Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Proteins and Co-Products Division news and member spotlights

Get to know: Keshun Liu | Buddhi Lamsal | Bibek Byanju | Hongbing Fan

The following are news items related to the Proteins and Co-products (PCP) Division and interviews conducted by the PCP Newsletter editor.

Division news

Virtual PCP Roundtable: The PCP Division Annual Roundtable was held virtually on May 28, 2020. Over 30 PCP members attended the roundtable worldwide to discuss the technical program and celebrate award winners and Division volunteers. The meeting also allowed attendees, including students and colleagues from industry, academia and government, to interact socially. In case you missed it, AOCS has kindly provided a recap of the roundtable.

PCP Lifetime Achievement Award: At the Virtual Roundtable, Keshun Liu (USDA ARS) was declared the inaugural winner of the 2020 PCP Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations, Keshun, for this well-deserved recognition and your steady contributions, leadership and support for the PCP Division and AOCS over the years.

ADM Best Paper Award: Congratulations!! to the winners of the 2020 ADM Best Paper Award. The winning papers and authors for the Chemistry/Nutrition and Engineering/Technology categories are listed below. I would like to thank the Selection Committee Chair, Lamia L’Hocine, for your leadership in spearheading this competition, and the expert review panel, for your valuable work in selecting the best papers.


Learn more about recent members of the Proteins and Co-products (PCP) Division in these brief interviews conducted by the PCP Division newsletter editor, Kaustav Majumder.

Newsletter spotlight

Keshun Liu is a Research Chemist with United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). A native of China, he received his Ph.D. degree from Michigan State University in 1989. Before joining USDA in 2005, he was an employee at private companies (Coco-Cola and Monsanto) and academics (University of Georgia and University of Missouri). Dr. Liu is the recipient of the 2020 PCP Division Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Here is a short interview with Dr. Liu:

Can you briefly state your involvement in AOCS and in the PCP division? 

I joined AOCS in 1993 and got actively involved with the PCP Division by attending annual meetings, organizing symposia, giving presentations, and serving the Division in leadership roles (from a newsletter editor all the way to chairperson), etc.  My membership and volunteer experiences at AOCS have enhanced my knowledge, broadened my connections and shaped my career in many ways.

What is your research interest? 

My research interest is mostly related to chemistry, processing and value-added utilization of oilseeds, grains, legumes and other plant materials, with a focus on methods for protein extraction, concentration and applications in food and feed products, as well as analytical method development.  

What does a typical day look like for you? 

Read scientific articles, design an experiment with key objectives identified, analyze and discuss experimental data with my technician, draft a new manuscript when lab work for an experiment is completed, and/or review a new manuscript written and submitted by peers. 

What excites you the most about your work? 

What excites me most about my hypothesis is when a research project is supported by new laboratory data or there is an unexpected finding for an on-going research project.  

Can you share a turning point or defining moment in your work as a scientist and/or industry professional? 

Between 2003-2004, I joined Dr. Fu-Hung Hsieh’s lab at the University of Missouri and conducted an independent research on high moisture extrusion of plant proteins into fibrous meat analogs.  The work led to three peer-reviewed papers on the subject and three years of funding from the USDA, based on competitive grant proposals. A few years later after I left for the USDA, the university transferred the technology to a start-up company, which later became Beyond Meat.    

How does the present situation of quarantine affect your work? 

There has been very little effect on my work as agriculturally related (including research work) is deemed essential. So, during the pandemic, our USDA facility, including my lab, has been kept open, while following the general protection guideline (such as wearing masks and social distancing).  With little disruption, I have been able to focus on analyzing data and drafting manuscripts. Two new manuscripts on trypsin inhibitor assay have recently been submitted to JAOCS.

What is one thing that you are missing the most during this quarantine? 

Attending a regular AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, where I can freely interact with AOCS members, particularly PCP members and participate in the annual PCP dinner event.


PCP division – Get to know your peers

During this challenging time, we all must come together and stay connected. Joining AOCS and the PCP division is a great way to keep in touch with your peers. Over the years, the PCP division members have helped each other grow and achieve greater heights. In this section, we share our members (our past chair and two graduate students) experiences with the division.

Dr. Buddhi Lamsal, past chair or the PCP division shares his experience:

How did you get involve with PCP? 

My first involvement with PCP was as a postdoc researcher, wherein my mentor, Dr. Larry Johnson, suggested I attend the annual meetings and present our research. Coming from an engineering background, I was looking for a professional society which aligned with my research interests. AOCS/PCP provided me with a great platform to be engaged in and build the network of peers and interact with other researchers; so much so that I now call it my primary professional society and I am so proud of it. 

Please share with us your experience on being Chair for the PCP Division. 

Being the Chair for the PCP Division has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences for me in terms of the technical programs and other society involvement through the Division. Becoming the Chair was the culmination of at least six years of active engagement with the Division in various capacities; this involvement prepared me well for the Chair responsibilities. What I enjoyed the most is the process of putting the PCP technical program together, starting with the Division Roundtable to brainstorm ideas. I am so thankful to Technical Program Chair and Session Chairs for putting forth good programming over the past few years. We initiated the new award Lifetime Achievement Award under the Chairmanship of Dr. Jianping Wu and it was awarded for the first time this year. But the most rewarding experience as a Chair has been interacting with new students, scientists who are at the early stage of their career.

Where do you see our Division in terms of progress, 5 years from now? 

I hope our PCP Division keeps growing and we become one of the stronger and more resourceful Division in terms of opportunities offered to its members and to AOCS members more generally. We had begun focusing on technical programming for plant proteins, especially fundamental and applied research around it. I believe this should and will continue as consumer interest in such products will only increase. Plant protein-based meat alternatives, food and feed ingredients and use of newer technologies for enhancing/ modifying ingredient functionality will be the areas that will likely see more activity and our Division is well suited to cater to the needs of the industry, general public and scientific society.

Do you have any words of wisdom for other PCP division members? 

Please get involved early on with the Division, even as graduate students. Involvement will help you with networking and these relationships last a lifetime; so, attend the meetings, support each other and have dialogues with members and other colleagues/ scientists. Being proactive is always helpful. Also, any member can reach out to Division officeholders with programming input and ideas. Go PCP!!

Bibek Byanju, Ph.D. student at the Iowa State University shares his thoughts,

How did you get involve with PCP? 

My research focused on the ultrasonic-assisted extraction of protein from legumes, especially soybeans, chickpeas and kidney beans, which is relevant to the scientific scope of PCP Division. My supervisor, Dr. Buddhi Lamsal, was a session chair in the PCP Division, and he spoke very highly of Division membership and of the benefits one receives as an AOCS member. This made me curious about what AOCS has to offer and encouraged me to become a member and get more involved. 

How do you hope or how has AOCS helped in solving the challenges you encounter in your work and/or research? 

AOCS has members from various fields such as academia and industry. I hope that AOCS will be a platform to showcase my research and connect with other professionals from a similar research area.

What excites you the most about your work? 

Currently, I am working on an antifreeze protein (AFP). This AFP is found mostly in polar fish and helps them modify the growth of ice, resulting in the stabilization of ice crystals and inhibition of ice recrystallization. These proteins are developed by fish to avoid freezing to death. What excites me in this work is that we will be producing the AFP using the recombinant bacterial strain that will be grown in optimized corn steep media. These media are industry byproducts that can be used to produce a value-added product. The produced AFP will be utilized for several food applications such as ice cream products, frozen dough and frozen meat/fish.

Have you presented in the AOCS annual meeting before, share your experience?

I presented my poster in May 2019 at St. Louis, Missouri. I was a finalist for the poster presentation competition for the PCP division. During this time, I had the opportunity to know about various ongoing research in protein and co-product.  I attended several oral presentations and poster presentations, which gave me insight into new processing tools that I have never come across. I also had the opportunity to meet new people from various universities and industry and interact with them. This experience was quite remarkable and thrilling as it was my first AOCS annual meeting. In April 2020, I was accepted as a finalist for the graduate student oral competition for the PCP Division in the 2020 Annual Meeting, Montreal, Québec. Although the annual meeting was shifted to a virtual format due to COVID-19, I could experience ongoing research virtually.

Hongbing Fan, Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta shares his thoughts,

How did you get involve with PCP? 

I started being a student member of AOCS in January of 2018. Before that, I got to know AOCS and the PCP Division in 2017 from my supervisor and other senior lab mates who had presented their research at AOCS annual meetings. My research focuses on the valorization of underutilized protein sources, which is one of the PCP Division’s major areas of focus, and thus I attended the annual meeting in 2019 and 2020.

How do you hope or how has AOCS helped in solving the challenges you encounter in your work and/or research? 

I think that AOCS has been doing great. It’s clear the society cares a lot about the members’ needs from my experience as a student member and part of the Student Common Interest Group's leadership team and the AOCS Canadian Section. During this pandemic, AOCS keeps engaging all members by promoting virtual academic and social events, both locally and globally, to facilitate society's communications. AOCS provides a lot of awards to students, and I hope that AOCS could provide more opportunities to let students take more roles in administration and leadership, such as Division technical session planning and AOCS journal article reviewing.

What excites you the most about your work? 

When my research gets recognition from other researchers.

Have you presented in the AOCS annual meeting before, share your experience? 

I have presented at both the 2019 and 2020 AOCS annual meetings. I feel impressed by AOCS’ harmonious community culture and have enjoyed making new friends during the meetings. The annual meeting is not as big as ACS and IFT, which allows me to have time to attend more research presentations that are closely related to my field. Everyone at the meeting is very kind and open to discussion.

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