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Swartzel elected to National Academy of Engineering

Media contact: Dr. Ken Swartzel,

Dr. Kenneth R. Swartzel, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the loftiest distinctions accorded to an engineer.

A professor emeritus in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, Swartzel is one of 80 new members and 22 foreign members announced this week by NAE President C.D. (Dan) Mote Jr. This brings the total U.S. membership to 2,275 and the number of foreign members to 232.

NAE is a private nonprofit organization that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. Individuals in the newly elected class will be formally inducted during a ceremony at the NAE’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 9, 2016.

Swartzel was cited for advances in the thermal processes of food preservation. He is widely known for blending basic engineering with chemical and biological kinetics to develop new preservation processes that yield high-quality, nutritious, safe and economical foods.

His research in continuous flow food processing systems has led to 24 U.S. and 32 foreign patents. Royalties to NC State from licensed patents from his lab have exceeded $20 million, with eight start-up companies all founded in North Carolina.

Swartzel has won numerous awards at NC State and globally, including the Institute of Food Technologists’ Nicholas Appert Award for preeminence in and contributions to the field of food science and technology. He is also a fellow of both IFT and the American Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers and the only person to provide founding technologies for IFT’s Industrial Achievement Award four times (1997, 2009, 2011 and 2015).

In 2006 he received the Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence, NC State’s highest award for faculty career achievement and service, and he was named NC State University’s 2012 Innovator of the Year. He was also awarded the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine by then-Gov. Beverly Perdue. In 2013 the Raleigh News & Observer named him Tar Heel of the Week.

Swartzel has published more than 120 scientific papers and has been principal or co-principal investigator on projects with outside support of more than $26 million.

He retired from NC State in 2015, after 40 years of service. He joined the university’s staff as a BAE research technician in 1975, then joined the faculty in the departments of Food Science and Biological and Agricultural Engineering in 1980, after earning a Ph.D. from the university in 1979. He also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NC State.

For 10 years, Swartzel was head of the FBNS Department, and he was instrumental in founding what is now known as the Center for Advanced Processing and Packaging Studies, a National Science Foundation center for cooperative research between industries and universities. Also, he was co-principal investigator in creating an energy-related NSF cooperative research center. In 2002-03 he was on special assignment with the University of North Carolina’s Office of the President, directing activities of the North Carolina Technology Development Initiative Program.

Swartzel was the founding director of the Association for Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Kellogg Food Systems Leadership Institute, which provides executive training for future university, industry and government leaders in food systems. And for many years, he served as bioprocessing programs coordinator of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

— Dee Shore, 919-513-3117 or