MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. — The Grain Science and Industry Department at Kansas State University (KSU) recognized outstanding alumni and presented service awards at a ceremony on April 24. 

Recognized for their outstanding service to the Grain Science and Industry Department were brothers Ross Holton, president, and John Holton, executive vice-president of Holton Food Products, a manufacturer of stabilizers and dry ingredients for commercial bakeries. Ross Holton is a 1974 graduate of the Bakery Science Program at KSU. The Holton Food Products company is a corporate sponsor of the program and provides it with complementary ingredients.  

The department also recognized Ron Madl, who most recently served KSU as director of the Bio-Processsing and Industrial Value Added Program (BIVAP). Madl served as director of the Wheat Research Center at KSU beginning in 1997, where he helped introduce hard white wheat to the Central Plains. Under his guidance, several graduate students earned their degrees in both the renewable energy and “bioactives” research fields.

The O.H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center planning team, including Keith Behnke, Fred Fairchild, Huseyin Dogan, Lakshmikantha Channaiah, Terry Gugle, Adam Fahrenholz, Anita McDiffett and Kim Schirer were recognized for their service and collaborative and individual efforts in planning and development of the new facility. This facility will be used for teaching the sciences of feed processing, pet food development and grain handling and serve the needs of students, faculty and industry stakeholders far into the future.

Four outstanding alumni of the Grain Science and Industry Department were recognized for their professional achievements: Hamed Faridi, Justin Gilpin, Fengcheng Wang, and Evangelina Villegas. 

Hamed Faridi earned a master’s and doctorate in grain science and is a renowned food scientist. He leads a global team of scientists and flavorists for McCormick, and developed the McCormick Science Institute in 2006 to advance knowledge of the health benefits of culinary spices and herbs. He is the voice of science for McCormick’s internal and external audiences, as well as a champion for McCormick’s commitment to health and wellness. 

Justin Gilpin, who leads the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, graduated with a degree in milling science and management in 1998. He is responsible for the recently completed Kansas Wheat Innovation Center located in the K-State Grain Science north complex. He has been involved in a number of U.S. Wheat Associates committees, is past-chair of the Kansas City Board of Trade Cash Basis committee and is an adjunct faculty in K-State’s grain science department. He currently serves as chairman of Heartland Plant Innovations and is on the Wheat Quality Council board of directors. 

Fengcheng Wang, professor of cereal science and technology, and former dean, at Henan University of Technology (HAUT), serves as director of the Research Center for Cereal, Oil, and Food of the State Grain Administration of China, and director of the National Engineering Technology Research Center for Cereal Processing and Equipment, China. He received his doctorate in grain science in 2001. Wang has been actively involved in many national and international research and industrial development projects on the engineering and technological aspects of cereal processing, and has received several awards for his contributions to the Chinese cereal milling and baking industry. He was instrumental in establishing the 2 + 2 program between HAUT and the KSU Bakery Science program, which currently has six Chinese students studying at KSU.

Evangelina Villegas earned her master’s degree in cereal technology in 1963 from the KSU Department of Grain Science and Industry (then known as the Department of Flour and Feed Milling Industries). She began her career in the 1950s, working with Dr. Norman Borlaug, evaluating his wheat varieties for milling and baking quality. In 1967, she joined the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center CIMMYT, where she worked until 1989 and conducted her most significant research. Villegas was responsible for the evaluation, development, and adaptation of a chemical methodology to screen large numbers of small samples for industrial wheat quality and for maize nutritional and protein quality. 

Villegas also served as a maize and wheat quality consultant for national research programs throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia, mentoring and training young scientists across the developing world. In 2000, the World Food Prize jointly honored her and her colleague, Surinder Vasal, for their combined efforts and achievements in breeding and advancing Quality Protein Maize to improve productivity and nutrition in malnourished and poverty-stricken areas worldwide. She was the first woman (and only KSU graduate) to receive the World Food Prize, which was established by Borlaug, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.