Current Staff

Karthik Pandalaneni, Ph.D., Assistant Director, [email protected]

Karthik Pandalaneni

Dr. Karthik Pandalaneni joined PPIC in November 2020 as Manager of Operations and assumed the role of Assistant Director in June 2022. As the Assistant Director of PPIC, he oversees research projects, conducts member relationships, and coordinates PPIC events and communications. Additionally, Karthik seeks out research funds for the center from federal and state commodity groups, and develops research grant proposals. Prior to working for PPIC, he was a Global Application Scientist. He completed his Ph.D. in Food Science from Kansas State University (2018). During his Ph.D. he worked on improving dairy processing techniques in lactose crystallization and evaluating high protein dairy beverage stability by studying ingredient functionality in the application. He obtained his Master’s in Food Biotechnology from the University of Leeds, UK, in 2010 and his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Biotechnology from India, in 2009. He enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, and exploring all that Minnesota has to offer, especially in the summertime! 

Abbie Krentz, M.S., Research Project Manager, [email protected]

Abbie Krentz

Abbie Krentz joined PPIC in May 2022 as a Researcher IV and moved into the role of Research Project Manager February 2023. As PPIC's Research Project Manager, she oversees PPIC projects by drafting project budgets and timelines, coordinating research progress, and delivering project updates and final reports. She collaborates with PPIC members and supporters to meet their ongoing research needs and goals. She still leads various PPIC research projects as she continues to be passionate and curious for novel innovations. Previously, she completed her B.S. in Food Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in internship programs with Nestle Nutrition (Gerber), Dairiconcepts, and Lindt & Sprüngli. She completed her M.S. in Food Science and Technology at Ohio State University in 2021. Her research focused on the blending of milk caseins with pea protein and the upcycling of dairy industry by-products. Her most recent position was in product development and commercialization at Nature's Fynd, where she worked on novel fungi-based vegan products. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the twin cities, running in local races, and cheering on the Green Bay Packers. 

Adiella Abelseth, BGS-Education, Communications Generalist, [email protected]

Adiella Abelseth

Adiella joined the PPIC team in February 2021 in an administrative role. She graduated from Simon Fraser University (Canada) with a Bachelor of General Studies in Education in 2014. A Bachelor of General Studies allowed her to have a balanced education between the arts and sciences. For 6 years she taught in elementary schools in Brazil and England. During that time, she spent many hours editing a number of Food Science and Engineering research papers. After years of working with children, including one year of online schooling during covid, Adiella can appreciate the importance of projects being visually appealing and well organized. She brings an artistic side to updating and managing our PPIC website, as well as producing promotional material.


Samira Feyzi, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, [email protected]

Samira Feyzi

Dr. Samira Feyzi joined PPIC in Feb 2021 as a postdoctoral researcher. She is currently leading projects on protein structural and functional characterization as impacted by processing conditions as well as varietal differences. She completed her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Food Science and Technology at the Ferdowsi University in Iran. For her masters thesis, Samira researched the optimization of protein extraction from fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seed and investigated its functional, thermal and structural attributes. Samira completed her Ph.D. in Food Chemistry in January 2020 with a focus on the binding properties of whey proteins with safranal, assessed using various gas-chromatography, spectroscopic and molecular docking approaches. Samira completed part of her Ph.D. at University of Naples Federico II. She researched the effects of whey proteins and saliva on aroma release and perception, as well as the effect of WPI as fat replacer on aroma release and perception of saffron ice cream using various headspace gas-chromatography/mass spectrometry and gas-chromatography/olfactometry approaches. She has experience in teaching Food Chemistry and Food Engineering courses, and is interested in both teaching and research fields. Samira will be working with Prof. Pam Ismail’s lab and PPIC, collaborating on different projects with master and Ph.D. students. Samira enjoys nature and traveling, and she spends her free time visiting different new places, working out, and studying.  

Serap Vatansever, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, [email protected]


Serap Vatansever, Ph.D., joined PPIC as a postdoctoral researcher in August 2021. Her current research focuses on nutritional, structural, functional, and flavor characteristics of various plant proteins and their processing. Serap received her doctoral degree in the Cereal Science Program as well as a graduate level certificate in the Statistics at North Dakota State University, USA, in May 2020 and then was a postdoctoral research associate at South Dakota State University (SDSU), USA, between June 2020 and August 2021. She focused on enhancing the utilization of pulse ingredients in the food system through flavor modification using supercritical carbon dioxide extraction during her doctoral program. During her postdoctoral study at SDSU, she investigated the effects of diverse storage conditions on the nutrient and functional characteristics of pulse flours as well as supervising three graduate and eight undergraduate researchers for other research activities at the laboratory. She also had experiences on pulse ingredient functionalities and their food applications, sensory evaluation of foods, food fermentation, food microbiology and biotechnology, other food processing technologies, and applied statistics over five years. Serap concluded her B.Sc. (2009) and M.Sc. (2012) in the Department of Food Engineering at Pamukkale University in Turkey. Also, she was an exchange student through Erasmus Program for a year in the Department of Food and Nutrition at University of Helsinki, Finland, during her undergraduate program. Serap has published fourteen journal articles and one book chapter, and presented various technical presentations globally. Serap is an active member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS), and Cereals and Grains Association. She is the recipients of “Elwood F. Caldwell Scholarship Award for Volunteer Service of MN IFT Section” in 2020 and “Outstanding Volunteer Award of IFT Protein Division” in 2021.

Ronit Mandal, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, [email protected]

Ronit Mandal

Dr. Ronit Mandal joined PPIC in September 2022 as a post-doctoral researcher. He is currently working on a Microsoft-funded project on computational modeling of plant protein functionality. He completed his PhD degree at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada in July 2022, where he worked under the supervision of Dr. Anubhav Pratap-Singh on design, development, and validation of continuous-flow pulsed UV light systems for liquid food processing. Previously he did his bachelor’s degree in Dairy Technology from WBUAFS, India and his master’s in Food Process Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. Ronit’s master’s thesis was on design and fabrication of a solar energy driven milk pasteurization system. He has published more than twenty papers and book chapters based on his research, as well as in collaboration with industries and multidisciplinary research groups around the globe. His research interests lie at the intersection of food engineering, computational modeling, and food sustainability. He is interested in exploring the effects of non-thermal technologies like high pressure, pulsed UV, cold plasma on food preservation and functionality of food components. He has also worked on sustainable food processing on valorization of wastes from food industry waste streams. Dr. Mandal has delivered research presentations in various food science conferences and was a recipient of IFT Nonthermal Processing Division-EFFoST award in Oral competition in 2019. In his free time, he likes to go hiking, explore new places and calligraphy. 

Sima Saeidy, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, [email protected]

Sima Saeidy

Dr Sima Saeidy joined PPIC team in October 2022 as a postdoctoral associate. She graduated from Isfahan University of Technology (IUT), Iran with a Ph.D. degree. Her research focused on the extraction of Ferula assa-foetida gum (an endemic gum exudates) and the chemical characterization of its polysaccharide and protein. During her PhD, she enrolled in the Chemical Engineering, Applied Thermodynamics and Biosystems (GePEB) team at Clermont-Auvergne University in France working on several methods of structural elucidation of the gum including NMR, HPLC, GC-Mass/Mass, etc. Sima has expertise in the characterization and improvement of functional properties of hydrocolloids as emulsifying, foaming and thickening agents. As a postdoctoral researcher in IUT she worked on technology development for extraction of value-added components from sugar beet by-products. She conducted several industry projects, advised numerous graduate students, and taught at the university as well. As a researcher at PPIC, she will be working with Professor Pam Ismail attending optimization of protein extractions from different plant sources, as well as novel functionalization technologies to improve textural, nutritional, and flavor properties of protein ingredients and products. In her free time and for special occasions Sima enjoys baking and decorating cakes!  

Payal Karmakar, Ph.D., Researcher III, [email protected]

Payal Karmakar

Dr. Payal Karmakar is currently working as PPIC Researcher III under Dr. Pam Ismail. She pursued her doctorate degree from National Dairy Research Institute, India where she worked on developing a milk protein-based Pickering emulsion for encapsulation of lutein and its application in yogurt. She did her bachelors degree in the field of Dairy Technology and her masters degree in Dairy Chemistry from West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, India. For her masters program, she worked on the functionalities of nano zinc fortified yogurt and has published a research paper based on the same. Her field of research interest includes chemistry of milk proteins and polysaccharides, their interactions, nanotechnology and food fortification. Her hobby is singing and she is a trained classical singer.

Christopher Sherve, BExSc, MClinExPhys, Researcher II, [email protected]

Christopher Sherve

Christopher Sherve is a Researcher II in the Plant Protein Innovation Center and Dr. B. Pam Ismail’s Lab located in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota. He joined in February of 2022 after coming from General Mills (GMI) as a Lab Technician in their Analytical Lab at the Oat Production Plant in Fridley MN. Chris finished his course work in Biology in the Spring of 2020 before beginning work at GMI the following fall.  Before beginning his food science career path Chris was an Exercise Physiologist and Cross Country/Track and Field Coach during which he completed a Masters degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology from the University of Mary, Bismarck ND in 2016.

Madhvi Singh, B.S., B.Tech & M.Tech, Researcher II, [email protected]


Madhvi Singh joined the Plant Protein Innovation Center in June 2022 as Researcher II to work on various industry-related projects. Her research is conducted in collaboration with Prof. B. Pam Ismail and Prof. Gary Reineccius. She earned an Integrated M.Tech in Food Engineering & Technology from Tezpur Central University, Assam, India. She also holds a Bachelor's degree in Life Sciences from the University of  Delhi, India. While at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, India, Madhvi worked on a solar conductor dryer to extend the shelf life of various fruits and vegetables. In Ludhiana, India, she worked as a Young Professional II at ICAR-CIPHET on various post-harvest machines such as sugar cane crushers, rice dehuskers, and oil expellers. Madhvi served as an Assistant Professor at AKS University in Madhya Pradesh, India. Her master's thesis focused on the development and characterization of physically modified rice noodles encapsulated with flaxseed oil. She received the Best PG thesis award by RASSA at the national seminar organized by SKUAST, Jammu, India. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring various places. She also enjoys reading and watching movies.

Ian Heieie, B.S. Undergraduate, Researcher Specialist, [email protected]

Ian Heieie

Ian Heieie joined PPIC in the fall of 2022 as a research specialist. He is currently pursuing a B.S. degree in Food Science at the University of Minnesota. Prior to undergraduate studies, Ian worked as a chef in Minneapolis. He completed an A.A.S. in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu in 2011 before working for James Beard Award-winning Paul Berglund at The Bachelor Farmer. While there, he learned the importance of working with local farmers and techniques for elevating humble ingredients. After working as the Executive Chef at Lutsen Resort on the North Shore of Lake Superior in 2017, Ian returned to Minneapolis to lead the kitchen at Young Joni in Northeast. He developed a dynamic kimchi program that paid homage to traditional Korean techniques and optimized the pizza dough program. Last Summer Ian worked as an intern for FoodOps, a consulting firm specializing in improving operations for small businesses. 

Mendora Creek, B.S., Research Specialist, [email protected]

Medora Creek

Medora joined the PPIC team in January of 2023 as a Research Specialist. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s in Food Science and minor in Chemistry. During her undergraduate career, she participated as a research assistant in various in vivo projects studying Salmonella control and prevention in turkeys. Prior to joining PPIC, Medora was working as a lab technician in a food microbiology testing laboratory. In her free time, you can find her trying new recipes and crafts, and exploring new places. 

Andressa Maria Suzin, B. Food Eng , PPIC Intern, [email protected]


Andressa joined the PPIC team in September 2022 as a PPIC Intern. She graduated with a Bachelor of Food Engineering from Federal University of Technology - Paraná, Brazil. During this time, Andressa was awarded a full scholarship program for partial studies abroad and was able to spend 16 months studying at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Before beginning her Master’s degree in Food Science, Andressa worked for 2 years in the food industry as a quality control analyst and R&D assistant. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Food Science at State University of Londrina - Paraná, Brazil and her thesis focuses on bioactive peptides from germinated and non-germinated bean flours.

Sarah Martinez, Ph.D., Program Development Consultant, [email protected]

Sarah Martinez

Sarah joined the PPIC team in March 2021 and assists the PPIC Director, Dr. Pam Ismail, in developing and managing relationships with external stakeholders of plant protein research. She retired recently to Oregon after over 28 years in corporate R&D. Her last role was a director of product development at Hill’s Pet Nutrition (a division of Colgate-Palmolive). Prior to that, she held several scientist and management positions at Mead Johnson Nutritionals (previously a division of Bristol-Myers Squibb Inc).  In both roles, Sarah played a key role in a number of fat, protein and hydrocolloid technology development initiatives. Her passion for innovation in food science is demonstrated in numerous successful commercial product launches as well as issued patents and patent applications. Sarah was the President of the Oregon Section of the Institute of Food Technologists (OSIFT). She got her MS and PhD degrees in Food Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her B.S. degree in Food Technology was from the University of the Philippines.