Q&A with Dr. Tong (Toni) Wang, winner of the Alton E. Bailey Award
A brief bio: Dr. Wang is a Professor at Univ of Tennessee working on fats and oils and oilseed processing. She enjoys working with students and seeing their success in classroom and laboratory.
1) How did it feel to win the Alton E. Bailey Award?
I was very honored and appreciative of the recognition.
2) How did you get started in the field that you are studying or working in?
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.
3) 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.
4) 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.
5) What advice can you share on how you have achieved success thus far in your career, whether that be entering a graduate program or a lengthy career in a prestigious position?
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.
Check out the AOCS Awards video featuring her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz7UvgYVK5c