Thursday, February 25, 2021

Interview with Protein and Co-Products Division student member Ogadimma Desmond Okagu

Ogadimma Desmond Okagu is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada. He is a new member of AOCS and the PCP Division, joined the Society in 2020.

How did you get involve with AOCS and the PCP Division?

I was introduced to AOCS by my PhD supervisor, Dr. Udenigwe, and I joined the PCP Division, which is most related to my work.

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

I attended the 2020 AOCS virtual meeting and, it was very impactful, especially in addressing some key issues related to protein nanoparticle preparation, zeta potential analysis, TEM image acquisition and kinetic release.

What excites you the most about your present work?

The fact that food-based protein nano delivery vehicles could be engineered to behave the way we want for targeted delivery of biodegradable, insoluble, non-accessible, and non-bioavailable bioactive compounds.

Have you presented at an AOCS annual meeting before?

No, I was one of the four finalists for the student oral competition, which did not go as planned due to COVID-19. I am hoping that my work will be accepted for presentation in the coming 2021 AOCS annual meeting.  (editor note - it was!)

How has the present situation with COVID-19 changed your daily life

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted my daily life. Having to work from home means that hours for laboratory research have been considerably reduced. That impacts the pace of the project, which I would have loved to progress much faster. On the home front, however, the work-from-home routine has allowed me to enjoy quality family time with my partner and kids. I have channeled my energy into writing manuscripts and publishing my work. I have also been performing my teaching assistantship role virtually, and it has been quite a remarkable and impactful experience. I consider these to be something good that I have achieved amidst the precarious pandemic situation.

What is your career goal?

My career aspiration is to become a successful professor in food chemistry, specifically in the application of nanotechnology for protein-based delivery systems and bio-nano interaction.

Meet Ogadimma Desmond Okagu at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo

His presentation topics are:

'Impact of succinylation on pea protein-curcumin interaction, polyelectrolyte complexation with chitosan, and gastrointestinal release of curcumin in loaded-biopolymer nano-complexes'

'Influence of structural properties of pea globulin, albumin and glutelin on interaction and nanocomplexation with curcumin, formation of pepsin resistant and thermo-stabilized spherical bio-nanocomplexes for oral delivery'


Interview with Protein and Co-Products Division volunteer Dr. B. Pam Ismail

Dr. B. Pam Ismail is a Professor at the University of Minnesota and an active volunteer in the PCP Division. She joined AOCS in 2016 and since then serving the Society by chairing various technical sessions and disseminating scientific knowledge through technical presentations.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical workday is full of meetings with my research team, committees and industry. I squeeze in time to answer e-mails, work on reports, review theses, write grants, and work on manuscripts or perform activities related to serving my department and the profession.

Flashback to when you were 10 years old. What did you want to be when you grew up?

Medical doctor; influenced by my maternal grandfather.

What excites you the most about your present work?

I have many work-related passions: interacting with students and watching them grow in knowledge and taking part in training them to become our future scientists and professionals; building collaborative efforts to advance research discoveries, and the endless learnings from my colleagues and my students just the same.

Can you share a turning point or defining moment of your career as a scientist?

Taking a sabbatical year at an industry was definitely an important turning point in my career. This experience allowed me to redirect my research to relevant needs and trends. The knowledge gained allowed me to use my research tools better and build a collaborative platform between industry and researchers. This platform is the nation’s first Plant Protein Innovation Center.

Share an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of and why?

I consider establishing the Plant Protein Innovation Center (PPIC) as one of my main achievements and I am very proud of it. At its core, the PPIC is a collaborative entity that strives to bring together a diverse mindset to efficiently establish a fundamental knowledge base on plant proteins that will benefit the scientific community, the industry, the growing population, the environment, and provide economic revenue to farmers. Our industry members and many supporters are vital in moving this effort forward.

Why did you join AOCS? How has AOCS impacted your career?

The protein related activities, in terms of scientific sessions and committees, attracted me to join AOCS. AOCS serves as a platform to share our knowledge and research findings, learn from renowned researchers as well as industry professionals, and establish new and key connections.

How do you relax after a hard day of work?

I cook a hearty meal and spend quality time with my family.

How the present situation with COVID-19 change your daily life?

I learned to communicate in creative ways, efficiently execute my work, respect others' safety, and work with others innovatively. Working from home was a new concept that I had to get used to. The situation, however, brought creativity to how we teach, connect, and communicate with others. Zoom became the new norm. The new way of communicating allowed for involvement in more conferences and meetings than I could ever be part of in a normal year. Teaching online, allowed me to gain technological skills that I will be able to utilize in the future regardless. I cooked more; eating out became a foreign concept. Finally, I spent more time with my teen daughter than I ever did during her entire high school years, and that is a blessing.   

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?

More of the same, discoveries, new connections, training my students, sharing the knowledge, continue learning, seeing my daughter go physically to college and enjoy the experience, and of course I look forward to the end of the pandemic! Finally, I am hoping for inclusivity and respect for our diverse community.

Thank you for your service Dr. Ismail!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Vermont Dia joins the AOCS Professional Educator CIG leadership team

The AOCS Professional Educator Common Interest Group supports educators in all AOCS interest areas by creating connections which lead to collaboration, the sharing of information and resources throughout the year, and designing relevant sessions during the AOCS Annual Meeting.

This interview will introduce the new member of our leadership team – Dr. Vermont Dia

Dr. Vermont Dia currently holds an assistant professor position in the Department of Food Science at The University of Tennessee. His research work focuses on the evaluation of health-promoting properties of food-derived constituents. His research group is investigating the role of bioactive peptides and polyphenols in the prevention and management of non-communicable diseases with emphasis on inflammatory bowel diseases and cancer. His teaching/mentoring responsibilities includes the courses Food Chemistry Lab, Science of Foods. Dr. Dia also actively serves as advisor of the Food Science Club and major professor of undergraduate and graduate students. 

Why did you join AOCS and how long have you been a member? 

AOCS serves as our venue to showcase our research on the bioactive properties of food proteins as well as other co-products from oil processing. It is also a great place to interact with colleagues of varying expertise on the field of oils and co-products. I’ve been an AOCS member for a total of 6 years.

How has your involvement with the AOCS influenced your career? 

AOCS has given our research exposure, especially with a small tight group of scientists working on proteins and co-products, so it does positively impact and influence both mine and my students’ career.

Why did you decide to join the PE CIG? 

To learn and share techniques, skills, and tips on how to teach the science of oils and co-products more effectively.

What led you to where you are now? Tell us about previous jobs, school, other life journey that led you to where you are. 

My TA in General Chemistry during my undergrad years at the University of the Philippines Los Baños inspired me. She was just great and I told myself I wanted to be like her. During my career I have been in roles as a quality assurance analyst for Monde Nissin Corporation (Sta. Rosa, Laguna Philippines), a faculty member (University of the Philippines Los Baños), and a visiting teaching associate/Postdoc (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).


What do you love most about your position? 

Interacting with students, it drives my day-to-day activities both in the research lab and in the classroom.

How do you define success? 

Being happy and always striving for betterment and advancement of oneself.

Who inspires you? Or who has been the most influential person in your career?

I would say my General Chemistry TA. She’s the one who made me think of a career in the academia. 

What’s one thing - either academy/industry-related or not - you learned in the last month?

I have learned that teaching the Food Chemistry Lab during pandemic can be done efficiently without sacrificing educational quality. 

If you could give advice to young AOCS members, what would it be? 

Always seek for opportunities, and don’t be shy to fight for it if you think you are qualified.

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know? 

I like karaoke (but I don’t have a good singing voice)

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work? 

I enjoy going to the gym regularly (most of the time in the early hours of the morning)

Monday, February 22, 2021

Spotlight on Hongbing Fan, recipient of the 2021 Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship

 The Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship is awarded to graduate students doing research in fats, oils, proteins, surfactants and related materials. The purpose of this graduate fellowship is to encourage, recognize and support outstanding research in a field of study consistent with the areas of interest to AOCS.

This spotlight will tell you more about Hongbing Fan, who was the recipient of the 2020 Health and Nutrition Division Student Award and has gone on to win the Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship in 2021. 

Provide a brief biography

I am a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Dr. Jianping Wu in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta in Canada. Prior to this, I graduated from China Agricultural University with my masters degree in Food Science. My current research interests include Protein Chemistry and Functional Foods, especially the health benefits of food-derived bioactive peptides. I joined AOCS in 2018 and since then, I have actively participated in various academic and social activities in AOCS. I volunteer as the Chair of the Student Common Interest Group (2019-2021), the student representative in the Canadian Section's AOCS leadership team (2019-2021), as well as the technical or poster session co-chair in the PCP and H&N Divisions of the 2020 and 2021 annual meetings.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My thesis project is to develop antihypertensive peptides from spent hen muscle proteins. Spent hens are laying hens that reach the end of their egg-laying cycle and are a major byproduct in the egg industry. Every year, more than 30 million spent hens are produced in Canada and ten times more of those produced in North America. Processing them for food/feed uses is of little economic value to the industry; they are mostly disposed by burial, composting and incineration, which raise environmental and animal welfare concerns. Hypertension is a global health concern and food protein-derived antihypertensive peptides are an emerging treatment for hypertension. Although being treated as a byproduct, spent hens are rich in various animal proteins which are a good source of antihypertensive peptides. This project aims to purify and identify novel antihypertensive peptides from spent hen muscle proteins, followed by validating their efficacies in various cell and animal models of hypertension.

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

It was very exciting when I knew that I was selected for this award. This is a true honor and inspired me to focus on my study and research work and gave me some flexibility to wrap up my project.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

I have ever been recognized as the winner of the H&N division poster competition (2019), the H&N division award (2020), the Society Honored Student Award (2019), and the Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship (2020). I wanted to express my sincere thanks to AOCS for awarding me these honors. It further built up my confidence to showcase my research and connect myself with other professionals or colleagues, which inspired me, as a student, to further undertake more roles in the AOCS community. Many of the world's excellent scholars and researchers are present at AOCS Annual Meetings, therefore it is a great platform for networking and interaction with peers.

Meet our award winner

Hongbing Fan will be presenting his work on 'Spent hen-derived angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) upregulating peptide reduces blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats' at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, May 3-14, 2021

Spotlight on Francisco Leyva Gutierrez, Ralph H. Potts Memorial Fellowship Award Winner

The Ralph H. Potts Memorial Fellowship recognizes graduate students conducting excellent research related to fatty acids and their derivatives, such as long-chain alcohols, amines and other nitrogen compounds. 

The award is sponsored by Nouryon.

This spotlight will introduce you to Francisco Leyva Gutierrez, the 2021 award winner.

Provide a brief biography.

I am a Southern California native and obtained a B.Sc. Food Science and Technology with a minor in chemistry from the California State Polytechnic University  Pomona.  I worked in the food manufacturing industry as well as United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service  for a combined 3 years. I began my Ph.D. in Food Science in 2018 and I am currently at The University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My current research deals with the synthesis and physical characterization of very-long chain wax compounds from sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis L.) and blueberries (Vaccinium sect. Cyanococcus). Plant waxes are the primary line of defense against moisture loss as well as physical and biological attack. By studying and learning the properties of these waxes, my aim is to formulate alternative postharvest coatings that enhance the plant's natural defenses.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

Being an active AOCS member has thus far exposed me to new industry and academic connections.

Meet our award winner:

Francisco Leyva Gutierrez will be presenting "Characterization of by-products from commercial cannabidiol ethanol extraction" at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, May 3-14, 2021

Spotlight on Zoriana Demchuk, winner of the 2021 Industrial Oil Products Division Student Excellence Award

The Industrial Oil Products Division Student Award recognizes graduate students presenting an outstanding paper within the Industrial Oil Products technical program at the AOCS Annual Meeting.

This spotlight will introduce you to Zoriana Demchuk, winner of the 2021 award.

Provide a brief biography:

I am enthusiastic, adaptive and fast-learning person with a broad and acute  interest in the discovery of new innovative polymer materials. I particularly enjoy  collaborating with scientists from different disciplines to develop new skills  and solve new challenges.  In my life chemistry became a major part in my everyday routine. Since 2006 I plunged in learning chemistry and its processes and mechanisms. I just received PhD degree in Polymer Chemistry and after graduation I found a job where I can apply my thoughts and ideas into real life. Now,   I work at Oak Ridge National Lab as Postdoctoral Research Associate. I believe this job will provide me an opportunity to achieve my goals in future and become a perspective chemist who solve hundreds of task and maintain the high productivity level of work.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My research study is directed to the synthesis of biobased polymeric materials from plant oils. Over five years, we developed a library of vinyl monomers derived from plant oils. These monomers are highly reactive and could be a good replacement for petroleum-based materials. Incorporation of flexible plan oil-based monomers into polymers provide hydrophobicity and film-forming properties to the resulted materials. Plant oil-based monomers have found to be biodegradable and eco-friendly which makes them a promising materials for future industrial applications.

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

I was really excited and pleased when I heard that I received AOCS Student Excellence reward. The recognition of my research by AOCS is an excellent opportunity and driving force to move further. It provides enormous support for the research to develop new ideas and discoveries in application of plant oils for future materials.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS always supports my research and gives new opportunities to move my research on the next level. Attending AOCS conferences every other year helped me to find new collaborations and established strong relationship with industrial partners.

Meet our 2021 Industrial Oil Products Division Student Excellence Award Winner

Zoriana Demchuk will be presenting her paper on "The Effect of Fatty Acid Unsaturation on Properties and Performance of Monomers, Polymers, and Latexes from Plant Oils" at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting and Expo, May 3-14, 2021

Spotlight on Dhruvesh B. Patel, winner of the 2021 AOCS Health and Nutrition Division Student Excellence Award

The Health and Nutrition Division Student Award recognizes graduate students presenting an outstanding paper within the Health and Nutrition technical program at the AOCS Annual Meeting.

This spotlight will introduce you to Dhruvesh Patel, the 2021 award winner.

Provide a brief biography

I was born in India where I completed my high school education. I have lived in Canada for 8 years equally divided between Toronto and Edmonton. After completing a diploma in Fitness and Health Promotion I transferred to York University, Toronto for undergrad in Kinesiology. For my graduate studies, I moved to Edmonton where I started as a Masters student at University of Alberta and  later transferred to PhD in Nutrition and Metabolism. Currently, I am in my 4th year of PhD and plan to pursue research in Nutrition and Immunology after graduation. Living in Edmonton, I have started to like winter and winter activities. Recently, I had a chance to see Northern Lights. I love outdoor biking, hiking in Canadian Rocky mountains. Outside of work, I want to learn about nature photography.

Can you tell us about your current research?

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential nutrients but we don't know their importance for a normal immune system development, particularly in infants with genetic predisposition to atopic diseases. My research focuses on identifying the importance of functionally active omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and omega-6, arachidonic acid (ARA) in the development of immune system in infants. Using animal models, we study these fatty acids by supplementing them in animal diet during different periods of infancy. Part of my research has been published in Journal of Nutrition. Next, we plan to study oral tolerance of egg protein in allergic mouse models.

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

I was very happy and honored to have received the H&N Division Student Award. To celebrate the achievement, I went to Jasper (Alberta) and spent a night watching starts and northern lights.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS is a multidisciplinary group of elites with a keen interest in research and development. With this comes a plethora of knowledge and tools that new trainees like myself can access. AOCS though their webinar programs and annual events has provided me the opportunity to interact with researchers and obtain guidance to propel in the next step of my academic pursuits.

Meet our 2021 AOCS Health and Nutrition Division Student Excellence Award Winner

Dhruvesh Patel will be presenting his work which demonstrates that supplementing docosahexaenoic acid along with arachidonic acid during weaning period improves immune response in neonatal Brown Norway rats at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, May 3-14, 2021

Congratulations to Juhee Lee, winner of the 2021 Edible Applications Technology Division Student Excellence Award

The Edible Applications Technology Division Student Award recognizes graduate students presenting an outstanding oral or poster presentation within the Edible Applications Technology technical program at the AOCS Annual Meeting. This spotlight will introduce you to Juhee Lee, the 2021 winner of this award

Juhee Lee is a PhD candidate in the department of nutrition, dietetics, and food sciences at Utah State University. 

She joined Dr. Silvana Martini's lab as undergraduate research in 2016 and now works as a graduate researcher. Her research is focused on the effect of high intensity ultrasound on the physical properties of edible lipids as well as oxidative stability and bubble dynamics during sonication.

Juhee’s research has already published 6 papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented her research in every AOCS Annual Meeting since she joined our community.

Can you tell us more about your current research?

My current research focuses on the effect of high intensity ultrasound (HIU) on edible lipids.  HIU is one potential processing tool that can be utilized to create a product with desirable characteristics, however, the use of HIU on lipid systems is a contentious topic due to its oxidative stability. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the effect of HIU on bubble dynamics, oxidation, and physical properties of edible fat if changes generated due to sonication are maintained during long-term storage with different storage temperatures.

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

I was surprised and ecstatic when I received the email that I got the award.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS provides an opportunity to share my research with experts in the lipid science field, as well as the opportunity to learn from other researchers.

Meet our award winner

Juhee Lee will be presenting her research on the impact of high intensity ultrasound on physiochemical properties and oxidative stability of enzymatically modified menhaden oil with caprylic acid and/or stearic acid at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo. May 3-14, 2021

Spotlight on Fereidoon Shahidi, recipient of the 2021 AOCS Award of Merit

The AOCS Award of Merit recognizes an AOCS Member who has displayed leadership in administrative activities, meritorious service on AOCS committees or performed an outstanding activity or service. We are delighted to announce that the 2021 AOCS Award of Merit will be awarded to Fereidoon Shahidi.

Plan to attend Dr. Shahidi's award presentation on April 27, 9:30-10:30 a.m. CDT (Chicago USA; UTC-5). You can join the livestream on our website, on FaceBook Live, or on YouTube Live. The abstract for his presentation is at the end of this blog post.

Dr. Shahidi is a research professor in the department of biochemistry at Memorial University of Newfoundland.  His research interests are in nutraceuticals and functional foods with particular attention to lipids, proteins, polyphenols, natural antioxidants and oxidation control.

He has authored over 1,000 research papers and 10 patents. He has also written and edited 76 books including the 6th and 7th edition of Bailey’s Industrial Oil & Fat Products. He is one of the most highly cited scientists in the food science area and has been recognized by numerous awards including the AOCS Stephen S. Chang Award, Alton E. Bailey Award and the Supelco AOCS Research Award. 

His service is equally remarkable. He is currently the chair of the Scientific Council of the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) and serves as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Food Bioactives and the journal of Food Production, Processing and Nutrition. He is also the principal founder of the International Society for Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods.

Dr. Shahidi been part of the AOCS community since 1992 and has served in numerous committees including the INFORM editorial advisory committee. In leadership roles with both the Protein and Co-products Division and the Lipid Oxidation and Quality Division he has brought a level of excellence to AOCS programming.

His legacy extends to the training of some 100  students, and his mentorship of postdoctoral fellows and visiting professors. His former students are now in key positions in academia, industry and governments in over a dozen countries around the world.

Dr. Shahidi is recognized for his lifetime impact on lipid science and technology and on the AOCS through his contributions and achievements.

Award presentation abstract

Stability of Edible Oils: Examining the Role of Endogenous/Exogenous Antioxidants and Phenolipids

Oxidative stability of edible oils is dictated by their fatty acid composition and degree of unsaturation as well as their positional distribution in the triacylglycerol molecules, presence and profile as well as the concentration of minor components, and storage conditions.  This study examined the role of minor components on the stability of selected oils by stripping them from the samples.  While stripped oils were generally less stable than their unstripped counterparts under Schaal oven conditions, the reverse was true under fluorescent light. In addition, selected phenolipids were tested for their antioxidant efficacy.  Both the structural characteristics of the phenols as well as the nature of the acyl group determined their efficacy.  Finally, the phenol moieties of phenolipids were released, at least partially, upon simulated digestion and hence exerting their potential health effects.

Congratulations to J. Thomas Brenna, recipient of the Ralph Holman Lifetime Achievement

The Ralph Holman Lifetime Achievement Award of the AOCS Health and Nutrition Division recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the Division’s area of interest, or whose work has resulted in major advances in health and nutrition.

This award commemorates Ralph Holman’s lifetime service to the study of essential fatty acids and their impact on human health and to the Society. Dr. Holman was not only an accomplished biochemist, but a devoted father and husband, a man of integrity and a role model for students and young scientists. Learn more about Ralph Holman in the AOCS Lipids Library

Tom Brenna is a professor of pediatrics, of human nutrition, and of chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. His group's research is on the chemical, biochemical, metabolic, genetic and ecological aspects of fatty acids. His work has made a significant impact towards improving human nutrition through basic advances in chemical analysis. The research group was among those contributing to the recognition that dietary omega-3 fatty acids are required for proper brain and retinal function in developing infants. This work has been recognized with the American Society for Nutrition's Osborne and Mendel Award for outstanding contributions to basic research in nutrition in 2017 and the ASN's Robert Herman Award for the advancement of clinical nutrition in 2013. He was recognized by AOCS Herbert J. Dutton Award for advances in analytical chemistry in 2020. He has also been continuously involved in nutrition policy, notably as a member of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and as a regular contributor to advisory scientific and medical groups.

On the occasion of receiving the AOCS Herbert J. Dutton Award in 2020 Dr. Brenna provided advice that is well worth repeating: 

Science is advanced chiefly by those obsessed with making sense of the world.  First is required a single-minded dedication to good technical measurements.  Everything starts there.  

Second is an obsession for organizing empirical results into models accessible to the human mind – we call those theories.  Regularly asking yourself how you know the things you think you know, is paramount for discovering new things that no one knows.  How do you know the earth is not flat?  Explain the chemical steps leading free fatty acid content to determine, in part, an oil’s smoke point.  Work it out from first principles. 

Third, is an underlying recognition of the primacy of humanity, a desire to apply the best ideas to improve the human condition.  

These principles can be exercised in any career path – academics, government/non-profit, industry – though some jobs may not enable it.  Two examples from industry come to mind:

My first job out of grad school in 1985 was as a staff engineer-chemist for IBM.  To understand what IBM was then, imagine Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft as one company, with similar-sized profits.  Many of its alums and business connections developed the computing culture that we have now, even as the company faded from primacy.  IBM had a well-developed culture that emphasized inclusiveness and fairness to a far more refined degree than I saw in the academic world.  IBM was a good citizen, inside and out.  It developed computing from its origins in punch card-controlled textile looms to the mainframe and PC.  It emphasized respect for the individual as its first overarching principle.  And in my experience, it lived up to it.  

A second example was my work with industry on including omega-3 DHA in infant formula.  Despite the presence of DHA in all human milks globally, prior to 2001, no North American infant formula contained DHA.  With the support of academics, single-minded persons in industry brought that innovation to a reality, navigating the twists and turns of a regulatory landscape with innovation resistors in other parts of the industry, some still evident, who’ve “always done it this way”. 

Lessons learned? Excellence can be practiced anywhere and no career path has a monopoly on virtue.

Thank you Dr. Brenna for this great advice (and the awesome photos!) - and congratulations on receiving the Ralph Holman Lifetime Achievement Award

Spotlight on Jun Ogawa, AOCS Fellow

Congratulations to Jun Ogawa for winning the AOCS Fellow Award! 

The AOCS Fellow Award recognizes achievements in science and/or extraordinary service to the Society.

This spotlight will help you get to know Dr. Ogawa including his current research and how AOCS has helped develop his career.

Jun Ogawa is a professor at the division of applied life sciences, graduate school of agriculture at Kyoto University. His research interests are screening and development of novel microbial functions useful for life sciences, food sciences, environmental sciences, and green chemistry. His investigation of fatty acid metabolism by the gut microbiome has identified numerous metabolic products that have potential physiological effects. Dr. Ogawa has published over 250 papers on applied microbiology and his work has been recognized by awards including the Oleoscience Award by the Japan Oil Chemists' Society in 2015 and the AOCS Ching Hou Biotechnology Award in 2020. 

Dr. Ogawa has been a member of AOCS since 1998 and has participated in the Biotechnology Division sessions at almost every annual meeting since then. He has is active in organizing BIO Division sessions and served as a Division officer and Division Chair. He played a pivotal role in the 2018 JOCS-AOCS Joint Symposium. He has also been instrumental in supporting the participation of young researchers in the AOCS Annual Meeting.  

In addition to his activity in AOCS, Dr. Ogawa is an active member of Japanese Oil Chemists Society, and the Japanese Association for Food Immunology (JAFI).  He has served as a Director of the Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

I am very much honored to receive this symbolic award, AOCS Fellow Award. I am grateful to the steering members of the Biotechnology division for giving me a chance. I greatly appreciate the support of my laboratory members. I hope I can continue to research and contribute to the further progress of the lipid Biotechnology and AOCS.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

I was able to get acquainted with worldwide many talented and active researchers in the field of lipid biotechnology. The experiences in AOCS cultivated my philosophy in research and society management.

Dr. Ogawa will be presenting he award presentation on his work with molecular breeding of the ω3-docosapentaenoic acid-producing microorganism Aurantiochytrium sp. T7 at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, May 3-14, 2021.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Spotlight on Yanting Shen, recipient of the 2021 Hans Kaunitz award

The Hans Kaunitz Award recognizes students conducting excellent research related to AOCS interest areas.

Yanting (Tina) Shen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Grain Science and Industry, Kansas State University. Tina also holds bachelor and master degrees in Food Science from K-State. She is currently working in the Cereal Chemistry Lab under supervision of Dr. Yonghui Li. Her research is focused on functional improvement of plant proteins for food uses. She has authored or co-authored 13 peer-reviewed journal articles and delivered presentations at annual conferences organized by the  IFT, AOCS, Cereals& Grains Association. She has received external awards including the 2nd place in the International Division Malcolm Bourne poster competition at the IFT20 (virtual),  the AOCS Lipid Oxidation and Quality (LOQ) Division Student Travel Grant in 2019, and KC-IFT Outstanding Doctorate Student Scholarship Award in 2018. Her future plan is to work as a scientist in research and development at a food ingredient company.

Can you tell us about current research?

I am working on modification of plant proteins and improving their functional properties for food applications

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

I felt honored. This is greatly appreciated. I am grateful to AOCS community and organization.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS has helped me carve my research and future career in this cereal chemistry field and benefited me in pursuing my Ph.D. degree in grain science.

Meet the recipient of the Kaunitz Award and learn more about her research

Yanting (Tina) Shen is presenting her work on 'Modulating intermolecular interactions of pea protein isolate to improve its functional properties' at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo.

Spotlight on Hualu Zhou, AOCS Honored Student

The Honored Student Award, Sponsored by the AOCS Foundation, encourages and recognizes graduate students doing excellent research. This spotlight will introduce you to Hualu Zhou, Graduate Student University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, one of the 2021 Honored Students.   

Hualu Zhou, is a Ph.D. candidate, in the Food Science Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  She received her masters degree from Xiamen University in China and bachelors degree from Nanchang University in China.  She joined the research group of Dr. David Julian McClements in 2017, and is currently working on the gastrointestinal fate of organic and inorganic nanoparticles in foods.  She has authored and co-authored 26 research articles in peer-reviewed journals with the citation of 285.  She has also received honors and awards from international food institutions, including the AOCS and Institute of Food Technologist. At UMass, she has worked as a teaching fellow in College of Natural Science from 2019. She has served as the chair of UMass Life Sciences Graduate Research Council 2019-2020, and now she is the president of UMass ACS/AGFD Student Chapter.

Can you tell us about current research?

My research is focused on the potential benefits and drawbacks of using organic and inorganic nanoparticles in our foods and the thesis topic will be The gastrointestinal fate of organic and inorganic nanoparticles in foods. These nanoparticles are being added to foods as functional ingredients to enhance their safety, quality, shelf-life, or healthfulness. There is, however, considerable controversy about adding nanoparticles to food, it is, therefore, important to establish both their potential beneficial effects, as well as their potential to promote toxicity.

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

I was so excited and could not wait to share it with my dear advisor and lab mates in the first time. Then I shared this good news with my family and my two kids.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS provides students many chances to learn from professionals and our peers.

Meet our honored student and learn about her research

Hualu Zhou will be presenting an invited paper on 'Food Hydrocolloids: Application as Functional Ingredients to Control Lipid Digestion and Bioavailability', and a second presentation on 'Fortification of Plant-Based Milk with Calcium may Reduce Vitamin D Bioaccessibility: An In Vitro Digestion Study' at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, May 3-14, 2021.

Spotlight Alton E. Bailey Award Winner: David Julian McClements

Congratulations to David Julian McClements for winning the Alton E. Bailey Award.

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).

This spotlight will help you get to know Dr. McClements including an overview of his current research and how AOCS has helped develop his career.

Plan to attend Dr. McClements's award presentation on March 30, 2021, 9:30-10:30 a.m. CDT (Chicago USA; UTC-5). You can join the livestream on our website, on FaceBook Live, or on YouTube Live. Advance registration is not required. The abstract for this presentation is at the end of this blog post.

A brief biography: David Julian McClements is a distinguished professor in the department of food science at the University of Massachusetts, an adjunct professor at Zhejiang Gongshang University, and a visiting professor at the School of Public Health at Harvard University. Current work in the McClements lab is focused on encapsulation strategies for the delivery of bioactive components and the use nanotechnology and structural design principles to improve the health and sustainability of processed foods.  He is also working to develop next-generation plant-based foods, such as plant-based milk, meat, and fish. Dr. McClements is the author of five books, including Future Foods: How Modern Science is Transforming the Way We Eat (2019), Food Emulsions: Principles, Practice and Techniques (2015) and Nanoparticle- and Microparticle-based Delivery Systems: Encapsulation, Protection and Release of Active Components (2014).  He has published over 1100 articles in scientific journals and is currently the most highly cited author in food science and agriculture. His work has been recognized by numerous awards including the AOCS Stephen S. Chang Award in 2010, and the Supelco AOCS Research Award in 2016. 

Can you tell us about current research?

Our lab is using nanotechnology and structural design principles to improve the health and sustainability of processed foods.  In particular, we are interested in developing next-generation plant-based foods, such as milk, meat, and fish.

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

I was delighted. It is a real honor to have my contributions to the field of food science recognized by my peers.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS has been a great resource for communicating research findings through the journals and conferences, for finding out the advances in the field, and for meeting colleagues.

Connect with Dr. McClements on Twitter!

Award presentation abstract

Application of Advanced Emulsion Technology in the Food Industry: A Review and Critical Evaluation

Emulsion technology is widely used in the food industry because many food products are emulsions, including many dressings, sauces, spreads, dips, creams, and beverages.  Recently, there has been an interest in improving the healthiness, sustainability, and safety of foods in an attempt to address some of the negative effects associated with the modern food supply, such as rising chronic diseases, environmental damage, and food safety concerns.  Advanced emulsion technologies can be used to address many of these concerns.  In this review article, the potential utilization of these advanced technologies is critically assessed, such as nanoemulsions, Pickering emulsions, high internal phase emulsions (HIPEs), multiple emulsions, solid lipid nanoparticles (SLNs), and multilayer emulsions.  In this presentation, a brief description of each type of emulsion is given, their formation and properties are described, and then their potential applications within the food industry are critically appraised. 

Spotlight on Schroepfer Medal Winner: William J Griffiths

Congratulations to William J Griffiths for winning the Schroepfer Medal. 

The Schroepfer Medal recognizes a scientist who has made significant and distinguished advances in the steroid field. The medal was established to honor the memory of George J. Schroepfer, Jr., a leader in the sterol and lipid field for more than 40 years. The award aims to foster Schroepfer's ideals of personal integrity, high scientific standards, perseverance and a strong spirit of survival, tempered by charm and wit. 

This spotlight will help you get to know Dr. Griffiths, including an overview of his current research and how AOCS has helped develop his career.

Plan to attend Dr. Griffiths' award presentation on April 28, 2021, 10:45-11:45 a.m. CDT (Chicago USA; UTC-5). You can join the livestream on our website, on FaceBook Live, or on YouTube Live. The abstract for this presentation is at the end of this blog post.

A brief biography: Dr. Griffiths received his BSc and PhD in Chemistry from University College Cardiff (UK). He was trained in the fundamentals of mass spectrometry in Swansea University (UK) working with Professor John H Beynon at the Royal Society Research Unit, and then in biomedical mass spectrometry working with Professor Jan Sjovall (Schroepfer Medal 2004) at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm (Sweden).  Dr. Griffiths has held academic positions at the University of the West Indies, Karolinska Institutet, and The School of Pharmacy at the University of London. Dr. Griffiths is currently the chair of mass spectrometry at Swansea University in the UK. His research combines chemical derivatization with liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry for the structural characterization of sterols, including characterization of oxysterols, bile acids and hormonal steroids at ultrahigh sensitivity from biological samples. At Swansea Dr. Griffiths works with long term collaborator Dr. Yuqin Wang. Their group is revealing the involvement of oxysterols in human biology, particularly in relation to inborn errors of metabolism, neurodegenerative disease, and the immune system.  His recent work has traversed earlier analytical boundaries and can quantitatively localize oxysterols in tissue using mass spectrometry imaging. Dr. Griffiths has more than 250 publications with more than 7,000 citations. He has edited two books and sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Lipid Research. Outside science, Bill is a keen sports fan, having played international Rugby Union for Jamaica.

Can you tell us about current research?

My group uses mass spectrometry to study cholesterol biosynthesis and metabolism. At the moment the group’s research is focused on three areas of research: (i) sterols and oxysterols in neurodegeneration, (ii) oxysterols in the immune system, and (iii) oxysterol imaging in the brain. All three areas are interrelated and rely on derivatization technology developed in the group.

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

When I heard the good news that I was to receive the 2021 AOCS Schroepfer Medal I was absolutely delighted. It is a huge honor to be following in the footsteps of great sterol scientists.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

The AOCS through George Schroepfer and previous recipient of the AOCS Schroepfer Medal have had a huge influence on my career. I was lucky to work with Jan Sjovall (recipient 2004) for almost 15 years and he introduced me to the field of bile acid analysis. While working with Jan in Stockholm, I met Cedric Shackleton (recipient 2010) when he visited from California, and together we have collaborated for many years looking at metabolism of cholesterol precursors, particularly those elevated in Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome. When in Stockholm I also met Author links open overlay panel Ingemar Björkhem (recipient 2006) whose inspirational work on oxysterols I followed very closely. As is the case with Jan and Cedric, I have been lucky to collaborate with Ingemar over the last twenty years in the study of oxysterols and their importance in biology. In 2007 I move to back to Swansea University, and one of the important reasons for returning to Swansea was that the Chair of Research in the Medical School at that time was Steve Kelly (recipient 2016). Of course, much of my work on oxysterols has been massively aided by the 193-page textbook review written by George Schroepfer and published in Physiological Reviews in 2000.

Award presentation abstract

Bile acid precursors: Intermediates in cholesterol removal or signalling molecules?

The bile acid “family” consists of mainly of C24 and C27 acids and C27 bile alcohols. The dominant pathway, at least in mammals, is the neutral pathway starting with 7α-hydroxylation of cholesterol by CYP7A1. However, there are numerous minor pathways which may have evolved as a route to biosynthesise bioactive intermediates, and it is these minor pathways that have been the main interest of the author over these last three decades. Mass spectrometry in combination with chromatography has greatly simplified the study of bile acids and their precursors over this time. Today, LC-MS instruments run with minimal operator input 24/7, something that the author could only dream of in the 1980’s, and provide reproducible chromatography, mass resolution in excess of 200,000 and mass accuracy of < 5 ppm, also delivering automated MS/MS and MSn, allowing identification of cholesterol metabolites at pg levels, and now even mass spectrometry imaging in tissue. Influenced by two previous recipients of Schroepfer Medal, Jan Sjövall and Ingemar Björkhem, the author has utilised LC-MS to study oxysterols, the primary cholesterol oxidation products, and their down-stream metabolism to bile acids. Following Sjövall-like methods of sample preparation and derivatisation the author and his collaborators have uncovered many unexpected cholesterol metabolites in body fluids and postulated pathways for their conversion to bile acids. Many of these intermediates have turned out to be biologically active, acting as ligands to e.g. nuclear receptors and G protein-coupled receptors. This leads to the question, have these minor bile acid biosynthesis pathways evolved to generate signalling molecules, with the ultimate formation of bile acids in the hepatocyte just providing an added bonus. In this paper, the author will expand on this hypothesis detailing methods for sterol identification, including new methods for sterol imaging in tissue, and discuss some of the unexpected pathways uncovered.

Spotlight on Yunbing Tan, 2021 AOCS Honored Student

The Honored Student Award, Sponsored by the AOCS Foundation, encourages and recognizes graduate students doing excellent research. This spotlight will introduce you to Yunbing Tan, Graduate Student University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, one of the 2021 Honored Students.  

Yunbing Tan is currently a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Food Biopolymers and Colloids laboratory at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has a strong academic background in food science with competitive GPAs in both Bachelor's (3.82/4.00) and Master's (3.67/4.00) degrees. Previously, she has done research in several distinctive areas, including evaluation and characterization of emulsion systems and their in- vitro digestion fate, protein hydrolysis and its application in dairy products functional foods. To date, she has published 22 scientific articles in well-respected journals with seven of them as the first author. Her work has been well recognized that she wa has beens honored with many scholarships and awards during her undergraduate and graduate studies. In the future, she would like to continue research on the application of the INFOGEST method to understand the gastrointestinal fate of various emulsions systems in regard of their lipid digestion properties as well as bioavailability of encapsulated components.

Can you tell us about current research?

I am investigating the factors impacting the bioaccessibility of oil-soluble vitamins with a focus on food matrix effects. There is still limited understanding of how food matrix effects impact lipid digestion and the gastrointestinal fate of nutraceuticals. The objective of my research is to systematically examine the impacts of the majoring factors influencing lipid digestion and nutraceutical bioaccessibility using food emulsions as model foods with well-defined properties. Bioaccessibility is a critical indicator for the overall bioavailability of hydrophobic nutraceuticals, which refers to the fraction of nutraceuticals that is released from the oil droplets and is in a form available for absorption by epithelium cells. In this work factors such as oil droplet concentration, oil droplet size, oil phase digestibility, triacylglycerol type, emulsifier type, calcium level and chitosan concentration were evaluated, and shown to influence the bioaccessibility of lipophilic nutraceuticals to different degrees.

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

I am extremely glad that I get this honor from AOCS.  This honor works as great momentum for my future study.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

The AOCS annual meeting attracts experts and companies focusing in oil and fat. It provides a valuable opportunity for us "oil scientists" to get in touch with each other and to get to know the innovative discovery in the field of oil released research.

Meet our honored student

Yunbing Tan will be presenting her paper on  the "Impact of Food Matrix Effects on Lipid Digestion and β-Carotene Bioaccessibility" at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, May 3-14, 2021

Spotlight on Reed Nicholson 2021 AOCS Honored Student

Reed Nicholson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. As an undergraduate student in the BSc Food Science program at Guelph, Reed began working in Professor Alejandro Marangoni’s lab and later started his graduate studies in 2017. Reed has been a member of AOCS a total of six years.

What is your current research focus, and what major challenges is this work trying to address?

My current research focus is structuring liquid oils into solid fats using enzymatic glycerolysis to produce partial acylglycerols, which are naturally present in liquid oils at low concentrations. Structuring through this reaction takes advantage of the higher crystallization and melting points of the mono- and diacylglycerols relative to triacylglycerols, with no change in the fatty acid composition of the starting oil. This work addresses two major challenges that the food industry currently faces. The first being to reduce the saturated fat content of solid fats which are commonly used as food ingredients, as saturated fat is necessary to provide structure to the lipid components of foods, but is associated with negative health effects. The second challenge is related to the sustainability of formulating foods with tropical oils. Because of its high saturated fat content and associated functional properties, palm oil is used in a wide range of food applications. Our research is also looking to produce a viable alternative to palm oil using liquid oils from domestic crops modified to have similar functionality to that of palm.

How has AOCS influenced your career development?

The AOCS Annual Meeting has played a big role in my career development as it gives me a yearly opportunity to present my research to experts in the field of lipid science. These interactions have provided me with valuable feedback on my work, and have greatly improved my presentation skills and overall confidence as a researcher. The Annual Meeting has also allowed me to build great connections and friendships with other researchers, and by attending the meetings I am able to learn from the best minds in lipid science and stay up to date on developments in the field.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 2020 was a very different year for everyone… did you pick up any new hobbies?

I really enjoy spending my spare time outdoors. Whether it be hiking with my dog, trail running, or stand-up paddle boarding. Reading and cooking are also activities I spend a lot of my free time engaged in. While it was a strange year, 2020 was a good year for at-home hobbies. During this time, I have been learning to play guitar, and my baking skills have improved immensely.

And finally, what is your favorite type of cookie?

Although there are a lot of cookies that I like, I would have to say that my favorite is the black and white cookie, which is a Seinfeld staple native to New York City. These cookies are basically the lovechild of a cookie and a cake. And I have learned this year that they are surprisingly easy to bake at home.

Meet our honored student and learn about his research

Reed Nicholson will be presenting a paper on Engineering lipid structure with enzymatic glycerolysis at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, May 3-14, 2021.

Spotlight on Guanghui Li, 2021 AOCS Honored Student

The Honored Student Award, Sponsored by the AOCS Foundation, encourages and recognizes graduate students doing excellent research. This spotlight will introduce you to Guanghui Li, Graduate Student at Jinan University in China. One of the 2021 Honored Students. 

My name is Guanghui Li, a doctorate candidate in Food Science at Jinan University,  I have  many achievements on lipid research including the publication of 11 papers (3 in Chinese journals) and application for a Chinese patent (Patent No: 201710568244.3).  I am good at analyzing the measured data via SPSS software and Origin 8.5 software version. I took part in 2017 AOCS Annual Meeting and Industry Showcases (Orlando, USA) and shared a research poster on Enzymatic Application for Manufacture of EPA-and-DHA-Enriched Triglycride Fish Oil. I have also served as a exchange student working on a research project studying novel MLCD-based emulsion at Ryerson University in Canada.

Can you tell us about your current research?

Previous study showed that Pickering emulsions behave as penetration enhancers. The skin permeation of an active compound loaded inside the droplets of a Pickering emulsion was faster than for emulsifier-based emulsions or homogeneous solutions. Our hypothesis is that chitosan-MLCD based O/W Pickering emulsions can improve stability of ferulic acid and provide a theoretical basis of effective delivery and transdermal absorption of actives using biomass particle stabilized Pickering emulsion in  biomedical and cosmetic applications. My current research is focused on preparation of chitosan-based O/W Pickering emulsion to encapsulate ferulic acid. The stability, particle size, zeta potential, and microstructure of chitosan-MLCD particles and emulsions will be characterized via sedimentation, particle size analyzer as well as microscopy. The antioxidant properties and whitening effect of ferulic acid loaded inside the Pickering emulsion will be determined by NIH 3T3 cell and melanoma cells in vitro. The permeation efficiency of ferulic acid encapsulated inside Pickering emulsion through skin will be investigated via Franz Cell Diffusion in vitro. 

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

I was very excited and happy when I knew that I had got this award. I clearly remembered that I woke up at 4:35 p.m. Beijing time and checked my email. After knowing this result, I was too excited to fall asleep for a long time. I immediately shared this honor with my relatives, and everyone was very happy.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

The AOCS has helped me to attain advanced knowledge, insights, and inspiration in lipid chemistry and lipid nutrition, which is a great benefit for my graduate studies. Moreover, AOCS offers a series of online and in-person opportunities for learning, connection and collaboration, which will strongly develop and guide my future career in lipid research.

Meet our honored student and learn about his research

Guanghui Li will be presenting a paper on stabilization mechanism of water-in-oil emulsions by medium- and long-chain diacylglycerol: Post-crystallization vs. pre-crystallization at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, May 3-14, 2021.