Friday, October 8, 2021

Member Spotlight: Timothy Abraham

Timothy Abraham

Dr. Timothy Abraham has been an AOCS member since 2005. He served as the secretary-treasurer of the AOCS Industrial Oil Products (IOP) Division from 2016–2019 and as the chair from 2019–2021.

Dr. Abraham is from Sri Lanka, where he received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota, receiving his Ph.D. in organic/bioorganic chemistry in 1991. 

Following post-doctoral studies in medicinal chemistry at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Abraham joined Ambion Inc., the RNA company, in Austin, Texas. He moved back to Minnesota to join Cargill Inc. in 2000 as a senior scientist. Since joining Cargill, he has worked on various projects spanning food, feed and industrial applications. He was promoted to principal scientist in 2004, and subsequently became the new product development manager for Cargill’s biobased polyurethanes business. He moved back into corporate research, joining the engineering R&D function, where he was promoted to senior principal scientist in 2015. He was appointed a Cargill Corporate Fellow in 2019. He has 35 granted US patents and several more pending applications.

Dr. Abraham was a member of the team that won the EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2007 for “Biobased Polyols” and subsequently served on the judging panel for these awards. He has also won several awards at Cargill, including the Chairman’s Award and the prestigious "Bassy Award". The "Bassy Award" recognizes and honors individuals who consistently exemplify the attributes of the Cargill Leadership Model and have over their career provided significant contributions to the company.

Dr. Abraham has been serving on the External Advisory Board for the Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota since 2016. Mentoring and volunteering are two of his passions, which include mentoring students in middle school, high school, and college, and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, Loaves & Fishes, and Kids Against Hunger.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Member Spotlight: Mike Martinez

Mike Martinez
Mike Martinez is the newly elected chairperson of the AOCS Processing (PRO) Division.

Shortly after completing his B.S. in chemistry at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, Mike joined the staff at Natural Plant Products. In 2010, he assumed the position of CEO for both Natural Plant Products and its parent company, OMG, a cooperative of Oregon farms. In this capacity, he is responsible for all operations from crop production to finished product distribution in the personal care industry. In addition to his studies in chemistry, Mike completed an MBA at Willamette University with a focus on strategy and sustainability. A native of Seal Beach, CA, Mike is now proud to call himself an Oregonian and has adopted the requisite habits of running, the pursuit of pinot noir and the habitual avoidance of umbrellas.

For those not familiar with Natural Plant Products, the company markets meadowfoam oil and other specialty oils to the global personal care and cosmetics industries. Meadowfoam oil is derived from the seeds of Limnanthes alba, a winter annual that was commercialized in Oregon’s Willamette Valley during the 1980s. Though native to California, the crop filled a critical rotational role in Oregon’s grass seed industry. Both Oregon State University and the USDA-ARS were instrumental in the development of meadowfoam as a specialty crop. This unique oil is known for its high oxidative stability relative to other seed oils. The stability stems from the unique C20 and C22 fatty acids that compose the oil. An internet search can provide more detail or visit www.meadowfoam.com.

What do you wish you would had known when you first started?

The financial models that exist for specialty oils are different than those for familiar commodities like soy, palm and cotton. For example, meadowfoam’s value is concentrated almost entirely in the oil (99%+), as usages for meal and cake are restricted by pesticide and feed regulations. As I have gained understanding of the markets for oils such as cotton, almond and canola, I have been able to apply those fundamentals to our current operations and integrate them into our strategic planning.

What is the most challenging issue that you have personally faced in oilseeds?

Consolidation within the oilseed industry has reduced the number of plants available for toll processing. The advances in technology allowing for ever larger plants has further reduced the number of plants that are of reasonable size for specialty seeds that trade exclusively in the cosmetics space. Our cooperative farms in a region with high land values and a climate not suited to most oilseeds. The identification of oilseeds that would interest cosmetics brands and identifying a secure path to manufacturing has been the largest challenge I have faced in the past decade. 

What is the biggest challenge you see in oilseeds today?

From my perspective in the cosmetics industry, logistics and costs are causing massive disruptions to normal operations. Ocean freight shipments are often delayed by weeks, and it is increasingly difficult to secure bookings for both imports and exports. Domestic freight costs for our materials have tripled on some freight lanes, while steel, energy and labor costs are increasing rapidly. We’ve always planned for and assumed costs will increase over time. The problem is the pace of change. I don’t think these challenges are unique to the specialty oilseed world.

Any final thoughts you would like to share?

Our company has noted an increased customer interest in supply chain transparency and sustainability. I think this provides options and challenges for both specialty and commodity oils producers. For smaller entities, securing the resources necessary to quantity environmental, social and financial impacts across a supply chain will be challenging. For larger producers or food companies, I imagine the challenge of creating identity-preserved supply chains for raw materials sourced on a global basis is top of mind. Our industry will need to drive collaboration and education, so we are prepared to answer our customers’ questions regarding impacts from seed through packaging.

Member Spotlight: Brian P. Grady

Brian P. Grady
Dr. Brian P. Grady is the Douglas and Hilda Bourne Chair in Chemical Engineering and Director, School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, at the University of Oklahoma (OU). He is also the Director of the Institute for Applied Surfactant Research at OU.

He is a member of the AOCS Surfactants and Detergents (S&D) Division.

How did you first get involved with AOCS?

As with most of you I suspect, my first interaction with AOCS was attending the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo. My Ph.D. (Wisconsin, 1994) research area was polymer science. Although while working as a process engineer at Procter and Gamble from 1987–-1989 I did learn a bit about surfactants, even though I was making a food product. 

My first significant involvement with surfactants occurred when I started as a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma. I became interested in admicellar polymerization, which was the subject of my first successful NSF proposal! I eventually became interested more generally in surfactant adsorption at the solid-liquid interface, which naturally led me to AOCS. I attended my first AOCS Annual Meeting in Seattle in 2008 and have attended every meeting since, with only one exception. 

What do you value most about the AOCS Surfactants and Detergents Division?

In my experience, academics seem to attend meetings only with other academics, and industry people only with other industry people. The characteristic I value most about the S&D Division of AOCS is that the meeting is at the interface (pun intended 😊) of the two groups. I fully admit that I pay more attention to more talks during the S&D technical program at the AOCS Annual Meeting vs. more academic meetings because I am more likely to get research ideas from the former. 

The only international meeting I organized was on surfactants (SIS 2018, special issue in the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents!) and historically was mostly a meeting with academics. I took great pains to try to get a good mix of industrial and academic talks, modelling what AOCS does (with a little bit more academic talks; what did you expect?).

Besides the AOCS Annual Meeting, how have you been involved in AOCS?

My other significant experience has been in society governance. Once an academic achieves tenure, he/she should sit back and figure out long-term professional goals (before that, the only goal is to be awarded tenure!). 

I was very interested in professional society governance. I still have a significant interest in polymer science, so I became involved in that area first, but eventually became involved with S&D as well. First, I was Secretary-Treasurer for the S&D Division. I mostly remember how gracious our industrial representatives were to sponsor the Division. Both in this role and in my role as Chair I always tried to figure out how best to provide value for their generous donation. I never was Vice-Chair; organizing the technical sessions for the Annual Meeting is too much work for me! In my opinion, the Chair gets far more credit than he/she deserves for the smooth running of S&D, while the Vice-Chair doesn’t get enough. In my two years as Chair, I interacted with all the members of the Division, which was quite fulfilling. 

Currently, my significant involvement is organizing and chairing sessions (which I very much enjoy!) and being on the editorial board of the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents (which isn’t a ton of work but sounds impressive!).

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Why is the AOCS LPP and Approved Chemist status important to Stratas Foods?

Derek Gum (Stratas Foods RDI Center Analytical Scientist), Eddie L. Baldwin (Stratas Foods RDI Center Analytical Laboratories and Facility Service Manager), and Helen Cianciolo (Stratas Foods RDI Center Analytical Scientist)

The Stratas Foods’ R&D Innovation Center and  Packaging Plants’ Quality Teams have been active participants in the AOCS Laboratory Proficiency Program since 2008. I, Eddie Baldwin, Manager of the Stratas Foods RDI Center’s Analytical Laboratories, have been an active member of the AOCS and participant in the LPP program for over 25 years. So when asked why is the AOCS LPP and Approved Chemist status important to me and the Stratas Quality Teams, I would sum it up as follows:

Participation in the AOCS Laboratory Proficiency Program provides the Stratas Foods’ RDI Center and Quality Teams throughout the USA opportunities to compare our results to the statistical data-set of a larger group of participating laboratories. This in addition to our internal collaboratives and quality programs ensures that our laboratories are performing at or above the industry standards for quality and accuracy.

By adhering to a higher level of quality testing and reporting as required by the AOCS LPP program,  I am proud to say that the Stratas RDI Center and Quality Teams have maintained Approved Chemist Status for several years and won a few awards along the way.

In short, participation in the AOCS LPP and Approved Chemist program helps to ensure that our RDI Center and Quality Teams are providing quality results that our customers can trust. By staying focused on achieving what is possible via. accurate and quality driven product deliverables to our customers we help them to thrive.


Eddie Baldwin | Analytical Laboratories and Facilities Services Manager – RDIC | Stratas Foods LLC


Saturday, September 25, 2021

Member Spotlight: Saoussane Khalifa

Saoussane Khalifa
Saoussane Khalifa is a Ph.D. student at the Laboratory of Food and Biodynamic Chemistry, Graduate School of Agricultural Science at Tohoku University, Japan. In her current research, she studies in-depth lipid oxidation mechanisms and their products both in vivo and in vitro. She mainly focuses on the structural elucidation of novel lipid primary and secondary oxidation products using LC-MS/MS, NMR, derivatization reactions (and sometimes chemical calculations), the exact mechanism of their formation, and their presence and effect on healthy organisms as well as their relation to altered health conditions. 

She participated in the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting and was awarded first place in the LOQ Student ePoster Pitch Competition on her finding of novel squalene cyclic peroxides on the human skin and their effect on skin cells. She is a member of the AOCS Lipid Oxidation and Quality (LOQ) Division.

Can you tell us about your research?

Currently, I am working on skin lipid oxidation and its relation to skin disease. The identification of novel oxidation products through classic and new methods is a crucial part of my study. In addition, the determination of the oxidation mechanism involved in their formation is essential, as it is the key to finding suitable methods to stop and reverse the health adverse effects that these products might cause. 

Previously, I demonstrated the formation and existence of novel squalene cyclic peroxides on the human skin and their harmful effect on skin cells. Currently, I’m continuing on the elucidation of other novel oxidation products on the human skin and their analysis and relation to patients with skin abnormalities. I am also working on lipid oxidation in edible oils and supplements with a focus on identifying primary and secondary oxidation products and the mechanism leading to the formation of each class of oxidation products.

How did you react to winning first place at the LOQ Student ePoster Pitch Competition?

As I have been working on the project that I presented for nearly three years, the news felt like a reward not only for a world-renowned conference, but also for very long and hard work that closed the first chapter of my project. I was deeply honored and grateful. It also gave me the push and encouragement that I needed to follow up and start on the second chapter of my project. The award made me realize that hard work will always achieve good results and will be at the end recognized by a well-qualified scientific community.

What are you hoping to get from LOQ in the future?

Although I enjoyed all of the content presented in the LOQ sessions at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting, I hope to see more reports on novel oxidation products. I also hope to see more involvement of physical chemistry in the field as it will allow us to better understand the underlying mechanisms involved in the appearance of specific lipid oxidation products.

What are your hobbies and how did Covid-19 change your (work)life?

I enjoy reading books in general and science fiction/mystery books in particular, philosophy books once in a while. One of my passions is learning new languages. Aside from learning Japanese, I recently started learning Korean. It helped a lot during the lockdown!

I enjoy outdoor activities, working out, meeting new people, listening to music, watching movies and cooking.

Covid-19 has taken a toll on everyone, but I think that the research/educational sector was one of the most affected areas. Thanks to virtual communication, researchers (including me!) still had a chance to communicate, for example at AOCS events. But it definitely put on hold and regressed a lot of my work, especially during the lockdown, which made me appreciate even more the chance I have now to do research .

Friday, September 24, 2021

Member Spotlight: Matthew J. Fhaner

Matt Fhaner
Dr. Matthew J. Fhaner is the chair of the Department of Natural Sciences at the University of Michigan – Flint (UM-Flint). He is an Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry and involved in teaching both lecture and laboratory classes in general chemistry and analytical chemistry focusing on quantitative and instrumental analyses. Dr. Fhaner’s research program focuses on identifying applications of electrochemical methods to the study of natural antioxidants and edible oil.

Dr. Fhaner has been a faculty member at UM-Flint for 7 years. His teaching responsibilities include general and analytical chemistry lectures and labs, including quantitative and instrumental analysis. 

He is a member of the AOCS Professional Educator Common Interest Group (PC CIG).

Why did you join AOCS and how long have you been a member?

I joined AOCS after being awarded the Edwin N. Frankel Award for Best Paper in Lipid Oxidation and Quality and being invited to the 2018 AOCS Annual Meeting. I have been a member of AOCS ever since and have continued to find ways to become involved.

How has your involvement with the AOCS influenced your career?

Being a member of AOCS has greatly expanded my professional network. I have had the privilege of meeting colleagues from industry, government labs, and academia and engaging in open conversations about diverse topics from research, to teaching, to work-life balance. By investing my time in AOCS, I have unintentionally found that I am also investing in myself.

Why did you decide to join the PE CIG?

Coming from a more traditional R1 graduate school experience in analytical chemistry there was little intersection with edible oil research and the work being done within my circle of peers. As I entered the world of academia, it was difficult for me to find peers that could act as a mentorship network for my scholarship and teaching. I was thrilled when I learned AOCS had a common interest group dedicated towards professional educators like myself and immediately decided to join and learn more.

What led you to where you are now? Talk about previous jobs, school, other life journey that led you to where you are.

My journey to where I am now feels like it just fell into place when looking back. Initially, my undergraduate studies were centered on criminal justice in order to go into forensic science. After speaking with the head of the forensic science master’s program I realized I needed to enter a natural science. With no previous experience in the subject, I picked chemistry somewhat on a whim. In my final year of undergraduate studies, I was fortunate enough to work in the research lab of Dr. Borhan. Dr. Borhan suggested I apply to the chemistry graduate program. Up until that time, I was only considering forensic science programs. I applied to the chemistry program and was accepted. In graduate school, I studied electrochemical analysis of neurotransmission. As I approached graduation, I applied for a post-doctoral research position at the United States Department of Agriculture. 

It was in my post-doctoral work where I was introduced to functional food research, specifically the analysis of omega-3 fatty acids. After leaving my post-doctoral position for my new faculty position, I needed a research area that was feasible at a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI) where laboratory work happened more sporadically than the previous institutions I worked in. I combined my electrochemical background from graduate school with the antioxidant and omega-3 fatty acids studies I performed in my post-doctoral work to create a research program focused on identifying applications of electrochemical methods to the study of natural antioxidants and edible oils.

What do you love most about your position?

The best part about being a faculty member at a (PUI) is working with students to help them reach their professional goals. Each year I get the bittersweet experience of sending one of my students off to begin the next phase of their career while welcoming in new ones. The ability to be part of their life’s journey is the most rewarding part of my job.

How do you define success?

Everyone will have a different definition of success. I believe that success is the ability to demonstrate flexibility, persistence and self-reflection in the pursuit of a goal.

Who inspires you? Or Who has been the most influential person in your career?

It would be impossible and unfair of my to pick a single person. When I was in my undergraduate studies, Dr. Borhan was the single reason that I pursued a Ph.D. in chemistry. Without him I would have never gone into a chemistry graduate program. The other two individuals are AOCS members, Hong-Sik Hwang and Jill Winkler-Moser. Hong-Sik and Jill have been invaluable mentors, collaborators and friends as I transitioned into my academic career. I firmly believe I would not have been successful without their support.

What’s one thing — either academy/industry-related or not — you learned in the last month?

In the last month (July 1, 2021), I transitioned into the role of department chair for the newly formed Department of Natural Sciences, which contains physics, biology and chemistry. The most impactful thing I have learned is how little I know!

If you could give advice to young AOCS members, what would it be?

Everyone is still learning. The fastest way to impact your own knowledge base is to get involved with your professional society and learn from those around you.

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?

I played goalie on an in-line roller hockey team in high school, and I was pretty good!

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?

I have four children and a wonderful wife. My favorite thing to do outside of work is spending unstructured time with them where everyone can have a voice in what the family does.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

How and why to become a journal reviewer

Have you always wanted to be a peer-reviewer, but are not sure you have what it takes or you don’t know where to start? Are you a recent graduate or post-doctoral student eager to learn about peer-reviewing? Attend this midweek mixer hosted by Dr. Silvana Martini, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society (JAOCS), to learn more.

This panel-style event will consist of a short presentation explaining the review process and the important role of reviewers. Senior associate editors of JAOCS will provide advice and suggestions on how to be an outstanding reviewer. This will be an interactive event where the editor-in-chief and the senior associate editors will be available to answer any questions that you might have. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet the editorial board of JAOCS and get involved in the review process.

When: Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, USA; UTC-5)

Register for free. 

 

Host (JAOCS Editor-in-Chief)

Silvana Martini is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences at Utah State University. Dr. Martini’s research interests are related to the physicochemical and sensorial characterization of food materials, lipids in particular. She studies how the quality of food materials is affected by their nano-, micro- and macroscopic characteristics. Dr. Martini has published more than 110 papers in peer-reviewed journals, participated in more than 180 conferences, and 11 book chapters. Dr. Martini won the Timothy L. Mounts Award (2019) and Fellow Award (2021) from AOCS. She is a member of the AOCS Governing Board. Dr. Silvana Martini obtained her B.Sc. in biochemistry (1997) and Ph.D. in chemistry (2003) from the University of La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Panelists (JAOCS Senior Associate Editors)

Rick Ashby has 32 years of research experience in the areas of microbial biopolymer and biosurfactant synthesis. As a research microbiologist in the Sustainable Biofuels and Coproducts Research Unit (SBCP) at the USDA, ARS, Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC), Dr Ashby has demonstrated expertise in the fermentative biosynthesis of microbial products and in their chemical and physical characterization. He has been primarily involved in the microbial production and post-synthetic modification of polyhydroxyalkanoate biopolymers and glycolipid biosurfactants derived from inexpensive carbon feedstocks. He has spearheaded research on reducing the economics of fermentative synthesis of these products by utilizing inexpensive coproduct materials such as crude glycerol, soy molasses, lignocellulosic biomass, levulinic acid etc. In 2019, Dr. Ashby was elected an AOCS Fellow. He earned a Ph.D. (1994) in microbiology from Louisiana State University.

 

Tim Durrett is an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Kansas State University. Dr. Durrett's current research interests revolve around manipulating lipid metabolism in seeds to improve the quantity and quality of the oil that is produced. Some of this work involves trying to better understand the role of different enzymes in controlling the flux of different types of fatty acids, as well as how carbon is allocated between oil and other seed components (e.g., protein and carbohydrates). Other projects employ synthetic biology strategies to maximize the production of unusual lipids with enhanced properties in oil seed crops. He received his Ph.D. (2006) from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

 

Supratim Ghosh is an associate professor in the Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences of University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. His research interest is in emulsion and colloid science, including food physical chemistry, structure-function relationship, food nanotechnology and complex colloidal chemistry. His team has been working on utilizing plant proteins to create structured food emulsions, oleogels and deliver bioactives via nanoemulsions for improved health benefits and sustainability in food production. Dr. Ghosh is a regular peer reviewer of many food science journals and national and international research grants. He received his Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University, USA, and did postdoctoral research at the Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

 

Amy Logan is a principle research scientist within Australia’s National Science Agency, CSIRO, and the Group Leader for Food Quality and Stability. Dr. Logan has many years’ experience understanding the effect of composition, processing and microstructure on the physicochemical properties of lipid and protein based food systems. She received her Ph.D. (2006) from The University of Melbourne in Australia.

Jill Moser is a research chemist and lead scientist at the USDA, ARS, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois. Dr. Moser’s research focuses on development of natural antioxidants for oxidation prevention and shelf-life improvement. Dr. Moser also conducts research on the development of technologies to replace saturated and trans fatty acids in shortenings, margarines and processed foods with healthier oils. Dr. Moser has over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters and is the alternate delegate to the U.S. Codex Committee on Fats and Oils. Dr. Moser served as past chair, vice-chair, and secretary/treasurer for the LOQ Division. She received a Ph.D. (2002 ) in food science and human nutrition from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.