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

Karthik Pandalaneni

Dr. Pandalaneni joined PPIC in Nov 2020 initially taking responsibilities as Manager of Operations and in June 2022 he assumed the role of Assistant Director. He moved to St. Paul, MN after working as a Global Application Scientist after completing his Ph.D. in Food Science at Kansas State University (2018). During his Ph.D. he worked on improving dairy processing techniques in lactose crystallization and worked on evaluating high protein dairy beverage stability by studying ingredient functionality in the application. He brings expertise on ingredient functionalities and their interactions in food applications. Dr. Pandalaneni 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, 2009. He has work experience working in different roles in the food industry in both the UK and India as well. Dr. Pandalaneni is responsible for managing research projects, collaborations with PPIC industry partners, in addition to coordinating PPIC events, communications, and web design. 

Adiella Abelseth, BGS-Education, Administration, [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 the past 6 years she has been teaching 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 (2020) of online schooling, 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. She is also responsible for overseeing PPIC meetings and industry communications, updating informational documents, and editing research papers.


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.

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.

Charu Gupta, MS Food Science & Technology, Researcher II, [email protected]

Charu Gupta

Charu completed her M.S in Food Science and Technology in 2020 at the Iowa State University. During her Masters she worked with pea protein concentrate and amaranth. Then she worked for a startup as a researcher for 2 years, where she helped in developing wireless sensors to monitor cell growth. She joined Ismail lab in 2022 and works as a researcher. In Charus free time, she enjoys watching movies, and traveling.

Abbie Krentz, M.S. Food Science and Technology, Researcher IV, [email protected]

Abbie Krentz

Abbie Krentz joined PPIC in May 2022 as a Researcher IV. 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 new cities, running in local races, and cheering on the Green Bay Packers. 

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

Sarah Martinez

Sarah joined the PPIC team in March 2021 and will be assisting 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 is currently 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.  

Former Staff

Shannen Bornsen, B.B.A, M.B.A, Marketing and Project Consultant, [email protected]

Shannen Bornsen

Shannen joined PPIC in March 2021 as a marketing and project consultant. She has 28 years of experience in global marketing and sales of food and agriculture products. She has led international market development activities in the Americas, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia working for Schwan’s Consumer Brands, Seneca Foods Corporation, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Washington State Potato Commission and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. Shannen also volunteers her time in leadership positions on the boards of non-profit organizations Women Impacting Storebrand Excellence (WISE) and the Minnesota District Export Council.  Shannen has a B.B.A in Marketing from the University of North Dakota and a M.B.A. from the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.

Sungil Ferreira, B. Eng, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher, [email protected]

Sungil Ferreira

Dr. Sungil Ferreira joined PPIC in 2021 as a postdoctoral associate researcher developing studies in protein extraction and characterization with emphasis on oat and pea proteins. He has a bachelor in Food Science, Technology and Engineering and a PhD in Food Science and Engineering, from Sao Paulo State University (UNESP) in Brazil (2020). He completed part of his B.Eng at the University of British Columbia in Canada and part of his PhD at the University of Loughborough in the United Kingdom. He has experience working with encapsulation using spray drying, complex coacervation, ionic gelation, emulsification, with a focus on influence of process parameters and biopolymer structure. In addition, Sun has a strong background in physics and mathematical approaches. He now works in R&D for a plant-based food company in Canada.

Misen Luu, M.S., Researcher IV, [email protected]

Misen Luu


Misen Luu joined PPIC after he graduated with his Master’s in Food Science under Dr. Pam Ismail at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in January 2020. During his Master’s, he researched the storage stability of a novel perennial grain called Intermediate Wheatgrass, analyzing changes in dough functionality, flavor, and sensory attributes of the stored flour at different storage conditions. Before his graduate studies, Misen got his B.S. in Food Science from the University of Minnesota. As a PPIC Researcher, Misen was responsible for managing and conducting Industry projects, with emphasis on flavor associated with plant proteins. In the fall of 2021 Misen moved on from his research position at PPIC to work at PURIS Holdings as a Research and Development Project Manager. He works with the R&D team to develop healthy and sustainable plant-based foods for internal and external projects, primarily utilizing PURIS pea protein and ingredients.  

Holly Husband, B.S. Food Science & B.S. Nutrition Science, Researcher II, [email protected]

Holly Husband

Holly joined the PPIC team in January 2021 as a full-time researcher after completing her B.S. in Food Science and B.S. in Nutrition Science in December 2020 at the University of Minnesota. During her time with PPIC, Holly worked closely with industry partners on a variety of research projects including extraction optimization and structure-function characterization of plant proteins. She also trained new researchers and students on a variety of analytical techniques and oversaw maintenance of a number of analytical instruments. Outside of an academic setting, Holly gained industry experience through product development internships at SunOpta and Cargill in Summer 2019 and 2021, respectively, in which she worked on food applications of plant-based ingredients. In Fall 2021, Holly decided to leave her full-time PPIC position in pursuit of a M.S. in Food Science under Dr. Ismail researching the impact of globulin protein profile on pea protein functionality in various food applications. Holly also looks forward to broadening her industry experience in Summer 2022 with a product development internship at General Mills. 

Amy Mathiowetz, MS, RD, Former Manager of Operations, [email protected]

Amy Mathiowetz

Amy joined the PPIC as support staff in early 2019 following the completion of her M.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota under the advisement of Dr. B. Pam Ismail. Her research focused on characterizing the storage stability of a novel perennial grain, Intermediate Wheatgrass, in response to steam treatment. Although she has never worked with proteins directly, her 5 years of experience in Dr. Ismail's lab amidst protein work has enormously contributed to her knowledge on proteins research -- and her desire to learn more! Prior to coming to the University of Minnesota, Amy received her B.S. in Food and Nutrition Science, as well as Dietetics, from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. She also completed an internship with Catallia Mexican Foods in Eagan, MN. Amy has a strong interest in the confluence of food science and nutritional science, and recently received her Registered Dietitian license (April 2019) following a 9 month internship in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, The Emily Program, and Regions Hospital. Amy is responsible for coordinating PPIC events, communications, and web design, as well as managing member relations and is proud to be a member of the PPIC team! Amy is currently working as a Food Technologist at Agropur, La Crosse, WI.

Therese Liffrig, Program Coordinator, [email protected]


As of late 2017, Therese started a newly formed position as Program Coordinator for FSCN. In this capacity, she works with Departmental projects and initiatives. She coordinates the Nutrition Faculty Mentoring Program, the implementation of the Strategic Plan, the Plant Protein Innovation Center, works with internal and external partners on Food Safety courses for food entrepreneurs, and is a facilitator for the Academic Health Center’s interprofessional education (IPE) course called Foundations of Interprofessional Communication and Collaboration (FIPCC). She works with the Nutrition Undergraduate Chair with program planning and assists with new student orientation. She is also the department adviser for the student group Student Ambassadors for Food, Health, and Culture.

Therese is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a background in clinical nutrition. She attended The College of St. Catherine in St. Paul (now called St. Catherine University), completed her Dietetic Internship at The Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, Mass.), then worked at the Mayo Medical Center (Rochester) for 10 years. She specialized in Nutrition Support, Pediatric Diabetes, and Weight Loss. While in Rochester, Therese completed a Masters in Public Health Nutrition through the U of M School of Public Health, Twin Cities Campus.

Claire Boyle, MS, Former Manager of Operations

Claire Boyle

Claire joined the PPIC as support staff in Fall 2018 following the completion of her M.S. in Food Science at the University of Minnesota under the advisement of Dr. B. Pam Ismail. Her research focused on extraction, structural characterization, modification, and functional evaluation of protein from Camelina sativa, a novel oilseed, for potential food applications (link). Prior to her work on plant proteins, Claire completed research for her Honors thesis (B.S. Food Science, Fall 2014) on the digestibility and nutritional quality of partially glycated whey protein hydrolysate. She has also spent two summers interning with Cargill, gaining experience in formulating products with high-intensity sweeteners and beverage processing. Amidst her research experiences, from 2015 - 2016 she spent time fundraising, managing network relations, and event coordinating for Agapé France, a non-profit in Paris, France. Claire was responsible for coordinating PPIC events, communications, and web design, as well as managing member relations. Claire is currently working as Scientist II at General Mills.