Elena Castell-Perez

I am a Food Engineer by training (BSc. from Campinas State University, Brazil; MS and PhD from Michigan State University) and really love what I do. In addition to teaching, I do research in the area of food safety, material properties, rheology, packaging, and applications of engineering to food process optimization. I enjoy exploring the infinite  possibilities that arise when applying principles of engineering to the manufacturing of a healthy and safe product.  This is not an easy task which requires lots of patience and creativity. I am also very concerned with the problem of hunger in the world, so food security is an important issue for me.

My Research

Engineering Properties of Materials: Each material, including foods, behaves differently. If you subject a material to certain stresses during processing, handling, packaging and transportation, the material should be able to withstand the stresses without deformation or failure. Understanding the mechanisms of failure of materials exposed to mechanical and thermal loadings is an area of current work in my laboratory.

Rheology: All materials will deform under applied stress if enough time is allowed. Rheological properties of foods can provide an insight on how will a cake frosting or a potato chip feel in the mouth of the consumers. We work at measuring and quantifying viscosity, texture and viscoeleasticity of a variety of materials. Mechanistic models are being developed to characterize changes in quality such as staling.

Packaging: All foods have some form of packaging. The advances in materials (eg, better plastics) and processing (aseptic and MAP) call for careful study of their functionality as they affect food quality. Emphasis is on active packaging systems.

Food Safety: I am looking into how ionizing technology influences product and package properties. I am also interested in Machine Learning application in leafy greens cross-contamination during washing.

My Teaching

BAEN 354 – Engineering Properties of Biological Materials

The objectives of this course are:  (1) to develop the student’s understanding of the  nature of  biological materials and the ability to analyze them as components in or objects of engineering systems; (2) to identify the engineering properties of materials required for analysis and design of agricultural, food and biological systems; (3) to determine the value of a particular engineering property by calculating or estimating it based on available data, or experimentally measure the property based on existing methods and theories.

BAEN 620 –  Food Rheology

This course gives students the theory and hands-on experience on rheological principles and measurement methods as needed in the food and related industries. Emphasis given to actually learning to use instruments and learn fundamental measurement techniques.

BAEN 427/627Engineering Aspects of Packaging

This course will provide students the necessary background on properties of materials and package design utilized in the development of packages and packaging systems in a wide range of applications.

AGSM/FSTC 315Food Processing Engineering Technology

This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of engineering as used in design and management of food processing operations. These concepts may apply to any type of manufacturing plant.

Distance Education Programs

I am the co-Director with Dr. Rosana G. Moreira of the programs. Contact us at:

elena.castell@ag.tamu.edu or rosana.moreira@ag.tamu.edu

(1) MEGR in BAEN -Food Engineering Emphasis

(2) MS in Food Processing Technology Emphasis – for non-Engineering, non-thesis option

for more information click here

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