The National Cheese Institute (NCI), Washington, D.C., named David M. Barbano, Ph.D., a professor of food science at Cornell University, as the recipient of the 2018 NCI Laureate Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant and long-term contributions to the development and growth of the cheese industry.

NCI Chairman David Ahlem, who is president and CEO of Hilmar Cheese Company Inc., presented the award to Barbano during a special ceremony at the International Dairy Foods Association's (IDFA) Dairy Forum 2018 in Palm Desert, Calif.

“The National Cheese Institute bestows its highest honor, the NCI Laureate Award, on an outstanding researcher, a prolific writer and a revered teacher,” Ahlem said, before introducing a brief video showcasing Barbano and his achievements.

Through his research, Barbano has developed and introduced many industry advancements, including new cost-effective cheese manufacturing processes that have helped to improve product safety. He also improved the functionality of mozzarella cheese and the sensory qualities of reduced-fat and low-fat cheese, IDFA said.

Barbano has been affiliated with Cornell University for more than 50 years. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food science, he joined the department as a professor in 1980 to share his knowledge and inspire dairy students.

Throughout his work at Cornell, Barbano has significantly improved testing methods and procedures for all dairy products, and his research on the chemistry and processing of dairy foods helped to develop many innovative solutions. He has published more than 85 peer-reviewed articles related to the cheese industry and trained more than 60 graduate students, IDFA noted, including many who are now making their own contributions to the industry.

Other cheese industry pioneers who have won the NCI Laureate Award include Kathy Glass, Gary Vanic, Fritz Leeman, Bob Bush, Larry Jensen, Lou Gentine, Mark Johnson, Jerome Schuman, Larry Ferguson, John Jeter, Mark Davis, Wes Allen, Elmer Marth, Max Gonzenbach, Rudy Nef, Betsy Holden, Don Storhoff, Lester Kielsmeier, Hans Epprecht, Norm Olson, Dave Nusbaum, John Nelson, Harold Steinke, Raymond Goldbach, Jack Budahn and Vince Zehren.

NCI will issue a call for nominations for the 2019 NCI Laureate Award in summer 2018, IDFA said.