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Food Scientists Receive Graduate Fellowships

Two graduate students from the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology have received 2012 Graduate Fellowship Awards from the Robert Mondavi Industry Partnership Program.
January 23rd, 2013

Two graduate students from the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology have received 2012 Graduate Fellowship Awards from the Robert Mondavi Industry Partnership Program to support their important work with citrus disease and food safety.

The $40,000 awards to Elizabeth Chin and Erica Vonasek were made possible by two premier members of the Industry Partnership Program, founding member Roll Global and Del Monte Foods.

“The Industry Partnership Program was launched in the spring of 2012 to forge a stronger alliance between select companies in the food and beverage industries and faculty and students at the Robert Mondavi Institute,” said Clare Hasler-Lewis, executive director.  “We are thrilled to be able to support such outstanding graduate students in this way.”

From left: Michael McCarthy, Carolyn Slupsky, Ali Rejaei from POM Wonderful, Elizabeth Chin, and Ari Mackler from POM Wonderful

Honored by Roll Global, Chin is a first-year Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Assistant Professor Carolyn Slupsky. Chin’s research focuses on Citrus Greening Disease, considered the most serious citrus disease worldwide. Chin received a double diploma in Food Science & Technology and Biological Sciences and a minor in Chemistry from Virginia Tech in 2012. Roll Global is the founding member of the Industry Partnership Program.

“We at Roll Global are honored to partner with UC Davis’ Robert Mondavi Institute, an academic institution which shares our concern with and commitment to a robust agricultural marketplace that provides healthy, nutritious, and delicious food,” said Ari Mackler, vice president of clinical development at POM Wonderful, a subsidiary of Roll Global. “Elizabeth Chin is embarking upon an important project with her advisor Dr. Carolyn Slupsky on Citrus Greening Disease.  We anticipate that the challenges of this project will provide a meaningful opportunity for Elizabeth to hone her skills as a young investigator while making an important contribution to agricultural and food sciences.”

From left: Michael McCarthy, Steven Bautista from Del Monte, Nitin Nitin, Erica Vonasek, Amy Schauwecker from Del Monte and Michael Cabot from Del Monte

Honored by Del Monte, Vonasek is a Ph.D. candidate in the laboratory of Assistant Professor Nitin Nitin. Vonesek’s research is aimed at developing unique material formulations that can improve partitioning of antimicrobial agents in biofilms, facilitate degradation of the extracellular matrix of the biofilm, and target specific microbes using bacteriophages.  Vonasek received her B.S. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering from UC Davis in 2009.

Vonasek and Chin received their awards during a ceremony on January 9 in the Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theater at UC Davis.

“It was a very rewarding night to present Professor Nitin’s talented student Erica Vonasek with our Research Fellowship Award,” said Amy Schauwecker, senior R&D projects manager for Del Monte “We have confidence that she will advance technology with her research efforts.”

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with industry-leading companies Roll Global and Del Monte,” said Michael McCarthy, chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology.  “Our students and faculty are dedicated to working with industry to solve critical issues.”

For more information about the Robert Mondavi Institute Industry Partnership Program, please contact Andrea Thompson, Industry Relations Manager, at or (530)-752-1049.



Winter 2014 E-News #037

Published March, 2014

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