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)