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Robert (Bob) Lane

Extension Specialist, Seafood
  • Research areas: Thermal and vision food processing, evaluation, validation; time/temperature measurement and analysis; sustainable energy, water, resource and waste management
Robert Lane, Virginia Tech Biological Systems Engineering Faculty
Virginia Seafood AREC
  • Fax: (757) 727-4871


M.S., Agricultural and Life Sciences, Virginia Tech, 2011

B.S., Agricultural Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1978


June 1995-present: Extension Specialist, Seafood Engineer, Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Hampton, Va.

August 1988-June 1995: Marine Extension Agent, Seafood Unit Eastern District, Virginia Seafood AREC, Hampton, Va.

July 1987-August 1988: Energy Analyst, D.M.C. Energy Richmond, Va.

July 1987-August 1988: Energy Analyst and Contract Specialist Energy Services Group, Williamsburg, Va.

1986-1987: Customer Service Representative, Virginia Power, Williamsburg, Va.

1984-1986: Customer Contract Representative Virginia Power, Charlottesville, Va.

1983-1984: Energy Services Representative, Virginia Power, Charlottesville, Va.

1978-1983: Marketing Services Representative, Virginia Power, Charlottesville, Va.

Selected Major Awards

  • 2008: 20-year Virginia Tech Employee Service Award
  • 2006: Institute For Thermal Processing Specialist Merit Award
  • 1994: Elected to the Alpha Gamma Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi
  • 1993: Outstanding Team Award, “Reaction to Listeria monocytogenesin Blue Crab Meat,” Epsilon Sigma Phi.
  • 1986:  Recognition for four-year service on a 12-member Virginia Power task force representing 12,000 employees, which developed and implemented a company-wide Employee Community Volunteer Program. The program is nationally recognized as a model for corporate employee volunteer programs

Program Focus

Sustainable and renewable energy

Current Projects

For a number of years, I have supported the planning, development, installation, and application of alternative energy sources for heating and cooling water at a commercial aquaculture facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. This facility produces, holds, and grows out fish for different bait and food markets. Support included: 

  • Cooperation with the Virginia Department of Energy as an auditor to analyze energy use for installation of state-loaned, 50-meter tower to measure and record wind speed and direction data for a year to determine possible energy savings through wind turbine
  • Technical and programmatic grant support for aquaculture facility owners and management to submit a successful grant to the Virginia Department of Energy requesting funding for purchase and installation 67 Kw of solar heating to maintain winter water temperature for fish environment
  • Technical support for the aquaculture facility to install a ground water loop system and incorporate it with existing solar heat exchanger to maintain summer water temperature for fish environment

As a result of this work, the facility has grown in number of fish successfully produced and held, while reducing the energy consumption of bottled gas used to heat the water in the winter. Replacement or purchase of any new mechanical air conditioning to cool water was avoided through the installation and use of the ground water loop system during the summer months. The facility owner and the management encourage the sharing of this information in detail to encourage other aquaculture facilities to operate using sustainable and renewable energy.

Program Focus

Food safety confirmation thorough: 

  • Process validation
  • Temperature controls measurement
  • Product cooling within a specific time frame to control pathogen growth

Current Projects

  • Process validations are developed for the reduction of specific target organisms in seafood and other food products by measuring the geometrical center temperature of food products over specific time intervals during processing. Process validations establish the repeatable cook schedule a company uses for a specific product cooked at a specific total weight in a specific size container within a specific cooking system. The written process validation is maintained as a recorded part of the federal food safety plan requirements for each facility that produces a food product. Recent product examples are (The target organism of each was Listeria monocytogenes): 
    • Pressure retorted crabs
    • Atmospheric steamed shrimp
    • Atmospheric steamed crabs
    • Boiled red crab
    • Cooked pond prawns
    • Pre-cooked crab cakes
    • Frozen crab meat 
    • “Broiled peanuts” 
  • Process validations are also developed in the same way to extend shelf life of food (i.e. pasteurized crabmeat)
  • Temperature controls measurement is the act of verifying that the temperature of the temperature controlled space (TCS) is actually within the limits of the temperature controlling device. This is achieved by measuring the temperature of the TCS and the products in it over time to determine if the temperature of the TCS and the products can be brought within the set range of the controlling device (i.e. belted IQF freezers, belted shrimp cookers, mechanical freezers and walk-in coolers).
  • I am working with oyster harvesters and the first receivers of oysters to document that oysters can be cooled from their initial harvested temperatures and reduced by refrigeration to 50° F or below within 10 hours as enforced by the Virginia Health during the oyster harvest months, May 1-September 30.

Selected Recent Publications

  • Xiong G., D. Lee, K. Moon, R. Lane. “Shape similarity measure using turn angle cross-correlation for oyster quality evaluation.” Journal of Food Engineering 100 (2010) 178–186.
  • Hu Z.*, R. Lane, Z. WEN. Composting clam processing wastes in a laboratory- and pilot-scale in-vessel system. Waste Management 29 (1): 180-185.

*graduate student

Selected Recent Funding

  • "Supply Chains for Famed Shellfish," Lane, R.M., Johns Hopkins University, $50,000, 2017-2019
  • “Evaluation of Package, Process and Grade,” Lane R.M., Commercial Fish and Shellfish Technologies, State of Virginia, $7,800,  July 2010-June 2011
  • PONDER M., R. Williams, R. Lane, The Survival and Gene Expression of Salmonella enterica in Value Added Peanut Products and the Development of a Validated Thermal Process, Bioprocessing and Biodesign Research Center, $47,830,  January 2010-April 2011
  • “Evaluation of Package, Process and Grade,” Lane R.M., Commercial Fish and Shellfish Technologies, State of Virginia, $9,500, July 2009-June 2010
  • “Package Testing and Integrity Validation,” Lane R.M., Commercial Fish and ShellfishTechnologies, State of Virginia, $14,950, July 2008-June 200
  • “Develop, evaluate and characterize different package types on the quality, shelf life and market acceptability of pasteurized and fresh crab meat,” Jahncke M., R. Lane, D. Kauffman, H. Sutton, Virginia Sea Grant, $173,301 February 2007-February 2009
  • “Package Testing and Integrity Validation,” Lane R., M., Jahncke, H. Crocker, Commercial Fish and Shellfish Technologies, State of Virginia, $5,800, July 2007-June 2008
  • “Seafood Waste Inventory,” Lane R., Z.Wen, J. Ignosh, Commercial Fish and Shellfish Technologies, State of Virginia, $1,735, July 2007-June 2008