Federico Harte, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor of Food Science
Federico Harte, Ph.D.
331 Rodney A. Erickson Food Science Building
University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-867-5689


  1. B.S., University of Uruguay. Agricultural Engineering.
  2. Ph.D., Washington State University. Biological Systems Engineering.

Research in my lab focuses on:

1. Structure-function properties of milk proteins, with a strong emphasis on casein proteins.

The casein proteins account for 80% of the total protein content in bovine milk and 40% of the total protein content in human milk.  The casein proteins aggregate into so called “casein micelles” of spherical shape and ca. 150 nm diameter. Bovine milk is white because of the 1015 casein micelles (nano ping pong balls) dispersed in every mL of milk. The agreed biological function of the casein micelles is to transport amino acids and calcium from mother to young. This is widely accepted based on the fact that milk is supersaturated with calcium (bovine milk contains ca. 1.2 mg calcium per mL of milk whereas water can only dissolve up to 0.02 mg of calcium – as calcium phosphate – per mL) and because the phospho-serine aminoacids responsible of holding calcium-rich clusters are conserved throughout virtually all mammal species. The casein micelles have also a tremendous technological relevance as they constitute the building blocks of traditional dairy foods, including cheese and yogurt. We are elucidating casein micelle structure-function relationships that are relevant to the fundamental understanding of the biological relevance of this nano-delivery system and the engineering of novel application within the food and health industries.

2. Nonthermal technologies for fluid foods: valve homogenization.

Homogenization is a term used by food scientists and engineers to describe a wide variety of processes including ultrasonic, rotary, membrane, colloidal mill, and valve homogenization … among others. The ambiguity in the use of the word "homogenization" rises from the fact that any process that reduces the relative heterogeneity of a system can be called homogenization. We focus on what is typically referred to as "high pressure valve homogenization" or "dynamic high pressure homogenization" where several physical phenomena (including hydrostatic pressure, cavitation, shear stress, temperature) promote changes ranging from microbial and virus inactivation to protein structural modification and atypical molecular interactions. This process is applied to liquid foods by devices consisting of a positive displacement pump (usually a plunger type pump) and one or more restrictions to flow (stages) created by valves or nozzles. We arbitrarily define "high pressure homogenization" as homogenization processes where pumps are able to deliver at least 100 MPa hydrostatic pressure to a liquid food. We are currently working at maximum pressures that are six times that at bottom of the Marianas trench. As homogenization technologies keep “evolving” and higher pressures are achieved, the agreement on how to define “high pressure” vs. “low pressure” will most certainly change too.

3. Industry-University effective collaboration (new).

There are multiple avenues used between Universities and the Food Industry, with different degrees of success and no thorough evaluation. We are looking for partners to identify the key questions and answers leading to win–win University-Industry interactions. Several inquiries need to be formulated and aggressively addressed to cross the “valley of silence” that some of these partnerships face. A brief list include: Definition of basic and applied research under University and Industry setups; Success of short vs. long term interactions; Nondisclosure agreements, confidentiality agreements and material transfer agreements; Patents and research publications; Effective articulation of needs; Research vs. consulting; Research investment and revenue generation; Industry scouts; Effective and ineffective industry project liaisons; industry scale and research endeavors; Research through third parties; Graduate students and industry research; Industry research and the tenure process; Industry-University-Federal Agencies projects; Industry-University Consortia; Successful and unsuccessful interactions.

Recent Publications:

Harte, F. 2016. Food Processing by High-Pressure Homogenization. In V.M. Balasubramaniam, Gustavo V. Barbosa-Cánovas, Huub L.M. Lelieveld (Eds.), High Pressure Processing of Food Springer New York. DOI #: 978-1-4939-3233-7 ( Book Chapter)

Mohan, M. S., R. Ye, and F. Harte. 2016. Initial study on high pressure jet processing using a modified waterjet on physicochemical and rennet coagulation properties of pasteurized skim milk. International Dairy Journal 55: 52-58.

Castel, V., Zivanovic, S., Jurat‐Fuentes, J. L., Santiago, L. G., Rubiolo, A. C., Carrara, C. R., and Harte, F. M. 2016. Chromatographic fractionation and molecular mass characterization of Cercidium praecox (Brea) gum. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.7642.

Artegoitia, V. M., de Veth, M. J., Harte, F., Ouellet, D. R., and Girard, C. L. 2015. Casein hydrolysate and whey proteins as excipients for cyanocobalamin to increase intestinal absorption in the lactating dairy cow. Journal of Dairy Science, 98(11):8128–8132

Cheema, M., Mohan M., Campagna, S. R., Jurat-Fuentes, J. L., Harte, F. 2015. The association of low molecular weight hydrophobic compounds to native casein micelles in milk. Journal of Dairy Science, 98(8):5155–5163

Corzo-Martínez, M., Mohan, M., Dunlap, J., and Harte, F.  2015. Effect of Ultra-High Pressure Homogenization on the Interaction between Bovine Casein Micelles and Ritonavir. Pharmaceutical Research, 32(3):1055-1071

Bozkurt, H., Ye, X., Harte, F., D’Souza, D. H., and Davidson, P. M. 2015. Thermal inactivation kinetics of hepatitis A virus in spinach. International Journal of Food Microbiology 193(16):147–151

Artegoitia, V. M., Middleton, J. L., Harte, F. M., Campagna, S. R., and de Veth, M. J. 2014. Choline and Choline Metabolite Patterns and Associations in Blood and Milk during Lactation in Dairy Cows. PloS one, 9(8), e103412

Trejo, R., Corzo-Martinez, M., Wilkinson, S., Higginbotham, K., and Harte, F*. 2014. Effect of a low temperature step during fermentation on the physico-chemical properties of fat-free yogurt. International Dairy Journal, 36(1):14-20

Gonzalez-Gil, F., Diaz-Sanchez, S., Pendleton, S., Andino, A., Zhang, N., Yard, C., Crilly, N., Harte, F., and Hanning, I. 2014. Yerba mate enhances probiotic bacteria growth in vitro but as a feed additive does not reduce Salmonella Enteritidis colonization in vivo. Poultry Science, 93:434-440

Ye, R. and Harte, F*. 2014. High pressure homogenization to improve the stability of casein - hydroxypropyl cellulose aqueous systems. Food Hydrocolloids, 35:670-677

Mannam, V., Worley, S., Smith, D., Wilkerson, J., and Harte, F. 2013. Automatic seed hydration analysis system: design and evaluation. Transactions of the ASABE, 56(6): 1449-1455

Chen, W., Harte, F. M., Davidson, P. M., and Golden, D. A. 2013. Inactivation of Alicyclobacillus acidoterrestris using high pressure homogenization and dimethyl dicarbonate. Journal of Food Protection, 76(6):1041-1045

Ye, R., and Harte, F. 2013. Casein maps: Effect of ethanol, pH, temperature, and CaCl2 on the particle size of reconstituted casein micelles. Journal of Dairy Science 96(2):799-805

Mohan, M. S., Jurat-Fuentes, J. L., and Harte, F. 2013. Binding of vitamin A by casein micelles in commercial skim milk. Journal of Dairy Science 96(2):790-798

Horm, K. M., Harte, F., and D'Souza, D. H. 2012. Human norovirus surrogate reduction in milk and juice blends by high pressure homogenization. Journal of Food Protection 75(11):1984-1990

Al-Nabulsi, A., Shaker, R., Osaili, T., Clark, S., Harte, F., and Barbosa-Cánovas, G. 2012. Impact of high hydrostatic pressure and heat treatments on milk gel properties: a comparative rheological study. International Journal of Food Properties 15(3):613-627

Burris, K. P., Harte, F. Davidson, P. M., Stewart, Jr, C. N., and Zivanovic, S., 2012. Composition and bioactive properties of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis A. St.-Hil.): a review. Chilean JAR 72(2):268-274

Burris, K. P., Davidson, P. M., Stewart, Jr, C. N., Zivanovic, S., and Harte, F. 2012. Aqueous extracts of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) as a natural antimicrobial against Escherichia coli O157:H7 in microbiological media and apple juice. Journal of Food Protection 75(4):753-757

Horm, K. M., Davidson, P. M., Harte, F. M., and D'Souza, D. H. 2012. Survival and inactivation of human norovirus surrogates in blueberry juice by high-pressure homogenization. Foodborne pathogens and disease 9(11):974-979

Trejo, R., Dokland, T., Jurat-Fuentes, J. and Harte, F. 2011. Cryo-transmission electron tomography of native casein micelles from bovine milk. Journal of Dairy Science, 94(12):5770-5775

D’Souza, D., Su, X., and Harte, F. 2011. Comparison of reduction in foodborne viral surrogates by high pressure homogenization. Journal of Food Protection 74(11):1840-1847

Burris, K. P., Davidson, P. M., Stewart, Jr, C. N., and Harte, F. 2011. Antimicrobial activity of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) aqueous extracts against Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Staphylococcus aureus. Journal of Food Science 76(6):M456–M462

Martínez, K. D., Ganesan, V., Pilosof, A. M. R., and Harte, F. 2011. Effect of dynamic high-pressure treatment on the interfacial and foaming properties of soy protein isolate–hydroxypropylmethylcelluloses systems. Food Hydrocolloids 25(6):1640-1645

Escobar, D, Clark, S, Ganesan, V, Repiso, L, J. C. Waller, and Harte, F.  2011.  High pressure homogenization of raw and pasteurized milk modifies the yield, composition, and texture of Queso Fresco cheese. Journal of Dairy Science 94(3):1201-1210

Corzo-Martínez, M., Soria, A. C., Villamiel, M., Olano, F., Harte, F., and Moreno, F. J. 2011. Effect of glycation on sodium caseinate-stabilized emulsions obtained by ultrasound. Journal of Dairy Science 94(1):51-58