Couple Honored for Research, Teaching in Food Science and Technology
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In April, Monica Giusti was recognized at the annual conference of Ohio State's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center for receiving the 2011 TechColumbus Outstanding Woman in Technology.
In May, Luis Rodriguez-Saona received the Rodney F. Plimpton Outstanding Young Teacher Award from Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Both are faculty members in the Department of Food Science and Technology. And they're married.
"They're both wonderful faculty members who are well-balanced and contribute to students, both undergraduate and graduate," said Richard Linton, chair of the department. "They're both excellent in research and teaching -- they could flip-flop and each get recognized in either area.
“It's nice that, as a team, they were recognized for their accomplishments in research and teaching."
Giusti and Rodriguez-Saona met as undergraduates at Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Lima in their home country of Peru (where they now are also visiting faculty members). They married in 1992 and Giusti followed Rodriguez-Saona first to Oregon, then to Maryland, and finally to the Buckeye state.
Neither would name a preference between teaching and research.
"That would be like choosing a favorite child," Giusti said. "Of course there is no favorite -- they are both equally loved. Research gives us more tools to become better teachers. And the teaching gives us the energy and so many ideas to continue our research. So one thing feeds the other."
Before coming to Ohio State in 2003, Rodriguez-Saona worked for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"I spent four years there doing just research, and I felt something was missing. One of the most rewarding parts of being a faculty member is the mentorship I can provide,” Rodriguez-Saona said. “It's like planting a little grain for the development of the next generation. If I can spark an interest towards science and research in our students, I feel fulfilled in so many ways."
Rodriguez-Saona's research focuses on quality control and rapid-detection methods involving chemical contamination. He teaches Food Chemistry, Food Analysis, Food Additives, Spectroscopy (instrumental analysis), and Applied Food Product Development. He serves as an undergraduate adviser for Food Science and Technology, advising 81 students.
Giusti studies functional foods and their polyphenols, compounds that have important roles in food -- providing color, flavor and other properties of the food itself, and that also can impact health. She is looking at ways to incorporate the compounds more widely into the food supply, including possibly substituting synthetic colorants with natural ones. She teaches classes on Food Quality Assurance and Food Colors and Pigments, and, as the department's schedule coordinator, is assisting with the transition to semesters.
Both faculty members also have appointments with the university's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.
The couple lives in Dublin with their two daughters, ages 14 and 9.