Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Member profile

Dr. Karen Cichy

Organization: USDA-ARS
Country: United States of America
Field(s) of expertise:

Karen Cichy is a Research Plant Geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service. 

She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Plant Soil and Microbial Sciences Department at Michigan State University. Dr. Cichy holds a BS degree in Horticulture from Penn State University and MS and PhD degrees in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Michigan State University. She works on dry bean breeding and genetics. Dry beans are a nutrient dense food and Dr. Cichy’s primary goal is to increase consumption of beans by addressing consumer acceptance via improvements to nutritional and culinary quality traits. Her work is relevant to regions where beans are a dietary staple, such as Eastern and Southern Africa, and to regions where beans are not quite a staple, but increased consumption would benefit consumers’ health, such as the U.S.  Some of Dr. Cichy’s research activities include:  Breeding fast cooking dry beans and understanding the genotypic variability, genetic control and underlying mechanisms of cooking time. Developing germplasm with superior end use quality for use as whole cooked and canned beans and as a powder ingredient in products such as pasta.  Understanding seed mineral accumulation and bioavailability, including diversity studies, mapping, identification of genomic regions and genes, and breeding. Applying VIS/NIRS and hyperspectral imaging as a rapid non-destructive phenotyping tool for seed traits. 

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    • Dear all,

      I reiterate Sieg's thanks for everyone's participation and comments.  It was a very interesting discussion that hit upon many research needs and extension/outreach opportunities with pulse crops. 

      Thank you


    • Thank you everyone for great discussion and insightful comments.  I would like to follow up on some of the issues raised in regards to pulse consumption levels.  Since pulses are rich in nutrients and an eco-friendly source of dietary protein, we would expect them to be utilized to a greater extent.  I agree with the point made by Sarah Najera that pulses need to modernize in order for consumers to adopt them, especially in regions where they are not a dietary staple.  I would like to hear thoughts from others on how to approach this.  In some cases updating the packaging and highlighting the nutrition label may go a long way.  Adding pulses to new products also has the potential to increase consumption, especially if care is taken in regards to taste, convenience, and nutritional value of the products.  Also, what about creating excitement around traditional recipes by reintroducing them in an updated way?  I also would like to ask people’s opinions on what approaches should be used to increase consumption in places where pulses are a dietary staple but people are moving away from them for various reasons.