College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

CEPHT Faculty

Leonard Williams, Ph.D.,

director and professor at the Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies, specializes in microbiology. He examines the incidence of foodborne pathogens in fruits and vegetables, including salad crops, using molecular, immunological and epidemiological approaches, with the goal of identifying new strains and their ability to develop resistance to both natural and synthetically derived agents.  Williams has extensive experience in food safety research using small rodents and microbiological pathogens that require high bio-containment. His experience also includes work in developing value-added product development to reduce hypersensitivity to peanut allergens using polyphenols and bioactive compounds.

Williams’s research focuses on understanding how phytochemicals and select bioactive compounds can serve as alternatives to commonly used antimicrobials in treating various diseases and infections.  His research team investigates the scope of bioactive compounds in regulating various degenerative diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and chronic illnesses, that may result from the consumption of contaminated food products. His additional research interests include investigating the potential of using dietary bioactive compounds in therapeutics and control of foodborne pathogens isolated from foodstuffs.

He uses integrated investigative strategies involving nutrigenomics, metabolomics, metagenomics, and proteomics to assess the health-promoting and disease-fighting properties of nutrients in tissue culture cell-based, and animal, models. His overall aim is to design and enhance all natural therapeutic agents with key nutrients that can play a pivotal role in improving the quality of human health and wellness.

As a principal or co-investigator on several university, industry and federal grants, he has successfully collaborated with other researchers and produced several peer-reviewed publications from each project.

Williams received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biological Sciences and Animal Science, respectively from N.C. A&T; his Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology, specializing in microbiology and immunochemistry, from Alabama A&M University; and his Masters of Business Administration from Wake Forest University School of Business.

Rishipal Bansode, Ph.D.,

is a research scientist at the Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies. His research focus is on understanding how nutrients regulate lipid and glucose homeostasis. He uses integrated investigative strategies involving nutrigenomics, metabolomics, and proteomics to assess the health-promoting properties of nutrients in cell-based and animal models. He has previously investigated the health-promoting effects, and lipid lowering effects, of polyphenols present in peanut skin extract. The results from this study showed that peanut skin-derived polyphenols impart resistance to high-fat diet-induced hyperlipidemia in rats. These publications document that peanut skin polyphenols, especially proanthocyanidin A2, may impart hypolipidemic properties. This body of work has significant therapeutic potential of using peanut skin as a value-added ingredient in peanut-based products, as well as in other food products, as a rich source of bioactive phenolic compounds. He also investigated the role of PKCβ in triglyceride homeostasis by studying the consequences of a targeted disruption of this kinase, which led to the discovery of how kinase promoted fat burning in adipocytes. His research confirmed that adipose PKCβ is controlled specifically by factors responding to the consumption of dietary fat and the expression of PKCβ is linked to the development of obesity. 

Bansode received his doctoral degree in Food Science at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge in December 2005. He joined the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry at Ohio State University, Columbus as a post-doctoral researcher in 2006. He joined North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2010.

Guibing Chen, Ph.D.,

associate professor and lead scientist for food process engineering, is currently researching functional food processing, microbial kinetics in foods, and ultrasonic pasteurization of liquid foods. Specifically, he is using microfluidization technology to improve cereal bran's nutritional values and the sensory attributes of high-fiber baked goods. He also works on delivery systems to enhance the bioavailability, stability, and taste of bioactive food ingredients. In the area of microbial modeling, he is developing mathematical algorithms and software to accurately estimate parameters in predictive microbiology models. He is also developing a novel, continuous-flow, thermo-ultrasonic reactor for the quick pasteurization of juices and milk.

Prior to joining N.C. A&T’s Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies, he was a thermal process engineer at ConAgra Foods, working on retort sterilization of canned foods. His previous research involved various aspects of food processing, including thermal processing of canned foods, food extrusion, microbial inactivation dynamics, rheological properties of starch, and corn drying.

Chen was the first researcher to develop a control strategy for automatically correcting process temperature deviations in continuous retort sterilization process. This work was awarded first place in 2006 Charles R. Stumbo Student Paper Competition, organized by the Institute for Thermal Processing Specialists. His research has been published in prestigious food journals, including Journal of Food Engineering, Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, Food Chemistry, Food Research International, and LWT - Food Science and Technology.

Chen earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, specializing in Food Process Engineering, from Purdue University. He also received M.S. and B.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Dalian University of Technology, China. Following his Ph.D. studies, he conducted postdoctoral research at the same university.

Shengmin Sang, Ph.D.,

associate professor specializing in functional foods, researches dietary exposure markers using metabolomic approaches with the goal of identifying novel bioactive natural products that can be used in functional foods and dietary supplements to prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Present areas of research focus on how post-harvest technologies affect the chemical profile, bioavailability and efficacy of the bioactive components in functional foods.

Specific projects in his lab involve:

  • purifying and identifying bioactive components from herbal medicines and functional foods;
  • standardization and quality control of herbal medicine and functional foods;
  • studying the bioavailability and biotransformation of bioactive food components in animals and humans;
  • studying the preventive effects of dietary polyphenols, such as tea catechins and apple polyphenols on the development of diabetic complications focusing on the trapping of reactive dicarbonyl compounds and the formation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) using in vitro and animal models;
  • developing new chemopreventive agents from dietary sources, such as gingerols and shogaols from ginger, pterostilbene from blueberry, theaflavins from black tea, and wheat bran oil from wheat bran using in vitro and animal models; and
  • using a metabolomic approach to study dietary exposure markers.

Sang has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles in reputable journals and 15 book chapters.

He was co-organizer of the symposium “Challenges in Chemistry and Biology of Herbs” at the American Chemical Society’s National Meeting in 2004, and co-edited a book titled “Herbs: Challenges in Chemistry and Biology” sponsored by ACS. He organized the symposium “Reactive Carbonyl Species: Chemistry and Health Effects” for the ACS National Meeting in 2010.

He has received two U.S. patents titled “Benzotropolone derivatives and modulation of inflammatory response” (United States Patent Number: 7,087,790 B2. Aug. 8, 2006 and 7,288,680. Oct. 30, 2007). His research has been supported by research from the NIH Botanical Center, NCI/NIH, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Apple Association (USApple) and the Apple Products Research Education Council (APREC), as well as by a private company.

His outstanding research in the area of food and health was recognized with his winning in 2007 the Young Scientist Award of the Agricultural and Food Chemistry Division from the American Chemical Society; and in 2009, the Matthew Suffness Young Investigator Award, which is currently the highest honor for an investigator in the first 10 years of his independent research career in the American Society of Pharmacognosy.

Sang obtained his Ph.D. as a natural product chemist from Shanghai Institute of Material Medicine, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1999. From 1999-2003, he served as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Food Science at Rutgers University, and from 2003-08 as an assistant research professor in the Department of Chemical Biology, School of Pharmacy. From 2008-10, he was assistant professor in the Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute at North Carolina Central University. He continues to serve as adjunct faculty in the Department of Chemical Biology, School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University and in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutritional Sciences at North Carolina State University.

Janak Khatiwada, Ph.D.

Janak Khatiwada, Ph.D., Research Scientist at the Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies, specializes in Nutritional Biochemistry. Khatiwada is a nutritional biochemist works on extraction of plant biomolecules, incorporation in to different carrier and conduct research in vivo and in vitro environment. His research center on how cells respond to various dietary components, how such responses are regulated and how they are altered in chronic diseases expression. Development of new chemo preventive agents from dietary sources using in cell culture and animal model. His new approach to develop various dietary components as a chemo preventive agent to slow or prevent the process of colon tumorigenesis and discover the new biomarkers by using the molecular techniques. Khatiwada have extensive training in the area of food safety and microbiology and his recent research focus on utilizing the natural phytochemicals against the emerging viral diseases by adopting the genomic techniques. He is also responsible for managing CDC certification and daily operations of BSL3 lab.

Khatiwada obtained his Ph.D. in food science and technology from Alabama A&M University in 2006. He also received Bachelor of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry from Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Nepal. Before he joined the Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies, he was working as a Research Associate in the Department of Food and Animal Sciences at Alabama A&M University.