Vijaya Raghavan

Image by Alex Tran.

James McGill Professor

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

Degrees

BEng (Bangalore)
MSc (Guelph)
PhD (Colorado State)

Short Bio

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, where he is presently a James McGill Professor. He was Departmental Chair from 1993 to 2004. His research is on post-harvest technologies related to drying, storage, and processing of foods. He has directed four CIDA-funded projects: Three on transfer of expertise and post-harvest technologies to southern India for the consolidation of food security, and one on transfer of expertise and electro-technologies to China for research into food processing and other applications. He directed one IRDC project on promoting use of millets in India. 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 was President of the Canadian Society of Bioengineering (CSBE), and President of the Academy of Science of the RSC. He is currently the Director of the RSC. He was a member of the Food Expert Advisory Committee that provided informed advice to the Minister of Health.

Awards and Recognitions

  • Lifetime Achievement Award, The Society of Tropical Agriculture, 2019
  • International Food Engineering Award, International Congress on Engineering and Food (ICEF), 2019 – Melbourne, Australia
  • ASABE International Food Engineering Award, 2018 – Detroit, Michigan
  • Kishida International Award, 2018-ASABE International Meeting held in Spokane, WA
  • Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), 2017, Ottawa
  • Fellow of the Indian Society of Agricultural Engineers (ISAE), 2015
  • 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), University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad, 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), Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU)-“Establishing Postharvest Technology Centre” on TNAU Campus, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, 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”, Twice one in “1996” and the earlier one in “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 American Society of Agricultural Engineering (ASAE) best paper Awards under the journal “Transactions of ASAE”, 1985.

Active Affiliations

  • Director, Royal Society of Canada (RSC), 2020-
  • Chair, Finance Committee and Audit Committee of RSC. 2020-
  • Member, Membership Committee of RSC 2020-
  • Past-President, Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada, 2019-2020
  • President, Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada, 2017-2019.
  • Member, ASABE Board of Trustees, 2016-2017.
  • President Elect, President, Past President, Canadian Society for Bioengineering (C.S.B.E.), 2015-2019.
  • Director, Applied Science and Engineering (A.S.E.) Division of Science, Royal Society of Canada, 2014-16.;
  • Member of the Food Expert Advisory Committee, Health Canada (F.E.A.C.), 2011-16.
  • 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.

Research Interests

Dr Raghavan’s research efforts have been primarily in the area of post-harvest technologies, which is the study and development of methods, strategies, and technologies for the processing of harvested foods and crops to retain as much as possible the quality and nutritional content of the foods. This work is directed towards ensuring food security.

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 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 from external heat source into the food material. With MW and RF, heat is generated volumetrically, i.e. directly within the food because of the material’s dielectric properties. As a result, drying and heat treatment are more rapid, more energy efficient, and since the food is exposed to high temperatures for a shorter time, it will retain more of its original qualities. This research has led to the development of hybrid MW drying systems, pasteurization of foods by RF and PEF, and on MW heating in fluidized beds. Recent work has been on developing non-thermal methods for drying and processing of foods to preserve thermal-sensitive health-beneficial compounds in the food.

The use of electro-technologies has led to other lines of study - MW-assisted extraction of bioactive compounds from plant materials, disinfestation of grains in storage using ultra-high frequency MWs, electro-osmotic dewatering, MW-assisted retting of flax and hemp for production of biofibers, and MW pasteurization of in-shell eggs. Recent research work has been on the effect of MW and other processing methods on the quality of the plant material being treated, i.e. on the longevity and germination of seeds dried using MW, and on protein structure which determine digestibility and allergenicity.

Another focus of Dr Raghavan’s research activities has been on technologies and methodologies for food storage, such as controlled and modified atmosphere storage of produce, hyper-baric treatment of produce prior to storage, and the importance of distribution of heat in heat-treatment of produce in storage. Recent work has been on novel and packaging materials for food.

Research efforts over the last 10 years has also been directed at developing novel and methods for managing agricultural wastes that lessen the impact on the environment. Work has been done on the production and usage of biochar from waste plant and forestry biomass as a method of carbon sequestration while generating a material that has use as a soil amendment, the generation of electric energy by microbial fuel cells consuming organic wastes, and carbon capture from gas emissions and organic wastes by photosynthetic microorganisms. Recent projects have been on the use of cold plasma activated water to clean or sterilize leaf vegetables, thereby increasing their shelf life; and on hydrothermal carbonization of animals wastes (e.g. seafood wastes) to generate hydrochar which has potential use as a soil amendment or fertilizer, and as a cheap absorbent material. The overall research contribute towards circular economy leading towards food security and sustainability in food systems.

Current Research

  • 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 650 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 55 book chapters, over 850 conference papers, and 7 patents, and have been applied with much success in the field in four CIDA-funded projects and one IDRC-funded project 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 was the Director of a project in southern India that is funded by IDRC through their CIFSRF program (2015-2018). The project was “Scaling up small millet post-harvest and nutritious food products” and was done in collaboration with the DHAN Foundation. Dr. Raghavan participates in research projects with colleagues at McGill, and with collaborators at other institutes in Canada, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, 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.

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

Courses

BREE 305 Fluid Mechanics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BREE 412 Machinery Systems Engineering 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BREE 531 Post-Harvest Drying 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BREE 532 Post-Harvest Storage 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Publications

View a list of current publications

Videos of Interest

Small Millets

Vijaya Raghavan: Fighting for food security (2010)

African Adventure (2010)

 

 

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