Oregon State University has named a professor and chair of the food science and nutrition department at the University of Florida to head the Oregon Wine Research Institute.
He takes office on Aug. 15.
As the first OWRI director, Neil F. Shay will help further the partnership of one of the nation's leading agricultural and natural resources research institutions, and Oregon's wine industry, estimated to contribute more than $1 billion annually to the state's economy.
Shay has studied viticulture and enology for a decade and is an award-winning amateur winemaker. In addition to his doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology from UF, he holds a masters and bachelors degree in physics education and zoology.
He has led work investigating the health benefits of grapes and wine.
"There has been lots of interest generated by the discovery of certain bioactive components in grapes that have beneficial actions on human metabolism," says Shay, whose studies include the ability of bioactive compounds to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
As OWRI director, he will work closely with the state's robust and innovative wine and grape industry, connecting OSU's research and extension programs with growers and winemakers through Oregon.
"Neil has worked in land grant universities and in private industry with the W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research," notes Sonny Ramaswamy, OSU College of Agricultural Sciences dean. "He understands how to connect research and business in large-scale projects that are results-oriented.
"We are excited about the vision and passion Neil brings to the Oregon Wine Research Institute and to the industry."
He is well received as well by David Adelsheim, chair of the OWRI policy board. "We were impressed with his incredible skills," he says of Shay. "He's also a passionate wine consumer. Having made his own wine, grown his own grapes, worked informally at a winery and toured wine regions of France makes him quite rare in academia."