Position: Professor and Dean, Faculty of Agricultural & Food Sciences
University of Manitoba
Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences
Room 208 Dairy Science Building & 256 Agriculture Building
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2 Canada
Phone No.: (204) 474-6082
Operative Miller Certificate (with Distinction), City & Guilds (London), England
Ph.D. (Food Science), University of Leeds, England
B.Sc. Hons. (Food Science), University of Leeds, England
2014 University of Manitoba Graduate Students' Association (UMGSA) Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching
2013 University of Manitoba Students’ Teacher Recognition - selected by Faculty’s Gold Medalist, Ryan Murphy
2012 AACC International Rheology Division George W. Scott Blair Lecture Award
2010 ADVANCE Distinguished Lecturer, Kansas State University
1. Modelling Process & Ingredient Effects on Food Properties: The complex structure of biological materials poses substantial challenges to mechanistic modeling of the physical properties of these materials. I have attempted to resolve these challenges by examining the properties and dynamics of bulk food materials from a matrix and inclusions perspective. In particular, posing the question: how do food process operations create foods with desirable quality attributes as we manipulate the volume fraction and type of inclusions. With my students and postdocs, or with them and my collaborators, I have influenced thought in this area through a number of outcomes, but three are highlighted here.
1) We successfully used synchrotron x-ray tomography to rapidly and non-destructively quantify the distribution of bubble inclusions in unyeasted dough. This permitted the rapid dynamics of these fragile inclusions to be accurately quantified for the first time.
2) Micro- or macro-scopic “harder” inclusions also have interesting dynamics, influencing the properties of many processed foods. These dynamics change when polymers are in the continuous phase that contains these inclusions, and these polymers can originate from addition as ingredients or from process effects. When we enriched dairy products with a dietary fibre ingredient we showed that a theory on entropically-driven phase separation in colloidal systems quantitatively mapped the phase diagram for the system, permitting manufacturers of fibre-enriched dairy products to ascertain how much fibre a given dairy system can tolerate based on the results of a protein assay. An extension of this research is a new collaboration with Dr Norisuye of the Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT) where I am investigating whether his Dynamic Sound Scattering technique can capture the early-time dynamics in sub-micron colloidal suspensions with the goal of predicting the long-term stability of milk protein concentrates. Thermal process origination of polymers in the continuous phase was studied in Ms Sinaki’s thesis, and we showed how polymers liberated by processing transformed shear-thickening particulate suspensions into shear-thinning suspensions. Insights from this research are driving innovation in the processing of prairie agricultural commodities: I have worked with a start-up company that has a sophisticated sterilization system to process vegetable products where knowledge of particle-matrix interactions are critical to both process performance and to product quality.
3) Research leadership on quantifying the thermodynamic properties of food proteins led to a collaboration with cereal science’s pre-eminent scientist, Dr Delcour, of KU Leuven, Belgium. We showed that egg-white’s main protein, ovalbumin, undergoes two compressibility transitions during heating, associated with restructuring of water on the protein surface as fibrils form. The influence of this research is yet to be felt, but given the role of fibril formation in a number of debilitating diseases, insights from compressibility measurements on water structuring around proteins may have far-reaching impact.
Our programs in this area has led to invitations to participate in international panels of experts reviewing various program.s Examples include: IRNA's CEPIA division in France (site visits in 2010 and 2013) and reviewing Belgium’s top-level research programs (Methusalem Fellows) in 2014. The industrial relevance of the science is also viewed as an asset to innovation in food processing, with invitations to present to a large food processing company in 2014 and at an industry symposium in Boston. I am also a partner in a company developing an on-line quality assessment tool, developed from an idea for on-line manufacturing (Scanlon et al 1997, p. 88 in: Proceedings from the Sensors for Nondestructive Testing Conference) which was subsequently transformed into a patent by my business partners.
2. The Properties of Aerated Food Materials: My modeling of cereal products such as bread and cakes as cellular solids led to expertise in aerated food materials. Imaging methods and structure-property relations that my students and postdoc and I developed for quantifying the structure of cellular solids and relating it to their mechanical properties (e.g., Liu et al, Acta Materialia 51:365) continue to be well cited by both materials and food scientists. Establishing unifying concepts for investigating the science and technology of bubbles has been another area of influence: I co-organized an international conference in England and co-edited the resulting book, Bubbles in Food 2: Novelty, Health and Luxury. With Dr Campbell (University of Huddersfield, GB), I am planning the next Bubbles in Food conference to be held in 2020 at Campden BRI, the world’s largest food research association. We intend to highlight advances in population balance modeling of bubbles enabled by high-quality data from techniques such as tomography, and its implications for controlling food quality. I have had numerous invitations to communicate the interesting science of bubbles in food materials, two of note being:
1) sharing expertise in the processing and properties of aerated foods, the latest an invitation to write a chapter on Air/Foams for an encyclopedia;
2) being a keynote speaker on aerated food properties and their processing for academic and industrial audiences. Tied to the need to understand structure-properties relations in these foods, and particularly how the thermodynamic properties of polymers govern structure formation in processed foods, I have been building up expertise in the molecular structural basis for the foam functionality of proteins.
3. Ultrasonic Analyses of Food Properties: As a result of an undergraduate research project (Povey & Scanlon, 1983, J. Colloid & Interfacial Science 93:565), I became interested in ultrasound as a materials characterization tool. I have a long-standing interdisciplinary collaboration with Dr Page (Dept Physics) where we apply his ultrasonic techniques to better understand food properties. I proposed that air-coupled transducers would allow hygienic non-contact process control, and selected the processing of Asian noodles to trial this technique based on insights on the properties of noodles (dryer and fewer bubbles) generated by a former PhD student (Edwards et al, Cereal Chem 73:708). My collaboration has therefore expanded beyond Dr Page to include Dr Hatcher of the Canadian Grain Commission because of his expertise in Asian products. As a result of the pioneering work we are doing in ultrasonic assessment of dough properties, members of the research team have been invited as keynote speakers at international conferences and industry research labs. Our invited review on the science of this technique makes it clear that a better understanding of the role of gas bubbles in cereals processing has been generated from ultrasonic studies of wheat flour doughs, and much of that understanding has been generated from my collaboration with Dr Page. Recently, I have initiated a new collaboration with Dr Norisuye of KIT to ultrasonically examine bubble-free systems, where his high-frequency technique allows structure investigations at much smaller length scales.
4. The Science of Grains and Grain-Legumes: My PhD was on particle fracture mechanisms in milling processes. Therefore, I have had long-standing interactions with a broad community of researchers investigating wheat, milling, baking and cereal products. The impact of some of the publications relevant to this area of expertise has been described in other subsections, but other contributions have had significant, albeit less direct, impact. For example, the most sought-after pilot-scale equipment in the University’s Functional Foods Centre is the suite of size reduction machines that I recommended for purchase in 2003. More tangible evidence of influence in this area include: presenting to Kellogg’s international innovation team; co-organizing and chairing an industrial workshop in 2017 in Minneapolis for Pulse Canada and the American Dry Beans Association where we articulated research needs for the milling industry to foster greater utilization of pulse ingredients; being awarded the George W. Scott Blair Award for “exceptional ability in research on rheology and texture” (first Canadian recipient); and being elected to the Board of Directors for AACC International, the planet’s pre-eminent science organization for cereals and grains.