Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Internship Program

Welcome to the Cereal Quality Laboratory

Dr. Joseph Awika leads the Cereal Quality Lab (CQL). His research focus is grain chemistry, processing and quality: Identifying mechanisms by which secondary plant metabolites and minor grain constituents can be optimized to improve food quality and human health; processing techniques to improve health and nutritional profile of grains. In these endeavors, he collaborates closely with plant breeders and geneticists as well as nutritional biochemists. He is also involved in international projects aimed at using grains to improve livelihood through nutrition and food security for small scale farmers in Africa.

Dr. Awika has been recognized multiple times for his contribution, including the IFT Achievement award (2021) for International Food Security.

Dr. Awika’s teaching responsibilities are primarily in the Food Science Program at Texas A&M University, where he also serves as the Head of the Department. Dr. Awika teaches the compulsory senior-level course “Food Product Development (FSTC 401)” and the elective “Fundamentals of Baking (FSTC 305)”. He also teaches the graduate level course “Food Carbohydrate Chemistry (FSTC 631)”.

Major research areas

  • Enhancing nutritive quality of grain-based foods through the use of grain components with high human health benefit and improved processing methods
  • Grain polymer Chemistry, functionality and novel applications of grain polymers (carbohydrates and proteins)
  • Health beneficial effects of grain components especially secondary plant metabolites from underutilized parts (bran, germs, leaves) as influenced by processing
  • Application of grain polyphenolics in foods
  • Grain quality testing
    • Kernel characterization
    • Weight, density, and volume determination
    • Milling performance
    • Oil, protein, and starch quantification by NIR
    • Flour mixing behavior
    • Tannin quantification
    • Starch characterization
    • Texture analysis

Capabilities of Cereal Quality Laboratory

  • Pilot scale grain processing and baking
    • Milling of small grains (wheat, sorghum, etc.)
    • Baking laboratories fully equipped for all bakery manufacturing
    • Pilot development lab for bakery product development
    • Production and quality evaluation of wheat flour and corn tortilla, as well as corn tortilla chips
  • Characterization of polyphenols and other secondary metabolites in cereals, pseudocereals, and legumes (quantitative and qualitative tests available for phenols, tannins, flavonoids, anthocyanins, etc.)
  • Antioxidant activity testing using various methods: ORAC, TEAC, among others
  • UPLC-MS analysis of small molecules and their cellular and animal metabolites
  • Advanced SEC/MALS facility including the ranges of molar masses/ molecular weight that can be characterized.

Services provided by the CQL

  • Bakery ingredient testing
  • Grain quality testing
  • Tannins
  • Antioxidant capacity