Akinbode Adedeji

Akinbode A. Adedeji 

Associate Professor, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

I work on converting distilling spent grain (DSG) to value added products - source of high fiber in extruded products and for its protein for nanomaterials in food system surfaces modification.


Donald Colliver

Professor, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

I am interested in the energy used in the production and storage of distilled spirits and byproducts.


Mark Coyne

Mark Coyne

Professor of Soil Microbiology, Plant and Soil Sciences

The influence of land applied stillage residues on soil health and function. Waste water treatment in distillery processing.


Czarena Crofcheck

Czarena Crofcheck

Professor, Biosystems and Ag Engineering

Czarena Crofcheck's research area focuses on bioprocessing, downstream processing, and development of value-added products. Specifically, working on various pretreatment and fermentation of ethanol projects. Outside of her career she has been touring and studying breweries, distilleries, and wineries for over 20 years. Within DWBS, she teaches AEN 341 Brewing Science and Technology. This class includes topics including beer history, beer production, beer marketing, and beer appreciation.


John H. Grove

John H. Grove

Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences

Agronomic soil science specializing in grain crop production, including grain composition subsequent to soil amendments intended to increase grain yield and quality.


Vanessa Jackson

Vanessa P. Jackson

Chair, Department of Retailing & Tourism Management

As a department chair, I have sought to build a relationship with the distilleries and wineries in Kentucky. I have student that I work with who have or is now working on independent studies in this area. We try to promote opportunities for internships and employment in distilled spirits. We have been successful and now we have a class that is related to distilled spirits. We also have an advisor board that has persons from this industry as members.


Chad Lee

Chad D. Lee

Director, Grain and Forage Center of Excellence, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences

We research the grains that make bourbon in a manner that improves productivity, protects the soils and keeps the water clean. Corn and wheat are widely grown in Kentucky and we help to improve those grain qualities needed for bourbon. We are trying to make rye a viable crop in Kentucky, again, and working with farmers, distilleries and many others on this project.


Robert R. (Bob) Perry

Robert R. (Bob) Perry

Agriculture Project Manager/Chef in Residence, Dietetics and Human Nutrition

My interest in spirits is broad from the ecological, economical and agronomic properties for KY grain farms, to the flavors obtained by various grain bills and processes and how spirits work in creating and pairing with foods. As a co-founder of the International Society of Neurogastronomy I am interested in the flavors of everything we consume.


Surendranath Suman

Surendranath Suman

Professor, Animal and Food Sciences

While I don’t have any direct experience in distilled spirits, I teach the course FSC 430 (Sensory Evaluation of Foods), which is an elective in the DWBS Certificate. FSC 430 deals with the sensory evaluation methods used for food products based on flavor, odor, color, and texture. This includes techniques for measuring sensory attributes, instrumental analysis of foods, statistical analyses of data, and how sensory evaluation programs are utilized in the food industry. Additionally, I do research on sensory evaluation of meats, and the strategies used can be readily applied to distilled spirits as well.

Lisa Vaillancourt
Professor, Plant Pathology
I study fungal diseases of corn, including of the corn ear. These fungal diseases cause major yield losses and mycotoxin contamination in Kentucky and throughout the corn belt.

Seed Biology Group

Seeds comprise 70% of humanity’s food and are the foundation on which society rests. We are the University of Kentucky Seed Biology Group. This assemblage of faculty with a research interest focused specifically on aspects of seed biology is the largest of its kind in the USA. The members of our group are honored to join the Beam Institute which is focused on the efficient and flavorful conversion of sugars, predominately from seeds, into alcohol. The UK-SBG knows a lot about one of the raw ingredients used in the distilling process. We hope our expertise will be useful to further the endeavors of the distillation industry. 

Bruce Downie
Professor, Horticulture

My lab is part of the UK Seed Biology Group. My research focuses on how carbohydrates interact with intrinsically disordered proteins to allow orthodox seeds to desiccate while still maintaining cellular constituents in a functional state (anhydrobiosis). Hence, we are quite well versed in soluble carbohydrate analysis including polyols, reducing, and non-reducing sugars. We use maize (Zea mays) and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) as study organisms because both produce orthodox seeds (capable of maturation desiccation) and both have mutants available in genes encoding enzymes involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates. Maize seeds are one of the raw materials used by the Bourbon industry to make its product. Degradation of carbohydrate polymers in the seeds is the starting point that provides the fermenting yeast the mono-saccharides necessary for alcohol production. Our expertise in this process dovetails well with the endeavors of the Institute. For more information check out the LEAPin Overview and the Seed Sleuths


Tomo Kawashima
Assistant Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences
My lab is part of the UK Seed Biology Group. My research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanism of endosperm development and seed size control. The endosperm of grains is the major source for alcohol production in spirits. Understanding how plants control endosperm formation can facilitate manipulations of starchy endosperm chemistry and size for spirit taste variations and better production. For more information please check out the Kawashima Lab website.

Sharyn Perry
My lab is part of the UK Seed Biology group. Seeds are essential, including for distilling sciences. My lab focuses on the development of the plant embryo within the seed, and approaches understanding mechanisms involved using molecular biology and genetics. We are also interested in understanding a process called somatic embryogenesis, whereby somatic cells can change developmental programs to form embryos. This is an important means of plant regeneration. Plant regeneration is necessary for genetic engineering for basic and applied work.