Edward “Ned” Spang has been named director of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, or RMI, at the University of California, Davis. Spang, an associate professor with the Department of Food Science and Technology, began his new position on Aug. 1. He succeeds wine chemist Andrew Waterhouse, professor emeritus with the Department of Viticulture and Enology, who retired in June after five years as RMI director.
The Robert Mondavi Institute is home to the university’s winemaking, brewing and food science programs, and their facilities. Through public education events and lectures, the institute provides the departments of Viticulture and Enology, and Food Science and Technology a prestigious forum for collaboration and outreach, built around the central mission of enhancing public understanding of wine, brewing and food sciences.
Spang brings broad expertise on the relationships between food, water and energy to the institute, which connects faculty and students with a large network of scientists, entrepreneurs, policymakers, consumers and industry professionals engaged in wine, brewing and food science. Spang said he’s looking forward to continuing to shine a spotlight on the innovative wine and food research and education programs on campus.
“I’m really excited to build on the great history of the Robert Mondavi Institute,” Spang said. “It’s been so successful at bringing people together to celebrate the joy of food and wine and to highlight different voices and perspectives from across the wine and food communities. It’s truly an honor for me to continue this work as the new director.”
Spang first joined UC Davis 12 years ago as associate director of the Center for Water-Energy Efficiency, where he led a team of researchers studying ways to improve how resources are used by managing water and energy together. He’s been with the Department of Food Science and Technology faculty since 2015. He’s the faculty advisor for the Food Loss and Waste Collaborative, an interdisciplinary research program on campus focused on developing solutions and innovative approaches to reduce loss and waste throughout the food life cycle.
He also dedicates his time as a board member for the Yolo Food Bank to ensure the community has access to healthy foods. The topic of food security is an important issue that Spang hopes will spur meaningful conversations about how to improve access to nutritious foods for our campus population and the broader region.
“Anytime you take a position like this, you want to add some of your own flavor to the programming,” Spang said. “I’ve been working on the topic of food and sustainability for a long time, so I’ll be pursuing some things in that area that will be exciting for both the students and the community.”
Helene Dillard, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said Spang is ideally prepared to support the mission of the college and the institute.
“We are very excited for Professor Spang’s vision and commitment to the future of the RMI,” Dillard said. “His experience in working across disciplines, reaching diverse audiences and connecting with communities will ensure that the RMI continues to reach public and academic audiences and support our mission of ‘enhancing our quality of life through wine, brewing, and food sciences.’”