Hilda Vasanthakaalam is the Dean of the School of Agriculture & Food Science at the University of Rwanda. She serves as an in-country co-PI on the Horticulture Innovation Lab project focused on reducing postharvest losses in Rwanda.
Vasanthakaalam primarily investigates how processing can alter the bio-availability of nutrients, functional properties and the nutritional profile of foods. She is passionate about developing novel, nutritious and safe foods which can be commercially scaled up. She has worked on several crops including orange fleshed sweet potatoes, carrots, green leafy vegetables, tree tomato and passion fruit. Vasanthakaalam has also experimented with various technologies and techniques to preserve the quality of horticultural crops through the use of farm shades, crates, harvesting aprons, gentle handling, washing, air drying of produce and the zero energy cool chamber (ZECC).
She has 23 years of experience in higher education in international environments, with expertise in teaching & assessment at undergrduate and post-graduate levels, including curriculum development, course coordination, teaching-learning enhancement, program review, and mentoring (staff and students) with pastoral care. In Rwanda, she has worked on two USAID-funded research projects, with the Horticultur Innovation Lab and also with the Bean and Cowpea Collaborative Research Support Program (Bean CRSP). She has also partnered with HarvestPlus researchers, and has been involved in orange flesh sweet potato (with the DONATA project), and research funded by the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) on tree fruit processing with the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB). In April 2010, she won the Cochran fellow, supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to undertake soybean processing training at the National Soybean Research Laboratory in the United States.
Vasanthakaalam holds a Ph.D. in food science and nutrition from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in India. Her master's of science and a bachelor's of science degrees are in food service management from Bharathiar University in India.
What inspires me:
Simple technologies that have a great influence on the nutrients and quality of fruits & veggies!