James McGill Professor
T: 514-398-8731 | vijaya [dot] raghavan [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) | Macdonald-Stewart Building, MS1-098
PhD (Colorado State)
Vijaya Raghavan obtained his PhD (Agr Eng) from Colorado State University, his MSc (Agr Eng) from the University of Guelph, and his BEng (Mech Eng) from Bangalore University. He joined McGill in 1974 as a Research Associate in the Department of Agricultural Engineering, and he is presently a James McGill Professor (equivalent to a Canada Research Chair I). He was Departmental Chair from 1993 to 2003. His research has been on the effects of soil compaction on crop productivity, and on post-harvest technologies related to drying and storage. He has directed four CIDA-funded projects: Three dealt with the transfer of expertise and post-harvest technologies to southern India for the consolidation of food security, and one was on the transfer of expertise and electro-technologies to China for research into food processing and other applications. In 2012, he was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), and into the National Academy of Agriculture Sciences (India) as a Foreign Fellow. He is currently President of the Canadian Society of Bioengineering (CSBE) and Director of the ASE division of the Academy of Science of the RSC. He is an active member of the Food Expert Advisory Committee which provides informed advice to the Minister of Health.
Awards and Recognitions
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC), 2012;
Foreign Fellow of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), India, 2012;
Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa), Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), India, conferred in “recognition of services rendered to the development of agricultural education, research and extension in the country”, 2010;
Arun S. Mujumdar Medal, presented at IDS 2010 to recognize individuals who combine at a high level, research, community services and mentoring in drying, 2010;
Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding and sustained contributions to global drying R&D, presented by the Drying Technology Journal, 2008;
Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa), University of Agricultural Sciences – Dharwad (UASD), India, 2007;
David Thomson Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision and Teaching, McGill, 2007;
The Procter and Gamble Company Award for Excellence in Drying, presented by IDS, 2006;
Distinguished Service Award presented by the Northeast Agricultural and Biological Engineering Conference (NABEC), a section of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE; presently American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers [ASABE]), 2006;
Foundation stone for the Agro-Processing Complex was laid on March 2, 2006 in the name of G.S.V. Raghavan recognizing his contributions to Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU);
Certificate of Achievements, presented in 2004 by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada in recognition of important research achievements in the 25 years of NSERC’s existence;
Outstanding Indo-Canadian Award from the National Indo-Canadian Council, 2002;
Best Scientific Paper Award, presented at the Asian Drying Conference, 2001
Maple Leaf Award of the Canadian Society of Agricultural Engineering (CSAE, presently Canadian Society for BioEngineering [CSBE]), 1997;
Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences for Teaching Excellence in recognition of “outstanding performance in undergraduate and graduate teaching”, 1996 and 1992
The John Clark Award of the CSAE in recognition of “outstanding contribution to the field of postharvest technology, processing and food engineering through teaching, research, extension and industry involvement”, 1990;
Two ASAE Paper Awards, 1985
President, Canadian Society for Bioengineering (C.S.B.E.), 2016-2017;
Director, Applied Science and Engineering (A.S.E.) Division of Science, Royal Society of Canada, 2014 to present;
Member of the Food Expert Advisory Committee, Health Canada (F.E.A.C.), 2011 to present;
Graduate Program Director, Bioresource Engineering, 2008 to present;
Institute on Science for Global Policy (I.S.G.P.), 2013;
Fellow of the Institution of Engineers (India) (F.I.E.), 2009;
Fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (F.A.S.A.B.E), A.S.A.B.E. was formerly the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (A.S.A.E.), 2000
Fellow of the Canadian Society of Biological Engineers ( F.C.S.B.E.), C.S.B.E. was formerly the Canadian Society of Agricultural Engineers (C.S.A.E.), 2000
Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (F.A.S.M.E.) 2000.
The main thrust of Dr Raghavan’s research efforts over the last two decades has been to study and develop post-harvest or post-production processes and technologies for the drying and storage of produce and crops. Initial studies were on the use of particulate medium or granules for heat treatment and drying of grains in spouted, fluidized, and packed beds. His focus has shifted to the dielectric heating of produce and foods with electro-technologies based on the use of microwaves (MW), radio-frequency (RF), and pulsed-electric fields (PEF). Conventional drying systems operate on the classic thermodynamic concepts of heat and mass transfer. With MW and RF, heat is generated volumetrically within the produce as a result of the material’s dielectric properties. Also, the structure, size, and shape of the produce are important factors affecting the use of electro-technology. The systems are thus more complex, and one of Dr Raghavan’s on-going endeavors is to find the bridge between the heating and drying described by classic thermodynamics equations with those describing the dielectric behavior of the material when exposed to MW and RF. Dr Raghavan’s research activities have also touched on other areas such as soil compaction and tillage practices, controlled and modified atmosphere storage of produce, hyper-baric treatment of produce prior to storage, distribution of heat in heat-treatment of produce, microwave-assisted extraction of bioactive compounds from plant materials, disinfestation of grains in storage using ultra-high frequency microwaves, electro-osmotic dewatering, characterization of a double-pipe helical heat exchanger, microwave-assisted retting of flax and hemp for production of biofibers, microwave pasteurization of in-shell eggs, production and usage of biochar, generation of electric energy by microbial fuel cells, and carbon capture from gas emissions by photosynthetic microorganisms.
- Innovation of technologies in food, energy, and environmental nexus
- High electric field drying and processing of thermosensitive food products
- High pressure pre-treatment for extending shelf life of produce without refrigeration
- Energy from microbial fuel cells using organic waste as a carbon source
- Microwave-assisted production of biochar and hydrochar from different biomasses
- Physicochemical properties of different biochar and effects on properties of different soils
- Extraction of lipids and valued compounds from microalgae
- Microwave assisted retting of flax and hemp straws
- Enhancing food security in Africa through improvement of rice post-harvest handling, marketing and the development of new rice-based products
- Innovations in postharvest technologies for food security and safety, and for value addition to agricultural residues
- Properties of different membranes for use in controlled atmosphere storage.
To date, the results of the work by his research group have generated over 530 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 45 book chapters, over 770 conference papers, and four patents, and have been applied with much success in the field in three CIDA-funded projects to address the issues of food security and safety in India. An estimated 30% of crops and produce in developing countries are lost after being harvested as a result of damage and spoilage. Losses occur at every step of the chain of events from the field to the market as a result of mishandling during sorting and transport, of poor storage conditions that leads to spoilage and infestation by insects and pests, and of inadequate packaging for market. Post-harvest losses are not only that of quantity but also of nutritional quality of the produce. Preventing or reclaiming these losses by implementing adequate storage methods and by processing the food would provide a means of addressing food insecurity problems, and also provide the resources to deal with problems of poverty, malnutrition, and hunger.
Dr. Raghavan is currently the Director of a project in southern India that is funded by IDRC through their CIFSRF program. The project is “Scaling up small millet post-harvest and nutritious food products” and is being done in collaboration with the DHAN Foundation. He is also a co-investigator on a project on “Improving rice processing strategies for food security in West Africa” which is funded by the African Rice Center (WARDA) and takes place in Benin and Nigeria. Dr. Raghavan is participating in research projects with colleagues at McGill, and with collaborators at other Institutes in Canada, Thailand, Malaysia, Algeria, and India. He continues to maintain links with previous collaborators in China, India, and Brazil, establish new partnerships and links, and seek funding for projects in India, Senegal, and Thailand.