Protein Basics Short Course 2023


Protein Basics Short Course 2023

The Plant Protein Innovation Center (PPIC) hosted its third and most sought-after Protein Basics Short Course on March 27-28, 2023, at the University of Minnesota. This year, PPIC welcomed 50 participants from over 35 companies and organizations, reaching the cap for the third time.

This year’s Protein Basics Short Course included a diverse set of lectures covering an overview of food proteins, strategies, and technical challenges when processing and formulating using plant protein ingredients. The presenters were experts from the University of Minnesota and the Food Industry. The course kicked off with an overview of food proteins and trends in the U.S. market presented by PPIC’s Director Prof. B. Pam Ismail. Lectures proceeded to cover protein basic structure and functionality as impacted by extraction and processing, consumer acceptability and trends, challenges with formulations, extrusion of plant proteins, as well as protein-flavor interactions.

The short course also provided a unique opportunity for attendees to participate in lab, food preparation, extrusion, and pilot plant demonstrations. Participants were led through best practices in structural characterization, functionality testing, and protein isolation. “The demonstrations are very valuable not only as a learning opportunity for participants but also as a way for us to demonstrate how PPIC dedicates its resources to further innovation in plant proteins,” states Prof. Ismail.  In addition, the demonstrations on plant protein-based cheeses and tasting of commercial plant-based products led by Dr. Dilek Uzunalioglu, of Motif Foodworks, gave the participants an opportunity to have an in-depth discussion of the sensory characteristics as they relate to the unique functional properties of plant proteins.

taste testing


Lab demo with Samira


UMN Pilot Plant


Prof Ubbink presenting


Dilek taste testing



B. Pam Ismail, Founder & Director of PPIC, Professor, University of Minnesota

Pam Ismail

Dr. Pam Ismail is the Founder and Director of the Plant Protein Innovation Center and is a Professor at the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota. Dr. Ismail has over 25 years of experience in Food Chemistry research focused on analytical chemistry, protein chemistry, and chemistry and fate of bioactive food constituents. Her research focuses on structural characterization and enhancement of functionality, safety, bioavailability, and bioactivity of food proteins, following novel processing and analytical approaches. She is the recipient of a “Distinguished Teaching Award” and an “Outstanding Professor Award”. 

Topic 1 - Overview of Food Proteins and Trends
Topic 2 - Protein Chemistry and Functionality: Relating Structure to Function 
Topic 5 - Protein Modification to Enhance Functionality

Don Moss, Principal Development Scientist, Conagra Brands

Don Moss

Don Moss is currently a Principal Development Scientist at Conagra Brands within the Science and Technology Department in the Plant Protein Center of Excellence.  Don received his B.S. degrees in Animal Science and Culinology and M.S. in Meat Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Prior to his experience at Conagra, Don held a variety of positions in R&D at Cargill.  He has 17 years of product development experience in a variety of food systems focused on protein.

Topic 3 - Formulating with Proteins: Technical Challenges & Consumer Acceptance

Dilek Uzunalioglu, Senior Director, Food Discovery & Design, Motif FoodWorks Inc.


Dilek Uzunalioglu is R&D leader with experience in managing R&D programs, projects, and technical teams to develop and commercialize innovative food ingredients and products. Dilek is currently Senior Director of Food Discovery & Design at Motif FoodWorks Inc., leading food science and application research, and development for Motif’s ingredient portfolio and plant-based foods. Prior joining Motif, Dilek led Ingredion Global Bakery & Snack Application team as well as Global Plant Protein application team, with responsibilities to develop application capabilities and new ingredients such as starches, gluten-free flour systems, fibers, pulse flours and proteins. Dilek also has been an active member of Cereals and Grains Association and IFT with various roles. Currently, she is serving as IFT Protein Division Chair. Dilek holds a Ph.D. in Food Science from Rutgers University, and a Bachelor and a Master of Science degrees in Food Engineering from the Middle East Technical University. She published several journal articles, conference papers and two book chapters.

Topic 4 - Holistic Formulation Approaches and Strategies to Develop Plant-Based Foods
Demonstration - Product Formulation
Application -  Product Tasting

Job Ubbink, Professor and Head of Department, University of Minnesota

Job Ubbink

Dr. Job Ubbink is Professor and Head of the Food Science and Nutrition Department at the University of Minnesota. He was trained as a physical and polymer chemist at the University of Leiden (The Netherlands) and he obtained his PhD in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands). He has worked for over 15 years in R&D positions in the food industry, including 11 years at the Nestlé Research Center (Lausanne, Switzerland). Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, Dr. Ubbink was associated with the California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo), the University of Bristol (UK) and the ETH Zurich (Switzerland). He was visiting scientist at Moscow State University (Russia) and he has taught as visiting professor at the School of Food Engineering, University of Campinas (Brazil). He has used extrusion for a variety of food systems, including cereals and snacks, petfood, instant beverages, meat- and pasta analogues, and controlled release systems for flavors and bioactives. His further research interests include the glassy state in foods, rheology of highly concentrated systems, delivery of active ingredients and the science of cooking. 

Topic 6 - Principles and practice of plant protein extrusion

Gary Reineccius, Professor Emeritus and Past Head, University of Minnesota


Dr. Gary Reineccius has been actively involved in flavor research for more than 50 years. During this time he has published over 250 research articles. His research focuses on two areas: flavor related challenges and ingredient encapsulation. Flavor work has been quite broad covering methods for flavor analysis, off flavor identification and remediation, flavor release in the mouth when eating and its encapsulation (protection and controlled release).

Currently his group is conducting three research projects focused on plant proteins. One project is focused on reducing the inherent flavor of protein isolates (reduce objectionable flavors).  A second project is focused on the improving the stability of flavorings when added to foods containing plant protein isolates. We have provided data to show that added flavorings may contain components that are readily lost to covalent bonding with proteins. These losses will reduce product shelf-life.  A third project is focused on finding ways to reduce flavor: protein reactions. At this time, the effort is to evaluate the potential of moderate glycation to block reactive sites in proteins.  

Topic 7 - Proteins and Flavor

Belal J. Muhialdin, Research Manager, University of Minnesota

Belal Hasan

Dr. Belal Hasan is a Research Manager at Ubbink research group at The Department of Food Science and Nutrition, UMN, with a background in Food Biotechnology. He has 11 years of experience that was gained after working at the Department of Food Science, Faculty of Food Science & Technology, Universiti Putra Malaysia as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Senior Lecturer. Dr. Belal received his BSc in Food Science and Technology (2007), MSc in Biotechnology (2011) and PhD in Food Biotechnology (2014). His research is focused on technological functionality and biological activities of food proteins.

Demonstration - Extrusion of plant protein ingredients


Mitchell Maher, Researcher, Pilot Plant, University of Minnesota

Mitch Maher

Mitchell Maher grew up on a farm in western Minnesota. He came to the University of Minnesota in 2005 to pursue a degree in Nutrition Science; he transferred into Food Science after a short time. He worked in the Joseph J. Warthesen Food Processing Center (also known as the pilot plant) as an undergraduate. After graduation, he worked for a short while for French Meadow Bakery Division of Rich Product. Shortly after that, he came back to work at the pilot plant. He has been with the pilot plant at the University of Minnesota for almost 12 years doing research and production, including extrusion and everything from dairy production to flavors. Mitchell’s hobbies include brewing beer and smoking meat.

Demonstration - Protein Isolation Illustration in the Pilot Plant