For more than 30 years, the Dairy Products Technology Center (DPTC) at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, has provided three key programs — Dairy Ingredients Application, Research and Outreach Activities — in its pursuit to excel and expand in the areas of dairy foods research, technology transfer, and education.
The DPTC has been a dependable and essential contributor to the education of students, advancement of the industry and entrepreneurs working with dairy and dairy ingredients. Through the Dairy Ingredients Application program, the DPTC has provided technical assistance in prototype/concept development and product and process troubleshooting to various groups of dairy ingredients users. The Research program on dairy ingredients and products has covered a wide rage of topics from cheese technology to milk composition, nutritional profiling and labeling, and product and process development. And the Outreach Program has offered various short courses, workshops and symposia to provide technical support, troubleshooting and information technology transfer that contributes to scientific knowledge.
However, something new has happened at the DPTC: Dr. David Everett has joined the Animal Science Department as the Leprino Foods Endowed Chair, and is the new Director of the DPTC. Everett jumped into his new positions with both feet in January of this year, immersing himself in the existing culture and almost immediately having his own effect on it by calling it the “Dairy Innovation Institute.” Though not yet the official new moniker for the DPTC, it is an homage to what is happening inside the building labeled with those exact words on the outside.
“My skills are in research, since I come from a research-intensive university,” Everett said. “So I’m interested in taking skills from my background and helping build up not just industry-applied projects, but also more basic science research. We need that foundation to develop intellectual capital. You can’t have one without the other — you need the foundation and the application.”
His work at the University of Otago, New Zealand — where he led a research team investigating emulsions, colloid and surface chemistry of food products, food microstructure and flavor development — contributes to his solid foundation in the dairy industry.
“I’m actually Australian,” he began, “though everyone thinks I’m from New Zealand because I taught there for 16 years.”
In fact, Everett has been involved in dairy research since 1987. He began work as an experimental scientist at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia before earning his Ph.D. from the dairy program at the University of Wisconsin. Since then, he has also lectured at the University of Melbourne, helped connect universities and industry at the Australian Food Ingredient Application Centre, and presided over the Executive Committee at the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology.
Partners in industry are eager to see how he’ll grow the Institute formerly known as the DPTC and engage the next generation of scientists, farmers and others working within the dairy industry.
“California has a very large and very diverse dairy products industry, and change occurs rapidly within it,” said Dr. Gonca Pasin, executive director of the California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF). “We need world-class researchers and programs to continue to be competitive in global markets and facilitate growth.
Everett’s skills, knowledge, enthusiasm and international panache have prepared him well to do just that.
“Everett brings tremendous experience both in applied and basic research,” Pasin added. “I’m sure he will foster new ideas and expand relationships — bring the DPTC into the world spotlight. He’s the man of the day, really.”
Global Experience and Local Resources Guide Unique Opportunities
Everett plans on engaging his wide array of experience as he guides the DPTC into its next journey. One of the bigger changes Everett is facilitating is the seamless integration of the organization, not just with its new home in the Cal Poly Animal Sciences Department but also within the Institute itself.
“The DPTC has been going through a lot of change, so it’s an exciting place to [be],” he explained.
Everett is using the new union with the animal science department to start looking at dairy products from the beginning — starting with the animals that produce the milk. The animal science team members can provide new expertise regarding the impact that the cow itself has on dairy products.
“That’s easy now that we have animal science on the team,’’ Everett said. “Calving, animal distribution, milking, processing; it’s all part of the same chain, so why not consider it together?”
He also plans to build upon the DPTC’s relationship with the dairy industry. Everett is looking to provide high-value training and education through an annual Dairy Ingredients Symposium and several short courses, funded by CDRF through California dairy checkoff dollars.
“We intend to work very closely with CDRF,” he said. “They are a very valuable partner and supporter of our work here.”
“Our motto is Learn by Doing,” Everett explained. “That says very clearly that students need to understand how things work in the dairy industry. We need to get them making products, get them experience and real understanding. We look at our industry partners as true partners, not just resources, and what we do should benefit both sides. We graduate students that the industry wants, so we are talent builders for an industry that is talent seeking”
Beyond the technical and training programs, Everett also plans to increase production levels at the Institute’s commercial creamery. He believes his international experience will be especially helpful in this endeavor.
“In New Zealand, only about 5% of the milk produced is consumed locally,” he explained — the remaining 95% is exported. “That’s a different perspective! It means New Zealand has to be very innovative on products because fresh milk is hard to export. I want to bring that focus on developing valuable milk parts and value-added milk components to the Dairy Innovation Institute.”
He foresees the Institute expanding into specialty cheese, Swiss alpine style cheeses, and even artisanal cheeses.
“There is a great opportunity here, leveraging what we have only in California,” Everett said. “That’s what the Swiss do, they take advantage of unique land and resources and type of vegetation that the cows eat to create unique products.”
“Some reporter once said that San Luis Obispo is the happiest city,” Everett said. “I will make this the happiest place for the dairy industry to come work!”
So, who says it’s the ‘Happiest City’ — check out these sources: