Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Thank you, AOCS members, who helped us grow during March 2022!

We recognize the following AOCS members who recruited new Active (individual) Members and Students Members during March 2022. We appreciate your time and dedication to our community! AOCS members can view the list of new members in the AOCS Premium Content Library.

Many of these new members will be attending the 2022 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo on May 1–4 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and online. We look forward to welcoming all of our new members in Atlanta for engaging technical sessions and fun networking events!

AOCS picnic basket

The AOCS Refer-a-Friend program rewards AOCS members with a US $20 gift card for every member they recruit. Members can also choose to donate the reward to the AOCS Foundation. Also, for each new referral, members are entered to win a deluxe AOCS picnic basket.

Congratulations to Fernanda Dias for winning the picnic basket for the first quarter! You can read a short interview with her about why she's a member and encouraged a student to join AOCS.

Recruiters of Active Members

  • Mark Bollinger
  • Juliana Caixeta Guimaraes
  • Pete C. Cartwright
  • Gina M Clapper, MS
  • Stephen B. Del Cardayre
  • Fabiola Dionisi
  • Ian Duncan
  • Leon Pablo Espinosa (4 members)
  • Dr. Lei Fang (2 members)
  • Douglas G. Hayes
  • Blake Hendrix (4 members)
  • Andrew J. Kaziska
  • Zachary Martin
  • Mr. Jose Vicente Pinzon Robayo (2 members)
  • Steven J. Robbins
  • Kathleen Stanton
  • Gabriella Wright-Nagel
  • Xuebing Xu

Recruiters of Student Members

  • Douglas M. Bibus
  • Fernanda Dias
  • Lisa Stephanie Dizon
  • Zheng Guo
  • David F. Hildebrand
  • Charlotte M. Jacobsen
  • Randy Maglinao
  • Melissa Perez
  • Prasanth Kumar Punathil Kannan
  • Ariana Saffold
  • Abigail Sommer
  • Filip Van Bockstaele
  • Robert E. Ward
  • Haizhou Wu

Monday, April 25, 2022

Congratulations to Fernanda Dias for winning the Member Refer-a-Friend drawing!

The AOCS Refer-a-Friend rewards program rewards AOCS members with a US $20 gift card for every member they recruit. For each new referral, AOCS members are entered to win a deluxe AOCS picnic basket.

Congratulations to Fernanda Dias for winning the the picnic basket for the first quarter of 2022! In the interview below, Fernanda shared how AOCS has helped her in her career and why she decided to encourage Jasmin, a second-year graduate student, to join AOCS.

Fernanda Dias

Why did you think AOCS would be a good fit for your colleague?

AOCS is a great opportunity for Jasmin, a second-year graduate student, to connect with researchers and innovators from industry, academia, and government laboratories around the world. Since collaboration is a critical aspect of research, AOCS provides an invaluable opportunity to foster lifetime academic connections.

What have you gained from being a member of AOCS?

AOCS helps me to disseminate my research on lipids and proteins chemistry and helps me to keep up with current research on fats, lipids, proteins, and related materials. Moreover, this society helps me to interact and/or strengthen my relationship with brilliant professionals through meetings, specialized interest groups, and other networking opportunities.

How is AOCS different from other scientific societies?

AOCS is a unique society that helps its members to build a strong scientific community with the top minds and leaders from each field.

Thank you, Fernanda, for your support of AOCS. If you are an AOCS member, you can view the list of new members for March 2022 in the AOCS Premium Content Library. Don't forget to say "hi!"

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Member spotlight: Rinat Ran-Ressler

Rinat Ran-Ressler is a principal scientist on the Science and Technology Team at Nestlé Product Technology Center, Nestle Health Sciences, in Bridgewater, NJ, USA.

Dr. Ran-Ressler is a registered dietician with clinical experience and a Ph.D. in human nutrition from Cornell University. She pursued her Ph.D. at Dr. Tom Brenna’s lab, studying the role of branched chain fatty acids—rare fatty acids that were considered metabolically inert—in gut development. She  joined Nestlé Health Science as a senior scientist before moving into her current role.

Describe your research and/or explain what big challenge or problem your work is trying to solve.

I have several roles within Nestlé Health Science. With respect to lipids and oils, I am a member of an Expert Network within Nestlé. Our goal is to drive innovation and focus applications of our lipid discoveries across Nestlé’s business categories. Quality, feasibility, nutritional merit, and sustainability are high priority considerations, which guide us when we choose our oils.

How has AOCS helped you in the past in solving challenges in your work/research?

One of the advantages of AOCS is that it serves as an applicable knowledge platform across a broad spectrum of topics within the arena of lipids and oils. It is a platform that enables us to collaborate, connect, learn from each other, and share experiences. AOCS combines industry and academia to foster discoveries that empower and enhance the important and exciting role of lipids and oils in health and nutrition.

Member spotlight: Ignacio Vieitez

Ignacio Vieitez is a full research professor in the Department of Science and Food Technology, School of Chemistry, at Universdad de la República (UdelaR) in Montevideo, Uruguay. Prof. Vieitez received a Ph.D. in chemistry from UdelaR. He currently develops new green extraction processes based on the use of compressed fluids to isolate bioactive compounds from natural sources such as agricultural by-products and plants. He has been an AOCS member since 2011 and participates in several academic and social activities across different AOCS Divisions.

He is the session chair for the following sessions at the 2022 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo:

“It is a pleasure to be involved in different activities with AOCS and to interact with the members,” he says. “Therefore, I strongly recommend being able to participate in the AOCS 2022 meeting.”

Prof. Vieitez, please describe your research and/or explain what big challenge or problem your work is trying to solve.

Obtaining natural bioactive extracts from natural sources is not an easy task since the extraction and purification processes must be developed. Our group develops new environmentally clean processes, working at mild conditions to avoid degradation of the bioactive compounds to study, for instance: the inhibitory effects of Cannabis flower extracts, obtained by supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) with and without modifier, on various human tumor cells and non-tumor cells, or obtaining new antioxidant extracts using natural raw materials. One of the main challenges deals with the discovery of new natural sources. We have been working in the reutilization and optimization extraction procedures, for instance, the olive oil by-products.

In this regard, compressed fluids technologies offer great versatility and efficiency for extracting bioactive compounds, as the properties of the solvents used can be modified through changes in extraction pressure or temperature, thus modifying their selectivity towards the compounds of interest. For instance, extraction of natural products with supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) has gained increasing attention from the food industries because conventional methods involve solvents that are inflammable and/or toxic and high temperatures that could degrade products of interest and produce impurities while CO2 is considered a GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) substance and the technology involved uses moderated conditions.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I like my job at UdelaR as a researcher for various reasons, mainly the opportunity to participate in different projects with the associated challenges and also the opportunity that this offers to meet new researchers from which you always learn. 

There is no typical day in the life of an academic, but something like this contains most of the activities one would do regularly: arrive at work early in the morning, answer emails from students, look for research material online, try to write my new article, or activities like papers to review, classes to teach or classes to prep for, students to meet with. However, I feel that academic freedom and a flexible schedule is part of my life. I still love the teaching itself and research with students and colleagues around the world. I think I have been able to do interesting, innovative research and develop worldwide connections.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Member spotlight: Tom McKeon

Tom McKeon

Tom McKeon is the current AOCS Biotechnology (BIO) Division Member Liaison. He has retired after 38 years of service with the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) in Albany, CA.

What was your role at the USDA ARS?

I started at the USDA after post-doctoral research with Paul Stumpf on fatty acid desaturation and a brief stint as a visiting scientist with Shang-Fa Yang on ethylene in plant development. My initial research with ARS was related to post-harvest biochemistry but I took over the lipids project when Glenn Fuller (longtime AOCS member) retired. From then, I worked with my colleagues on oil biosynthesis in castor seed and approaches to eliminate ricin as a byproduct of castor oil production.

What excited you about your work?

I enjoyed the fact that our research was relevant to some national priorities, and as my career came to an end, I was involved in a multi-agency task force dealing with issues related to the castor plant and ricin.

How long have you been an AOCS member, and what is your role for the BIO Division?

I've been a member of AOCS for 25 years and my current role is Member Liaison for the BIO Division. This is a new role developed by AOCS with a goal of keeping Division members involved. As an example, I set up Midweek Mixers to interact with Division members. I look forward to seeing BIO members at the 2022 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo in May.

How has AOCS helped during your career?

Tom McKeon in the lab.
Tom preparing castor seeds for analysis, several years ahead of the current pandemic mask wearing.

The AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo provides a forum to present research and interact with colleagues. This activity has given me the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers and to speak at international conferences where I have met other researchers and developed collaborative programs. Moreover, I don't think I left an annual meeting without hearing at least a couple of presentations that had promising research approaches or applications that could be of value to our research either through collaboration or discussion with the presenter.

What do you like to do outside of work/AOCS?

Now that I am retired, a typical day is sleeping late, getting out for a long walk or working in the garden and keeping up with family and friends. I retired with a goal of traveling, though the pandemic made short work of that for a while. In the meantime, I've expanded my vegetable garden from about 30 square feet to 300 square feet and keep it going in the winter.

Do you have any words of wisdom for other AOCS members?

I've only touched on the value of being an AOCS and BIO member. AOCS journals for research publications, books, the Lipid Library are features of AOCS available to members. But if I could pick out one feature, it's networking with colleagues who are working in related and unrelated areas.

Member spotlight: Hualu Zhou

Hualu Zhou
Hualu Zhou is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass). She has authored and co-authored 26 research articles in peer-reviewed journals with a citation of 285. She has also received honors and awards from international food institutions, including the AOCS and Institute of Food Technologist. At UMass, she has worked as a teaching fellow in College of Natural Science. She served as the chair of UMass Life Sciences Graduate Research Council from 2019 to 2020.

How did you get involved with AOCS and PCP?

I joined AOCS in April 2018, after my lab mates introduced me to the organization. I joined the Protein and Co-Products (PCP) Division in 2020 when I started to do more work about plant-based protein and foods. From 2019 to 2021, I served on the leadership team of the AOCS Student Common Interest Group and helped host several webinars during the pandemic.

How do you hope or how has AOCS helped in solving the challenges you encounter in your work and research?

It helps me build connections with my peers. It gives me many chances to present and share my research.

What excites you the most about your present work?

Discovering potential protein functionality for the development of animal food analogues. I feel excited I can develop more sustainable and healthier foods.

Have you presented in the AOCS annual meeting before? Share your experience?

I gave four oral presentations in the past two years at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo. The first three of them were scholarship talks, and I also represented my advisor for the fourth talk in the PCP Division track. I strive to be well-prepared for the presentation and take the chance to communicate with the audience.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Member spotlight: Rotimi Aluko

Rotimi E. Aluko

Rotimi Aluko is a professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in bioactive peptides at the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, where he also serves as director of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals.

He has over 20 years of work experience as an independent investigator with a focus on the structure-function properties of bioactive food proteins and peptides. In addition to over 257 peer-review journal article publications, he holds two patents on bioactive peptides, one of which was licensed to a Canadian nutraceutical company for the purpose of commercialization.

He is the recipient of the 2022 Protein and Co-Products (PCP) Division Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes significant contributions to the advancement of protein and co-products through research and applications.

What does a typical day look like for you?

The first thing is to go through emails and respond to urgent messages. Then, I take care of administrative tasks in my position as director of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. This is followed by a review of data and manuscripts sent to me by my students. In between all these tasks, I will take part in various meetings that could last 30 minutes to 2 hours. Finally, before I leave the office, I take a quick look and attend to some of my tasks as editor-in-chief for the Journal of Food Biochemistry.

What excites you the most about your present work?

The potential to discover new scientific information that could be useful in advancing our knowledge and understanding of food science and nutrition.

Share a turning point or defining moment of your career as a scientist.

Definitely, my decision to take up appointment as an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba. I had always wanted to explore various aspects of food chemistry and becoming an independent investigator afforded me this great opportunity.

Share an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of and Why?

In June 2021, I was awarded the prestigious Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Bioactive peptides. The award speaks to the national and international recognition of my research program.

What are your thoughts on winning the PCP Division Lifetime Achievement Award?

I feel humbled and appreciative of this great honor to be recognized as having made significant contributions to the science and knowledge of food proteins. As a scientist, there is nothing more rewarding than to be recognized as playing a major role in knowledge creation. Therefore, I thank the award committee and AOCS for conferring this important recognition on me. 

I am also grateful to have been blessed with a long list of excellent staff and students who actually performed all the nitty gritty aspects of research. In my opinion, this is a team effort, so I share this award with all research personnel who have passed through my lab over the past 25 years of my work as an independent researcher. With the excellence of the current crop of new and upcoming scientists, the future of protein research looks extremely bright, so I look forward to working with everyone to ensure that the PCP Division continues to excel in all its activities.

Why did you join AOCS? How has AOCS impacted your career?

I joined AOCS because in 1998, my research work focused on the structure and function of proteins from canola, a well-known oilseed. Therefore, I knew that AOCS was the best place to promote my research work, form the required professional network, and receive expert feedback from colleagues in such a manner that will greatly benefit my career as an independent researcher.

How do you relax after a hard day of work?

I watch sports on TV (mostly soccer, basketball, and football).

How do you involve your students in your research?

I give my students a wide latitude to design their experimental methods, and they are free to suggest innovative approaches (separate from mine) to answer research objectives.

What advice can you offer to AOCS student members?

Always be ready to learn from your failures. I always tell my students that research is different from pure analytical chemistry, so some experiments will fail. However, when you learn from such failures, you are bound to excel because you start to acquire and accumulate new research experiences that could lead to the discovery of new scientific information.