Riverland names new director over agriculture and food science department

Published 2:27 pm Saturday, July 18, 2015

Riverland Community College has named Uchenna Chukwu as Riverland Community College’s new director of the Center for Agricultural and Food Science Technology, according to a press release.

Chukwu brings private extensive agriculture and food science experience to her new position at Riverland. She is the founder of Minnesota’s Collaborative Open Innovation Network Initiative, a privately held complementary program for minority students. The program works toward positioning the next generation of “problem-solvers, innovators and inventors” endowed with advanced technical skills and abilities that fuel innovative solutions to society’s most challenging problems. This innovative approach is accomplished by teaching disruptive innovation principles, experience design, etc. to underrepresented minorities pursuing science, technology, engineering and math majors. Outcomes include educational enhancement and economic empowerment, boosting retention and degree completion in STEM-related fields, and the pursuit and completion of doctorate programs.

As CEO and president of Chi’s Research Corp/Vegizyme LLC., privately held for profit biotech incubator and commercialization firms, Chukwu focused on advancing disruptive innovations in the food, agriculture, medical and energy sectors. Vegizyme LLC. was selected as a 2010 MHTA Tekne Award finalist for small and growing companies in the life sciences category.

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Her education credentials include a bachelor’s degree in biology from Newcomb College, Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and a doctorate in food science with a food and processing engineering emphasis, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.

The director of the Center for Agricultural and Food Science Technology will provide aggressive leadership and program development for seven new program offerings starting in August in agriculture sciences. Areas of program development include agricultural sciences, food science technology, precision agriculture, biotechnology and agribusiness. The director will coordinate and manage center operations and activities, including a variety of interrelated agricultural activities within southern Minnesota. Such activities include partnership development, funding/grant seeking, student recruitment and outreach activities to prospective and existing students, outreach to agricultural and agriculture-related businesses and business partners, delivery of agricultural-related continuing education and customized training, agriculture education pathways with high schools and university partners, university partnership development for the purpose of the advancement of research through associate level technical skills and student field experience opportunities.

The director will serve as the coordinator for the farm business management program and is charged with strategic planning and implementation to advance sustainable program growth.

Chukwu’s main office will be at the Austin campus, but she will work closely with all faculty and staff at all three campus locations including Albert Lea and Owatonna.

“We are excited and extremely fortunate to have Dr. Chukwu join our leadership team,” said Riverland President Dr. Adenuga Atewologun. “As we build and develop the new Center for Agricultural and Food Science Technology into a best-in-class program, Dr. Chukwu’s extensive experience with agriculture, engineering and food science brings opportunities to strengthen and build Riverland’s relationships with business and industry. Riverland plays a key role in meeting the area’s workforce needs and growing the region’s economy.”

Atewologun will tour with Chukwu to meet with chamber members in all of Riverland’s campus communities July 30. The schedule includes a visit from 7:30 to 9 a.m. in Austin at the Main Street Conference Center, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Albert Lea’s Chamber mall location and 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Riverland’s campus in Owatonna.

Riverland Community College, a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, is a community college that has inspired personal success through education for 75 years. Approximately 4,900 students are served annually through a wide range of credit-based educational opportunities. An additional 5,400 students are annually served in non-credit courses.