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Vijaya Raghavan

James McGill Professor

T: 514-398-8731  |  vijaya [dot] raghavan [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email)  |  Macdonald-Stewart Building, MS1-098

Degrees

B.Eng. (Bangalore)
M.Sc. (Guelph)
Ph.D. (Colorado State)

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

Active Affiliations

President-Elect, Canadian Society for Bioengineering (C.S.B.E.), 2015;
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.

Short Bio

Dr. Vijaya Raghavan obtained his B. Eng. (Mech. Eng.) from Bangalore University, India in 1967, his M.Sc. (Agr. Eng.) from the University of Guelph in 1970, and his Ph.D. (Agr. Eng.) in 1973 from Colorado State University.  Dr. Raghavan’s career at McGill started in 1974 as a Research Associate and Lecturer at the Department of Agricultural Engineering at Macdonald Campus.  He became an Assistant Professor in 1977, an Associate Professor in 1983, and a Full Professor in 1987.  He was Chair of the Department from 1993 to 2003, and has been the recipient of a James McGill Professor award since 2002.  He was director of four CIDA-funded projects administered by the AUCC through their UPCD program.  Three projects dealt with the transfer of expertise and post-harvest technologies to southern India for the consolidation of food security in this region.  The fourth project was the transfer of expertise and electro-technologies to China for the purposes of research in food processing and for other applications such as the extraction of valued chemicals from plant materials, and the synthesis of chemicals.  Teaching is an important part of Dr. Raghavan’s activities, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  In his courses, he seeks to engage and motivate his students with enthusiasm, with hands-on experience in labs, and with concrete examples in field trips to actual installations showing engineering principles in action.  To date, he has mentored over 180 undergraduate students through their capstone project course, and has supervised 64 M.Sc. students and 37 Ph.D. candidates to completion of their degrees.

Research Interests

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 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.

Current Research

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 biochar and effect on soil properties; and (vi) Microwave assisted retting of flax and hemp straws

Projects include:

  • Enhancing food security in Africa through improvement of rice post-harvest handling, marketing and the development of new rice-based products
  • Nouveaux procédés utilisant les microondes et l'électro-osmose pour l'extraction de la fibre et des composés actifs de la paille de chanvre
  • Desktop scanning electron microscope for examination of materials undergoing various processes
  • Innovation of technologies in food, energy, and environmental nexus
  • Design and optimization of a novel microwave assisted fluidized-bed dryer for making value-added products from vegetable residues
  • Microwave-assisted pressurized pre-treatment of hemp stems for fibers
  • Innovations in postharvest technologies for food security and safety, and for value addition to agricultural residues
  • Développement d’un procédé durable d’extraction assistée par micro-onde pour la valorization de la biomass résiduelle de l’industrie du jus

To date, the results of the work by his research group have generated over 500 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 43 book chapters, 760 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. 

International Projects             

Dr. Raghavan is participating in research projects with colleagues at McGill, and with collaborators at other Institutes in Canada, Thailand, Malaysia, Benin, and India.  He is 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.  He continues to maintain links with previous collaborators in China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Algeria, and Brazil, establish new partnerships and links, and seek funding for projects in India, Senegal, and Thailand.

To read articles about Dr. Raghavan's international work, click on the following links: 1) From Green Revolution to Evergreen Solutions;2) Globally Connected

Publications

View a list of current publications