As interim director of the School of Food Science, Girish Ganjyal leads Washington State University education, research, and outreach in food safety, dairy science, and healthier, more valuable products.
An associate professor and Extension food processing specialist, Ganjyal has led the department since January 2020.
WSU’s School of Food Science explores the fundamental science of food, including dairy science, fermentation, and food’s impact on our health and enjoyment.
Faculty in the school train the next generation of professionals in food-related careers, which make up the nation’s largest occupational sector. The school maintains a collaborative partnership with the University of Idaho, in which students are able to take classes at both universities and faculty work together in research and outreach.
A WSU faculty member since 2013, Ganjyal led a team of scientists and students working to develop new, healthier, more nutritious, enjoyable ready-to-eat foods, such as higher-fiber, vegetable-based snack puffs. Recognized for expertise in food safety, ingredients, and extrusion, he works closely with the food industry to introduce improved practices and new technologies.
“Dr. Ganjyal’s talents as a teacher and leader, combined with his insights into the value of research to our health and food system, make him an ideal leader for the school,” said André-Denis Wright, dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS). “His work and dedication embody our college’s land-grant mission to share knowledge that improves our lives.”
Holding degrees in agricultural engineering, food processing, food process engineering, and business administration, Ganjyal joined WSU following a nine-year stint in the food industry, including five years at a large Kansas-based food ingredient manufacturer and distiller, and four years at PepsiCo in Plano, Texas.
Growing up in India, Ganjyal became interested in food science as a child.
“Our house was near an agricultural trading facility, where traders set prices for crops,” he said. “Large amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits would go to waste.”
“Seeing that, I felt the need to do something to help reduce food waste, add value to those perishable crops, and extend their shelf life,” Ganjyal said. “That is how I got into food processing.”
The School of Food Science nourishes growing strengths in food safety, dairy science, and proteins, Ganjyal said. It is home to Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe and the WSU Creamery, making the university’s popular Cougar Gold cheese, ice cream, and other products. Proceeds support student work experience as well as initiatives and infrastructure in the college.
As interim director, Ganjyal has set out to grow national and international recognition in food production, dairy science, and safety, while working closely with partners in the food industry to build a strong undergraduate program that attracts and prepares students for future careers. He is currently developing an online food safety proficiency certificate program to better meet industry needs.
“The School of Food Science has a powerful history of research, teaching and Extension partnership, and in bringing new ideas to market—from healthier snack products to our famous Cougar Gold,” Ganjyal said.
“As a school, we have made significant positive impacts on industry and society,” he added. “I see great opportunities to grow in our areas of strength. With our proven track record, I believe we have a lot more to accomplish in the future.”