Friday, December 13, 2019

Howard Sprecher, known for the “Sprecher Pathway” passes

Howard Sprecher, an AOCS member from 1996–2015, passed away on December 6, 2020, at the age of 83. Dr. Sprecher was the recipient of the Supelco Award in 2000 and was very involved with Lipids, serving as an Associate Editor from 1992–1998 and on the Editorial Advisory Board from 1999–2019.     

His work influenced hundreds of others, including many researchers from the Lipids editorial board. Editor-in-Chief Eric Murphy wrote:

“I just taught the Sprecher pathway last week and related to the students that when I sat in their seats, Howard taught us that pathway and noted that delta-4 desaturase doesn’t exist. Period, no questions. Then he came up in lecture on last Friday as well. He was an awesome faculty member and I loved his lectures.”

Read his obituary and a summary written in 2000 when he won the 2000 Supelco Award: 

Howard Sprecher (Born 1936). The 2000 recipient was born in Wisconsin and, in 1958, received his BA in Chemistry from North Central College in Naperville, IL. He received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 1963. Sprecher was a post-doctoral fellow with Ralph Holman at the Hormel Institute from 1963–1964. The next step in his academic career was at Ohio State University as an Assistant Professor in 1964 and he was promoted to Associate and finally full Professor in 1972. In 1995, he held the Chair of the Medicinal Biochemistry Department. Upon retirement in 2000, Sprecher became Professor Emeritus in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and currently holds this position. Sprecher is internationally known as an authority on fatty acid metabolism, synthesis of complex lipids, and prostaglandins and other eicosanoids. A key feature of much of his work has been the total synthesis of labeled fatty acids for metabolic studies. He is also well known for his elucidation of DHA formation in mammals (known as the “Sprecher Pathway”).

He has presented 45 invited lectures in many countries, and in 1982 he was a guest lecturer in Stockholm at the Nobel ceremony honoring Bergstrom, Samuelsson, and Vane for their research on prostaglandins. He was responsible for organizing four international meetings on essential fatty acids and prostaglandins. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous important journals, including Lipids, Progress in Lipid Research, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Sprecher is the author of over 200 publications in important journals.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Welcome to the new Canadian Section Leadership Team!

The Canadian Section of AOCS (CAOCS) elected five new members to serve on its 2020–2021 Leadership Team:
  • Chairperson: Xiao Qiu, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan
  • Vice Chairperson:  Apollinaire Tsopmo, Carleton University, Ontario
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Andrew Gravelle, University of Guelph, Ontario
  • Student Affairs: Elisa Di Stefano, University of Ottawa, Ontario, and Hongbing Fan, University of Alberta, Alberta
The Leadership Team will organize events in Canada, encourage students and young professionals to participate in the 2020 Annual Meeting, and facilitate networking in the region. Assisting these new leaders will be the Section's Advisory Board:
  • Dérick Rousseau, Ryerson University, Ontario
  • Chibuike Udenigwe, University of Ottawa, Ontario
Learn more about some of the new members in the below Q&As!



Andrew Gravelle
Research Assistant, University of Guelph

Andrew Gravelle
Provide a brief biography of 250 words or less.
Andrew completed his M.Sc. in biophysics in 2010, after which he began his professional career as a research associate in the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph. In this role, Andrew led numerous projects broadly focusing on two main topics: characterizing and improving the functionality of edible oleogels structured using the polymer ethylcellulose and investigating the use of particulate fillers as a means of modulating functionality in food protein gels. The overarching theme of this work has been to identify methods of recovering or enhancing food structure via non-traditional routes. Andrew has been a major contributing author to numerous peer-reviewed publications and book chapters in the field of food structure, and has presented his work at a variety of international conferences.

In 2018, Andrew shifted to a full-time Ph.D. program, while continuing part-time as a senior researcher in the Food, Health, and Aging Laboratory under Professor Alejandro Marangoni (University of Guelph). The topic of his thesis is to improve and expand on existing theoretical approaches for describing the mechanical and rheological properties of various fat-filled food gels.

His research focuses on elucidating the contribution of a dispersed fat phase in modulating the physical properties of fat-filled foods in a predictive manner. This work also has further implications with respect to the oral processing and associated sensory attributes of such products.

Why did you decide to volunteer as a member of a Steering Committee?
I decided to volunteer as a member of the steering committee for the Canadian Section because there are a considerable number of Canadian researchers within AOCS, and I feel it is important to ensure we retain a distinct identity and sense of community within the greater AOCS organization.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
In my free time, I enjoy running, cycling and rock climbing.


Hongbing Fan
Ph.D. candidate, University of Alberta

Hongbing FanProvide a brief biography of 250 words or less.
After obtaining my master's degree in food science at the China Agricultural University, I came to Canada and continued my Ph.D. study in food science in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta. My research interests are mainly on functional foods and bioactive peptides. My thesis research is to develop food-derived antihypertensive peptides as functional food ingredients against hypertension. My story with the AOCS started with my supervisor Dr. Jianping Wu and my lab colleagues as many of them are active AOCS members. This initiated my interaction with AOCS, and in January 2018, I have become an AOCS student member. In 2019, I was honored with the Honored Student Award and was the first-place winner in the Health & Nutrition Division poster competition.

Why did you decide to volunteer as a member of a Steering Committee?
I hope to take more roles in such a professional organization, which I think is one of the best ways to become a professional. This would allow me to improve quickly and then, in turn, to provide better services to the members and the society. I have been working as the chair in my department's graduate student's association from 2017 to 2019 and am now the chair of the AOCS Student Common Interest Group (SCIG). I joined AOCS in my third year within my Ph.D. program, which was late compared to many other student members; I cannot wait any longer to be involved in more activities and events. I hope that my previous experience can let me better serve student members in the CAOCS.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role?
I will advertise the CAOCS in various scenarios, recruit more student members to join the CAOCS, and speak for Canadian student members in AOCS.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I usually go to office and start daily work at 8:30–9:00 a.m. on weekdays. I am mainly working at three different places: my lab, cell culture unit and the university central animal facility. My project involves cell and rats models so I usually check them first and then start working in my own lab. I usually go back home around 5:30 p.m. so that I can have time to cook and then do some paperwork in the evening. On weekends, I spend half to one day for groceries and house cleaning, and may attend entertaining activities with friends such as bowling and karaoke. I like skiing in the winter. I previously went tor social dancing like salsa but currently am not since I want to spend more time on graduating. I also like singing; I won first place in the Public Category of the Edmonton Second Chinese Singing Contest in 2018 and have been invited a few times to perform at various Gala dinners by various associations at the University of Alberta and in Edmonton.


Apollinaire Tsopmo
Associate Professor, Carleton University

Apollinaire Tsopmo
Provide a brief biography of 250 words or less.
I am an Associate Professor of Food Science at Carleton University, Ottawa, ON. My research interests are in the area of food chemistry, nutritional analyses and biological activities of food molecules. I study the relationship between nutrition and health. I focus on analysis of vitamins in foods; on the search of novel molecules that can be used to prevent oxidative deterioration of foods; to reduce inflammation, oxidative stress and metal toxicity in various models.





Some areas of study are the following:
  • Bioactive peptides from cereals: preparation of protein isolates and their digestion with food-grade proteases. Separation of digested proteins into several fractions, functionalities, identification of peptides, structure-function relationships and evaluation of biological activity.
  • Effect of bioactive food peptides on the management of body weight, reduction of markers of oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Reduction of the toxicity of metals such chromium and arsenic by hydrolyzed food proteins and peptides.
  • Biochemistry of human milk. Novel antioxidant compounds.
    Vitamins and phytochemical analysis in foods and their bioavailability in cell cultures.
  • Effect of processing on phenolic compounds in cereals.
Why did you decide to volunteer as a member of a Steering Committee?
I decided to volunteer because I would like to increase my network, which I sure will help advance my research. I believe other members will also benefits from the interaction we will have.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role?
I would like to get more research and students involve in AOCS. I would like to help grow the Canadian Section 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My typical day starts in the laboratory where I discuss experiments and planning with my students. Next, I spend some time in my offices, writing reports and reviewing and managing manuscripts. In between, I will go to class or talk to undergraduate students.


Xiao Qui
Professor, University of Saskatchewan

Provide a brief biography of 250 words or less.
I am currently a Professor in the Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences, University of Saskatchewan. I obtained my doctorate from the University of Guelph, Canada, in 1995. After graduation, I spent two years as Research Associate in the National Research Council of Canada and seven years in nutritional oil industry first as Research Scientist and later as Research Director. In 2005, I moved to the University of Saskatchewan to set up an institutional lipid biotechnology program. Since 2009, I has also been an Adjunct Research Officer in the National Research Council of Canada, Saskatoon. My research is primarily focused on plant and microbial lipids and bioactive compounds and their biosynthesis and metabolic engineering in plants and microorganisms.

Why did you decide to volunteer as a member of a Steering Committee?
Last year I helped the Canadian Section of the American Oil Chemists’ Society (CAOCS) organize the 26th CAOCS Canadian Lipid & Bioresource Conference 2018 (CLBC2018) in Saskatoon. Through the event, I realize that there is quite a size of lipid research community in Canada with enthusiasm in retaining their identity and networking. The CAOCS is a wonderful platform for them to exchange ideas and promote business and scientific collaborations.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role?
What I hope to see is the enhanced sense of Canadian lipid community and increased participation of our members in CAOCS/AOCS activity.

CRMs available for several GMO lines approved for food and feed use in Europe

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) announced that eight GMO lines have been evaluated, including EFSA evaluation, and approved for food and feed use in Europe:
AOCS provides Certified Reference Materials for several of them:
Details can be found here: European Commission Authorizes 8 GM Products for Food and Feed Uses

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

AOCS China Section Conference recap

Janet Brown, Director, Membership, attended the 2nd AOCS China Section Conference in Guangzhou (Canton), China, earlier this month. Here's her recap of the meeting!

A few weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege of attending the 2nd Congress of the AOCS China Section. I was among more than 300 professionals and students who were there to present, learn and make connections with researchers from China, Malaysia, Canada, Europe and USA. In fact, the organizing committee was really proud of the global impact of this meeting, because nearly 33% of the presenters were from outside of China.


The 2019 AOCS China Section Conference: Health, Advanced Processing and Value-Added Utilization was held in the beautiful southern China city of Guangzhou. Other co-hosts included Northeast Agricultural University, South China University of Technology and Jinan University. The conference was chaired by Lianzhou Jiang (China Section, Chair), Xuebing Xu, Keshun Liu, Guoqin Liu, Yong Wang and Yuanfa Liu.

On Friday, November 8, nearly 40 people attended the Practical Short Course on Advanced Technologies in Oilseed Processing, Edible Oil Refining and Oil Modification. The room was packed and included speakers from nine companies (all AOCS Corporate members!). Longtime AOCS members Ignace Dubruyne and Sefa Koseoglu were the organizers (and also presented during the conference).

Friday evening, the AOCS China Section Board convened. Many items were discussed and decisions made. Also during the meeting, two additional Vice Presidents of the Section were named: Guoqin Liu and Yong Wang. Four new advisory council members were added: Dayong Zhou, Hui Zhang, Xiuhuan Yu and Mingming Zheng.

The final decision of the night — thanks to the persuasion of Keshun Liu (I love his passion for the Society) — was to hold the next China Section conference in Shanghai 2021 (more details soon). 


Saturday started bright and early with a career development session for students and young scientists. Despite the time, nearly 65 people attended to learn more from several highly regarded AOCS members and leaders in their disciplines:
  • Tong Wang talked about how to make the most of a scientific society.
  • Doug Hayes, incoming editor-in-chief of the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents and Eric J. Murphy, current editor-in-chief of Lipids, shared insights on how to improve the chances of getting your article published.
  • Xuebing Xu explained what corporations value the most — he emphasized the importance of having a great attitude.
  • Kangming Ma provided tips on making connections and growing your networking through LinkedIn and other sites.

 
 
After the career development session, the conference kicked off with a Plenary Session. During the entire day, there were many sessions to attend, with topics covering nutrition, biocatalysis, lipid oxidation, analysis, enzyme application and development, processing of oils, and much more. In total, over 70 presentations were given over the course of one and a half days, of which 12 presenters won a "Best Paper Award" and three won "Best Poster Award." The winners were identified Saturday evening during the enjoyable and entertaining Gala. In fact, I think we all thought the Gala was a big "thumbs up!"


Throughout my time in China, I felt the influence of the tight-knight AOCS family. It was wonderful spending time with AOCS members and volunteer leaders, including Cas Akoh, former AOCS President and AOCS award-winner; Chibuike Udenigwe, Protein and Co-Products Division Vice-Chair; Nuria Acevedo, a leader of the AOCS Professional Educator Common Interest Group; Eric Murphy and Doug Hayes, our amazing journal editors-in-chief; Tong Wang, member of the Books and Special Publications Committee (and passionate about membership!); Carl Arevang, Larodan — the company who always sponsors the AOCS fun run; and so many more that I cannot list them here.

The conference concluded with a quick photo stop at Jinan University and a tour at South China University of Technology.


The meeting flowed wonderfully and was well organized, thanks to the detailed and endless (I don't think he slept) work of AOCS China Section Secretary-General Xiaonan Sui. Thank you! Please get to know more about him by reading this Member Spotlight posted on AOCS inform|connect (login required).

Thank you to all the organizers for bringing together fats, proteins and oils researchers in Guangzhou this past November. What a wonderful event. Please contact me if you have any questions about Sections, this meeting or anything else.

Friday, November 15, 2019

AOCS and JOCS sign Memorandum of Understanding at JOCS Headquarters

It's official! AOCS and JOCS signed the Memorandum of Understanding announced in October to mutually adopt selected official analytical methods and a Recommended Practice as joint JOCS/AOCS Methods. Scott Bloomer, Director, AOCS Technical Services, represented AOCS at the signing ceremony. Two joint AOCS-JOCS Methods and a Recommended Practice are now available in the AOCS store:
  • Method Ch 3a-19 allows users to determine the fatty acid occupying the 2-position in triglycerides.
  • Method Cd 29d-19 allows users to detect monochloropropanediol (MCPD) esters and glycidol esters (GEs) in edible oils. 
  • Recommended Practice Cd 29e-19 allows users to quantify MCPD esters and glycidol esters in fish oils. 
 Here are some photos from the ceremony!

Team members involved in this effort from left to right: 
  1. Yoshitaka Miyamae, Director, Technical and External Relations, Lion Corp.
  2. Kouichi Asakura, PhD, President of JOCS and Professor, Dept. Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Technology, Keio University
  3. Yukihiro Kaneko, JOCS Managing Director, Secretary General
  4. Scott Bloomer, Director, AOCS Technical Services
  5. Yusahi Endo, PhD, Professor, School of Science, Tokyo University of Technology and head of JOCS Methods Committee
  6. Kazuo Koyama, PhD, Senior Staff, Information, Recommendation and Public Relations Division, Food Safety Commission Secretariat Cabinet Office, Government of Japan
  7. Yomi Watanabe, PhD, Chief Research Scientist, Osaka Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology
  8. Yusuke Hasegawa, Assistant Manager, Analysis & Assessment Group, Central Research Laboratory





 


Congrats to everyone involved in this effort!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Mentorship advice for young professionals

Guest post by Leann Barden, co-chair of the AOCS Young Professional Common Interest Group

Mentors are wonderful resources. I have had many mentors in my life and have found them in many different places — an aunt, my Girl Scout leader, teachers and graduate school professors, “big buddies” assigned through work, trusted managers, veteran colleagues I met in the food line at the AOCS President’s Welcome, and even a woman I met on an 8-hour Amtrak ride while moving from DC back to Massachusetts. At its core, mentorship is simply a relationship built on trust, typically between a less seasoned individual and a veteran one. Mentors are typically older than their mentees, but a mentor is really anyone who has more experience in an area you want to learn.

While everyone recognizes the value of mentorship, many of us struggle to establish strong mentor/mentee relationships. The title alone seems somewhat daunting — am I qualified to be someone’s mentor? How do I ask someone to be my mentor? Here are some tips, tricks, and questions to get you started — all based on my personal experiences — as well as some additional resources. Enjoy!

Finding a Mentor
Step 1: Talk to people. When you are at a networking event, try introducing yourself to people you have not yet met and ask them about their careers. If you are new to a company, set up “meet-and-greets” with people. You should ask your manager when you are first hired about people you should meet in order to better do your job, but you can also set up these meet-and-greets with literally anyone else you meet in the company, even if it is just someone with whom you struck up a great conversation while waiting in the cafeteria checkout line.

Step 2: Of these people you have now met, consider who you found both interesting and approachable (i.e., easy to talk to). Is it someone who recently got a promotion and might be able to give you advice on that process? Is it a more senior scientist who currently holds your dream job, and you want to know what experiences you need to one day hold that position yourself? Or is it someone who seems to be masterfully juggling work and family when you yourself are just starting a new life stage and feeling a bit frustrated? Of all the meet-and-greets you are having, you will inevitably find that a single meeting or two might suffice for answering your questions, but other people seem to offer great advice on numerous fronts, and you keep returning to them with questions. The latter are your mentors.

Step 3: Build a relationship. Mentors can help you best if they know who you are — what interests you; what scares you; what experiences you have had and still want to have; etc. They are also most likely to be invested in your development if they like you as an individual, which requires building a relationship. To respect your mentor’s time, try to meet for only 30–60 minutes at a time, generally speaking. I would say I have four close mentors right now. Two are from previous jobs, and we chat via phone or have lunch maybe 2–3 times per year, with a few short emails in between to keep the relationship going (“I got married! Here’s a picture from the wedding.” Or maybe, “I just talked to a direct report about XYZ, and it reminded me of that time you helped me with ABC.”). I currently work with the other two mentors, so we will do lunch or coffee on maybe a bimonthly cadence. I always come with a few questions for my mentor because that is the reason we are meeting, but I also take time to learn about their lives because (1) I care about their lives, and (2) you don’t want to just fire off question after question; that is bad for relationship building and makes for a tedious conversation. Recognize that this person is taking time from their busy schedule and be sure to thank him or her accordingly.

Questions to Get You Started

First couple of meetings:
1.    How did you get into your current role?
2.    Where else have you worked?
3.    Tell me about your family/hobbies/etc.

Subsequent meetings: I’m struggling with….
1.    Have you been in a similar situation?
2.    Can you recommend any resources?
3.    You work with closely with (my boss). Do you have any advice for managing up with him/her?

Learn more tips for a successful mentoring relationship, provided by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

A few additional resources:
1.    Mentoring Matters. Three Essential Elements of Success.
2.    Keys to Successful Mentoring Relationships.
3.    The National Marketing Partnership website.
4.    The Dos and Don’ts of Mentoring.
5.    A Guide to Understanding the Role of a Mentor (it’s different than coaching).

Monday, October 28, 2019

A lively EuroFed Lipid meeting in Seville, Spain

Janet Brown, Director, Membership, attended the 17th EuroFed Lipid Congress & Expo in Seville, Spain, last week. Here's her recap of the meeting!

The 17th EuroFed Lipid Congress & Expo recently concluded in Seville, Spain, and included many wonderful and enlightening conversations with AOCS members and other lipid-loving scientists. It was almost like a family reunion for me and other AOCS members in attendance.

AOCS Fellow Alejandro Marangoni received the Euro Fed Lipid Technology Award; he is only the second non-European to win this award. Notably, the first person to win this award was Eric Decker, current AOCS President. Eric won this award in 2018. Alejandro presented the award lecture, "The Nanoscale Structure of Fats and its Relationship to Functionality."

Alejandro Marangoni

Larodan, an AOCS Corporate Member, sponsored their 3rd Annual Fun Run. Even though we ran in the dark (the sun in Seville does not rise until 8:30 a.m. local time), Carl and Emma led our group down well-lit streets along the river, over the bridge, through a park, and back to the hotel. It was a perfect start to the morning.

 Larodan Fun Run Participants

The exhibit hall included nearly 30 companies, many of whom also exhibit at the AOCS Annual Meeting, so it was great to meet exhibit personal from Europe. Pictured below are Bruce Patsey, Oil-Dri Corp, and Kaustuv Bhattacharya, Dupont Nutrition Biosciences APS.

Oil-Dri, Bruce Patsey

There were many conversations and connections made between AOCS journal editorial board members. Representatives from the JAOCS editorial board included Yomi Watanabe, and Suzana Ferreira-Dias and Uwe Bornscheuer (pictured).

JAOCS Associate Editors

I also enjoyed meeting our two winners of the AOCS Euro Section Travel Grant, Sandra Beyer Gregersen (pictured with Eckhard Floter) and Beatriz Quintanila Casas.

AOCS Euro Section Travel Grant winner

I also spent time talking with members of the AOCS China Section. Many of these researchers will also be attending and presenting at the upcoming AOCS China Section Meeting in Guangzhou, China.

AOCS China Section

The new General Director of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir, happens to also be the new Chair of the AOCS Asian Section. I sat down and chatted with him about Section activities and the 2020 AOCS Annual Meeting. What a wonderful resource to have as the chair of this Section.

AOCS Asian Section Chair and General Director MPOB
 
The next meeting of the EuroFed Lipid is planned for 2021 in Leipzig, Germany. Thank you to the organizing committee for your wonderful job of hosting this meeting.