Marvin Moncada joins NC State’s efforts to advance plant-based foods.

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – In the past few years, Marvin Moncada, PhD, has contributed to the development of more than 50 food products currently in stores. It’s those successes that helped him stand out among applicants for a new position, located at the NC Research Campus in Kannapolis, in NC State University’s Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences (FBNS). 

Dr. Moncada’s position as an Assistant Professor of Plant Food Processing has research and extension responsibilities. Like many researchers, he will be a collaborator, but his initial partners are clearly defined among three entities within NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: FBNS, his home department in Raleigh; the Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI), where his lab is located at the NC Research Campus, and the NC Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL), a new pilot-scale, plant-based food processing facility located just across the street from PHHI. It’s the potential synergies of these three entities that attracted Dr. Moncada to this unique position. 

Prior to joining NC State University, Moncada spent six years as a food scientist and plant manager at the Louisiana State University AgCenter Food Incubator. There, he assisted 45 food entrepreneur companies in developing and producing new products for local, regional and national markets.

In his extension role, Dr. Moncada will tap into this past experience to assist entrepreneurial and established companies at NCFIL by providing design and development of unit operations (drying, extrusion, extraction, and thermal processes) for sustainable food processing. In addition he will provide training and workshops on topics including Good Manufacturing Practices, the Food Safety Modernization Act, advances in thermal processing, and scaling up food production. Dr. Bill Aimutis, Executive Director of NCFIL, says, “We look forward to collaborating with Dr. Moncada, and utilizing his process engineering expertise. We also believe he will be a great asset to the growers and processors in North Carolina.”

As for his research interests, Dr. Moncada says, “Currently, I am working on a preliminary study to identify, isolate, and quantify value-added materials and bioactive compounds that are secondary products of ethanol fermentation.” In the  long-term, he will focus on a total utilization concept, using food engineering and fermentation principles to develop novel food ingredients, value-added products from raw and food processing by-products, and to characterize bioactive compounds isolated through industrial hemp processing. To assist in this research, in addition to collaborative partners, he expects to hire a postdoctoral research associate and a graduate student as part of his lab team. 

While the COVID-19 work-from-home directives were unexpected when Moncada started in mid-February, the time has not been wasted. He’s been able to purchase lab equipment, explore funding opportunities and reach out to new colleagues to plan future collaborations.  FBNS department head, Dr. K.P. Sandeep, says, “Marvin brings new energy and enthusiasm to our team. His collaborative and positive outlook will be a great asset as he builds his program. I look forward to seeing him conduct outstanding fundamental research and assist entrepreneurs and established food businesses within and outside NC.” Moncada returned to the lab in June when the PHHI building was reopened for limited research activities.

Dr. Moncada is a native of Honduras, where he attended Zamorano University for his Bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Technology. He earned his  Master’s degree in Food Microbiology and his PhD in Food Science at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.