Kevin Mis Solval has joined the faculty of the University of Georgia as a food engineer in the Department of Food Science and Technology.
Based on the UGA campus in Griffin, Georgia, Mis Solval has an 80 percent research and 20 percent Extension appointment. Through the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Mis Solval will conduct food process engineering research and help develop food ingredients for projects at the Food Product Innovation and Commercialization (FoodPIC) Center on the Griffin campus.
“Developing ingredients from food byproducts really excites me. There are a lot of novel food ingredients out there to build from,” Mis Solval said. “The modern consumer is more aware of what she or he is eating and they demand more nutritious and less processed food. I believe there is a big opportunity to capitalize on those needs.”
Mis Solval replaces Manjeet Chinnan who retired as Griffin campus UGA’s food engineer in 2009.
A native of Guatemala, Mis Solval says agriculture, specifically sugar cane, is an important industry there.
In high school, he studied at Escuela Nacional Central de Agricultura (ENCA), located near Guatemala City, where he met people from all over the country. This motivated Mis Solval to pursue a career in agriculture and food processing.
“I felt there was a need in the country for well-trained people. Unfortunately, there are no food science programs (in the country) so I had to look at colleges outside Guatemala,” he said.
Mis Solval landed at Zamorano University in Honduras where he earned his B.S. in Food Science and Technology.
“Going to Zamorano was one of the best things that has happened in my life,” he said. “I met people not only from Honduras, but from all of Latin America.”
His senior year of college, Mis Solval accepted an internship in the U.S. at Louisiana State University (LSU). In that position, he studied under LSU food engineer Subramaniam Sathivel. His first research project centered around biodiesel made from fish oil. He also developed juice powders from cantaloupe, a major crop in Honduras.
“This was a value-added product project using cantaloupe. Fresh cantaloupe has a short shelf life, but by developing a powder, it can be used in bakery, baby and beverage products and more,” he said.
His master’s degree completed, Mis Solval continued to study under Sathivel at LSU to earn his doctoral degree and hone his English-speaking skills. He worked on microencapsulated fish oil infused with egg white proteins and developed computer simulations and models to optimize the spray-drying process used to make powders.
He earned his doctorate in 2015 and accepted a teaching position at the University of the Holy Cross in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mis Solval enjoyed teaching physics and food processing, but he missed what he calls “the challenging environment” involved in research.
While searching for a position in academia in 2017, he accepted a position as a process engineer in Dayton, Ohio, where he managed the spray-drying division for a company that produced nanomaterials for energy storage applications.
“I loved the position, but my heart was in academia, so when UGA called, I answered,” Mis Solval said.
For more information about UGA’s Department of Food Science and Technology, visit foodscience.caes.uga.edu/.