek graduated with her Master's. Her research was titled "Effect of steam treatment on chemical changes over storage of Intermediate Wheat Grass (Thinopyrum intermedium) refined, partially refined, and whole flour". Jenny has been working at Cargill as an Applications R&D Scientist in the Snacks Department since June 2019.

Additionally, Lucy Hansen successfully defended her Master's project titled "The Optimization and Scale-up of Pea Protein Extractions and Impact on Structural and Functional Properties" in July 2020. Lucy has accepted a position with General Mills as an R&D Scientist for yogurt applications.

We wish our lovely new graduates the best of luck in the beginning of their career and already miss them greatly!

Ismail Lab Members Participate in 3rd Annual Oilseed Field Day

June 6, 2020

Researcher Amy O'Keefe and graduate students Vaidehi Narkar and Rachel Mitacek presented virtually at the third annual Oilseed Field Day. Traditionally, these extension days are held at the research center in Waseca, MN and have focused solely on Camelina. However, due to COVID-19 limiting circumstances, the field day was held virtually and encompassed Pennycress as well! Below you can watch Amy, Vaidehi, and Rachel talk about oilseed processing, protein extraction, and food application potential. If you are hungry for more oilseed and field day topics, all of the videos can be found here:

Remote video
Wed, 05/31/2023 - 09:11

Plant Protein Innovation Center Research Planning Meeting

Research Planning Meeting

Join PPIC's growing cohort of members, collaborators, and supporters at the upcoming Research Planning Meeting.

Monday, May 4, 2020 - 6:30pm

Join PPIC's growing cohort of members, collaborators, and supporters at the upcoming Research Planning Meeting, which will be held on May 4th, 2020.  

This event will bring together industry representatives and academics alike looking to assess the course of the PPIC and prioritize research goals to best address the most fundamental needs in the plant protein space. Your input at this event will help shape the top research priorities for the coming year. The PPIC's current research priorities can be found at this link.

The event will be divided into three blocks:

  • The first block will feature presentations mostly from industry speakers, who will speak to market trends, needs, and challenges. Speakers include: Julie Simonson, Schwan's Company; Dina Fernandez, ADM; Gabriela Perez-Hernandez, Kellogg; Clint Johnson, Conagra Brands; Mike Grusak, USDA ARS Edward Schafer Agricultural Research Center, Leza Besemann, Technology Commercialization at  the University of Minnesota; and tentatively Alec Hayes, Coca Cola. Additional event speakers and their talks will be announced on our website within the next couple weeks. 

  • The second block will be dedicated to an industry pitch session in collaboration with the Protein Highway; more details on this session to be announced soon.

  • The third block will focus on round table discussions, wherein attendees will have the opportunity to discuss research priorities to address the identified market trends, needs, and challenges.

There will be an optional networking dinner the evening prior at 6:30 pm at Axel's Restaurant in Roseville, and ample opportunity to network during the event.

For more information on this event, including hotel accommodations and registration information, please visit our event web page or email [email protected]

Spreading The Word About Intermediate Wheat Grass

Misen Luu

One of our very own graduate students, Misen Luu, was featured by PBS Newshour for his work on Kernza as part of the Forever Green Initiative (FGI). Check out the video here !
Many researchers in FSCN are an active part of this initiative, aiming to improve the sustainability and quality of Minnesota’s agricultural system

Lab 122 in The News

Graduate students, Misen Luu, Rachel Mitacek and Researcher Amy Mathiowetz were recently featured in the news on KARE 11 to spread the word about the annual Camelina Field Day event and share their knowledge about the novel oilseed, Camelina. To watch the segment, click here!

Rachel Mitacek Misen Luu Amy Mathiowetz


June 14, 2019 - 11:00AM


Lab 122 Welcomes New Graduate Students!

Although we graduated three beloved graduate students this past semester, we also gained new lab family members! Welcome to new Master's students Ben Millis, Fan Bu, Alissa Schneider, and Vaidehi Digambar Narkar. In addition to new graduate students the Ismail Lab also welcomed a new post doctoral researcher, Maneka Malalgoda. Look for new lab bios for more information about our awesome new additions!

May 28, 2019 - 6:15PM

Saying Goodbye is Never Easy, So Let's Say See Ya Later!

This semster we said see ya later to our undergraduade Alex Cummins. Alex made her way from Fleminton, New Jersey and started in the lab as a freshman working with Chathurada on gluten-forming proteins. During her time at the University of Minnesota she enjoyed showing off her green thumb in Horticulture, playing hand ball, and cooking for her lab mates (awwww!).  She also had the opportunity to do a semester of school in Hawaii to really indulge her green thumb. Alex finished up her Honor's Thesis in the lab and in May 2019 graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Food Science and Horticulture. She was just a bright smile and burst of positivity in the lab, as well as a very hard worker! She will be incredibly missed but is now going to start a new chapter working at Night Hawk Frozen Foods as a Research Scientist in Austin, Texas. Good Luck Alex!

May 15, 2019

Jenny Hayek Gets Engaged!

We are so excited to celebrate the engagement of Jenny Hayek, a graduate student in the Ismail lab, on her engagement to Igor Shepelev! Jenny and Igor got engaged while traveling around Europe on August 17th. The lovely couple met in our lab a couple years ago when Igor was a visiting graduate student in Gary's Flavor lab. Ahh how lab 122 makes love blossom! 


August 20, 2018 

Lab 122 Featured in the Media!

02/26/2017 - 16:14

Principal investigator and lab 122 adviser, Pam Ismail, along with post-doctoral researcher Chathurada Suge-Gajadeera and graduate researcher Amy Mathiowetz were recently featured in both a Big Ten Network commercial and a "Farm Connections" segment on KMSQ TV to speak on their research around perennial crop intermediate wheatgrass. Check out the links below to learn more: 

Big Ten commercial:

Farm Connections segment:


Halloween Party 2016

12/01/2016 - 14:29

The Ismail Lab once again competed at the departmental Halloween party this year. Although it was a smaller affair (as a few research groups have moved in the past year), it was a fun event. The lab dressed up as Harry Potter characters, beating out the reigning champions, the Office Staff, who dressed up as a "Food, Science, and Nutrition." 

Welcoming New Lab Members!

12/01/2016 - 12:50

As of September 2016, Lab 122 has new undergraduate research assistants! We welcome Griffin Buell, Elizabeth Drantch, Lucy Hansen, and Mallory Goggans! We are also joined by Jay Park and Misen Luu, who have accepted research assistanship positions. Please see our "Lab Members" page to learn more about our new members. 

A successful year for Chelsey Hinnenkamp, M.S.

11/17/2016 - 13:11

Along with a successful Master's defense in late August of this year, Chelsey was also awarded the CFANS Graduate Student Leadership Award, an award given to only one graduate annually. We also congratulate Chelsey on placing 1st place in the Proteins Division Graduate Poster Competition at the IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo 2016 in Chicago! As a lab group, we enjoy watching Chelsey be recognized and honored for her contributions to the Food Science community. 

Grants Accepted!

11/17/2016 - 13:01

Lab 122 has accepted two grants! A Forever Green grant that will continue the research on shelf-stability of intermediate wheat grass flour and a Midwest Dairy Association grant for new reseach on the use of whey protein concentrates and pro-cream for encapsulation with collaboration with the encapsulation center located here in the Food Science and Nutrition Department.