Aliakbarian reduces by-product waste in supply chains with a holistic approach

You are here

Photo of Bahar AliakbarianPublished: January 17, 2023 

Bahar Aliakbarian, Ph.D., joined Michigan State University (MSU) in 2017 at the Axia Institute to work on supply chain management. Her home department became Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) in March 2022. Aliakbarian’s expertise in her field is recognized around the world. She was also a guest instructor for a Ph.D. course at the University of Genoa in 2022, Smart Supply Chain and Application of Sensor-Based Technologies.

Aliakbarian studied Chemical Engineering, focusing on food processing and food engineering. After completing her undergraduate and graduate work in Italy, she worked in Boston, MA, as a post-doc. She was completing research between MIT and Harvard. She enjoyed the university experience in the U.S. She observed that many by-products are generated in food manufacturing. Typically, these by-products are considered waste even though they can have some value to companies. Aliakbarian took that as inspiration for her research method. She examines entire supply chains and seeks unique ways to reduce waste and create value in by-products outside fertilizers and compost. 

“Currently,” said Aliakbarian “waste management remains one of the most crucial problems to solve in the Western world society, and there is a pressing need to prevent and reduce food waste to make the transition to a resource-efficient world. Residues from agri-food industries, including both by-products and wastes, often represent an environmental burden, either in terms of the impact of their use in low-added value products or of their disposal. Food wastes, however, represent an opportunity to contribute to the economic and social benefit once they are effectively valorized, which is the goal of my research platform”.

The Axia Institute collaborates with industry partners for many of their projects, which provides relevant and real-time research opportunities. Aliakbarian’s current projects focus on Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFID)’s for traceability in the pharmaceutical industry. 

RFID technology is not new, but it is a newer pharmaceutical method. The Axia Institute built a small RFID lab to simulate the entire supply chain. The overall goal of the research project is to determine if the RFID tags remain on products throughout the entire supply chain, from production to patient.