This month we recognize our current Visiting Scholar Shikhadri Mahanta, and the important role the visiting scholar program plays at Wheat Marketing Center. This program invites wheat-focused science professionals to spend up to 12 months to gain technical training and develop increased understanding and innovation to increase utilization of U.S. wheat. Each scholar engages in at least one independent research project developed jointly with our technical director Dr. Jayne Bock and the scholar’s educational Institution or company.

Shikhadri comes to us from Texas A&M school of biological and agricultural engineering where she has been working with a novel green technology called Atmospheric Cold Plasma (ACP). ACP has been studied for use in sterilizing E. Coli, Salmonella and other microorganisms as well as to reduce the use of fumigation for getting rid of weevils and other pests in grain. Observing that ACP has an oxidation effect in wheat, Shikhadri is looking at the effects of ACP on soft and hard wheat flour, and baked goods produced from that flour. If true, ACP could prove to be an effective clean label replacement for existing chemical treatments for improving protein strength and baking function.

The Visiting Scholar program is one way that WMC continues to advance the understanding of the comparative advantages of using U.S. wheat in a variety of products. It is also an important way for us to continue to grow our network of food technologists and collaborate with scientists from around the world.