USDA Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center
Dr. Onwulata has served as Lead Scientist, and has led numerous projects that used novel processing technologies, such as extrusion, encapsulation and microparticulation, to create new foods. In his 29 years as a research scientist, Dr. Onwulata has sustained very high research productivity in food processing and technology development; particularly, in the last 22 years as a Research Food Technologist with ARS, he has developed several unique processes and products. His focused innovative research has resulted in several patents, technology transfer agreements, licensed technologies, and two (2) commercialized products. Dr. Onwulata heads the Excellence in Extrusion and Polymer Rheology (CEEPR), which coordinates collaborative research with other government agencies, academia and industry groups for extrusion and polymer products research. Dr. Onwulata is a nationally and internationally recognized for his research contribution in nutrition, food technology, and food and biomaterials processing.
He is the author of over 160 publications, 100 peer-reviewed senior-authored journal articles, two (2) textbooks, and 12 book chapters. He has given over 200 invited talks at national and international meetings, organized, Chaired/co-Chaired over 15 seminar sessions or symposia, and directed two Short Courses on Food Powder Technology for the Institute of Food Technologists. Dr. Onwulata is the author or coauthor of seven patents, two granted, and five pending with the U.S. and Foreign Patent Offices. Dr. Onwulata’s research has been adopted widely through 6 licenses, over 25 Materials Transfer Agreements. One successful project, the development of a recently patented texturization processes based on extrusion processing, resulted in a commercialized product, Muscle Puffs™, made with texturized whey proteins. Dr. Onwulata’s excellent research accomplishments are recognized by several honors and awards: He is the recipient of several USDA merit awards for outstanding research and technology transfer; the ARS Early Scientist Award for innovative and outstanding research; four (4) Gold medals from the Federal Executive Board; the Mid-Atlantic Regional, and several Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Technology Transfer Awards for whey protein texturization. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists.
Dr. Onwulata’s principal focus is on improving and developing food processing systems to preserve and augment the health-promoting components in foods. He has developed foods that are targeted to many current health issues, examples are: non-sugar protein-based syrups for diabetics; enhanced dietary fiber delivery foods to boost fiber intake and reduce many health risks associated with low dietary fiber intake such as coronary diseases; texturized dairy proteins that improve the nutritive content of snacks, which helps fight obesity. In particular, Dr. Onwulata is leading efforts to increase utilization of surplus whey proteins, a byproduct of cheese processing, by developing innovative processing techniques to modify them or blend them with other ingredients which have resulted in market tested nutrient enriched snacks. Dr. Onwulata led a team that developed an “instant food” for USAID to help feed starving people all over the world. The instant food does not need further cooking, eliminating the need for fleeing refugees to look for firewood or other energy sources; also, the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they contain are not destroyed by overcooking.