Thursday, March 3, 2022

Spotlight on Melissa A. Marsh, recipient of the 2022 Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship

We are delighted to announce that Melissa A. Marsh is the recipient of the 2022 Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship. This fellowship is awarded to graduate students doing research in fats, oils, proteins, surfactants and related materials. Its purpose is to encourage, recognize and support outstanding research in a field of study consistent with the areas of interest to AOCS.

About Melissa A. Marsh

Melissa A. Marsh

Melissa started her Ph.D. program at Utah State University in 2020. Her research is focused on understanding the relationship between oil binding capacity and the physical properties of fats. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in food science from Utah State University in 2020 and was her college’s valedictorian. 

Melissa became a member of AOCS in 2019 when she was involved in undergraduate research under AOCS member Dr. Silvana Martini. During her time as an undergraduate student, Melissa was involved in multiple research projects focused on highintensity ultrasound and its effect on fats. In addition to her research, Melissa is also the president of the Food Science Club at her university and has competed in and won multiple product development competitions.

Can you tell us about your current research?

My research is focused on unveiling the relationship between the physical properties of semi-solid fats and oil binding capacity (OBC) as there is a critical need to understand how the physical properties of a fat affect OBC, especially in fats that contain no trans-fats and low levels of saturated fatty acids. To approach this problem, a combination of different cooling rates, processing conditions, concentrations of saturated fatty acids and type of fat are being used to obtain a wide range of physical properties. By obtaining a wide range of physical properties we can examine which physical properties are most important in increasing the oil-binding capacity of fats.

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

When I was notified that I had received the AOCS Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship I was astonished. I had applied a few months prior to being notified and because I had not heard back for a few months, I had assumed I had not gotten it. I felt incredibly grateful when I received the email stating that I had been chosen. I feel honored to be recognized by AOCS.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

My professor, Dr. Silvana Martini, has been an active member of AOCS and introduced me to the society while I was working in the lab as an undergraduate student. AOCS has provided me with many opportunities, including the chance to present my research at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, connect with industry professionals and access the latest research.

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