Brian Jacobson is the Assistant Director of Pilot Plant Operations at the University of Illinois, managing operations of the newly constructed Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory and Food Science & Human Nutrition Pilot Processing Plant. These facilities are comprised of 60,000 square feet of pilot plant and supporting research space, as well as a wide selection of pilot-scale processing and laboratory equipment.
Brian grew up working on the family farm, raising traditional midwestern crops and production animals while enjoying an appreciation of nature and the outdoors. He earned degrees in Technical Systems Management (B.S., Engineering + Business) and Food Science (M.S.) at the University of Illinois and immediately began working to expand their pilot scale teaching and research facilities. These efforts included substantial facility and equipment design, fundraising, construction, and programmatic work that led to the growing programs that exist today.
Through projects at these facilities, Brian has worked with academic researchers and industry clients ranging in size from small startups to multinational corporations. Experiences with these companies include collaborations starting during the initial ideation and product development phases through product launch and ongoing process improvement, optimization, and production support. Technologies and product experience include industrial fermentation, plant commodity fractionation and extractions, liquid separations, functional beverages, baked goods, retorted products, extrusion, meat processing, and others. Brian has an extensive knowledge of processing technologies and is very active within this network of equipment manufacturers, pilot facilities, co-packers, and the companies they support.
Brian is also involved in a variety of activities including efforts to promote regenerative agriculture, advising food tech startups and small businesses, and building programs and facilities that promote learning and research in agriculture. He is a member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Chicago Section IFT, and serves on various safety and policy committees.