In the news: UC World Food Challenge

Great news concerning the Donis-Gonzalez Lab at UC Davis! Entering in a University of California wide (all 10 campuses) competition, our lab was given the chance to have our research on food safety evaluated by leading scientists from around the world (non-affiliated with the UC system). This was the result:



The top prize in the UC World Food Day Video Challenge went to a team of two UC Davis students working with their adviser to advance the science behind drying and storing food in developing countries.

The enormous potential for food safety — helping perhaps billions worldwide in the fight against chronic hunger — is what first drew the undergraduate students, Carlos Orozco-Gonzalez and Umayr Sufi, to the project.

“We are wasting a lot of food, regardless of where we are in the world,” said Irwin Donis-Gonzalez, the adviser and UC Davis Cooperative Extension specialist featured in the video. “With Carlos and Umayr, we are combining biological and engineering sensing concepts that can be applied to solving world issues.”

Donis-Gonzalez called the two students “the perfect match” for the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. Orozco-Gonzalez brought his background in business technology to the team, while Sufi applied his studies in biochemical and molecular biology.

The team will take a trip to the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue, an international symposium for food and agriculture being held this week in Des Moines, Iowa. The UC Davis World Food Center, which held the Video Challenge, also will be leading a panel discussion on nutrition at the symposium.


Check out the winning video :


A second research video was also given an honorable mention :

Focusing on food insecurity within the U.S., Kat Vang offers a way to better connect low-income communities to healthy, locally sourced food through community-supported agriculture (CSA) and food assistance (EBT) programs.

“In shaping that narrative of what low-income looks like,” said Vang, a reentry student in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program, “this is an opportunity to dispel the belief that low-income people are not interested in their health or eating quality foods.”

For her research, Vang worked closely with a Hmong community in Minnesota—the largest in the country—and hopes to introduce this new approach to nutrition security to Sacramento’s low-income areas as well. Vang’s research goals have been shaped by her experience working and living for more than two years on an organic farm in Spain and then at two innovative food startups in San Francisco.

The video :


Going forward:

This amazing opportunity was only the beginning of great things to come out of this lab and UC Davis. Bringing together people of different backgrounds only leads to a more healthy understanding of the problem. The use of hygroscopic salts in this experiment to evaluate their effect on keeping produce fresh and safe is a perfect example of how inter-disciplinary skills work. In my understanding of the chemistry behind the salts and the effect on biological systems, I was able to work directly with Carlos and Dr. Irwin to develop a system of testing each salt effectively, and using sensing equipment and data analysis to capture those effects and quantify it into real explanations.

When combining skills from all over the world of academia, there is no problem that cannot be solved.

See us on various websites:

University of California

UC Davis World Food Center

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