Food engineer named GCHERA World Agriculture Prize laureate

Photo: R. Paul Singh
World Agriculture Prize Laureate R. Paul Singh

R. Paul Singh, a distinguished professor emeritus who has held dual appointments in the departments of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and of Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis, has been named as the 2015 Global Confederation for Higher Education Associations for Agriculture and Life Sciences World Agriculture Prize laureate.

The award was announced at the annual GCHERA conference, held June 24-26 at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon. Formal presentation of the award will take place Sept. 20, during a ceremony at Nanjing Agricultural University, Jiangsu Province, China.

"I'm deeply humbled and honored, upon receiving news of this award," Singh said. "I'm proud of my students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists for their numerous contributions to our research program. I'm also indebted to my UC Davis colleagues for their consistent support, which has allowed me to pursue my research and teaching activities in food engineering."

Singh earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering at India's Punjab Agricultural University, then a master's degree and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan State University, respectively. He joined the UC Davis faculty one year later, in 1975.

“For over four decades, Professor Singh’s work as a pioneer in food engineering has been improving lives the world over,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “This prestigious, and well-deserved, honor is a testament to the importance of his research, and UC Davis is tremendously honored to call him a member of our faculty.”

Singh became recognized for a body of research in areas such as energy conservation, freezing preservation, postharvest technology and mass transfer in food processing. His research on airflow in complex systems helped design innovative systems for the rapid cooling of strawberries, and his studies on food freezing led to the development of computer software that is used to improve the energy efficiency of industrial freezers. Under a NASA contract, his research group created food-processing equipment for a manned mission to Mars.

He has helped establish and evaluate food-engineering programs at institutions throughout the world, including in Brazil, India, Peru, Portugal and Thailand. As of June 2015, his 115 video tutorials have been viewed more than 150,000 times by individuals from 193 countries.

In recent years, his research focused on the physical mechanisms responsible for the digestion of foods in the human stomach, with an eye toward developing the next generation of foods for health.


The global agricultural and food communities have come together to enhance the quality of life and human endeavors, while addressing the challenges of an ever-increasing world population threatened by the effects of climate change. GCHERA focuses its efforts on sustainable agricultural development; food and nutritional security and safety; improved health and nutrition; biodiversity and the development and utilization of bio-renewable resources; the remediation and sustainability of fragile ecosystems and environments; the reduction of poverty; and the enhancement of the economic viability of the food chain.

The GCHERA World Agriculture Prize, a multidisciplinary, lifetime achievement award, was established in October 2012 on the occasion of Nanjing Agricultural University's 110th anniversary. The prize is designed to encourage the global development of higher education institutions that focus on research and innovation in agricultural and life sciences, by recognizing the distinguished contributions of individuals in these fields.

The previous GCHERA World Agriculture Prize laureates are Ronnie Coffman, an internationally acclaimed plant breeder at Cornell University; and Paul Vlek, a world-renowned soil scientist at Germany's Bonn University.

UC's Global Food Initiative

UC Davis is participating in UC’s Global Food Initiative launched by UC President Janet Napolitano, harnessing the collective power of UC to help feed the world and steer it on the path to sustainability.

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