COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State University scientist V.M. Balasubramaniam yesterday (4/28) received the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC) 2011 Distinguished Junior Faculty Research Award. The award honors outstanding achievements by an OARDC faculty member at the rank of assistant or associate professor.
Balasubramaniam is nationally and internationally recognized for his pioneering work on alternative food preservation methods -- methods that ensure both the safety and quality of the food. He is an associate professor in both the departments of Food Science and Technology and Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
“Balasubramaniam’s industrially relevant research has greatly contributed to the development of techniques such as high-pressure processing, pressure-assisted thermal processing and pulsed electric field, which are revolutionizing the way foods are treated and preserved,” OARDC Director Steve Slack said.
“He has undertaken basic research on the effect of pressure on key food constituents such as proteins, carbohydrates and lipids, allowing food processors to estimate the effect of physical compression on the uniformity of food processing,” Slack said.
Among his efforts, Balasubramaniam worked with industry and government colleagues to determine the quality benefits of treating fruits and vegetables with pressure instead of with heat and was one of the first researchers to investigate the effects of high pressure on the inactivation of harmful pathogens and spoilage microbes in foods.
Research in his lab helped federal regulators approve the first pressure-assisted thermal processing (PATP) petition by a consortium of food companies.
He is the primary inventor of a patent-pending process for pressure-ohmic thermal sterilization.
“He has brought enviable honors and reputation to OARDC and Ohio State through his in-depth, innovative and focused research on high-pressure processing of food,” one of his nominators wrote.
Balasubramaniam joined OARDC in 2002 and since then has received nearly $4 million in extramural grants as principal or co-principal investigator. He is the author of one book, 10 book chapters, 56 peer-reviewed journal articles and 150 presentations. One of his articles, published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, ranked among the journal’s 10 most-cited papers from 2008-2011.
He is a founding member and current chair of the Institute of Food Technologists’ Nonthermal Processing Division and is chair-elect of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Committee on Improvement of Thermal and Alternative Food Processing Methods.
He was named an honorary professor by the School of Food and Biological Engineering at Jiangsu University, China, in 2009 and has received the 2008 Research Award of Merit from the Ohio State chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta and the 2006 Hormel Spirit of Innovation Award.
The Junior Faculty Research Award carries with a plaque, $1,000 to Balasubramaniam and $3,000 to the operating accoubnt of his research program. The award was presented in a ceremony during OARDC’s 2011 Annual Research Conference in Columbus.
OARDC scientists Charles Goebel (chair), Katrina Cornish, Kristy Daniels, Terry Graham, Ron Hammond and Linda Saif formed the selection committee.
Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro delivered the keynote address at the conference, which took place at Ohio State’s LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center.
OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and is the largest university agricultural bioscience research center in the United States.