Food scientist Keener to receive Spirit of the Land-Grant Mission Award

September 23, 2015  

Keener award

Food scientist Kevin Keener's inventions include this egg-cooling system, which uses liquid carbon dioxide to quickly cool eggs, doubling their shelf life and suppressing Salmonella bacteria. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University professor of food science and agricultural and biological engineering Kevin Keener will receive the 2014 Spirit of the Land-Grant Mission Award for his work in food process engineering, sanitation and waste management.

The award is presented yearly to a Purdue faculty member in the colleges of Agriculture, Health and Human Sciences or Veterinary Medicine whose work exemplifies the university's land-grant mission of discovery, engagement and learning.

Keener has created a number of technologies to improve food processes and safety. His innovations include a machine that fries food with infrared energy, a method that requires far less oil than conventional fryers and can reduce fat and calories by up to 50 percent; a system that uses liquid carbon dioxide to quickly cool eggs, doubling their shelf life and tamping down the growth of salmonella bacteria; and an in-package bacteria-killing plasma technology that can sterilize food products, water and medical supplies of many pathogens in less than a minute.

"Dr. Keener's ability to help entrepreneurs utilize his research discoveries epitomizes the spirit of a land-grant university," said Jason Henderson, associate dean and director of Purdue Extension. "When applied, his discoveries have cut millions of dollars in food processing costs, saved jobs and made food processing business more profitable by enhancing food safety. His research has had major impacts on businesses and families in Indiana and beyond."

Keener also provides technical assistance to companies, government agencies and entrepreneurs and teaches courses and workshops on food safety, processing, technology, sanitation and regulatory compliance.

"Dr. Keener is a remarkable innovator who has developed a wide variety of technologies to help solve problems in food sanitation and waste management," said Karen Plaut, director of agricultural research and associate dean for research and faculty affairs. "He is tireless in his dedication to sharing his uniquely broad expertise with students, industry, government and entrepreneurs to enhance food process engineering, reduce waste and improve food safety systems in the U.S. and abroad."

A program honoring Keener will be held at 2 p.m. EDT Oct. 1 in Pfendler Hall's Deans Auditorium on the Purdue campus. He will present a seminar on "Impact Through Innovation and Connections: Sustainability and Safety in Food Processing" followed by the award presentation and refreshments. The event is open to the public.

Keener will receive $10,000 to support his research program, a $1,500 honorarium and a commemorative plaque. 

Writer:  Natalie van Hoose, 765-496-2050,

Sources: Jason Henderson, 765-494-8489,

Karen Plaut, 765-494-8362,

Kevin Keener, 765-494-6648,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page

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