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.