Eleni Pliakoni is an associate professor in urban food production and postharvest handling in Kansas State University's Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources, located at the K-State Olathe campus. She also serves as a principal investigator on a Horticulture Innovation Lab project in Tanzania.
She has more than 11 years of experience working with postharvest handling of fresh fruits and vegetables in Florida, Greece, Spain, and Texas. Her research program is focused on postharvest technology for local and urban food systems. She is studying the effects of various storage methods on shelf life, flavor, and nutritional quality of fresh produce. More specifically, Pliakoni is identifying pre-harvest factors and postharvest handling techniques that could be applied by small-scale growers. Projects include determining the effect of high tunnel vs. open-field production systems on the postharvest losses and nutritional quality of tomato and spinach; developing modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) technology that could be used to reduce food losses; and examining the pre-harvest effects on postharvest quality of strawberries grown in high tunnels.
Pliakoni joined Kansas State University as a faculty member in April 2013. She previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida, where she collaborated with the Horticulture Innovation Lab on an earlier project focused on developing training materials to improve postharvest practices in Honduras and Guatemala.
She holds a Ph.D. in agricultural sciences from University of Thessaly (Greece); an M.S. in Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Crete (Greece); and also joint master's of science and bachelor's degrees from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece).
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