Curtis Weller has been named head of the Department of Food Science and Technology and director of the Food Processing Center at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Weller has held both roles on an interim basis since August 2016, when Rolando Flores left to become dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University.
"Dr. Flores put the department and the Food Processing Center on the right trajectory, and the move to Nebraska Innovation Campus provided the infrastructure that they needed to extend their reach," said Ron Yoder, associate vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. "We anticipate that Dr. Weller, with his extensive experience in food science and engineering in the industry, will be able to take advantage of the foundation of excellent faculty and staff and excellent facilities that exists to continue to serve the needs of the industry, the state of Nebraska and beyond."
In July 2015, the department and the Food Processing Center moved operations to the Food Innovation Center at Nebraska Innovation Campus. The 178,000-square-foot complex provides world-class facilities for the department and private partners. It includes a state-of-the-art distance education classroom, wet/dry lab research space, food grade/non-food grade pilot plant space and office space.
"Food security is a critical issue around the world, and I believe we can play a key role in providing a safe and secure food system," Weller said.
Weller, a professor of food science and biological systems engineering, also was director of the Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership from January 2014 to March 31, 2017. He has been at the university for 25 years. He received bachelor and master's degrees in food science and a doctoral degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Illinois.
The Department of Food Science and Technology provides undergraduate and graduate education and training to students preparing for careers in food science and technology in the food industry, academia or government. The department also conducts basic and applied research for the benefit of the industry and consumers, and provides assistance to the food industry through Nebraska Extension.
The Food Processing Center is a multi-disciplinary resource for the food industry, providing a combination of consulting, technical and business development services. The center is a major food processing and applied research hub that integrates applied research with state-of-the-art pilot plants, laboratory services, product developers and a team that supports food entrepreneurship.