AMES, Iowa — Zhiyou Wen has been named the interim director of Iowa State University’s Center for Crops Utilization Research.
Wen, a professor of food science and human nutrition, has been an Iowa State faculty member since 2010. He assumed his new duties Sept. 1.
Wen succeeds Kevin Keener, who has served as the center’s director since 2015 and plans to return to the food science and human nutrition faculty to focus on research, teaching and industry training initiatives.
“For more than 30 years, the Center for Crops Utilization Research has been committed to increasing the use of corn, soybeans and other crops and exploring new opportunities to develop advanced technologies and high-value products,” Wen said.
Wen’s research focuses on green and sustainable food, fuel and biomaterials processing technologies. One area of his research studies the cultivation of microalgae for wastewater treatment and for value-added products. In 2013, Wen led the development of Iowa State’s first pilot-scale algal production facility located at the BioCentury Research Farm. The facility is helping university researchers and industry develop new algae cultivation technologies and products.
Wen is co-founder of Gross-Wen Technologies Inc., an Iowa-based start-up company that uses algae to mitigate water pollution while delivering high-value products, including biofuels, food, feed and fertilizer. The company’s system is being tested in Cresco, Iowa, and Chicago.
Wen has taught undergraduate food engineering courses and graduate-level biomass and bioenergy courses. He holds three patents on his research and is the author of more than 80 peer-reviewed scientific articles.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemical engineering and his master’s degree in chemical engineering, both from East China University of Science and Technology, and his doctorate in biochemical engineering from the University of Hong Kong.
The Center for Crops Utilization Research, established in 1984, is a multidisciplinary research, development and technology transfer program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The center explores new food, feed and nonfood industrial uses for agricultural materials, and focuses on problem-oriented research directed at expanding Midwestern crop utilization. Through use of the center’s equipment and expertise, commercial participants test new products and processes without interrupting their own full-scale production systems.
The center has 50 affiliated faculty from 14 departments in five colleges and collaborations with several industry partners. More than 14,000 square feet of pilot-plant processing and support space is available to researchers and industry clients for converting crops into food and feed ingredients, fuels, industrial chemicals and biomaterials.