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Remarks from Executive Director of MDFRC, Dr. Jayendra Amamcharla

April 1, 2024


3 minute read

The year 2023 was unique and fruitful for the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center (MDFRC). The new Strategic Plan was a rewarding process and has been completed. I can confidently say that it is being introduced and accepted by all the center’s stakeholders. Under this new strategic plan, the MDFRC’s vision is to “develop dairy scientists and innovate dairy technologies, ingredients, and products through industry-driven collaborative research to drive regional and global opportunities for Midwest Dairy farmers.” This statement is important to me, and I know this is only possible through collaborative efforts by principal investigators in six member universities, graduate students, industry partners, Midwest Dairy, and Dairy Management Inc.  

In 2023, I joined the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota and ultimately took on the responsibility of director of MDFRC. I am passionate about all dairy research, specifically my own in dairy fractionation and separation science. I was also pleased this year to welcome two new faculty members, Drs. Prafulla Salunke and Maneesha Mohan are based at South Dakota State University (SDSU) and have quickly established their research labs at SDSU and industry connections. 

Dr. Jay Amamcharla

 I want to call out a huge accomplishment in 2023. Dr. Prafulla Salunke organized a short course on membrane filtration for the dairy industry, attended by 41 eager industry professionals. Because of this success, he is gearing up to continue the short course in 2024 and beyond. Also, he organized a food safety workshop for an 11-member dairy farmer group. The pilot plant facilities (Institute for Dairy Ingredient Processing, Davis Dairy Plant at SDSU, and The Joseph J. Warthesen Food Processing Center at the University of Minnesota) continue to work with several dairy companies in the region and help the industry with their research and development activities.  

Notably, Dr. Stephanie Clark retired from Iowa State University in 2023. Her passion for the dairy industry and commitment to mentoring the next generation of dairy professionals have impacted many significantly. As I look into 2024, filling her position with a new dairy faculty will be crucial for maintaining the momentum in dairy education and research at Iowa State University. I am pleased to announce that the position is expected to be filled by this fall.  

The spring research planning meeting, hosted at SDSU in 2023, was attended by more than 60 professionals representing the dairy industry and the member universities. At the meeting, we shared research needs and interacted with the faculty to get to know each other better. I am happy to report that we received 16 pre-proposals during this meeting, and 14 proposals were invited to be presented at the annual meeting in Minnesota. After the annual meeting, the Operational Advisory Committee (OAC) approved five new projects, making it a total of 15 ongoing research projects funded by Midwest Dairy.  

The graduation of nine students from the MDFRC in 2023 is also worth mentioning, as their subsequent entry into the dairy and food industry is a significant achievement and aligns perfectly with the center’s mission. This is an example of the MDFRC’s role in advancing dairy science through innovative research and contributing to much-needed workforce development for the dairy industry.  

On behalf of the MDFRC, I sincerely thank the dairy farmers who make up the great Midwest dairy industry for their support and trust over the 2023 year.

Dr. Jayendra Amamcharla