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NCTR Research Highlights

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Current Highlight from July 22, 2016

Species Identification of Food-Contaminating Beetles     

Scientists from NCTR and ORA’s Arkansas Regional Laboratories developed a pattern-recognition algorithm to identify food-contaminating beetles at the species level, based on microscopic images of fragments of elytra (hardened forewings), with an overall accuracy of 80%. In this preliminary project, elytra from 15 common beetle species found in storage products were imaged with a microscope, and distinctive characteristics were quantified and used as inputs to artificial neural networks for species classification. Species identification of beetle fragments can be an indicator of insanitation or food safety hazards and is a crucial step in food-contamination inspections, which are currently conducted by human analysts. This study demonstrates the potential for modern pattern-recognition systems to provide a faster and more cost-effective approach to food inspection. A manuscript detailing the study is available online at PLoS ONEdisclaimer icon.


For additional information, please contact Zhihua Xu, Ph.D., Division of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, FDA/NCTR.

Central Arkansas Undergraduate Research Symposium     

Twenty-two undergraduates from NCTR’s Summer Student Research Program participated in the 5th Annual Central Arkansas Undergraduate Research Symposium held July 20, 2016 at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences by presenting a total of 19 poster presentations and three oral presentations of their 10-week summer research projects. Awards were given for the top three posters and top three oral presentations. One NCTR student received 3rd place overall in the poster session (91 posters total) and another received 1st place overall in the oral presentations (12 oral presentations total). Participation in this annual symposium allows NCTR to partner with other summer undergraduate research programs throughout Arkansas to support training and professional development for the next generation of scientists.


For additional information, please contact Laura Schnackenberg, Ph.D., Division of Systems Biology, FDA/NCTR.



Contact FDA

National Center for Toxicological Research

Food and Drug Administration

3900 NCTR Road

Jefferson, AR 72079

Page Last Updated: 07/26/2016
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