Headshot of Mohammad Zarei.
Zarei received his doctorate in food biotechnology from the University Putra Malaysia.

Mohammad Zarei, a research scientist at the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center, is the newest addition to the growing team in Hampton, Virginia. Applying novel technologies and working with protein sources ranging from insects to crops like sorghum, Mohammad will support the center's Future Foods Lab and Cellular Agriculture Initiative and program efforts to develop alternative food proteins to supplement the food supply. His work will focus on alternative proteins, bioprocessing and fermentation, insect-based biomaterials, and waste valorization to develop value-added products, including biologically active protein hydrolysates and peptides.

 "We have seen so much growth in this program since first starting work with alternative proteins in 2018," said Reza Ovissipour, assistant professor in the School of Food Science and Technology and program lead for the Future Foods Lab at the Virginia Seafood AREC. "The addition of Mohammad and his experience to our lab is an asset to our whole program."

 Applying his experience working with enzymatic hydrolysis of food proteins to his new post here at Virginia Tech, Mohammad will work with sorghum-based proteins as well as black soldier fly proteins and agriculture wastes to create value-added products. In addition to black soldier flies, researchers in the Future Foods Lab are already working with several other insect species. While these insects — including mealworm, black soldier fly, and cricket — are edible on their own, researchers at the center can apply enzymatic, fermentation, and bioprocessing methods to improve the bioaccessibility of compounds in the insects, converting them to invaluable bio-ingredients for human consumption and use in animal feed.

 "I am looking forward to assisting with optimization, characterization, and development of different plant, animal, and marine-based proteins to be used for human consumption, as well as for aquaculture and animal-based products," said Mohammad of his new post.

Before joining Virginia Tech, Mohammad served as a visiting scholar at the University of Arkansas and as an assistant professor at the University Technology MARA. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Faculty of Food Science and Technology at the University Putra Malaysia and served as an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, the Faculty of Agricultural and Natural Resources at Azad University in Kurdistan, Iran.

 Mohammad received his bachelor's degree in food science and technology from Urmia University, his master's degree in food science and technology from the University of Tabriz, and his doctorate in food biotechnology from the University Putra Malaysia.