Adjunct professor Jenny Nelson and Professor Alyson Mitchell in the UC Davis Food Safety and Measurement Facility examine samples of almond volatiles. (Tony Novelozo | AXIOM)
Technology has always been central to advances in food, agriculture, and the environment. Our faculty and industry partners continue to find creative ways to develop, adopt, and adapt new technology to meet the challenges of the day.
One example of this is the partnership between CA&ES faculty and Agilent Technologies, a global leader in measurement technology, chemical analysis, and other laboratory instrumentation.
In 2010, Agilent provided new highly sensitive measurement equipment to the college. With this equipment and additional contributions from Gerstel Inc. and Constellation Brands, professors Susan Ebeler and Alyson Mitchell established the Food Safety and Measurement Facility, where they have expanded the boundaries of food and beverage testing. One area of focus has been on food authentication issues, using analytical tools to verify that what’s on the food label is truly what’s in the bottle or package. They also use the suite of instruments to measure contaminants, flavor compounds, region of origin, and other aspects of food composition and quality.“This equipment from Agilent was a game changer,” said Mitchell, a professor of food science and technology. “It changed what we could do and what we could emphasize in our research. In partnership with Agilent, we can train students using advanced technologies and create new methodologies.”
Agilent researcher Jenny Nelson, an adjunct professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, serves as a liaison between her company and UC Davis. In addition, Agilent employees who have expertise on the equipment lent to the Food Safety and Measurement Facility visit for several weeks each year to consult with CA&ES faculty and students.
“In this partnership with Agilent, we’re both vested,” said Ebeler. “They have people here to make sure the equipment is working and that we can do what we want to do with it. For our part, I think we’ve shown Agilent new applications for their equipment in the food and beverage field.”