Thursday, March 31, 2022

Spotlight on Bungo Shirouchi, recipient of the 2022 Phospholipid Division Best Paper Award

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Bungo Shirouchi is the recipient of the 2022 Phospholipid Division Best Paper Award. This award recognizes an outstanding published paper or monograph in the area of phospholipids. The International Lecithin & Phospholipid Society (ILPS) sponsors the award.

Dr. Shirouchi and co-authors published their award-winning paper titled "Dietary lysophospholipids reduce lymphatic cholesterol transport compared with dietary phospholipids in thoracic lymph-duct cannulated rats" published in the Lipids.

About Bungo Shirouchi

Dr. Shirouchi is currently an associate professor at the Department of Nutrition Science at University of Nagasaki. He received his Ph.D. in agriculture from Kagoshima University in 2009. After working as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Health and Nutrition (2009–2010) and an assistant professor at Kyushu University (2010–2020), he joined University of Nagasaki. He specializes in lipid nutrition, with a special emphasis on using the thoracic lymph duct cannulation technique to evaluate the intestinal absorption of lipid-soluble substances. Dr. Shirouchi has received the 2009 AOCS Phospholipid Division Best Paper Award and the Japan Society of Nutrition and Food Science Award for Young Investigators (2019).

Can you tell us about your current research?

The aim of our research is to clarify how dietary factors (food environments) contribute to the prevention and alleviation of non-communicable diseases

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

I received this news and then shared it with my co-authors. We are very happy and honored. This award from AOCS is the best way to spread our achievement in phospholipids as one of the bioactive lipids

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS is known as a high-end international scientific and technical organization and provides the opportunity to share our research, especially bioactive lipids, and to connect with many professionals. AOCS and this award help to develop our research career. We really appreciate your support.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Spotlight on Nikolai Kocherginsky, recipient of the 2022 American Cleaning Institute (ACI) Distinguished Paper Award

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Nikolai Kocherginsky is the recipient of the 2022 American Cleaning Institute (ACI) Distinguished Paper Award. This award recognizes an outstanding paper published in the area of surfactants and detergents. The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) sponsors the award.

Dr. Kocherginsky is the lead author on "Interactions of Surfactants with Biomimetic Membranes. 1. Ionic Surfactants" published in the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents.

About Nikolai Kocherginsky

Dr. Kocherginsky graduated from Moscow State University and worked at several institutes in the former USSR, including N. N. Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics and the Soviet/Russian Academy of Sciences. He was a visiting scholar at Dartmouth Medical School, a G. A. Miller visiting scholar and visiting associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, and Lady Davis Visiting Professor at Technion, Israel. He also taught at the National University of Singapore and Naresuan University, Thailand. He has 17 patents and patent applications, including in the USA, Singapore, and Europe. He published a monograph, several chapters in other books, and over 150 journal and conference publications in different areas of physical chemistry, membrane science, and technology

Can you tell us about your current research?

I am now with the company Next-ChemX developing membrane-based oil/biodiesel washing processes.

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

I was surprised and glad.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

Through AOCS I have discovered a lot of useful information and met good people.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Spotlight on Lu-Kwang Ju, recipient of the 2022 Biotechnology Division Ching Hou Biotechnology Award

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Lu-Kwang Ju is the recipient of the 2022 Biotechnology Division Ching Hou Biotechnology Award. This award recognizes a scientist, technologist or leader who has made significant contributions to the advancement of the Division’s area of interest.

Dr. Ju will co-chair the session "Biocatalysis — Enzyme Processing" in the Biotechnology technical program with Dr. Jun Ogawa at the 2022 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo.

About Lu-Kwang Ju

Lu-Kwang Ju

Dr. Ju is the Distinguished Professor of Chemical, Biomolecular, and Corrosion Engineering at The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, where he served as department chair for 9 years. Dr. Ju is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He holds a B.S. from National Taiwan University and a M.S. and Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo, all in chemical engineering. 

Dr. Ju has been an AOCS member since 2006 and has served in multiple volunteer roles, including session chair; award committee member; Biotechnology Division newsletter editor, secretary/treasurer, vice chair, and chair; and an AOCS liaison for the 2022 JOCS-AOCS Joint Meeting. 

His research interests include developing and studying biological processes and systems that use microorganisms and enzymes to make bioproducts and/or improve sustainability and environmental friendliness. His group currently works on (1) enzyme-based soy processing, (2) phagotrophic algae platform for waste treatment and conversion to algal lipid, (3) biosurfactant production and application, and (4) biobased self-healing materials.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Spotlight on Rotimi E. Aluko, recipient of the 2022 Protein and Co-Products Division Lifetime Achievement Award

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Rotimi E. Aluko is the recipient of the 2022 Protein and Co-Products Division Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes significant contributions to the advancement of protein and co-products through research and applications. The award is presented every other year.

About Rotimi E. Aluko

Rotimi E. Aluko

Dr. Rotimi Aluko is a professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in bioactive peptides at the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, where he also serves as director of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. He obtained a Ph.D. in food science in 1996 followed by postdoctoral fellow work from 1996-1998, both at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. 

Dr. Aluko has over 20 years of work experience as an independent investigator with a  focus on the structure-function properties of bioactive food proteins and peptides. In addition to over 257 peer-review journal article publications, he holds two patents on bioactive peptides, one of which was licensed to a Canadian nutraceutical company for the purpose of commercialization. The American Chemical Society has featured novel scientific discoveries from his lab twice as global press releases. According to Clarivate Analytics, Dr. Aluko is a “Highly Cited Researcher” in the Agricultural Sciences category, which is recognition given to researchers with peer-reviewed journal citations in the top 1% in the world. 

Dr. Aluko has trained over 80 people (undergrads, postgraduates, postdocs, technicians) in various areas of food chemistry and human nutrition. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST), the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and AOCS (2018). Dr. Aluko currently serves as the editor-in-chief for the Journal of Food Biochemistry and an associate editor for Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My current research activities focus on two aspects. First is the use of heat and enzyme treatments coupled with membrane ultrafiltration to isolate protein aggregates that differ in size and then determine their functional properties, which can be correlated with protein size. This type of work seeks to develop new protein ingredients for formulation of novel food products. Second involves the use of proteases to produce novel bioactive peptides that modulate various physiological functions such as the cardiovascular system, neurological system and digestive system. The digested proteins are first examined in vitro for enzyme inhibition properties followed by purification and amino acid sequencing of identified active peptides. Active protein hydrolysates and peptides are then tested for efficacy against chronic human diseases using appropriate animal disease models and human intervention trials. Based on the amino acid type and sequence, statistical modelling is then used to reveal positional arrangement that optimize inhibition of enzymes implicated in chronic diseases and/or physiological dysfunctions. The overall aim is to restore homeostasis using the protein hydrolysates and peptide sequences.

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

I was pleasantly surprised and humbled but at the same time very happy. This is because the award represents a strong recognition of my professional work by my peers.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS has been instrumental in all aspects of my professional life starting from my first job as an independent junior researcher and up till now as one of the established leaders in the field of food proteins and oilseed chemistry. I started attending AOCS conferences in 2005 and up till today have not missed any except the 2006 meeting. 

In addition to the immense networking opportunities provided by AOCS as a professional organization, my research works have benefited greatly from attending several of the technical sessions across various Divisions. I have also had the opportunity to serve in leadership positions, which culminated in my role as a Division Chair. The experience has strengthened my professional recognition and influence within the global food science community. 

I have also ensured that my students participate in the AOCS annual meetings through poster and oral presentations, which have led to several awards as well as recognition that helped carry my research program as one of the strongest globally.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Spotlight on Padma Prabodh Varanasi, recipient of the 2022 Samuel Rosen Memorial Award

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Padma Prabodh Varanasi is the recipient of the 2022 Samuel Rosen Memorial Award. This award recognizes an individual who has made a significant advancement, cumulative advancements or application of surfactant chemistry principles. The award commemorates more than 40 years of Samuel Rosen’s work as an industrial chemist on the formulation of printing inks. Milton J. Rosen initiated and sponsored the award.

About Padma Prabodh Varanasi

Padma Prabodh Varanasi

After receiving a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai, Dr. Varanasi began his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the State University of New York-Buffalo. It was there that he was first exposed to the field of surfactants and interfacial phenomena. Soon after graduating, he joined the corporate research labs of S.C. Johnson & Son (SCJ). 

At SCJ, he worked extensively in the areas of interfacial phenomena and transport phenomena. His research produced several innovative technologies that have since played a critical role in the development of new products across different business sectors, including home care, air care and insect control. His work was recognized by SCJ through 14 worldwide R&D technical merit awards over a span of 20 years. He left SCJ in 2008 as a research fellow — a prestigious role only held by three others in the company’s history until then. 

He joined SPX as R&D director in its power transformer business where he focused on the development of innovative insulation materials for power transformers. Dr. Varanasi joined BASF in 2011 to lead its home care and I&I technical group. In 2014, he became the head of development for both home and personal care groups. Currently, he is in charge of its industrial formulators' technical group. 

His research work over the course of his career has led to around a total of 100 patents and publications. He also mentored several researchers who later went on to excel in other industrial roles and academia.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My current research is focused on finding novel applications for BASF's surfactants and water soluble polymers in the areas of bioenergy, construction and agricultural formulations.

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

When I received the email, I ignored it as I assumed that it must be spam. Only a few days later, I received a congratulatory note from our vice president, which surprised me. I was humbled to be recognized alongside so many great scientists that I admire.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

It helped me tremendously in enhancing my knowledge of surfactants and interfacial phenomena and their vast number of industrial applications. Further, AOCS annual meetings provided me with an opportunity to meet so many great scientists and to learn from them on how different important market needs are addressed technically through development of novel technologies.

Spotlight on Atsushi Takahashi, recipient of the 2022 Edwin N. Frankel Award for Best Paper in Lipid Oxidation and Quality

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Atsushi Takahashi is the recipient of the 2022 Edwin N. Frankel Award for Best Paper in Lipid Oxidation and Quality. This award recognizes an outstanding paper in the area of lipid oxidation or quality. This award is presented by the Lipid Oxidation and Quality (LOQ) Division in recognition of Edwin Frankel's 50 years of lipid oxidation research. Kalsec sponsors the award.

Dr. Takahashi is the lead author on "Quantitative Evaluation of Oxidative Stability of Biomembrane Lipids in the Presence of Vitamin E" published in the Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society. He will present his research as part of the General Session in the LOQ technical program at the 2022 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo. You can register to attend the meeting on May 1–4 in person in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, or online.

About Atsushi Takahashi

Atsushi Takahashi

Dr. Takahashi received his Ph.D. in engineering from Tohoku University in 2002. He is currently an associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Tohoku University, Japan. 

His research interests include lipid oxidation in food, heterogeneous catalytic chemistry and sustainable process engineering. His work focuses specifically on the control of oxidation mechanism via reactive oxidation species from on metal catalysts to in biomembrane.

By focusing on bottlenecks using macroscopireaction kinetics analysis, he is working on seamlessly elucidating the mechanisms and design reactions and processes on a trans-scale from the entire food system to microscopiradical reactions. 

He won the Lipid Oxidation and Quality Division's Best Paper Award in 1999 and 2004 and the Edwin N. Frankel Award for Best Paper Lipid Oxidation and Quality in 2016.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Spotlight on Ipek Bayram, recipient of the 2022 Lipid Oxidation and Quality Division Student Travel Grant

Ipek Bayram

We are delighted to announce that Ipek Bayram is the recipient of the 2022 Lipid Oxidation and Quality Division Student Travel Grant. This grant assists graduate students in presenting their work at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, as well as encourages them to become active in the Lipid Oxidation and Quality Division and the Society.

About Ipek Bayram

During Ipek's undergraduate degree in food engineering at Middle East Technical University (METU), one of Turkey's top universities, she interned with the Anadolu Efes Beer Factory and Ulker Biscuit Plant. During her internship, she analyzed production processes and conducted quality control tests. She also gained a valuable research experience at METU, working on a research article advised by Dr. Gulum Sumnu on developing pea-flour-based antioxidant films. Her passion for developing novel food products to diminish malnutrition, discovering new preservation techniques to prolong shelf life and exploring alternative processing technologies to facilitate cheaper food distribution motivated her decision to pursue a career in food science. 

After graduating with a bachelor's degree as a high-honor student, Ipek was awarded a Fulbright Doctoral Scholarship to pursue her Ph.D. in food science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, under the supervision of Dr. Eric Decker. After completing her coursework with a 4.00 GPA, she began her dissertation research on lipid oxidation and antioxidants, mainly determining and analyzing synergistic antioxidant activity in food matrices to improve food quality. In addition to laboratory projects, she co-founded the UMass Fulbright Association and served as president to strengthen the networking among Fulbright scholars and assist new scholars in adjusting to campus life.

Can you tell us about your current research?

Lipid oxidation is a series of reactions affecting food quality and shelf life since it impacts flavor, color and nutrition. The food industry uses different antioxidants to retard oxidation. Interaction between antioxidants can improve the ability of the industry to protect foods if the antioxidant combination is synergistic, a concept where two antioxidants inhibit lipid oxidation more effectively than the sum of the individual contributions. My doctoral dissertation focuses on understanding and predicting synergistic antioxidant activity in different systems, particularly in bulk oil, and showing the mechanism behind the synergistic activity. 

Synergisms between antioxidants are not well understood but have been postulated to be due to combinations of free radical scavenging and metal chelation activities, regeneration of a free radical scavenger by another antioxidant and/or differences in antioxidant partitioning in complex food systems. Determining the mechanism is critical to predicting which antioxidant combinations could be synergistic and providing easy and time-efficient antioxidant selections for the food industry. Achieving synergistic interactions will increase oxidative stability, prolong the shelf life of food, improve food quality, reduce the production cost and help the food industry substitute synthetic antioxidants with healthier and natural options.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

Being an AOCS member has provided me with an excellent opportunity to broaden my professional network. I've been impressed by how easily AOCS helped make connections with professionals from industry and academia, as well as other graduate students working in the field of lipid chemistry. The AOCS Lipid Oxidation and Quality Division has been invaluable in providing me with clear guidance on how to conduct high-quality research, improve networking opportunities and build useful strategies for professional life.

AOCS has given me the opportunity to co-author an article in INFORM magazine with Dr. Eric Decker titled "Why does lipid oxidation in foods continue to be such a challenge?" in which we discussed synergistic antioxidants and the factors influencing lipid oxidation. AOCS is an excellent resource for connecting with researchers and manufacturers who share similar interests in oxidation chemistry and practical applications. Receiving the 2022 AOCS Lipid Oxidation and Quality (LOQ) Student Travel Grant to present my research at the 2022 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo is very exciting. I am honored to be recognized by AOCS for my hard work and scientific contributions.

Spotlight on Haizhou Wu, recipient of the 2022 Lipid Oxidation and Quality Division Early Career Travel Grant

Haizhou Wu

We are delighted to announce that Haizhou Wu is the recipient of the 2022 Lipid Oxidation and Quality Division Early Career Travel Grant. This grant assists early career researchers in presenting their work at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, as well as encourages them to become active in the Lipid Oxidation and Quality Division and the Society.

About Haizhou Wu

Dr. Wu is a researcher at the Chalmers University of Technology, Department of Biology and Biological Engineering-Food and Nutrition Science. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison & Nanjing Agricultural University in 2017. He conducted postdoctoral research work at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden from February 2018 to January 2021.

His work is primarily in basic and applied research related to muscle food (fish, mammalian and avian), e.g., the oxidative processes mostly in relation to lipids and functional aspects of hemoglobin and myoglobin. One focal point has been to elucidate the mechanisms by which there is a wide range of variation in auto-oxidation and heme dissociation when comparing mammalian, fish and avian hemoglobins. Additional focus involves developing new technologies for stabilizing muscle food against lipid oxidation.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My current research is mainly focused on developing new technologies for stabilization of seafood by-products against lipid oxidation, specifically by removing and/or deactivating blood/Hb or by adding smart antioxidant solutions. In the project, studies are done in various models, ranging from isolated fish erythrocytes up to whole fish by-products. The aim is to raise the value of seafood by-products so they can be recycled back into the food chain. The project will hereby contribute to a circular economy and increased potential for industrial symbiosis.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

I attended my first AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo in May 2021. It’s an exciting experience! I greatly enjoyed the meeting, which included lots of top scientists and very excellent presentations in the field of lipid oxidation. It’s like I found a treasure, thus I decided to continue to stay in AOCS. It’s too bad that 2021 Annual Meeting needed to be an online meeting. 

For the 2022 AOCS Annual Meeting, I volunteered as the session chair in “Lipid Oxidation in Omega-3 Products and Stabilization Strategies.” I am also contributing three oral presentations. I hope to join the 2022 AOCS meeting in person. AOCS provides a great chance to present our studies and also broaden my scientific network.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Member spotlight: Anne-Laure Fameau

Anne-Laure Fameau

Anne-Laure received her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Nantes (France) in 2011. During her doctoral program, she developed responsive foams and interfaces based on fatty acid self-assemblies and worked at the Laboratory Léon Brillouin at CEA Saclay (French Neutron Center) as well as the French National Institute of Agricultural & Environment Research (INRAE) in Nantes. She has since worked as a full-time research staff member at INRAE in Nantes (2011–2013), and completed two 6-month posts as a visiting scientist at North Carolina State University (USA) and Technische Universität Berlin (Germany). From 2015–2021, she worked at the L’Oréal Company, and at the end of 2021, she returned to INRAE as research scientist at Lille (norther France).

Anne-Laure, congratulations on winning the AOCS Young Scientist Research Award in 2021! This is a major accomplishment. What has receiving this award meant to you?

Thanks! Yes, a major accomplishment. I remembered that I was relaxing at home with my family at night when I received this amazing news by email telling me that I was awarded the 2021 AOCS Young Scientist Research Award. I was so happy and proud! It is such an honor to have my name on the list of AOCS Young Scientist Research award winners (PDF). Especially when you admire, as much as I do, all the scientists in that list since the beginning of my passion for science in lipids, surfactants, soft matter, food science, and nutrition. It is fantastic that AOCS helps young and emerging scientists, by giving such awards. This award encouraged me, after seven years in industry, to come back to academia at INRAE to continue to pursue a career advancing the applied and fundamental research in my field.

Can you tell the EAT members a bit more about your general research interests and what major challenges your current work is trying to address?

My research interests are in the field of responsive soft materials based on lipids and green surfactants, with a particular emphasis on foams, emulsions, liquid marbles and interfaces, for food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications. My research is focused on the development of these systems and their detailed structural characterization using scattering techniques such as SAXS and SANS. I also enjoy transmitting my passion for science to young students. I visited many schools and gave scientific talks to students to promote science in France, and especially to promote science for girls.

Presently, I am working at INRAE on the PIHM team (Interface Processes and Hygiene of Materials) as part of UMET (Unit dedicated to materials science of the University of Lille). PIHM includes scientists in microbiology and engineering, pooling their skills to improve the understanding of bacterial contamination in food industries and how to improve hygiene procedures. I am personally overseeing a project dealing with the use of liquid foams based on green surfactants intended to improve decontamination processes in the food industry. In parallel, I have many collaborations in France, Japan, USA, Germany, Italy and the UK.

How has being a member of AOCS influenced your career development?

I joined AOCS only recently in 2020. I wrote an article for INFORM magazine in 2019, at which point I realized how the AOCS community could help my research and my career in many different ways. In particular, AOCS is very important for both people working in academia and in industry, and I find it very useful to have access to all of the AOCS content and networking opportunities. I greatly enjoyed the 2020 and 2021 AOCS annual meetings, and I am looking forward the 2022 AOCS annual meeting.

You are obviously a very busy individual. What do you do to disconnect and recharge (i.e., hobbies, interests, activities, etc.)?

With two young children at home, I try to recharge by sleeping when they allow me. Joking aside, I relax by spending as much time as I can with my family. I keep a weekly meeting with my little boy, where we go to our favorite tea room and share a slice of cake and hot chocolate. I love sports in general (football, swimming, horse-riding, etc.), but for the moment I only have time to practice yoga at home.

Spotlight on 2022 Biotechnology Division Student Award winners

The Biotechnology Division Student Award recognizes graduate students presenting outstanding oral or poster presentations within the Biotechnology technical program at the AOCS Annual Meeting. We are delighted to recognize this year's winners! Get to know them in the spotlights below:

About Jiazi Chen

Jiazi Chen

Jiazi Chen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science at Jinan University. As a graduate student at Jinan University, Jiazi began working in Professor Yong Wang’s lab and later started her doctoral studies in 2020. Jiazi also studied in Professor Dérick Rousseau’s lab at Ryerson University, Canada, for six month as an exchange student in 2017.

Can you tell us about your current research?

I am researching the delivery of bioactives encapsulated by medium-long chain diacylglycerol (MLCD) oil-in-water (O/W) Pickering emulsions. My future research plan also focuses on delivery systems composed with diacylglycerol. I am interested in establishing a new efficient system to deliver bioactives not only for cosmetic application but also for the development of functional foods.This system can deliver bioactives stably and efficiently, and at the same time is a healthy natural functional food. I have authored and co-authored six research articles and one Chinese patent.

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 major advisor and lab mates. I shared this good news with my family and my lovely daughter.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

The AOCS Annual Meeting has played a big role in my research life. I clearly remember the first time I took part in the 2017 AOCS Annual Meeting (Orlando, USA) and shared a oral presentation.This experience gave me lots of opportunity to learn from experts in the field of lipid science and greatly improved my presentation skills. The Annual Meeting gave me many new ideas for my future research and allowed me to build great connections and friendships with other researchers.

About Xin Guo

Xin Guo

Xin received his M.S. degree in food science and technology from Jiangnan University in 2020. He is a second year Ph.D. candidate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research interests include lipid chemistry, analysis methods and flavor chemistry. He has developed a broad range of experimental and scientific experiences during his research. He has three SCI academic publications as the first author, which include publications in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry and Food & Function. He is also a reviewer for the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry and Journal of Colloid and Interface Science. Additionally, he has participated in several scientific research projects, including projects with the United States Department of Agriculture.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My current research focuses on the analysis of microplastics in oils and fats. My project is designed to (1) develop analytical methods for determining microplastic content in oils and fats and (2) investigate human ingestion of microplastics through oils and fats.

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

I was very excited. I thank the AOCS Awards committee for their recognition of my hard work and achievement.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

As an international professional organization, AOCS provides me current and emerging information and research results in the fields of fats and oils through its meetings, publications, and websites. I first learned about AOCS when I started my master career in Jiangnan University. AOCS is also the bridge facilitating interactions between the academic world and students. It gives us the opportunity to meet more professionals through conferences and events, and also gives us the opportunity to collaborate with other societies and organizations to promote the advancement of scientific research in this amazing field.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Member spotlight: Marc Pignitter

Marc Pignitter

Marc Pignitter received his doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Graz, Austria. He completed postdoctoral stays at the University of Vienna, Austria, and in industry. He was a research associate at the National Biomedical EPR Center and the Free Radical Research Center at the Department of Biophysics, Medical College of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, USA. Another research stay took him to Australia, where he joined the group in Adelaide at Metabolomics Australia and participated in the Australian Endeavour Leadership Program. 

In 2017, he took up a tenure track position at the Institute of Physiological Chemistry at the University of Vienna and was able to establish his own research group by raising over €1 million in external funding. In 2021, he was promoted to the rank of associate professor at the same institution.

Marc received several international awards from the German Society for Fat Science (DGF), the Australian Government and AOCS, among others.

His research interests focus on the application of innovative approaches and technologies to control and better understand lipid oxidation in food and its health effects.

Can you tell us about your research?

My laboratory focuses on (1) identifying pathways and markers of lipid oxidation in foods, (2) changing food processing methods to improve oxidative stability of foods, and (3) evaluating the biological effects of dietary oxidized lipids. Modern tools of analytical food chemistry (LC-MS, GC-MS, NMR and ESR), foodomics, oxidomics and cell culture techniques are applied to unravel oxidative rancidity in foods and its metabolic effects.

What is the biggest challenge you are trying to conquer in your research?

To obtain a holistic view of compounds and reactions taking place in foods and biological systems exposed to oxidized lipids. There are far more biochemicals with an impact on lipid oxidation in food than we are currently tracking.

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

AOCS has helped me solving challenges in my research in many ways. Access to the latest research highlights presented at the AOCS Annual Meetings, webinars and in AOCS journals lays the ground for my research endeavors. Most importantly, the scientific exchange within the research community leads to new ideas and projects to address urgent research questions. And last but not least, receiving an award for my research activities gave me a large portion of motivation. Thank you, AOCS community.

What made you start a mentorship program for LOQ?

As AOCS has helped me in so many ways, I was thinking what I could return for the benefit of the community. Soon it was clear that organizing a mentoring program might be how LOQ members could benefit from each other, independent of their career stage. I am very excited how it develops and hope that many members make use of this chance and sign up for the first LOQ Mentoring Program.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Member spotlight: Dhruvesh B. Patel

Dhruvesh B. Patel

Dhruvesh B. Patel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of nutrition and metabolism at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. He is the winner of the 2021 AOCS Health and Nutrition Division Student Excellence Award.

Could you tell us about your current research?

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. 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. 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 are your career goals and how has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS is a multidisciplinary group of experts with a keen interest in research and development. With this comes a plethora of knowledge and tools that new trainees like me can access. AOCS, through their webinars and meetings, has provided me the opportunity to interact with researchers and obtain guidance to propel me in the next step of my academic pursuits.

How do you spend your leisure time?

Currently, I am in the fourth year of my Ph.D. and plan to pursue research in nutrition and immunology. Living in Edmonton, I like winter and winter activities. Outside of work, I want to learn about nature photography. Recently, I went to Jasper (Alberta) and spent a night watching stars and northern lights. I love outdoor biking and hiking in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Member spotlight: Ximena Yepez

Ximena Yepez

Dr. Ximena Yepez is an associate professor at the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral where she is currently serving as the director of the Plasma Lab. She teaches food analysis, carbohydrate and lipid analysis and supervises eight students on their respective research projects. Dr. Yepez enjoys collaboration on research, outreach and community service. She is very appreciative of AOCS and the great things the group has done for her as a professor.

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

I joined AOCS in 2017 as a graduate student, during an annual meeting in Orlando, where I had the opportunity to present my Ph.D. work. I decided to join AOCS because I had a great experience finding relevant and updated resources to my research work: from methods of analysis all the way to highly specific topics about fats and oils, both through publications and a thriving networking research community. Ever since I joined, I have found great support and encouragement from my colleagues at AOCS.

How has your involvement with the AOCS influenced your career?

AOCS provides excellent support in the field of oils and fats, which was an important topic during my Ph.D. student career, and still is. Publications and events, such as the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, INFORM magazine, and the Professional Educator Common Interest Group are great resources that keep me updated on recent developments and state-of-the-art research in my fields of interest. 

I also receive the Open Forum digest in the mail regularly, which I find particularly interesting, as it provides real problem-solution approaches, taken by experts in the field. I have even implemented some of these as case studies in my class, with great success and interest from the students.

Why did you decide to join the PE CIG?

I started teaching in my university three years ago, and I needed some support in the teaching aspect of my career. Also, due to COVID-19 restrictions, I have held meetings to share experiences and discuss the challenges of online teaching, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic when virtual and remote teaching were all new topics, and every educator was in need for guidance and support.

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

I worked in the food industry for 10 years before becoming a graduate student. Then in 2012, I had the opportunity to apply to a scholarship program that became available in Ecuador, providing funding for doctorate studies. Both my husband and I decided to apply, thinking that the worst-case scenario would be a rejection, which was just to continue our lives as they were. Eventually, we both got fellowships and admission to Purdue University. This was a life changing and defining moment. We turned from industry engineers into researchers in a top-notch institution; we became familiar with the research world, and now we are both professors at Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) in Ecuador. 

Our main goal now is to provide our students and research community with experiences of learning and research as interesting and excellent as the ones we had. Currently, I am the director of the Plasma Lab at ESPOL, where I supervise eight students in projects related with my fields of interest. I also participate actively in several international research groups, networks and collaborations.

What do you love most about your position?

I am passionate about materializing my ideas. Starting from writing proposals, continuing with training students and working towards a research question, and finally finding interesting results. I also enjoy greatly collaborating with colleagues in projects in areas as varied as research, outreach and community service. 

I have been able to learn beyond my field and get the best from all my experiences so far. Although teaching was something new, I have grown to like it and enjoy it a lot. However, it has been challenging the past two years because of the pandemic. I’m really looking forward to returning to in-person classes, and to continue my involvement in other community service projects as well.

How do you define success?

That’s a good question. I believe success is a personal trait. There are no general rules to describe it. For me, success has a strong link to having a happy marriage and family, to do the job you enjoy and to work in something you are passionate about. Believe it or not, the latter are not that simple to achieve, particularly in my country, where work is very difficult to find as there are few opportunities. So, I am beyond happy with my definition of success.

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

My husband has been the most influential person in my career. He had the dream of going to graduate school, and we embarked in this line of work thanks to him. During this journey, he has been there to help me become the best version of myself by pushing me to dream big. As a woman, sometimes it is more challenging to succeed in a career, and it has been an amazing support to have someone near me to make the path easier.

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

Find the time to become involved in a community of your field of work, such as AOCS, because it can give you the support that you need to succeed in a project, especially when you are stuck with lack of information. You may not only find what you need in an institution like AOCS, but you may also find a colleague working in a similar topic that can give you a hand. In my experience, I have come to understand the paramount importance that networking has in a research or industry sectors. 

I also recommend participating in annual meetings and technical events, because it helps to expand your area of expertise and open your mind to new ideas or just different points of view, that may help you think outside of the box.

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

Wow! There is a lot of trivial stuff I can share.

Despite being a food scientist that must put attention to detail in my lab, I don’t like to use detailed recipes when cooking at home. Most of recipes (even fancy or difficult ones) are basically made by eyeballing ingredients.

Another fun fact about me is that despite working a lot with fish and seafood in my lab, I am not particularly fond of these foods. So, I manipulate fish on a regular basis for my research, but I don’t like them in my kitchen. And yes, I also love to cook.

Ximena Yepez

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

Travel. I love to travel in my country. I try to get away as much as time permits. Since my country has a very steady weather all year long, in any particular holiday or weekend, we take the car and drive either to the beach, the highlands, the Amazon rainforest, or at least to a small family farm. I am a very outdoorsy person.

Spotlight on Waqas Baba, recipient of the 2022 Health and Nutrition Division Student Award

We are delighted to announce that Waqas Baba is the recipient of the 2022 Health and Nutrition Division Student Award. This award recognizes graduate students presenting an outstanding oral or poster presentation within the Health and Nutrition technical program at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo.

About Waqas Baba

Waqas Baba

After finishing his masters, Waqas worked as a lab assistant at Kashmir University, where he managed a pilot-scale processing plant. In addition to publishing research articles in reputed journals, Waqas conducted various outreach programs during which he served as the team leader and imparted hands-on training to different stakeholders, including students, industrial and employees.

Since his admission to United Arab Emirates University as a Ph.D. candidate fin 2019, he is involved in enhancing the bioactivity and techno-functionality of underutilized camel milk proteins. Waqas has published nine articles during his Ph.D. Additionally, he has received a research excellence award at an international conference organized by GRASS, India. Waqas volunteered to serve as vice president of the Graduate Students Association of his college in 2019. He was later selected as the president of the association and is still holding that position. During this tenure, Waqas organized various inter-college events.

Waqas was a part of joint project between his university and the Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations (FAO), that was related to lifestyle disorders. He has also worked in another joint project between his university and James Cook University and FAO that was related to sea food consumption.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My research aims at enhancing the techno-functional and bioactive potential of underutilized camel milk proteins by enzymatic hydrolysis and conjugation with bioactive compounds. Initial studies have revealed that hydrolysis of camel milk proteins generated various novel bioactive peptides that have high bioactivity. Moreover, conjugation of camel milk proteins with polyphenols not only improved bioactivity but had superior techno-functionality. 

I am also planning to explore the potential of conjugated camel milk protein (with polyphenols) for delivery of bioactive compounds using emulsion systems. As such, my thesis aims at improving health benefiting potential as well as industrial use of underutilized camel milk proteins with the aim of improving human health and serving the environment, thus a step towards food sustainability.

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

I was grounded with gratitude when I read the mail. I am highly thankful to AOCS for recognizing my efforts as a student of food science. This award has inspired me to explore more deeper aspects of food science in the direction of human health and food sustainability.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Spotlight on H. M. A. Ruchira Nandasiri, recipient of the 2022 Lipid Chemistry and Nutrition Award

We are delighted to announce that H. M. A. Ruchira Nandasiri is the recipient of the 2022 Lipid Chemistry and Nutrition Award. This award recognizes outstanding performance and achievement by graduate students conducting research in lipid chemistry and nutrition. The award is sponsored by Seawit Co., Inc.

About H. M. A. Ruchira Nandasiri

H. M. A. Ruchira Nandasiri

Ruchira Nandasiri was born and raised in Sri Lanka. In 2004, he passed the university entrance exam conducted by the Sri Lankan government and graduated with a specialized degree in food science and technology at the University of Wayamba in 2009. He then pursued a master’s degree in food chemistry and nutrition at Dalhousie University under the supervision of Dr. Vasantha Rupasinghe. After graduating in 2012, he worked at that university until he moved to the University of Manitoba to do his Ph.D. under the guidance of Dr. Usha Thiyam-Hollander in 2016. Sadly, Dr. Thiyam-Hollander passed away on December 24, 2020. Dr. Michael Eskin stepped in and took over supervision until graduation. 

During Ruchira's time at the University of Manitoba, he received a number of awards, including the Murphy Foundation scholarship from the University of Manitoba in both 2017 and 2019, AOCS Lipid Oxidation and Quality Division Travel Award, CIFST Student Travel Award in 2019, Program Completion Award from the faculty of graduate studies of the University of Manitoba in 2020, and Best Pecha-Kucha Presenter Award at the Protein Research Symposium in 2021.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My current research is focused on the valorization of canola, mustard and hemp by-products with an emphasis on its minor components, including canolol. In addition, we are in the process of determining the efficacy of some minor components as natural cancer preventative agents.

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

I felt really happy and at the same time felt honored receiving such an award from a world-recognized organization such as AOCS. Further, I felt Dr. Thiyam-Hollander was here with me today to witness my success and achievements.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

I joined AOCS in 2018. Since then, I have been actively involved with AOCS. The AOCS Annual Meeting has provided many networking opportunities. Being a member of the best paper award selection committee for the Lipid Oxidation and Quality Division for two years has helped me improve my writing and analytical skills. Also, being selected as one of the session chairs for the Lipid Oxidation and Quality program at the upcoming 2022 AOCS Annual Meeting will sharpen my presentation and management skills, which will help me in the long run.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Spotlight on Morgan Kandrac, recipient of the 2022 Hans Kaunitz Award

We are delighted to announce that Morgan Kandrac is the recipient of the 2022 Hans Kaunitz Award. This award recognizes students conducting research related to fats, oils and detergent technology.

About Morgan Kandrac

Morgan Kandrac

Morgan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science at Rutgers University under the advisement of Dr. Karen Schaich. Her doctoral research involves the development of analytical assays for identification and quantification of lipid oxidation products, investigation of lipid oxidation mechanisms and development of strategies for improved control of lipid oxidation in foods. Morgan holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Rider University and a master's degree in food science from Rutgers University.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My current research investigates alternate oxidation pathways in model lipid systems to determine the effects of fatty acid double bonds and organization into triacylglycerols on oxidation pathway preferences and product distributions.

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

I was very surprised. I am grateful for my advisors who took the time to recommend me and thankful to AOCS for this acknowledgment of my work.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS has afforded me many opportunities to learn and grow as a professional. I've been able to present research papers and posters, co-chair a session at an AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, and connect with and learn from many other researchers. AOCS's publications have been invaluable in my research.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Spotlight on Greta Canelli, recipient of the 2022 Processing Division Student Award

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Greta Canelli is the recipient of the 2022 Processing Division Student Award. This award recognizes graduate students presenting an outstanding oral or poster presentation within the Processing technical program at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo.

About Greta Canelli

Greta Canelli

Dr. Greta Canelli completed her master's degree in food technology at Wageningen University (Netherlands) and her doctoral studies at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zurich in the Laboratory of Sustainable Food Processing. Her research focuses on microalgae upstream and downstream processing for the enhancement of omega-3 fatty acids bioaccessibility and oxidative stability in the whole biomass.

Can you tell us about your current research?

I am currently researching microalgae as source of high-value compounds, particularly omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω3- PUFAs). New challenges in the bio-based industry, caused by a growing population, have created the need for sustainable solutions, to increase productivity with available resources. Microalgae provide promising opportunities to tackle these challenges. Within this project, we assess the bioaccessibility of nutrients from microalgae, as well as the oxidative stability of the whole biomass, to widen their applications in the bio-based, food and pharmaceutical industries. These factors are key to providing a nutritional and stable alternative source of ω3-PUFAs. 

In the course of this work, we studied the development of bioaccessibility and stability of microalgae over their growth phase, to identify the most favorable harvesting point. Using these experiments, we showed that ω3-PUFAs bioaccessibility in microalgae is very limited. Therefore, we are currently working on gentle and targeted disruption technologies, such as pulsed electric field treatment, to increase lipid bioaccessibility while keeping an acceptable oxidative stability.

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

I am very honored to have been awarded with such a prestigious award, which is well recognized within the scientific community.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Spotlight on Tsutomu Chida, recipient of the 2022 Industrial Oil Products Division Student Award

We are delighted to announce that Tsutomu Chida is the recipient of the 2022 Industrial Oil Products Division Student Award. This award recognizes graduate students presenting an outstanding oral or poster presentation within the Industrial Oil Products technical program at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo.

About Tsutomu Chida

Tsutomu Chida

Tsutomu Chida is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Tohoku University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Ichinoseki College, and a master’s degree in engineering from Tohoku University. 

He joined the Reaction Process Engineering Laboratory supervised by Professor Naomi Shibasaki-Kitakawa since he started his master’s program in 2019. His research interests include oxidation, reaction kinetics and kinetic model analysis. His research is focused on efficient biomass conversion into high value-added chemicals. He has authored and co-authored two research articles in peer-reviewed journal, including the Journal of American Oil Chemists’ Society. He has presented his research at every AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo since 2020 and was an invited speaker at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo

Can you tell us about your current research?

My research is focused on process design for efficient production of glycerol into high-value chemicals. There is an urgent need to develop effective methods to use glycerol, a by-product of biodiesel production, by converting it into high-value chemicals. The by-product glycerol is contaminated with strong alkaline as a catalyst, and the environmental loads of the purification process to remove the contaminants has been a bottleneck to its utilization. 

One of the effective ways to solve this problem is the selective oxidation into glyceric acid (GA), which can be used as a pharmaceutical raw material. This reaction proceeds using Au catalyst under alkaline conditions. However, the GA yield is low because many side reactions proceed simultaneously. To construct a practical process for efficient GA production, it is necessary to both experimentally analyze the reaction mechanism, including the active species that are key to the target reaction, and to develop a kinetic model that can quantitatively predict the reaction behavior under a wide range of conditions. 

The actual GA formation behavior proceeds by a comprehensive mechanism. Therefore, in order to construct a simple mathematical model with high prediction accuracy and versatility, it is necessary to clarify which steps dominate the formation behavior and select the essential reactions involved in the GA formation. In my research, by combining both in a well-balanced manner, I have succeeded in appropriately finding and modeling essential reactions that serve as bottlenecks in a complex reaction network. Furthermore, the kinetic model has been enabled to seamlessly predict appropriate conditions for efficient GA productions.

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

I was very surprised since this is the first time a Japanese student has won this award. I am proud and honored to win this award. I am grateful to AOCS community and organization.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS provides the opportunity to share my research and to connect with many experts around the world. These are very essential to developing my career in the field of oil chemistry.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Member spotlight: Kacie Ho

Kacie Ho

Originally from Hawaiʻi, Kacie Ho received her bachelor’s of science in food Science and human nutrition from the Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She made a crucial decision to brave the cold winters in West Lafayette, Indiana, to complete a Ph.D. at Purdue University in food science. During her time as a graduate student, Kacie had the opportunity to intern for Cargill in Minnesota and to conduct research at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. After graduating in 2017, she held a teaching postdoc at Wageningen University and a research postdoc at the Plants for Human Health Institute (Kannapolis, NC) through North Carolina State University. Kacie is currently an assistant professor of food science in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences at her undergrad alma mater, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Describe your research and explain what big challenge or problem your work is trying to solve.

My research has two main themes: bioactive compounds and food colloids. The first is related to characterizing and identifying nutritional and phytochemical profiles in tropical commodities. This work has direct impacts for my local responsibilities as a scientist in Hawaii as we aim to add value to our unique tropical commodities, to improve the health and well-being for the Pacific, and to enhance the economic activity of our local markets. 

Beyond this, much of our findings have broader implications worldwide as we identify nutrients, toxicants, and factors that affect bioavailability for a variety of food products. The second theme of my research is related to colloidal systems and food structuring to enhance stability, quality, and nutrition of food and food ingredients.

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

AOCS has been great organization to be involved with because of the networking opportunities you can get with other experts in the field or with potential collaborators or employers. I first got involved with AOCS as a graduate student and have thoroughly appreciated all the opportunities to engage with other scientists and to get involved through various volunteer opportunities.

Please share a turning point or defining moment in your work as a scientist.

I’ve been fortunate to have many great mentors and opportunities to learn and grow as a scientist and professional. One of those defining experiences was conducting research in the Netherlands as a visiting scientist. The structure of their Ph.D. program was a bit different (in terms of coursework and supervisory responsibilities) from what I had seen in the US, and I was even given the opportunity to supervise a M.S. student during my time there. That experience really helped me to gain a new perspective and allowed me to envision a future career in academia.

Kacie Ho on a hike

What do you like to do when you are not in the lab or presenting at meetings?

When I’m not officially on the clock, I enjoy hiking or even just going on walks outdoors. As scientists/professionals, it’s easy to let our minds continuously race all the time. However, it is refreshing (and ultimately helpful for long-term productivity) to get some fresh air and to observe the sky.

Do you have any words of wisdom for other AOCS YP CIG members?

Based on my experiences and hearing from grad school friends who are now in industry, academia, and government, I think it is very helpful to get involved in volunteer work or service related to your profession early on. These experiences help to develop your professional and organizational skills while also helping you to gain a broader perspective of your field. Also, it is a great way to get to know others better!

Member spotlight: Alan Paine

Alan Paine

Alan received a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Surrey in England in 1977 and then followed a career in the food and beverage industries. He recently retired from Desmet Ballestra after 36 years. At Desmet, he was mostly involved with the engineering of vegetable oil refineries, designing new equipment, and investigating ways to improve and expand the performance of existing plants. Alan continues to consult through ARP Lipids — reach him at

Away from work, Alan lives in Horncastle, England, with his wife Jane. They have three children and three grandchildren. He is a published science fiction author with a short story recently included in the anthology Nine Streams of Consciousness in addition to other stories published since 2017. Alan also participates in amateur theater, including a production of Red Riding Hood that ran through the pandemic. It was challenging with several players missing shows for COVID-19, but the “show did go on," though parts and players were shuffled to cover roles!

What do I wish I had known when I first started?

Working in engineering involves a lot more than what you learn in the classroom!

What is the biggest change you have seen in oilseeds?

The size of refineries. When I first started working in the industry 100 tons per day was a very common size for a refinery and I remember discussing with a colleague whether 1,000 tons per day refinery would be possible and who would want one. Today, there are palm oil refineries of several thousands of tons per day.

What was the most challenging issue that you personally faced in oilseeds?

It’s hard to pick one. Often, very challenging issues can have very simple explanations. High free fatty acid in deodorized oil, after much investigation, turned out to be caused by analytical errors. The unit was removing the fatty acid perfectly but we didn’t know it.

A vessel that was leak tight when cold but showed a poor vacuum when heated was due to the vessel expanding, which forced the pressure transmitter against a beam. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is hiding in plain sight, but you need to look from another direction.

What is the biggest challenge you see in oilseeds today?

Making the industry genuinely carbon neutral. If we can do it then proving that we have achieved the goal will be a big part of the challenge.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Member spotlight: Syaza Binte Abu Baker

Syaza Binte Abu Baker

Syaza is in the final year of her Ph.D. at Monash University, Melbourne Australia. She is part of the digestion team in the Boyd lab, whose research is centered around the influence of the digestion of lipids on the fate of poorly water-soluble nutrients. 

Her doctoral research investigates the formulation of a colostrum substitute for the enhancement of nutritional outcomes in premature infants. To paint a clearer picture of the structural behavior of lipids during digestion, her current work heavily uses X-ray scattering technique at the Australian Synchrotron. 

Outside of the lab, Syaza is also a teaching assistant for pharmaceutical science undergraduate students at Monash and is a social media representative for the Monash American Association of Pharmaceutical Science Student Chapter.

A typical day for me includes…

Going to the gym in the morning (got to get the endorphins level up) before heading to campus. When I am at my desk, I typically go through my to-do list for the day and reply to emails. The tasks for the rest of the day would either be conducting experiments or doing some writing or even a mash up of both — depending on the goals I set out for the week.

My favorite part of my job is…

Attending conferences. Although most conferences are now held virtually, being able to listen to other researchers present about their work fascinates me. Also, by showcasing my own research, I am able to gain new insights from others in the scientific community.

Away from work, I like to…

Go road tripping with my friends. Being in nature definitely has its ways of relaxing you and refreshing your mind. Also, video calling my family who are back in Singapore is another way for me to unwind. Lastly, I enjoy going to pet stores and cat cafes — might adopt a pet soon!

If I could meet anyone, it would be…

Martijn Bijker, the founder of “From Science to Pharma,” a platform that equips those with a scientific background with the necessary transferable skills that can be applied in an industry. It would be amazing to hear how Martijn transitioned from academia to working as a medical science liaison and was able to connect with clinical, medical disease experts and regulatory affairs departments of a pharmaceutical company.

When listening to the radio I listen to…

Comedy and horror podcasts, which is a pretty weird combination, but it takes my mind off work even if it means laughing or scaring myself. Aside from podcasts, the choice of music I listen to varies from 2000s R&B hits to pop and Latin music. It all depends on my mood that day.

Thanks for sharing your valuable research and your life outside of work with us, Syaza!

Spotlight on 2022 AOCS Honored Student Award winners

The Honored Student Award encourages and recognizes graduate students doing research in one of the areas represented by AOCS Divisions. The award is sponsored by the AOCS Foundation. We are delighted to recognize this year's honored students! Get to know them in the spotlights below:

Snigdha Guha

Snigdha Guha

Snigha grew up in New Delhi, India. She completed her bachelor's and master’s degree in microbiology from the University of Delhi, India. Following that, she pursued a second master’s degree in food science and technology - quality assurance at the University of Reading, United Kingdom. She joined the Ph.D. program in food Science and technology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in 2017 and is currently in the fourth year of her Ph.D. 

Snigha works on dietary bioactive peptides and her research topic is to evaluate the efficacy of bean-derived bioactive peptides to reduce vascular inflammation and related pathophysiology. She is also a teaching assistant for the courses food chemistry and advanced food analysis offered in the Food Science Department at UNL. Besides research, a few of her hobbies include traveling, music, photography and playing sports.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My research focuses on dietary bioactive peptides and their effects on human health. I have made some significant contributions towards the potential of dietary gamma-glutamyl peptides (naturally occurring in dry edible beans) to reduce vascular inflammation and prevent the development of atherosclerosis. Most of the plant-based protein research is focusing on exploring the functional properties and development of an innovative product, and my research would be valuable to provide the scientific evidence and mechanistic understanding about the biological activities of plant-based proteins and peptides above and beyond the traditional nutritional value.

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

Since I am back home in India for the holidays, I got the email about receiving this award the first thing in the morning, and it was the best news ever. This award is one of the most prestigious awards of AOCS and I was really hoping to get it, but it was really unexpected and such a pleasant surprise. I was so excited to receive it and told my family that it was the best Christmas gift ever. I was also very excited to inform my advisor who had supported me throughout my research. I believe it was our team effort which led me to this award.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS has been a great platform so far for connecting with professionals in the same research field as I am. I learned a lot through the various showcases of research in the Health and Nutrition and Protein and Co-Products Divisions. They have helped me guide my research by keeping me updated with the various research trends in my field. I got to connect with several faculty members as well as some industry professionals, learning about their research interests, which has definitely helped me get some idea about my post-graduation choices.

Snigha is also the recipient of the 2022 Peter and Clare G. Kalustian Award. You can read about that award here.

Lingyi Liu

Lingyi Liu

Lingyi is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She joined the research group of Dr. Ozan Ciftci in 2018. Lingyi is currently working on 3D food printing focused on high-oil-content paste. She has authored and coauthored 22 research articles in peer-reviewed journals with a citation of 327.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My research focuses on developing a high-oil-content paste with outstanding 3D printability by using liquid oil and other common food macronutrients as printing materials. Formulating the potential food ingredients and quantifying the printability are complex tasks for extrusion-based 3D food printers. Most of the current studies focused on carbohydrate-based foods, and only a few works targeted lipid-based systems. Adding the triglyceride composition and structure would affect the mixture formulation and consequently alter the functional properties of final printed products, including the melting point range, solid fat index and crystal structure. I aim to improve physical stability, oxidative stability, oil-controlling capacity and post-processing potentiality by controlling the microstructures of 3D printed food via particle engineering technology and/or lipid-based fat substitute technology.

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

I heard the news just on the last workday before the Christmas holiday. I was so excited and could not wait to share it with my supervisor and labmates.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS provides valuable knowledge, insights, and inspiration in the area of food lipids and offers connections, friendships, and collaboration with other researchers.

Lingyi is also the recipient of the 2022 Manuchehr Eijadi Award. You can read about that award here.

Han Peng

Han Peng

Han Peng is a Ph.D. candidate working alongside the dynamic research group in Dr. Fereidoon Shahidi's lab. He received a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering and master’s degree in nutrition, both at Nanchang University. His current work focuses on the phenolic chemistry applied in the fields of novel food additives, food supplements, and pharmaceuticals by advancing their related physicochemical properties, health effects, toxicity, legal status, and market research.

Can you tell us about your current research?

For decades, there has been a general desire to label food and natural health products under the so-called “clean label” category and to avoid the use of synthetic and artificial chemicals. In this connection, various natural/naturally-derived antioxidants were proposed to replace the purely synthetic antioxidants. The development of current commercial antioxidant markets is lagging compared to the laboratory development due to strict regulations and the absence of driving forces. 

During my Ph.D. program, more than 60 different novel derivatives of natural phenolics were designed, synthesized, identified and purified. The synthesis routine was optimized, and some of these phenolic analogs were validated with competitive price, excellent safety, antioxidant efficacy and lipophilicity which, therefore, have been screened out and proposed as potential novel food and pharmaceutical ingredients during our most recent commercialization project. These novel antioxidants are expected to significantly diversify the list of commercial antioxidants and health ingredients in the food, cosmetic, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical market in the foreseeable future.

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

I am deeply honored to be recognized by AOCS.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

I have been an AOCS member since 2019 and later became a leader of the Student Common Interest Group (SCIG) of AOCS and an active reviewer of JAOCS. AOCS is a fantastic platform for professionals working in lipid and protein-related academia and industry, which advances the most practical and cutting-edge information via various channels and enables people to connect with targeted industries and specialists. AOCS provides me with tremendous resources in reshaping and broadening my research and commercialization ideas and inspires me to contribute back to the academic community.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Spotlight on Michal Holčapek, recipient of the 2022 Herbert J. Dutton Award

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Michal Holčapek is the recipient of the 2022 Herbert J. Dutton Award. This award, sponsored by the AOCS Analytical Division, recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the analysis of fats, oils and related products.

About Michal Holčapek

Michal Holčapek

Michal Holčapek obtained his Ph.D. from the Department of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Pardubice. He is a full professor of analytical chemistry at the same university. 

His research focuses on mass spectrometry and its coupling with liquid chromatography and supercritical fluid chromatography, applied mainly to lipidomic analysis and cancer biomarker research. He has won several scientific awards, such as the Power List of 100 most influential people in the analytical sciences (2013, 2015 and 2020 from The Analytical Scientist). He is a co-author of more than 140 papers in peer-reviewed international journals, with an h-index of 42,. He is a contributing editor of Trends in Analytical Chemistry and a member of the editorial advisory boards of Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry and Lipids

He was a coeditor of the Handbook of Advanced Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry Techniques (Academic Press and AOCS Press, 2017) and Extreme Chromatography: Faster, Hotter, Smaller (AOCS, 2011), editor of topical collections in Analytical Chemistry, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, and Journal of Chromatography A.

He is the former head of the Czech Mass Spectrometry Section in the I.M.M. Spectroscopic Society and a national representative in the International Mass Spectrometry Foundation (2005–2013). He is the chairman of more than ten international and national conferences, e.g., HPLC 2017 Prague, 3rd European Lipidomic Meeting in 2013. He is one of founding members of the Lipidomics Standards Initiative and vice president for conferences in the International Lipidomics Society.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My group is focused on the right way of lipidomic quantitation in biological samples. Our key applications are early cancer detection based on the lipidomic profiling of human blood for pancreatic cancer and other cancer types as well.

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

I was very delighted that my research got such prestigious recognition.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS helped me to collaborate with other colleagues working in the same field.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Member spotlight: Hefei Zhao

Hefei Zhao

Hefei Zhao is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). Hefei's work focuses on developing functional ingredients of under-utilized agricultural commodities and applying natural antioxidants and polyphenols derived from grapes in fatty foods. 

His areas of interest also include evaluating the functional properties of proteins (plant base and egg white proteins) for an appropriate application in food products and developing rapid analytical methods (Machine-Learning-Driven Raman Spectroscopy) to detect food quality and compositions such as edible oils, lipid oxidation and proteins. He is also investigating how to apply intelligent algorithms and mathematic models, such as Genetic Algorithm (GA) and Machine/Deep learning, to solve technique and engineering problems in the field of food nutrition, science and technology.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I usually drive 15 minute to the UC Davis campus, Food Science Department, then get a cup of black tea but sometimes oolong tea for a later drink. Then, I start my lab work or data analysis and deal with emails among colleagues and collaborators. After lunch, I usually go outside for a ten-minute walk and enjoy California sunlight and sometimes see a wild turkey family enjoying the day as well.

Describe your research and explain what big challenge or problem your work is trying to solve.

I am currently a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Associate Prof. Dr. Selina C. Wang. My research focuses on the separation and identification of phenolic compounds of California olive and grape pomaces. The big challenge is that the phenols in olives are very sensitive and easy to decompose into other compounds and derivatives during purification processes. Therefore, intensive identifications of mass fragmentations by the high-performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight ( HPLC-QToF-MS/MS) are required in my study.

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

AOCS is a very active platform and community for oil, protein, and antioxidant chemists in North America as well as worldwide. It provides webinars, annual conferences, and newsletters to disseminate my research outcomes, frequently exchange ideas, and get feedback from scholars in the community. Those are very crucial and important for my research development in food science and technology.

What excites you about your work?

The serendipity and beautiful parts of my research are those unexpected results and new findings. Then deeper thinking and analysis could result in new methods and new explanations reported. The most exciting are paper acceptances and publications for sure.

What do you like to do when you are not in the lab or presenting at meetings?

I like to take my 7-year-old son, Jason, to visit zoos and aquariums. I enjoy seeing him explore the world of different kinds of animals and fishes. I also like fishing, swimming and golf. I normally go swimming 2-3 times per week and occasionally go fishing at the lakeside. The bass and crappie are my favorite. I also like food and cooking and exploring restaurants. I like not only Chinese dishes, but also foods from different cultures and worldwide.