Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Alton E. Bailey Award Feature – Dr. Tong (Toni) Wang

The Alton E. Bailey Award recognizes outstanding research contributions and exceptional service in the field of fats, oils, lipids and related disciplines. The award is Sponsored by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).

The 2020 award winner is Dr. Tong (Toni) Wang, a professor of food science at University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. 

Check out the AOCS Awards video featuring Dr Wang here

Plan to attend her award presentation on April 29, 2021, 1-2 p.m. CDT (Chicago USA; UTC-5). You can join the livestream on our website, on FaceBook Live, or on YouTube Live. The abstract for Dr. Wang's presentation is at the end of this blog post.

Brief Biography:

Prior to joining the UT Department of Food Science in 2019, Wang was a member of the faculty at Iowa State University (ISU) for 19 years. She studied food science and technology, receiving her master’s degree at the University of Arkansas and her Ph.D. at ISU. She is the 2014 recipient of the ISU Mid-Career Achievement in Research Award.

Her work is focused on chemistry and value-added utilization of agriculture products such as soybeans, corn, egg, dairy and other oleaginous biomass, primarily for their lipid components. She creates functional lipid materials to improve nutrition and widen their applications, including with water and grease-resistant and antimicrobial coatings for food and paper. She also studies ways to enhance egg and dairy product quality and value, such as fractionation of yolk and dairy phospholipids and the bioactive yolk antibody IgY as well as milk fat globular membrane proteins.

Throughout her career Wang has received numerous industry and federal research grants that support her creative work and has trained 36 graduate students and 20 post-doctoral appointees and visiting scientists.

Q&A with Dr. Tong (Toni) Wang:

How did it feel to win the Alton E. Bailey Award?

I was very honored and appreciative of the recognition.

How did you get started in this field of research?

From the start of my PhD degree program at Iowa State University, I was supervised by my major professor Dr. Earl Hammond, who was a respected lipid chemist and brought many of his students to AOCS. As one of his many great graduate students, we learned technical skills as well as the passion and joy for science and discovery. 

Can you tell us about your current research?

I have several projects ongoing now. I am using lipid chemistry principles to modify the structure of TAG and free fatty acids of vegetable oils to make them into functional coating materials for fruits and paper products. We are relating the targeted properties, such as antimicrobial and crystallization behavior, with the structure of lipid molecules. I am also fractionating egg yolk functional components for nanoemulsion formulation for nutritional and industrial applications. Another one my current projects focuses on recovering dairy phospholipids from the waste or relatively low-value streams. 

What challenges have you overcome during your course of study or your career?

Since the challenges have all become very positive learning and improvement opportunities, I cannot say any of those has had a negative impact on me or has presented any truly insurmountable challenges.

What advice can you share on how you have achieved success

My advice is to find what you truly enjoy. If you are doing what you love, the work will not be just work or frustration at times, but it is part of you, and you are doing it for yourself. Another piece of advice is to find great mentors in school (as I did in Professors Larry Johnson and Pam White) and your scientific home such as AOCS (many mentors such as Gary List, and colleagues and friends). The support and the spirit you experience, and the skills and satisfaction you gain from serving the society every year will guide you in advancing yourself and your organization.

Awards presentation abstract

Research and Development of Vegetable Oil Based Oleo-Compounds as Waxes

Natural waxes of plant and insect sources have advantages over petroleum based or synthesized polymeric waxes in many industrial and food packaging applications. To mimic natural wax in both structure and functional properties, a series of vegetable oil based waxes for coating are made and evaluated. This presentation highlights some of our work in this area. A more cohesive and softer wax compared to fully hydrogenated oil, EsterCoat, can be made from saturated fatty acids, and its application in paper coating and performance is demonstrated. A very hard and high-melting wax, AmideCoat, with the hardness of appearance as carnauba wax is made by amidation reaction with diacid, diamine, and cinnamic acid. Its application potentials are being evaluated in several industrial sectors. A high oleic soybean oil derived monohydroxy fatty acid derivative has shown to have desirable properties for fruit coating after it is formulated into a compound nanoemulsion. We have also hypothesized that to most effectively prevent moisture loss from citrus fruit, the chemical nature and crystallinity of the coating waxes, rather than their quantity play the most critical role. The 16, 22, and 26C series of hydrocarbon, alcohol, aldehyde, and acid are synthesized and their crystallinity and co-crystallization behaviors are studied. The moisture barrier property of these compounds is evaluated. These research and development examples demonstrate the possibilities of using vegetable oil-based oleo-compounds to replace petroleum and polymeric waxes for premier performance and environmental sustainability.

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