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K-State Today

April 25, 2017



Olewnik brings industry experience as new coordinator of global food systems initiative

By Pat Melgares

Maureen Olewnik

Maureen Olewnik, whose career in the food industry includes research in cereal chemistry and managing a program to evaluate and optimize ingredients and processes in support of the baking and food industries, has been named coordinator of the global food systems initiative at Kansas State University.

Olewnik previously worked at AIB International, most recently serving as a principal for innovation and industry affairs. She has also been the senior vice president for food safety services, and vice president of food safety and technical services at AIB.

Olewnik began work on April 24. Her office is in Waters Hall and she will report directly to John Floros, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension.

"This position allows me to get back to my original career interest in research in the agriculture sector as it applies to the food industry worldwide," Olewnik said. "Current activity at Kansas State University and the greater Manhattan area in food research is extensive and includes people in many disciplines whose expertise offers a valuable resource."

"The global food systems initiative has tremendous potential to benefit the food industry both locally and worldwide. I look forward to the opportunity to be part of this exciting venture."

The job includes planning and implementing activities related to the university's global food systems initiative. That may include public activities such as workshops, seminars and conferences, but also will involve creating multidisciplinary opportunities to conduct research or pursue projects in the food industry.

"Maureen's education, research experience and leadership background fit our needs perfectly," Floros said. "She will help us pull together faculty, staff and projects from different departments, colleges, and K-State campuses to better define our efforts in global food systems. She will help us define a sense of purpose, a better path forward, and a more effective way to work with the private sector."

Olewnik earned her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Kansas State University, the latter in cereal chemistry in 2003. She is a member of the American Association of Cereal Chemists International, or AACCI, and the International Association of Food Protection, among other professional organizations.

During her time at AIB, Olewnik has led teams that developed new products; served as a liaison to industry; negotiated relationships with universities and international trade organizations; led food safety service training; and more.

"My basic research has been focused on wheat and wheat quality characteristics, working closely with universities, USDA Agricultural Research Service and industry partners," she said, adding that she also studied the use of near infrared spectroscopy to predict wheat quality characteristics.

Her applied research includes ingredient interaction, product development and industry scale up. "My most recent work has been in the area of international food safety and regulatory oversight," she said.

In 2012, Olewnik was presented with the AACCI William F. Geddes Award recognizing her contributions to that organization. She was voted by her peers to be president of AACCI beginning in fall 2017.

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