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.


John M. Lhotka

Associat Professor of Silviculture, Forestry and Natural Resources

Dr. Lhotka is broadly interested in the ecology and management of oak-dominated forests, and his research efforts address three emphasis areas including regeneration practices, modeling forest structure, growth, and mortality in a silvicultural context, and development of gap-based silvicultural systems. His research program is geared to formulating improved forestry practice, and he engages with industry, practitioners, and landowners who employ these techniques including those that provide timber for cooperages and focus on maintaining the availability of high-quality stave logs. Dr. Lhotka’s research includes both the optimization of trees within mature white oak stands and the effective regeneration of the population after harvesting. Using forestry practices such as thinning and release, which entails removing undesirable trees from oak stands, he is able to study how changes in forestry practices can affect tree value traits such as the rate of growth – a key characteristic valued by cooperages. Dr. Lhotka is also working to ensure the establishment of seedlings and saplings before mature oak stands are harvested. This research consideration across the oak stand life-cycle in the context of management is key to development of silvicultural practices which can sustain our region’s oak-dominated forests.


Luke Moe

Associate Professor, Plant and Soil Sciences 

My group conducts research in environmental microbiology. We use the tools of genetics, genomics, and biochemistry to study how microbes impact and are impacted by their environments. Current research efforts related to production of distilled spirits include work on the microbial ecology of fermentation, as well as work exploring the microbiome of grains used in production of distilled spirits.


Jacob Muller

Assistant Professor of Hardwood Silviculture and Forest Operations Extension, Forestry and Natural Resources

Dr. Muller has over 15 years of forestry and research experience focused on sustainable forest management. He specialized in adaptive silviculture aimed at climate change and forest carbon considerations (sequestration and storage). He is the principal investigator for a new project aligned with the White Oak Initiative to train foresters and woodland owners on oak-focused forest management. Dr. Muller’s research focuses on long-term forest dynamics and testing the efficacy of classical and novel forest management approaches. His extension and teaching interests focus on the development of continuing education programs for woodland owners and natural resource professionals. This work includes the development of educational tools to better inform landowners and managers of current and future management challenges while promoting sustainable forestry practices.


Thomas Ochuodho

Assistant Professor of Forest Economics and Policy, Forestry and Natural Resources

Dr. Ochuodho has over 20 years of work experience in integrated natural resource management in forestry and allied natural resource spheres, land use, environmental management, sustainable development, rural community livelihood systems, and international trade. Overall, His research interests focus on application of economic modeling tools in natural resource management and policy analysis. At University of Kentucky, he is currently conducting research on sustainability and economics of white oak (Quercus alba) timber supply in Kentucky, which evaluates both short-term and long-term economy-wide implications of projected white oak timber supply.  This study will provide insights and rationale to aid white oak dependent industries and assist in developing strategies for proactive forest management approaches to stabilize the white oak timber resource supply in Kentucky and beyond. Dr. Ochuodho is also undertaking comprehensive assessments that would enhance understanding of economic contributions and impacts associated with activities (demand/supply trends) of the sector in Kentucky and the broader southeast U.S. in order to attract attention and engage policy makers in discussions on the need for measures to sustain the sector’s economic relevance to the region. For more information please check out the IBEAM Lab.


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.


Jeffrey W. Stringer

Professor and Chair, Forestry and Natural Resources

Dr. Stringer's research has focused on white oak (Quercus alba) growth, regeneration, and high quality timber production and utilization. He is a leader in white oak sustainability and his extension enterprise includes science delivery and technology transfer to industry, practitioners, and landowners on practices to enhance white oak and the forests they dominate. Dr. Stringer is co-founder of the White Oak Initiative and is director of the Center for Forest and Wood Certification that aids industries and forest owners in developing certified wood supply chains throughout the white oak region. Specific research focus includes intermediate silviculture practices to aid in grade white oak timber development; scarification, mid-story removal and site preparation practices to enhance white oak seedling establishment and development; and two-age deferment harvests as a life boat strategy to sustain white oak in stands subject to commercial harvests. As chair of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources he is improving research capacity at UK's Wood Utilization Center and Robinson Forest to directly address white oak stave production and drying and is providing support for analysis and prediction of white oak growing stock availability and economic impacts. Along with his white oak specific work he has provided research solutions and is a leader in sustainable forest management and timber harvesting best management practices.  


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.