About the Center for Next Generation Food Systems (CNGFS)


There have been monumental leaps in technologies associated with high-performance computing manufacturing food system sciences, and engineering. These technologies have the potential to drastically improve food processing efficiency, food quality, and safety. The members of UC Berkeley Center for Next Generation Food Systems (CNGFS) have extensive expertise in simulation technologies, which it leverages to create virtual food systems that utilize the monumental leaps in High-Performance Computing (HPC), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine-Learning (ML).
The UCB team is led by Tarek Zohdi and consists of Rebecca Abergel, Ana Claudia Arias, Francesco Borrelli, Lee Fleming, Simo Makiharju, Mark Mueller, Khalid Mosalam, Ethan Ligon, Ricardo San Martin, and R. Paul Singh. The team has worked for years in the simulation technologies, advanced manufacturing, pathogen propagation, contact tracing, decontamination, autonomous systems, and technology transfer. One main effort is centered around the concept of “Digital Twins” of physical reality, i.e. digital replicas of complex food systems that can then be inexpensively and safely manipulated, improved and optimized in a virtual setting. These paradigms also use autonomous systems such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to collect information from agricultural and processing sites to feed into the digital twins which run in real-time with physical reality, by blending in new-to-market, sensors, and hyperspectral cameras into the simulation.
The overall mission of the center is to optimize societal food production, quality, and food safety/security in the era of pandemics and beyond. These themes are central to California since its economy is the 5th largest economy in the world. The institute encourages cross-collaboration and sharing of information, where possible, and through various forums to further enhance expanding opportunities. Furthermore, the institute supports the research, education, extension, and economics endeavors designed to advance public knowledge and commercial interests.
The center explores themes associated with
  • Pandemic driven food system security and safety,
  • Improving food yield, quality, and nutrition,
  • Decreasing energy and water resource consumption,
  • Increasing production yield and eliminating food waste,
  • Large surface-area agriculture, using energy-efficient technologies such as solar and wind
  • Use of autonomous systems, drones, sensors and machine-learning for detection of inefficiencies and hazards,
  • Engineering technologies involving, fluid flow in food processing, control systems, heat and mass transfer, food microstructure-macrostructure relationships, preservation processes, decontamination, dehydration processes, refrigeration processes, extrusion processes, etc.


As food industries look to optimize efficiencies, safety and energy productivity in the era of the pandemic, machine learning, and other data science tools offer a chance to improve precision and predictive capabilities for real-time process optimization.