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K-State Today

August 6, 2018

Maureen Olewnik presents at China's 10th International Symposium of Food Science, serves as president-elect of AACC International

Submitted by Sarah Hancock

Maureen Olewnik, coordinator of the K-State Global Food Systems Initiative, presented an invited talk to more than 1,800 attendees at the 10th International Symposium of Food Science in Hefei, China, last week.

Olewnik discussed the growing complexity of the global food system and the challenges we face in feeding a growing population, including loss of arable land, limited water and climate variability. She shared how a transdisciplinary, systems thinking approach can help address the complex, interconnected problems of the food system and argued that scientific and social science communities must work together to solve them. According to Olewnik, K-State has made great progress in bringing people from diverse disciplines together. 

Her presentation prompted candid discussion of the diverse and complex food-related challenges the world is already seeing. 

"Talking to international audiences provides the opportunity to develop a more complete and mutual understanding of the one-world issues in the safety and sustainability of food," Olewnik said.

Olewnik is also serving as president-elect of the American Association of Cereal Chemists, known as AACC International. Her talk also addressed the work of AACC International. The organization's mission is to create opportunities for providing and exchanging knowledge and advancing innovations across the broad disciplines of cereal grain science by facilitating research, education, collaboration, technical service and advocacy efforts. Olewnik has been a member of AACC International for more than 30 years and finds that the research issues and challenges in cereal chemistry are a microcosm of global challenges.

"Casting a wide net in the understanding of the complex challenges the world faces in the safety and sustainability of food is what K-State's Global Food Systems is about. Expanding our approach to identify cross-disciplinary problem solving within K-State's research and educational system is the start," Olewnik said.

"Continuing outreach to the national and international communities on the importance of a broad-based approach to these complex issues helps to provide actionable interaction in solving the looming worldwide challenges," she said.

Olewnik will serve as AACC International president for the year beginning in October of 2018.