Dr. Janitha Wanasundara is the chair of the Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum's first session, Processing and Utilization Technologies, along with two upcoming sessions, Emerging Technologies for Plant Protein Quality-Based Supply Chains – Global Crops and Relationship between Canine Diets & Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) – Pet Food Health & Nutrition. You can read more about each of these sessions on plantprotein.aocs.org.
Meet Dr. Wanasundara
A brief biography:
Dr. Janitha Wanasundara is a Research Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. She is the principal investigator in plant protein research in the Saskatoon Research and Development. Her research interests include developing enhanced utilization strategies for oilseeds and pulses grown in Canadian prairies through understanding their seed proteins’ chemistry and structure. She has contributed over 75 scientific publications and book chapters and one patent on protein and co-product fractionation of Brassica oilseeds. She also co-edited the book Sustainable Protein Sources published by Academic Press in 2017. Her program facilitates graduate student training in protein research through her appointment as an adjunct professor in the Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. She is also an active member of the Protein and Co-Products Division of AOCS and the Institute of Food Technologists.
1) Why did you decide to get involved with the Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum?
I got involved because I am passionate about scientific developments in plant proteins. Further, we need an open venue, like the Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum, to share information and discuss issues related to advancements in the plant protein industry; so, I see my involvement as helping to forward scientific developments in the industry about which I am incredibly passionate.
2) How does your work intersect with the session, you are chairing?
Given my position as a principal investigator in plant protein research, serving on the organizing committee for both the inaugural Forum and for three of this year’s sessions felt like a natural role. I hope to continue my involvement by continuing to co-chair with my co-organizers.
3) Have you attended a Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum before? If so, what have you enjoyed about previous forums? If this is your first forum, what are you most looking forward to?
I was involved in organizing the inaugural forum and greatly enjoyed the experience, which led me to be a session chair this year. I look forward to attending several new sessions in this year’s Forum in October.
4) If you had one piece of advice for speakers submitting their abstract for review, what would it be?
Successful speakers deliver presentations that highlight their unique experience and expertise. From the committee’s perspective, our goal is to assemble a selection of presentations covering a wide range of topics related to the plant protein industry. Thus, providing a clear and concise abstract that is easy to understand will help speakers succeed in the abstract submission process.
5) What is one unexpected fact most people who know you would never guess?
Though the topic was not as common as it is now when I was completing my degrees, both my master’s and doctorate research focused on plant proteins, particularly seed proteins.
The Processing and Utilization Technologies session will be available on-demand soon with Forum registration. By registering for the full Forum, you gain on-demand access to all of the first session's presentations as well as all the high-quality sessions scheduled throughout the month of October. Find out more about the full technical program.