BOISE, Idaho — Boise State is planning a major addition to campus, thanks to a $2 million grant.
The university is planning to utilize the money to create a Food and Dairy Innovation Center (FDIC). The center will create new food and dairy processing methods, conduct research on food and dairy, and will help prepare students for work in the industry after graduation.
Dr. Owen McDougal, the FDIC principal investigator and chair of the Boise State biochemistry department, says the project is in response to a growing industry need.
"Faculty, and industry, and other institutions across the state of Idaho can come and conduct research projects with students," McDougal explained.
According to the Idaho Department of Agriculture, the state of Idaho's annual milk yield is more than 13 billion pounds—valued at $2.2 billion. That means dairy is Idaho's top agriculture industry. The goal of the FDIC is to help fill a fundamental need to support that industry, while creating partnerships and opportunities for students.
"We have been engaging students in research-oriented at addressing industry problems," McDougal explained. "Our goal is to provide training to Idaho students in order to get jobs in Idaho because ultimately folks that grow up here tend to like to stay here."
Ph.D student Joseph Collins is a graduate student in the biomolecular science program. He plans to enter the food processing industry after graduation.
Collins says it's an incredible experience to work on projects that directly help people's lives.
"I get to see that end result in walking through the grocery store. Thinking I helped produce the product, or I helped make this FDA-approved supplement that comes from dairy," Collins said. "It's an interesting concept to me."
The university plans to establish the FDIC over the next five years.