Member and Society News
Member Spotlight: Fred Holzhauer
Fred Holzhauer, Technical Marketing Manager, Brenntag Group, discusses how "being a tech rep at a chemical distributor is like playing in the biggest sandbox with the most toys." When he isn't playing in this "sandbox," Holzhauer takes to the stage as a guitarist in a regional band.
Member Spotlight: Sanja Natali
Sanja Natali works in customer application development for ExxonMobil Chemical Co., Houston, USA, and is associate editor for the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents. She has a fascination for surfactant science, a truly international perspective, and she employs her creative talent making picture food art with her daughters’ lunches.
Member Spotlight: Sevim Erhan
Sevim Erhan, Center Director of the Eastern Regional Research Center at the US Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service and a member of the AOCS Awards Committee, investigates nonfood uses of vegetable oils. Her patented and licensed technologies include soy inks, environmentally friendly elevator fluids used at the Statue of Liberty, and a footprint ink for newborns. She knows how to blow glass and created more than 100 glass vessels for her PhD thesis. She likes to unwind with a cup of Turkish coffee.
Member Spotlight: Chris Dayton
Chris Dayton, a manager at Bunge and a senior associate editor for JAOCS, has made significant contributions in enzymatic degumming and enzymatic interesterification (EIE) processing technology. He is active in research and development, teaching and in patent review. As an avid SCUBA diver, he is looking forward to the end of COVID-19 travel restrictions so he can travel to the Chuuk Lagoon in Micronesia!
Member Spotlight: Mike Williams
Mike Williams set his sights on a career in chemistry in second grade. He achieved that goal as a development & innovation group leader at Evonik Corp. and as the vice-chair of the AOCS Surfactants and Detergents Division. He also collects and restores pinball machines. Learn more about his journey as a chemist and the most challenging part of restoring a pinball machine in this member spotlight.
Member Spotlight: Hans Christian Holm
Meet Hans Christian Holm, an award winning researcher from Novozymes A/S (Denmark). He has made his mark using enzymes to create margarine and shortening free of trans fatty acids, challenging the status quo to better serve customers and partners, as an active AOCS volunteer, a bike-riding fund-raiser, and as a citizen of the Kingdom of Elleore.
Member Spotlight: Matt Miller
January’s Member Spotlight focuses on Matt Miller. Learn how the quest for discoveries keeps Dr. Miller engaged on finding more sustainable feeds and aquaculture practices that maintain salmon and culture fish as rich sources of EPA and DHA.
Member Spotlight: Linsen Liu
Read this member spotlight to learn how growing up during the Great Starvation and Cultural Revolution in China shaped Dr. Liu's career in oils and fats.
Member Spotlight: Elaine Krul
Meet Elaine Krul, consultant and president of EKSci, LLC. In her spotlight, she tells AOCS what a typical day looks like as a consultant, what she imagined she would be when she grew up and the small things that make her day better.
Member Spotlight: Orayne Mullings
Meet Orayne Mullings, inside sales engineer at Desmet Ballestra and co-chair of the AOCS Young Professional Common Interest Group. In his spotlight, he tells AOCS what he loves about his job, his greatest achievement and the skill he would most like to master.
2020 AOCS Professional Award Winner interviews
Read interviews with each 2020 AOCS Professional Award winner to learn more about their contributions to their interest areas and the Society.
AOCS seeks applications for the AOCS Governing Board
Are you interested in serving AOCS and its members by ensuring the Society is successful, sustainable and serving its mission? Consider applying for a position on the Governing Board.
Partnership will bring industry experience to African agro-processors
AOCS is partnering with the Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) and the USAID-funded Southern Africa Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) to support, tools and skillsets to agro-processors in Southern Africa “to advance the science and technology in the oilseed processing sector in developing countries
Machine learning-driven Raman spectroscopy for rapidly detecting type and adulteration of edible oils
Researchers combine machine learning and Raman spectroscopy techniques to achieve a relatively high accuracy and significantly fast detection of lipid quality. Join us for a free webinar this Wednesday, June 17, to hear lead author Hefei Zhao discuss this research.
Q&A with the new AOCS President, Doug Bibus, PhD
AOCS recently took some time to get to know our new AOCS President Doug Bibus, asking him about what he hopes to accomplish as President of the Governing Board, why he joined AOCS and more.
AOCS Member Jerry King on winning the Kenneth A. Spencer Award and AOCS membership
AOCS spoke with Jerry W. King PhD, a long-time AOCS member and interviewee for an article published in the 2013 July-August issue of INFORM Magazine.
Two minutes with Jacqui Adcock
Jacqui Adcock is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Deakin University, in Geelong, Victoria. Her research interests include lipid analysis, lipid oxidation, enzymatic synthesis, omega-3 fatty acids and lipid mediators of inflammation. Read more about a typical day in Jacqui Adcock’s life as a researcher and how that has changed due to the current pandemic.
Dr. Bingcan Chen has been an active member of AOCS since 2016 and former student member of the Society. He received his Ph.D. in 2012 from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is currently an Assistant Professor of Cereal and Food Chemistry at the North Dakota State University. Dr. Chen’s research focuses on lipid oxidation, novel antioxidants, specialty oil from new and emerging crops and flavor chemistry. Read more for an interview AOCS conducted with Dr. Chen for insights into how he his navigating teaching and conducting research in a newly remote world.
AOCS recently spoke with Phil Kerr, the Chief Technology Officer at Prairie Aquatech and the newly elected Vice President of the Protein Highway. Learn more about his involvement with AOCS, what he hopes to accomplish in his new role, the future of alternative proteins, and the challenges the plant protein industry faces as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Creating a far-flung Section
After gaining a Ph.D. from the National Univer-sity of Singapore in 2015, Sui Xiaonan returned to his original institution—Northeast Agricul-tural University in Harbin—to fulfill his childhood dream of being a teaching scientist. There, his research focuses on soybean and soybean co-products in large part because his hometown of Heilongjiang is in China’s major soybean production area.
Sui Xiaonan’s main role in AOCS is as secretary-general of the China Section, which was established in April 2016. “My main responsibility is to promote the connections between AOCS and China,” he explains. “As such, we hold a China Section technical conference in China every two years.” The 2019 meeting will be held in Guangzhou on November 8–10.
As is the case with many AOCS volunteer leaders, Sui Xiaonan’s involvement came about by being in the right place at the right time. “In 2014, Jiang Lianzhou and I attended the AOCS AM&E for the second time, where we met our friend Liu Keshun [Keshun Liu] during the gala dinner. It was then that we agreed on the necessity of creating the AOCS China Section.” The challenges of the new China Section include building effective connections among foreign and domestic experts, he notes, as well as between industry and academia. He adds that the mission of the Section is multi-faceted and includes: 1) pro-moting information exchange, collaboration, and partnership among the Chinese and global fats, oils, and related industries; 2) bringing together professionals in the geographical region; 3) supporting friendship among and the professional growth of its members; and 4) ensuring adherence to high standards, superior quality, safety, and value-added applications of fats, oils, proteins, and related materials.
“Membership in the China Section helps me to network with colleagues and discover scientific, technological, and mar-ket developments in this important region of the world,” Sui Xiaonan concludes. “More importantly, it offers me the opportunity to learn from many famous experts and other AOCS members.”
Monday, October 21, 2019
AOCS and Japan Oil Chemists' Society expand access to valuable tools for verifying food authenticity and detecting contaminants
AOCS adopts well-tested JOCS Method for determining the 2-position fatty acid in triglycerides.
URBANA, Ill., USA, October 21, 2019 - The AOCS and Japan Oil Chemists' Society (JOCS) approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to mutually adopt selected official analytical methods and a Recommended Practice as joint JOCS/AOCS Methods. Users of official AOCS Methods will have access to two JOCS Methods: one for determining the fatty acid occupying the 2-position in triglycerides and one for detecting monochloropropanediol (MCPD) esters and glycidol esters in edible oils. In addition, AOCS will adopt a Recommended Practice for quantifying MCPD esters and glycidol esters in fish oils. AOCS and JOCS plan to conduct a collaborative trial to develop the Recommended Practice into an official joint JOCS/AOCS Method. The MOU will be officially signed during a ceremony at the headquarters of the JOCS on November 15.
Kaustuv Bhattacharya is a big believer in the AOCS mission, which makes him a particularly effective member of the Annual Meeting Program Committee as vice chair of the Edible Applications Technology Division.
“AOCS is the perfect global plat- form for me,” he says. “My job with DuPont has taken me physically to about 50 countries, and I have worked with people from more than 75 countries. Such global exposure has made me aware of the strength in diversity, the power of inclusion, and the value of listening. AOCS meetings bring all of this together, every year, allowing for attendees to engage in collective dis- cussion of trends, of what’s new, and of their views of the cur-rent state of the art in fats and oils and related materials.”
Bhattacharya emphasizes the importance of learning through listening, whether on the job or within the Society. As a principal application specialist at DuPont Nutrition Biosciences ApS (Braband, Denmark), he is used to believing in the voice of the customer. “If you don’t listen, you don’t know what they want,” he stresses, and extends that advice to his—and others’—participation in AOCS.
“Products are different in every part of the world,” he notes, “and yet the technology is the same. By involving pro-fessionals from other regions and by balancing participation by those in academia and those in industry, we can learn the most from each other.” He sees one of the advantages of AOCS in the mix of academic, industrial, and governmental scientists. “Academics have more explanations, whereas industrial scien-tists have more observational data,” he explains. This broad scope allows those attending the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo to learn about model systems from academia and “make them fit in the real world.”
Bhattacharya brings his passion for inclusion and diversity to his work on program development, noting that the 2019 EAT session chairs represent seven countries from four continents from both academia and industry. “I always try to provide a structured platform for discussion among the session chairs for our conference calls, and we always ended in full agreement.”
He gives high marks to AOCS staff for “making things so easy,” and points in particular to Membership Director Janet Brown. Bhattacharya met her in 2017 in Uppsala, Sweden, during the Euro Fed Lipid Congress, where she invited him to run for the 2018–2019 EAT vice chair position. “I had little idea what I was getting into, but I felt that I could trust her instincts about me doing well in that role.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Q&A with Student Award Winners
Mallory Walters won third place in the 2019 Protein and Co-Products Division Student Poster Competition and PCP Division Student Travel Award.
Could you please introduce yourself to our PCP Division members?
My name is Mallory Walters. I just graduated from the master of science program at Carleton University in Ottawa, ON, Canada. I completed my bachelor’s degree at Carleton as well, in Food Science and Nutrition.
Could you briefly share the work related to your thesis or poster you presented at the meeting?
At the 2019 AOCS Annual Meeting, I presented on “The effects of ultrasonication treatments on the antioxidant and antidiabetic properties of hydrolysed oat proteins.” Briefly, ultrasonication treatments can be used to increase protein extraction yield from various cereals; however, this treatment may cause a decrease in functionality of the proteins. After hydrolysis, I hydrolysed the proteins with food-grade proteases and used chemical assays to determine the protein composition and antioxidant capacities. I also used enzyme assays and cellular assays (NCI-H716 cells) to determine the antidiabetic properties. I concluded that the ultrasonication treatments did affect the physical characteristics of the hydrolysed proteins, thus affecting their capacity as antioxidants. Despite the decrease in antioxidant activity, the ultrasonication treatments of the oat brans did not affect the hydrolysates’ antidiabetic properties, and instead increased the activity of the antidiabetic enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase IV.
Could you briefly introduce your awards in the AOCS and PCP Division and share with us your thoughts on how a student can make these achievements?
At the 2019 AOCS Annual Meeting, I received the PCP Division Student Travel Award and 3rd place for the student poster competition. I am honoured to have received these awards. Students looking to be recipients of the travel award should spend time on their poster or presentation abstract, ensuring that it is a good representation of their work. I also would strongly encourage having a second person read over the abstract, a colleague, supervisor, etc.
If students are unaware of the awards being given, I would encourage them to go onto the AOCS website and email their Division leaders. In addition, I would encourage students who wish to be awarded a poster award to practice their presentation, think about potential questions that could be asked, and prepare good answers for them. Lastly, I would encourage them to be passionate about their work!
What makes a good poster?
Students should work hard on their poster, making sure all the necessary information is present, and that the poster flows in a logical manner. It is also important that the poster is aesthetically pleasing, with font sizes, colors, and backgrounds that are not distracting, but also engage the viewer. (I recommend searching tips online for specific font sizes and color combinations!) Careful attention to the small details does pay off in the end!
What would you recommend a new student joining the PCP Division do to benefit the most from the Division and the Annual Meeting?
I would recommend a new student attend the student networking events that are held by the Student Common Interest Groups. I would also recommend the student attend the Division lunch and the PCP Dinner, to meet and network with professionals in their field. There is so much more to the Annual Meeting than the talks, and I recommend the students take full advantage of this unique conference.
Where do you see yourself in 5–10 years from now?
I am interested in food packaging, and the current initiatives to make food packaging more sustainable and less harmful on the environment. I see myself doing research for a food company to develop environmentally friendly packaging that is safe and effective.
Do you have any words of wisdom for other AOCS student members?
Read the Student Common Interest Group, INFORM magazine and newsletter! This has valuable information on how to make the most of the Annual Meeting. I would also advise AOCS student members to get out of their comfort zones during the meeting (especially during the happy hour!) and speak with potential employers. Be presentable, get involved and work hard in your field!
Hongbing Fan was one of the winners of the 2019 AOCS Honored Student Award.
Could you please introduce yourself to our PCP Division members and friends?
My name is Hongbing Fan, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta. My research interests include functional foods and bioactive peptides. Before joining the University of Alberta, I did my M.Sc. research on food preservation, specifically aquatic products. Meanwhile, I conducted two industry driven projects to generate bioactive peptides from crocodile meat and cod fish by-product. It was these two projects during my spare time that triggered my interest to pursue a Ph.D. in the bioactive peptide area.
Could you briefly share the work related to your presentation at the meeting?
This is part of my thesis research on value-added applications of spent hens. Specifically, in this research, I developed novel anti-hypertensive peptides as functional food ingredients. Most of current research focuses on angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE I) inhibitory peptides, whereas this work addresses a new enzyme — angiotensin II (ACE II). We understand better how we can generate peptides that can effectively activate ACE II to exert physiological activities to lower blood pressure. This research has potential to create new functional food ingredients from spent hens for hypertensive clients.
In your mind, how we can recruit a new generation to contribute to AOCS?
I got the information from a colleague in my lab. Actually, most students are not aware of the PCP Division in AOCS. Currently, I serve as the Student Common Interest Group leader. We are making webinars to let students know the existence of the PCP Division in AOCS, and we are recruiting new student members to contribute to PCP.
Could you give some message to students interested in joining AOCS? How do you become a member and how do you take on more roles in the Division?
There are two ways to apply for membership: (1) through the AOCS online platform; (2) through the membership application form. It is suggested that new members take more volunteer jobs in PCP events, so you can understand the PCP Division better. As a senior student member, it is encouraged that you talk to the PCP Division Chair and express your interest in taking more roles in the Division. I started as a new student member in January 2018; now I am chairing the Student Common Interest Group in PCP.
Do you have a few words to share about your inspiration for success?
Passion about your research and serving in the scientific community are important to success in your research program and future career. Being confident and open-minded will allow you to embrace new opportunities. Certainly, you need a high level of time management to handle efficiently both research and service.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5–10 years? Any challenges in reaching these goals?
Junsi Yang was one of the winners of the 2019 AOCS Honored Student Award.
Congratulations on winning the Honored Student Award! Could you introduce yourself to the EAT Division, and provide a brief overview of your main research focus?
Thank you, I am very pleased with the award! My name is Junsi Yang. I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA, under the supervision of Dr. Ozan N. Ciftci. My research is focused on the development and characterization of bioactive-loaded hollow solid lipid micro- and nanoparticles using supercritical fluid technology. I am using the principles of engineering to control the size and morphology of these particles, with the goal of developing a simple, easy, and clean technology that can be used in the food industry. My main focus is to develop a method to simultaneously form the particles and load them with various bioactive compounds. These particles are hollow; therefore, they have high-loading capacity, the solid shell protects the loaded bioactive from environmental conditions during storage. Moreover, the products are free-flowing dry powders which make handling, storage, and transportation convenient.
And what are the specific applications of this work?
This approach can be used to develop a variety of bioactive-loaded, hollow, and solid lipid micro- and nanoparticles to carry omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids, phytosterols and natural antioxidants. One particular application I have explored is loading the particles with essential oils to develop “natural” food antimicrobials. Essential oils have antimicrobial properties; however, when added into foods, they cannot act effectively because they are very volatile and they have a strong smell. When loaded into the hollow solid lipid particles, essential oil is slowly released through the shell of the lipid and therefore it is available for a longer time to protect the food from microbial spoilage. We were able to show the potential of essential oil-loaded particles as “natural” food antimicrobials in model food systems.
You gave a number of presentations at the 2019 AOCS Annual Meeting, and it is clear that you are making significant progress on developing food applications for this technology. Could you explain what you envision your future research might entail?
I intend to work on mathematical modeling to optimize the process to generate ideal spherical particles at full potential. I will investigate the performance of the bioactive-loaded particles in real food systems. I would like to see how preparation steps of different foods will affect the applicability of these particles. We will carry out this work to obtain a complete understanding of the bioavailability of the loaded bioactives in vivo, as well as to further investigate the effects of the lipid matrix on particle morphology and size, release properties, and the bioavailability of the loaded bioactives. Another research avenue will be the use of these particles in 3D printed foods as novel fat ingredients to control the microstructure.
Ashwin Sanchetti, University of Akron, tied for first place for the 2019 Biotechnology Division Student Award.
Please briefly introduce yourself and give us an overview of the contribution of your research project?
I am a final year Ph.D. student at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The University of Akron. Currently, I am working with Dr. Lu-Kwang Ju on the optimization of carbohydrase enzyme production and the utilization of this enzyme cocktail for the hydrolysis of soy molasses. The hydrolysate produced from the above process is a rich fermentation feedstock and can be used for multiple biotechnical application. In this multifaceted project, we are using soybean hulls for producing carbohydrase enzyme and manipulating the operating conditions and medium for obtaining the required enzyme titers. Using this specialized enzyme cocktail, we are optimizing the operational parameters for the hydrolysis of soy molasses. The emphasis is to use low cost/waste soybean stream like soyhull and soy molasses and to convert it into value-added products.
How did you come up with the main idea of your research and what is the motivation for success?
Soybean is one of the most important crops grown in the US. Soyhull and soy molasses are waste streams generated in the soybean refinery industry and are generally used as filler in animal food due to low protein content. In our process, we are trying to develop a sustainable process for producing monomeric sugars from the soy molasses, which can be easily consumed by microorganisms for production of fatty acid or arabitol. This process can lead to production of value-added products. The use of enzyme in the processing of molasses ensures that the overall process is environmentally friendly and safe compared to acid hydrolysis systems.
Share your experiences in the 2019 AOCS meeting with the Biotechnology Division community.
AOCS was a wonderful experience for me. I was excited to meet people from the biotech industry and everyone was welcoming. I enjoyed the technical sessions on the various topics and got the opportunity to discuss with industry leaders, the projects that they are involved with. I am looking forward to going next year and building on what I learned in 2019.
Siyu Zhang, University of Georgia, won 2nd place for the 2019 Biotechnology Division Student Award.
Please briefly introduce yourself and give us an overview of the contribution of your research project?
I am a Ph.D. student from the department of Food Science and Technology of University of Georgia. My research focuses on the prevention/delay of lipid oxidation, including modification of natural phenolic compounds to enhance their efficacy.
How did you come up with the main idea of your research and what is the motivation for success?
Phenolic acids are potent natural antioxidants with many proven health benefits, but due to their hydrophilic properties, the application of these compounds in food products is limited. Lipophilization is a method of incorporating lipophobic compound with a lipophilic molecule to increase the hydrophobicity of the molecule. Conventionally, alkyl esters of phenolic acids are the product of lipophilization, but these compounds may have harmful effects on human health. Meanwhile, the glycerol esters of phenolic acids are naturally occurring compounds and exist in many plants. Studies have not shown any negative health effects of these compounds. Moreover, the unesterified hydroxy groups on the glycerol backbone provide two extra sites to adjust the hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity of the synthesized molecule. Thus, the glycerol esters of phenolic acids could be a better alternative antioxidant than phenolic alkyl esters.
Share your experiences in the 2019 AOCS meeting with the Biotechnology Division community.
It was a great pleasure and honor for being a part of AOCS Biotechnology Division community. The members of the community have diverse backgrounds, each one of them provided me with unique perspectives of different aspects. It helped me to catch the current trend of lipid biotechnology. The presentation sessions and poster sessions during the meeting offered great opportunities for the members to share their knowledge and experience with each other. The Division dinner was a good place for networking. In general, my experience in the 2019 AOCS meeting with the Biotechnology Division community was helpful and valuable.
Nuanyi Liang, University of Alberta, Canada, won the 2019 Analytical Division Student Award.
How did it feel to win the Analytical Division Student Award?
I feel very honoured to be recognized by the AOCS community, which has such a prestigious reputation as well as a supportive culture. It was also a very exciting experience to share and promote my work at the conference with the support of this award.
How did you get started in the field that you are studying?
In the early 1900s, inspired by the inhibitory effect of fungi against bacteria, scientists discovered penicillin, the first chemical compound with antibiotic properties, therefore saving countless lives. Sharing the same purpose of improving health and quality of life, my initial research interest is to explore the fungi-bacterial interaction from the opposite perspective. By determining how food-grade bacteria “battle” back against fungi, I hope to find a solution to pathogenic fungi, a significant worldwide concern to the food, agricultural and medical industry. Through investigating the structure and functions of antifungal lipids, I learnt even more about the general importance of lipid in various context, as well as the critical roles of analytical chemistry in understanding these lipid compounds. This encourages me to develop tools to purify and analyze these bioactive compounds in a more efficient manner.
What challenges have you overcome during your course of study?
Research is full of challenges. As researchers, we are always trying to solve the most perplexing problem and keep looking at the things that “don’t work”. For myself, in order to develop the structure-function relationship of bioactive lipids, a large quantity of these compounds needs to be achieved before their biological test can be done. However, the large quantity of these well-separated compounds is usually at low availability in the market. Therefore, it is important yet challenging to develop efficient methods to purify these compounds. At the beginning of my project, not all the purification procedures tested were working satisfactorily. Luckily, with numerous studies, discussions, and trials, we eventually develop the procedure that works. More importantly, the valuable understanding of the procedures developed in this challenging process can be applied in other similar cases.
What are the next steps in your career? What kinds of goals do you have?
During this journey of graduate study, I am glad that I am working with those who are making differences, solving various world-tackling questions in food science. I am deeply inspired by them, who are always nimble to think, patient to help, curious to learn and brave to question. They inspire me to be more like them—a researcher, an educator and a pioneer. To achieve this goal, for the next steps in my career, I am open to post-doctoral or other related opportunities in academic, to continue to explore the important roles of bioactive lipids.
Ziliang Song, University of Saskatchewan, Canada, won the 2019 Analytical Division Student Poster Competition Award.
How did it feel to win the Analytical Division Poster Award?
I was surprised to be told that I was the winner of the Analytical Division Poster Award because this was my first AOCS meeting and it gathered excellent researchers from all over the world. I should thank those who found my poster attractive and asked me questions, as it was their questions that gave me the opportunity to introduce my work to people from all disciplines.
How did you get started in the field that you are studying?
Basically, the field I am studying is to use the omics data to facilitate our traditional chemistry-based analysis of natural compounds in the oil. I had a background in oil analytical chemistry at my undergraduate stage. Then, I was introduced to the area of plant lipid biotechnology during my master’s training. Both experiences have shaped the steppingstone for my pursuit of some unexplored areas that combine analytical chemistry, biochemistry and genomics in my doctoral study.
What challenges have you overcome during your course of study?
Every day is full of challenges, big or small, which is the nature of doing research. I can’t specifically identify the challenges I have been confronted with before since I started the project. Nevertheless, as my supervisor once said when I was complaining how challenging a new task (programming) ahead was to me, something that I can learn (technical barrier) is not the most difficult, but rather the most difficult is something that I can’t learn from the textbook and is unknown to the world. I would like to address the importance of bioinformatics to the field of analytical chemistry. It may be new to most of us but is truly useful for bringing our research to a broader dimension.
What are the next steps in your career? What kinds of goals do you have?
I will continue with my current work to get my PhD. While this is my academic goal, it is consistent with my personal life goal – I hope I can find my other half who shares the academic interest with me. Nothing can be more enjoyable than doing your favorite research with your loved one.
New Governing Board member on research, teaching, and AOCS
Silvana Martini, a native of Argentina, has held a research and teaching appointment at Utah State University in Logan for more than 13 years. In addition to teaching two undergraduate classes (sensory evaluation of foods and chocolate: history, science and society), she also teaches a graduate course on crystallization in foods. Her research relates to the physicochemical characterization of fats and the role that fats play on sensory perception.
As if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, her involvement with AOCS is wide-ranging and includes her role as a senior associate editor of the Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society. Her most recent contribution, however, is as a member of the AOCS Governing Board.
“The Governing Board is responsible among other things for ensuring that the Society has an appropriate mission statement that is in line with the needs of its constituents,” she explains. The Board also evaluates the performance of AOCS’ chief executive officer and provides oversight for the financial resources and assets of the Society. “Within the Governing Board, I am involved with the Constituent Relations Working Group, where members work to improve and monitor programs and services offered by AOCS, including conferences, seminars, short courses, and awards.”
Involvement came easily to Martini, who says she had always wanted to volunteer for AOCS and give back to the organization that has done so much for her. “Perhaps the biggest challenge that I would like to address is to encourage more and more people to be involved with AOCS. Perhaps this could be summarized as member retention and commitment to the Society.”
Her volunteer work supports the AOCS mission by encouraging and promoting the dissemination of research related to fats, oils, proteins, and related materials. She is also active in promoting professional interactions by contributing to the organization of meetings and by encouraging colleagues and students to join AOCS.
“My volunteer work for AOCS has helped me to grow as a professional,” she stresses. “I have acquired significant leadership and communication skills through it, and involvement has broadened my professional network. Volunteering for AOCS has also allowed me to meet professionals outside my area of expertise, to establish new collaborations, and to broaden my knowledge of fats and oils research.”
Nanjing Zhong, inaugural AOCS Young Scientist to Watch, published in JAOCS
In the August issue of the Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society (JAOCS), we are recognizing a recipient of the new AOCS initiative, "Young Scientists to Watch." The initiative is directed at scientists in the early stages of their career (younger than 36 years old or have earned their highest degree within the last 10 years) who are conducting transformative research in the area of fats, oils, oilseed proteins, and related materials. The recognition is given to feature scientists whose research has significantly advanced scientific understanding within their discipline or holds substantial promise for such an impact in the near future.
Q&A with Yomi Watanabe
Associate editor, Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society
Why did you initially decide to volunteer with AOCS?
Actually, I took over the associate editor role from my retiring superior. AOCS members who were current associate editors had warmly encouraged me to join. Thanks associate editors, for welcoming me.
What is the most positive aspect of your AOCS volunteering experience?
Getting connected to active researchers worldwide is wonderful! It is fun to meet Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society (JAOCS) authors, who I only know by name, at the Annual Meeting and continue discussion!
I also hope to encourage rather quiet, young women researchers to attend international meetings. I try to encourage young researchers to attend the AOCS meeting and make their international debut.
What is the most challenging aspect of your AOCS volunteering experience?
To keep the criteria and standard consistent for all manuscripts submitted from all over the world, especially when I need to make a hard decision.
Why did you decide to take on the role of associate editor for JAOCS (as opposed to other opportunities), and how has it affected your professional development?
After publishing several manuscripts in JAOCS, I felt it was a good time to thank anonymous reviewers and editors who had reviewed and edited my manuscripts via taking the associate editor role.
Behind the scenes at Annual Meeting — What does it take to put the meeting together?
Each year AOCS hosts more than 1,500 attendees at its Annual Meeting & Expo where those attendees can see more than 650 oral and poster presentations. It’s more than any one person can see in four days and regularly requires the work of more than 100 volunteers to succeed (135 volunteers this year to be exact!). How does it all come together?
Eric W. Cochran
A commitment to education and AOCS
Three characteristics that sum up Eric Cochran are commitment, a passion for research and education, and a habit of saying, “Yes, I will!”
As a professor of chemical engineering and director of graduate education at Iowa State University (ISU; Ames, Iowa, USA), Cochran’s primary role is to teach and mentor both graduate and undergraduate students—a role he has performed for the past 13 years. “Graduate education is research-intensive,” he notes, adding that his research group at ISU specializes in novel biobased plastics and heterogeneous polymeric materials.
Within AOCS, Cochran has been vice chair of the Industrial Oil Products (IOP) Division since 2018. As a divisional vice chair, he also participates in the AOCS Annual Meeting Program Committee. “Most of the time, my involvement takes only a few hours a month,” he says, “primarily through staying in contact with session chairs and AOCS program staff. We also have three teleconferences per year. In addition, I review award applications and hot topics.”
When asked how he became involved, the answer is one that many AOCS volunteers provide for that question. “There was a need,” he says. “One of my colleagues recommended joining AOCS and also asked me to chair a session.” In the midst of organizing the session, the vice chair position opened up, and Cochran was asked if he would consider stepping into that role.
“It was an easy thing to say ‘yes’ to,” he notes. “For one thing, it didn’t sound like it would take an inordinate amount of time. Plus, the best way to get involved in a new community is to volunteer.”
Cochran explains that the main challenge AOCS is addressing as a whole is declining membership. “We’ve seen it in the division,” he says. “Which means we have to make sure the value of the division is well-advertised and that we keep programming up to date and relevant.”
Part of the value to Cochran of his volunteer efforts is in getting international exposure. “I’m able to leverage my connections to increase attention to my research projects, to meet potential employers for my students, and to hear what everyone else is doing to make polymers from fats. Meaningful connections with people really happen at AOCS meetings because the size of the meeting makes it easier to have one-on-one time with people,” he concludes. “I appreciate that.”
Promoting AOCS in Latin America
Leon Espinosa trained as a chemical engineer and came to the fats and oils industries through his first job with Lloreda SA, a consumer products company based in Colombia that produces and sells food and cleaning products derived from oils. There, he worked on the design, manufacture, and startup of processing plants for tallow and soybean, sunflower, palm, palm kernel, and cottonseed oils.
“For the past 10 years, I have been with Desmet Ballestra,” he explains, “where my work is more related to the search for solutions for our customers.”
Espinosa became involved in AOCS in 2009, when his friend and fellow AOCS member Roberto Berbesi invited him to participate in the 14th AOCS Latin American Congress and Exhibition held in Cartagena, Colombia, in 2011. Ten years later, Espinosa is himself now chair of the Latin American Section and is working to organize and promote the 17th AOCS Latin American Congress and Exhibition, which will be held in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, on October 8–11, 2019.
“Organizing a large meeting like this involves putting many puzzle pieces together,” he notes, “including the organizers, the presenters, and the logistics. Making each piece fit is like tuning a philharmonic orchestra.”
AOCS is important to the region, he suggests, because it provides access to the most recent information on topics of interest to those in the fats and oils industries. “A great advantage of a Congress like this is that it brings together a select group of people with in-depth knowledge of the subjects and allows participants to interact with people in similar businesses. Attending the Congress is important for all levels of employees within related organizations. New hires can start with the short courses and then participate in the main sessions and visit the booths to know what is available to industry.”
Espinosa echoes the sentiments of many AOCS volunteers when he says that belonging to AOCS helps members to know and relate to more people. “Expanding your network of knowledge and people helps you climb the ladder of your career,” he concludes.
What are pulses
Pulses are high-protein, nitrogen-fixing crops that are also a highly nutritious food in diets and improve the environmental sustainability of farming operations. AOCS is working to advance the science and technology of these important plant proteins.
A finger on the pulse of AOCS
One look at the Fast Facts entry for “other involvement” sums up why Janitha Wanasundara is known among AOCS staff as a “go-to” AOCS member who is always ready and willing to help whenever and wherever she can.
“With the increased attention to the science and technology surrounding plant-based proteins at the 2018 Annual Meeting, it wasn’t surprising that Janitha jumped right in and volunteered to co-chair the processing-related session at the inaugural AOCS Pulse Science and Technology Forum in November 2019 (www.aocs.org/pulseforum),” explains Jeffry L. Newman, AOCS senior director, programs.
Given her background, Wanasundara’s focus on helping AOCS broaden its scope by providing information and programming on pulses (high-protein, nitrogen-fixing crops that are a part of the legume family) makes perfect sense. “We saw inquiries about plant protein increase in early 2010 and knew it was time to expand the offerings of the Protein and Co-Products Division,” she says. “After all, AOCS is a natural home for pulse-related research, given the expertise and technology represented by the soy protein industry.” (See https://www.aocs.org/stay-informed/hottopic/ pulse-crops-for-a-sustainable-future.)
Wanasundara’s own research on pulses goes back to the early 2000s. Then, when she joined Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in 2004, she was part of the national research team for bioproducts and clean technology. “Most of my research is related to the chemistry and technology of utilizing the proteins of Canadian crops for bioproducts, understanding the nature of proteins in oilseeds and pulses, and developing different compounds and molecules,” she notes.
Her volunteer work for AOCS, which she estimates generally takes no more than several hours per month, complements her responsibilities on the job by allowing for interaction with academic, government, and industry leaders in plant proteins and oilseed processing, as well as biofuels and biofuel co-products. She also was involved with a special issue of the Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society on plant and alternative protein sources. That effort in particular has advanced her “scientific involvement in relation to editorial work,” she says, adding that all of her volunteer work has allowed her to get to know many fellow peers from other countries as well as the next generation of science leaders—graduate students.
“AOCS is a great place to meet new people,” she says.
AOCS lab proficiency program builds customer confidence
Demonstrating high-quality analytical results is important for building customer confidence. Two participants of the AOCS Laboratory Proficiency Program share how the program helps them confirm their analytical results are up to the test.
If there is anyone who perfectly illustrates how volunteering for AOCS meshes perfectly with professional development, that person may just be Susan Seegers.
On the job at Bunge North America while wearing her manager of technical operations hat, she oversees two main laboratories that support product developers and researchers dealing with oils, grains, and milled products such as flours. For AOCS, she serves in two primary capacities: as chair of the Laboratory Proficiency Program (LPP) and as chair of the Flavor and Oxidation Subcommittee of the Uniform Methods Committee (UMC).
Seegers estimates that she spends no more than an hour a week (if that) conducting her volunteer work. In addition, as both LPP chair and subcommittee chair, she attends a yearly meeting held in conjunction with the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo (AME).
“My main responsibility for LPP is to look at all the different proficiency programs AOCS administers to see how many participants are utilizing them and to analyze which are the most effective. In a nutshell, we make sure AOCS is providing services that are needed in industry, government, and academia.” Beyond that, Seegers and AOCS staff members work to predict what upcoming needs LPP participants will have.
Seegers also reviews any appeals generated by participants after their LPP results are posted. “Most often, participants appeal typos, which we don’t correct. They can also appeal if they had an equipment issue or they think there was something wrong with their sample,” explains Dawn Shepherd, AOCS laboratory program manager.
Seegers’ work with the Uniform Methods Committee keeps her up to date on the latest work being done by analysts and researchers on flavor and oxidation. “I keep my ear to the ground for people wanting to bring forward new methods, either by presenting at the AME or to the UMC.”
Seegers became involved simply by going to meetings and asking, “Can I do something?” It helped that her manager encouraged her participation. “You just have to put yourself out there and go for it,” Seegers says, adding—with a laugh— that “AOCS has never said no!
“Everything that I’m doing for AOCS directly relates to my work,” she notes. “Plus, chairing technical sessions at the AME provides another avenue to see what’s coming and what people are talking about. It’s a great way to keep current. Beyond that, volunteering is another form of networking with everyone from instrument makers to analysts with other companies to contract labs.”
Volunteering as a networking tool
“I’ve been involved with AOCS since 2011,” said Cynthia Srigley, a research chemist with the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “From day one, I felt welcomed by the community and that my research was valued and appreciated.”
Srigley joined FDA in 2011 as a postdoctoral research fel-low working on analytical meth-ods for trans fat. Her current research focuses on analytical methods development and val-idation for the analysis of fatty acids, sterols, and other lipids in foods and dietary supplements. “Marine oils are my favorite matrix,” she noted, “because of their complexity.”
Srigley is serving her second term as secretary/treasurer of the AOCS Analytical Division. As such, she works with AOCS staff to develop the division budget, to plan the annual luncheon, and to record the minutes from the Executive Committee and Analytical Division Session Planning Roundtable meetings. “I felt that this role would be a great opportunity to contribute my technical and leadership skills in serving AOCS,” Srigley added.
“I find that one of the best ways that my work supports both FDA and AOCS is by participating in multi-laboratory studies,” she remarked. This has allowed her to develop a strong network within the Analytical Division. “The Division members are an exceptionally talented group of individuals, and I am comfortable reaching out to them for technical assistance or recommendations.”
Srigley has a suggestion for students and others, like herself, who are early in their careers. “I highly recommend attending the short courses offered each year prior to the start of the Annual Meeting. These courses provide a basic technical background and introduce the various areas of the research within industry, academia, and government. More importantly, they offer the opportunity to network with experts in the field and other AOCS members. It’s great way to kick off the Annual Meeting,” she concluded.
“AOCS has done so much for me in my career,” says Rick Theiner, “that it motivates me to give back.”
And give back he does. As chairperson of the AOCS Annual Meeting Program Committee, Theiner leads the efforts to plan and implement the technical program so that it has the broadest possible appeal to “members and their bosses, business folks, and students.” The time he spends varies with the season, but he stresses that AOCS staff and member volunteers “are great about working together to ensure that it’s not an onerous amount.”
Theiner, who joined AOCS in 1998, began his involvement by joining the Surfactants and Detergents Division, becoming vice chair in 2012. Division vice chairs automatically serve on the Annual Meeting Program Committee; at that point, Dilip Nakhasi of Stratas Foods was the chair.
“I was lucky to work with a chairperson who was passionate about programming, and that passion was contagious,” Theiner notes.
The challenges of the committee are manifold and include working to help AOCS stay relevant and up to date with technology and research as well as building bridges between industry and academia.
“We pay attention to what sessions and presentations draw an audience and what draws a crowd,” he says. “This helps to shape future programming, but it also helps in identifying areas that we, as an organization or division, want to highlight. Our goal is to encourage session and division chairs to look at what happens during their technical sessions and report back what would make a good Inform or journal article.”
When asked why his volunteer work is worthwhile to him, Theiner grows serious. “The bottom line is that I have benefitted personally through my membership more than I ever would have expected. My first meeting in 1996 was eye-opening. I often think about how many people don’t know that AOCS is here to help them. They get out of school and think they are done. Given how the organization has enabled me to excel at a job that I love, it only seems right to try and pay some of that back by doing my own small part to help continue the development of this organization and its membership.”
Q&A with Luigi Mondello
Luigi Mondello, University of Messina, Italy, won the 2019 Herbert J. Dutton Award.
How did it feel to win the Dutton Award?
I was really very pleased to win this prestigious award and honored to join the past valuable recipients. I am proud that my work has made a positive impact and has been recognized as deserving a nomination for the Dutton Award. I am especially thankful to those who nominated and supported me, and my peers for considering me deserving of this award.
How did you get started in your current field of work?
My early research work was mainly focused on the study of essential oils, implementing efficient methods based on capillary columns and, soon, reduction of analysis times thanks to ballistic heating for fast GC. Afterwards, I started working on multidimensional techniques, by developing on-line HPLC-HRGC, based on the optimization of partially concurrent solvent evaporation, as well as on the coupling of the ion trap MS. Nowadays, I am much involved in the development of multidimensional instrumentation and dedicated software (GC×GC, LC×LC, LC-GC×GC, LC-GC-GC-GC prep., etc.) with state-of-the-art MS detection, and the building of spectral libraries also using the Linear Retention Indices approach. The latter allows for reliable identification of unknown components, as also exploited in prototype nano LC-EI-MS and SFC-based techniques.
What challenges have you overcome during your career?
Unfortunately, the procedures internal to the University sometimes hinder the process of putting ideas into practice, because of the bureaucracy. This may slow down the placement of young and talented researchers, while on the other hand the limited economical resources may be a major obstacle to progression. Together with a group of colleagues and researchers, we created two spin-off companies, sponsored by leading companies as well as by the European Commission. We solved the problem by promoting and financing PhD and post-doc positions, and investing money for developing very interesting and valuable technology.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out in their career?
I would recommend young people who are keen to get into a career in science, to build a solid platform on which to base decisions for their future plans, but at the same time to be brave enough to seek the doorway to their vocation, and step out to pursue their dream. Have big dreams, but also seek for short-term goals: sometimes there are shiny things at the corner that can pave the way to a great success.
Q&A with Ruojie Zhang
Ruojie Zhang (University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA) is the 2018 recipient of the Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship, which is awarded to a graduate student doing research in areas of interest to AOCS. The award consists of a pair of inscribed bookends, a $10,000 stipend, $5,000 in research and travel funds, and an award lecture at the AOCS Annual Meeting.
What was your reaction when you learned you’d won the Smouse Fellowship?
I was really surprised when I noticed that I was the recipient of the prestigious Smouse Fellowship. The Smouse Fellowship has been the highest recognition for a graduate student involved in fats and oils chemistry since 1996. The favorite quote of Dr. Thomas H. Smouse, "the roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet," has inspired generations of youth to pursue education and contribute to fats and oils chemistry. Numbers of recipients of this award have become preeminent scientists and industry leaders. It is truly an honor to be among those who have received this award. I am also extremely grateful that my research was recognized by AOCS.
For those who aren’t aware, the Fellowship includes an award lecture at the AOCS Annual Meeting. Was this your first time presenting at the meeting? If so, what advice can you give to fellow graduate students who are presenting for the first time？
Actually, this was not my first time presenting at a conference, but the AOCS Annual Meeting provides a great platform for me to present my research to the broader fats and oils community and get feedback from so many scientists who are working in the same area. I have to point out that the UMass Food Science Department has provided great presentation training for all graduate students, including organizing seminars on presentation skills and strategies, holding oral and poster presentation competitions, and providing feedback and ways to improve from professors. Personally, I feel this presentation training was very helpful for me to be more confident and make my presentation more impressive and efficient.
Nevertheless, for students who are doing their first conference presentation, I would like to say that the more you practice, the better you will do. Practice with yourself to be confident and fluent, practice with your lab mates or advisor who can give you technical feedback, and practice with your friends who are out of your research area and make sure your presentation is understandable to a general audience.
Can you tell us about your research?
I focus on the design of excipient emulsions and nanoemulsions to improve the bioavailability of nutraceuticals from natural foods (such as fruits and vegetables), as well as to study their possible side effects for human health (such as increasing the bioavailability of hydrophobic pesticides). An important aspect of this work has been to control the rate and extent of free fatty acid production that occurs during lipid digestion, and on understanding the nature of the mixed micelles formed by free fatty acids under small intestine conditions. The dimensions of the hydrophobic domains formed in the mixed micelles have a major impact on the bioavailability of hydrophobic nutraceuticals and pesticides. The ultimate aim of this research is to develop high-quality functional food and beverage products that will increase the bioavailability of bioactive components.
How has the Fellowship helped you with your studies?
This Fellowship consists of a $10,000 stipend and a $5,000 research fund, which can be used for travel to professional meetings and for research expenditures related to the student’s graduate program. With the support of this Fellowship, I had the chance to attend many academic conferences, such as AOCS, IFT, and Gordon Research, where I had chances to present my research and communicate with other researchers, as well as attend a short course training. In addition, I was able to expand my research on both the beneficial effects of nanoemulsions associated with increasing nutrient bioavailability, as well as highlight any potential adverse effects. Moreover, the high prestige associated with this Fellowship has been a great benefit to my academic development.
Can you share any advice for graduate students who want to apply to the Fellowship?
To be honest, I feel I am very lucky to be granted this prestigious fellowship and sometimes I question whether I am good enough to receive it. I know there are many excellent graduate students who are doing impressive research and could be the potential recipient of this Fellowship.
Personally, I think I was granted this Fellowship not only because of my research achievement but also my service contribution. I have been an active student member of AOCS since 2014 and served as a volunteer for the AOCS Annual Meeting many times. I also have taken leadership responsibilities in the Student Common Interest Group (CIG), first as Co-Chair and now Chair. In my role as Chair, I help organize AOCS student events and draft the CIG newsletters.
In addition to service for AOCS, I contribute to many other student organizations, such as being the Vice President of the Phi Tau Sigma UMass Chapter and Chair of the UMass Life Sciences Graduate Research Council. I feel that my service contributions to the society were recognized when I applied to the Fellowship, which helped me stand out from other outstanding candidates. Therefore, I strongly suggest graduate students become more involved in society service if they would like to apply to this Fellowship. Actually, serving in the society not only increases your chance to win this Fellowship, but also offers great opportunities to develop your leadership skills, build the service component of your CV, and make a difference in the graduate student community.
Q&A with Nurhan Dunford
Nurhan Dunford was named an AOCS Fellow in 2018. The AOCS Fellow Award is a category of AOCS membership that recognizes achievements in science, or extraordinary service to the Society.
What was your reaction when you learned you’d been named an AOCS Fellow?
I know that Fellow is the highest recognition that a society can give and AOCS Fellows are experts and leaders in the field of fats and oils. I feel honored to be included in the ranks of such an extraordinary group of people.
Your award nomination cited your dedication to serving in volunteer AOCS roles, including Annual Meeting General Chairperson, Division leadership roles, and associate editor for JAOCS, among others. What motivates you to serve in AOCS volunteer roles?
I have been a member of the society over 20 years. Getting involved in a professional association after graduating from college is the first step to boost personal and professional development. My involvement in AOCS broadened my knowledge, expanded my professional network, I made many friends, had the opportunity to serve in many leadership positions, and enhanced the national and international visibility of Oklahoma State University and my research program. But most importantly, not only myself but also my graduate students benefited from my involvement in the society; they attended Annual Meetings with me, gave oral and poster presentations, experienced the Industry Expo during the meetings, and won graduate student excellence awards. As educators, it is our responsibility to provide these opportunities, which are very important for the professional development of students.
You’ve been involved with multiple AOCS Divisions. What impact has your participation in Divisions had on your career and AOCS experience?
My involvement in multiple AOCS Divisions expanded my knowledge of the science of fats and oils and allowed me to learn about current issues, problems, and advancements from a diverse group of experts in academia and industry. Those interactions and knowledge shape the research projects we work on in my group.
Can you tell us about your current research? What big problem or challenge are you trying to solve?
I am an engineer by training. I came to academia after a long career in industry. Partly because of those experiences, my current research is very applied. I am very interested in system design, environmentally benign production technologies, and process optimization for value-added product manufacturing. I am very concerned about sustainability of the environment and natural resources. So, my research program focuses on the biorefinery concept to produce bioproducts, minimize waste, and reduce the impact of processing on the environment. Our microalgae research is an excellent example of what we are trying to do in my research group. The idea is to grow microalgae in wastewater and produce algal biomass while cleaning up the wastewater. Then, we convert the algal biomass to renewable products such as biofuel and bio-char. Currently, we are growing algae in animal wastewater and wastewater generated by hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas production. These are two very important wastewater streams in our state, Oklahoma.
Are there any favorite memories from AOCS you’d like to share?
My favorite memories include seeing my students present their research findings at the AOCS Annual Meetings and receiving awards recognizing their hard work. For me, attending the AOCS Annual Meetings is like a reunion. I love seeing my longtime friends, colleagues, mentors, and former students.
Q&A with Alice Lichtenstein
Alice Lichtenstein is the 2018 recipient of the Supelco AOCS Research Award, which recognizes outstanding original research in fats, oils, lipid chemistry or biochemistry. View her award presentation: "Dietary Fat Phobia — Dispelling the Myth that All Fats are Bad"
What was your reaction when you learned you’d won the Supelco AOCS Research Award?
I was a bit taken back. It is an extraordinary honor. I don’t think anyone is quite prepared. It then became even more extraordinary when I found out I was the first female to receive the honor since the inception of the prize in the 1960s. I am immensely grateful for the honor.
In your award presentation, you suggest a “clear, concise unified message about dietary fat and health outcomes” needs to be developed to dispel dietary fat phobia. Can you expand on how you envision that message would be developed and effectively communicated to the public?
The message itself has been developed; dietary fat is an essential component of a healthy dietary pattern. The problem is in the details. More often than not we research scientists get tangled in the weeds. We are trained to strive for precision. In the laboratory setting that is vital for generating high-quality data. However, when translating our science into public policy for dissemination, what seems like essential details can serve to diffuse and sometimes distort the message to non-scientists that are looking to us for advice on what to eat. In the case of dietary fat, the overwhelming data indicates that it is not the amount of fat but type of fat that has the greatest impact on health outcomes.
The best advice we can provide at the moment is to replace sources of saturated fat, generally meat and dairy fat, with unsaturated fat, generally liquid vegetable oils. Within the scientific community we may be trying to sort out whether all saturated fatty acids have similar biological effects, but such data is not ready for prime time because there are still some unanswered questions and we eat food, which contains a mixture of fatty acids, not individual fatty acids.
One of your later slides notes your commentary in JAMA titled “Bring Back Home Economics Education.” Can you tell us about your vision for what a contemporary Home Economics class would teach students, and how your research has informed that vision?
First, I was corrected by the community, the term is no longer Home Ec., it is now Family and Consumer Sciences (https://www.aafcs.org/home). My vison and sincere hope is that food and nutrition education becomes a mandatory component of the curriculum in grades K through 12. Eating is our most basic need. Learning how to pick and choose from the options readily available within our current food environment is challenging. I think it is incumbent on us to ensure our children have the tools necessary to make smart decisions about their food and drink so that as they grow and become adults they will reap the benefits of what is available to them and avoid the pitfalls.
The food environment has shifted dramatically. What is available in food stores today is dramatically different than what was available a century ago. Yet, efforts to educate our youth have not kept up. In fact, we have slipped. The traditional Home Ec. used to be mandatory for at least half the population, females. Although both males and females need the information even more than ever before, the discipline has disappeared from many of the schools. To make headway in stemming the obesity epidemic and high rates of chronic disease, we need to teach children how to hunt and gather in the 21st century. We need to equip them with the skills they need to take advantage of all the nutrition information we have fought so hard to make available and take advantage of modern processing techniques that has made food preparation easier and provides more options while avoiding the pitfalls.
It is never too early to start the educational process. In kindergarten children can be exposed to different types of foods - shapes, colors, textures and tastes. As they progress through the educational process, many of the basic concepts about food and nutrition can be incorporated into science, math, economics and physical education curriculum, to name a few. I think such an investment will improve health in the long run, decrease the risk of chronic disease and, as we live longer, improve quality of life.
Looking back over your career, are there any research accomplishments that are particularly important to you?
I was fortunate to be in a position to contribute to the burst of research in the area of partially hydrogenated fat, trans fatty acids and health outcomes. Some of the work my laboratory completed was used in formulating dietary and regulatory guidance on the topic. We have now phased the majority of the trans fatty acids out of the food supply. This makes the default option the healthier option for the consumer. In a sense stealth nutrition. The feasibility of doing this was very much dependent on the work of AOCS scientists who developed acceptable alternatives to partially hydrogenated fat. In the long run I think we will all benefit from this change.
How do you hope AOCS can help advance knowledge of dietary fat and its role in human nutrition and health?
The scientists in AOCS play a critical role in ensuring high-quality and safe fats and oils are available to be consumed directly and incorporated into the foods we eat. Their innovative processing techniques allow nutrition scientists to address important questions about how dietary fat improves health outcomes. It is nice to see the complementary activities of the AOCS and nutrition societies. Hopefully, we will see more of it in the future.
Q&A with Zhi-Hong Yang
Zhi-Hong Yang is the 2018 recipient of the Health and Nutrition Division New Investigator Research Award, which recognizes a young scientist who is making significant and substantial research contributions in one of the areas represented by the Health and Nutrition Division of AOCS.
What was your reaction when you learned you’d won the Health and Nutrition Division New Investigator Research Award?
I was truly surprised when I opened the email in the morning and found out that I was selected as the winner of the Award: Is it really me, not anyone else with a similar name? For a minute I still could not believe it and started to feel even a bit uncomfortable because you worry that other people in the field might think that you are not really worthy of it: That’s what I thought at that moment. At the same time, however, I felt extremely happy and excited about the news as a new investigator who has put all my energy and passion into studying these novel omega fatty acids.
Can you tell us about your research?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major healthcare problem worldwide and is known to be greatly affected by diet. In particular, consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), such as oleic acid (cis-C16:1 n-7), the most common MUFA in the typical American diet, decreases CVD risk. In contrast, there is limited information on the physiological effects of other dietary MUFAs, with different carbon chain length, such as longer-chain MUFA (LCMUFA), and with aliphatic tails longer than 18 that are enriched in some marine sources, such a pollock, herring and saury. In addition, shorter-chain MUFA like palmitoleic acid (PA; cis-C16:1 n-7) that are abundant in macadamia nuts, Sea Buckthorn and certain fish species may also have beneficial CVD effects but are also not well studied. Our recent animal studies uncovered a novel link between LCMUFA-rich fish oil intake and the improvement of cardiovascular health and demonstrated for the first time that dietary LCMUFA may be anti-atherogenic, possibly because of the improved lipoprotein subfamily profile and regulation of the signaling pathway for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs). When we compared dietary PA to oleic acid, we found that PA caused improved lipid and glucose metabolism and increased satiety in animal models through multiple mechanisms, including favorable regulation of genes involved in lipid metabolism, insulin signaling and inflammations, and increasing production of satiety hormones. My findings on PA have contributed greatly to creating the rationale for the commercial development and availability of PA supplements, which are now starting to be more widely used by the public. Based on these promising results, we are now performing human clinical trials on supplementation with LCMUFA-rich fish oil (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03043365) and PA concentrate oil (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03372733) to investigate their effect on cardiometabolic biomarkers.
What future impact do you hope your research will have on nutrition science and public health?
The American Heart Association and Dietary Guidelines for Americans have long advised the replacement of saturated fatty acids with MUFAs, but a more detailed understanding of the effect of various types of dietary MUFAs on CVD risk is needed. Our pre-clinical and ongoing clinical trials suggest that enriching dietary LCMUFA and PA may have beneficial and perhaps unique effects on CVD risk factors, and thus could lead to new dietary recommendations and improvements in the formulation of fish oil and/or MUFA supplements. My ongoing work to study the role of dietary supplements, especially novel functional lipids, in CVD prevention is of the outmost national interest. My continuing project in dietary rare MUFA will contribute to better understanding of the benefits and risks of fish and specific dietary ingredient’s consumption and build on past efforts to understand the impacts of MUFA on health outcomes. My vision is to better understand the dietary regulation mechanism in atherosclerosis and to develop effective CVD control and prevention strategies could have significant implications for the quality of life for millions of people in America and beyond.
How has AOCS helped you develop as a young scientist?
Continuously attending the AOCS Annual Meeting and reading journals and articles issued by AOCS have helped widen and deepen my knowledge in the field of health and lipid nutrition and build a network of other professionals in both academia and industry. The AOCS Health and Nutrition Division’s mission of strengthening knowledge and understanding of dietary lipids encouraged me to apply for the award and to seek a pathway as a young scientist to become an independent investigator in the future.
Q&A with Dharma Kodali
Professor Dharma Kodali is the 2018 recipient of the Alton E. Bailey Award, which recognizes outstanding research and exceptional service in the field of lipids and associated products. As part of the award, he gave a presentation titled “Transformation of a synthetic chemist into an oil chemist” during a special session at the 2018 Annual Meeting.
What was your reaction when you learned you’d won the Alton E. Bailey Award?
I was happy, felt recognized and honored at the same time. Mr. Alton E. Bailey was a stalwart and a pioneer in fats and oils chemistry, processing and applications. His original compendium Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products is still considered an old testament in the fats and oils area. Also, in the over 60 years that the Bailey award has been presented, some of the recipients have been my mentors and peers, including Professors Donald Small, Kiyotaka Sato, Gary List and Alejandra Marangoni, among many other well-known lipid scientists. I would like to thank the selection committee for the recognition and Professor Marangoni for nominating me, and I also appreciate the people who supported the nomination.
Your presentation is titled “Transformation of a Synthetic Chemist into an Oil Chemist.” What role has AOCS played in your career, and did it have any role in this transformation?
Over the years AOCS played a huge role in my transformation from being a synthetic chemist into an oil chemist. I was originally trained as a synthetic medicinal chemist in my Ph.D. During my post-doctoral studies, I synthesized a series of fluorescent probes to study the micro-environment of aggregated structures like micelles and cyclodextrins. With this limited physical chemistry experience, my introduction to lipids occurred during my early research career while working in the Biophysics Department at Boston University. During this time, I attended my first AOCS national meeting, about 35 years ago, and presented a paper on the synthesis of stereospecific glycerol derivatives. The presentations at the AOCS meeting were educational and impressive, and the people were cordial. Since then, I rarely missed an AOCS national meeting. The networking and research collaborations I developed during AOCS meetings were instrumental in developing my scientific career. For example, one of the research collaborations I forged with Professor Sato’s group lasted over a lifetime and resulted in a number of scientific publications. Over my research career, whether working in academia or industry, the AOCS community served as my first reach out to discuss any new scientific developments or change in regulations like trans fats issues. With time, it became a social habit to look forward to the AOCS national meetings in April/May to meet and catch up with friends and peers and to make new acquaintances.
The criteria for the Bailey Award include “outstanding leadership to the Society.” For those that aren’t aware, you’ve been an AOCS member since 1982, during which you’ve served in Division leadership, as a session chair, and as an author and editor of AOCS Press book chapters, among other roles. What have been some your most meaningful leadership experiences in AOCS?
The association with AOCS benefitted me greatly; it especially provided number of opportunities to develop professionally and to play an important role in the scientific community. Some of these experiences include teaching short courses, participating and contributing as a member of the Books and Special Publications Committee, associate editor and reviewer of JAOCS, founding member and chair of the Industrial Oil Products Division, editing two AOCS books, a number of publications and book chapters, and chairing technical sessions at the national meetings. Over the years, all these activities helped me to grow my knowledge as a scientist and to take bigger responsibilities in the community.
Can you tell us about your current research?
We are working on developing new and value-added products derived from fats and oils and lignocellulosics. Currently, we are focused on developing bioplasticizers from vegetable oils. Plasticizers are non-volatile organic compounds that impart flexibility to plastic materials. The plasticizers are compounded with plastics, mainly polyvinylchloride or PVC, to enhance their utility in various applications. Petroleum-derived phthalate plasticizers, which are presently used, adversely affect human health and the environment. We successfully developed a class of high-performance plasticizers called fatty acid epoxy estolide esters from soybean oil that can replace petroleum-derived phthalates. The functional performance of fatty acid epoxy estolides are comparable or better than phthalates and are cost competitive.
How do you hope AOCS can help solve the challenge(s) of your research?
AOCS helps researchers around the world by disseminating scientific knowledge and research results through annual meeting presentations, publications and symposia. It also provides an opportunity for scientists to interact face-to-face with their peers at annual meetings. I benefitted from all these AOCS activities. In addition to these, the news and general articles that are current and timely published through INFORM, news briefs and updates enhance the knowledge of the AOCS community. AOCS is instrumental in bringing together the lipid scientists community around the world. Because of the connections established through AOCS, I had the opportunity to visit research labs in various countries and present our research findings.
Q&A with David Scheuing
David Scheuing is the 2018 recipient of the Samuel Rosen Memorial Award, which recognizes accomplishments in surfactant chemistry. On Sept. 26, he’ll speak about surfactant science as part of #WebinarWednesday. Even if you can’t attend, we’ll send you the recording.
What was your reaction when you learned you’d won the Samuel Rosen Memorial Award?
I was surprised and humbled. I have learned so much from the work of other awardees — both from their published work and from business interactions over the years — and, of course, from Prof. Rosen's writings and numerous talks over the years. This award, to me, celebrates the value of applying solid science to solving everyday practical problems, through hard work and diligence.
Looking back over your career, are there any research accomplishments that are particularly important to you? What impact do hope these accomplishments have had on the field of surfactant science?
My early work applying Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) in studies of micelle structure comes to mind. I hope the approaches and results obtained reinforce the impact of geometry on the interactions between molecules that are, for thermodynamic reasons, self-assembling into these fascinating structures. FT-IR provides a view that is very complementary to those obtained with other techniques, like nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. I also hope that the application of FT-IR to studies of the interfacial interactions of micellar solutions and solid oils will reinforce the relationship between surfactant-oil-water phase diagrams and phenomena like enhanced oil recovery and the detergency process in your laundry room. The spectroscopic analyses are actually fairly easy to do, and yet tell us about what is going on at the interface as a system tries to move to equilibrium.
I work on consumer cleaning products, including bathroom cleaners. I think my collaboration with Dr. Soontravanich, Prof. Sabatini and Prof. Scamehorn (J. Surfact. Deterg., 2010, 13: 367-372) on the dissolution of calcium stearate, aka "soap scum", stimulated interest in the application of sound surfactant science to this very real, everyday problem that involves both equilibrium phase behavior and interfacial kinetics.
As an AOCS member, you’ve served as a session chair for AOCS Annual Meetings and as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents. How has your involvement in AOCS shaped your career?
My service over the years has given me the chance to give back to the field and especially to a wider range of newer workers. A significant part of my job at Clorox is to connect with the outside world, in order to tap into the latest technical advancements in surfactant science and build alliances with suppliers. It is also a core value of Clorox R&D to contribute to the work of organizations connected with the products we sell. We do our part for our industry by helping with the development of training tools for newer workers, as well as influencing the public outreach of organizations. So, my involvement with AOCS has been a great way for me to meet my obligations as a technical leader at Clorox.
Part of your award nomination recognized the positive impact you’ve had on young scientists through mentoring and coaching. What advice can you offer to young scientists just starting their careers?
My answer is shaped by my industrial experience in the fields of analytical and physical chemistry of surfactants, colloids and polymers. But I must also say I took advantage of training on management and soft skills at Clorox.
Getting to the chemical truth of what something really is, or why it works, and especially, in industrial work, why something doesn’t work can truly help make the world a better place. Science helps society make progress.
When you are starting out, you don’t have to plan your whole career. Focus on solving problems — companies hire because they have problems to be solved with innovation. Not all your ideas or innovations will work but think about what “failure” really is. Failure is not a person. It is an event or outcome. If you’re not failing, you and your employer are not trying hard enough. The key is learning from failure.
Be prepared for lifelong learning. Keep up with your field. Read technically outside your field. Read what technically interests you, even if you are not paid to do it.
Seek out collaboration. The best companies will organize teams and train you in teamwork. Innovation is a team sport so get used to it.
Seek out mentors. What lessons can they teach — both technically and within an organization’s culture?
Do you know yourself at this stage of your career? Your strengths/talents are the things you do that make you feel strong, because they are innate talents you have. Your “opportunities” or “weaknesses” are things that make you feel weak. Build on your strengths — that will work. Collaborate to compensate for your “weaknesses” — they will not change. Do not confuse strengths/talents with skills. The latter can be learned, but the former are inherent to you. There are published tools for this type of personal work, so do it.
People do not quit companies; they quit immediate supervisors/managers. Before you move on ensure you understand all the opportunities of the company (or lack thereof) that are available to you. I have learned much from people I considered poor managers of me. Does your manager try to learn your strengths and help you build on them? Think about whether you would enjoy doing that kind of work yourself as you gain work experience but don’t rush to conclusions.
Approach your career with a “How may I serve?” attitude. You will be surprised by the opportunities that come up for you to consider. You really are in charge of your career but also expect constant change in technology, your employer and the world.
Do you have favorite memories from your time as an AOCS member that you’d like to share?
I can recall many annual AOCS meetings at which I had personal interactions with leaders like Dr. Rosen and many others. I recall asking questions after talks and getting references I could use. I recall technical leaders in the field actually exchanging cards with me! Just the opportunity to interact informally with these leaders was inspiring. I’ve made many new friends in the field before, during and between sessions at the annual meetings. As a presenter, for example, just this year, I recall getting some great, challenging questions after my talk on amine oxides. What more can you ask for — people were engaged in the topic!
I have experienced positive feedback from other talks, which makes the efforts so worthwhile. I’d say that the S&D Division has a culture of open dialog and feedback I really enjoy as a scientist. Actually, saying the Division has that culture really means that the people have created that culture. I think it reflects the broader values of AOCS, focused on scientific rigor applied to important issues in the real, everyday lives of people.
Q&A with Susan K. Raatz
Professor Susan K. Raatz is the 2018 recipient of the Ralph Holman Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes significant lifetime and meritorious achievements in areas of interest to the Health and Nutrition Division.
What was your reaction when you learned you’d won the Ralph Holman Lifetime Achievement Award?
I was surprised and very pleased to learn that I was awarded the Ralph Holman Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018. I felt proud of my work and the fact that my peers considered me deserving of this award.
Looking back over your career, are there any research accomplishments that are particularly important to you?
I have performed a number of human feeding studies aimed at determining the appropriate type and amount of dietary lipids to improve human health. I am particularly proud of my first large grant, which provided funds to assess the role of omega-3 fatty acids on the risk of breast cancer. It set the basis for the development of my career in clinical research and for the training of graduate students.
What impact do you hope your research has had on the field of health and nutrition?
I hope that my work is influential in the development of dietary guidance for the public.
Why did you join AOCS?
I joined AOCS at the suggestion of my friend and long-standing AOCS member, Dr. Doug Bibus, as a specialized society where I would be able to closely interact with like-minded researchers and other scientists in the lipids field.
How has being an AOCS member helped shape your career as a nutrition scientist?
AOCS has allowed me to develop collegial relationships with other investigators in my field. It has led to the development of new ideas, research collaborations and new friends.
Q&A with Walter Vetter
Professor Walter Vetter (University of Hohenheim, Germany) is the 2018 recipient of the Herbert J. Dutton Award. As part of the award, he gave a presentation titled “Searching and finding unusual fatty acids and compounds of the unsaponifiable matter”.
What was your reaction when you learned you’d won the Herbert J. Dutton Award?
I was very excited to receive this prestigious award. It is a great honor.
In your presentation you cite the AOCS Lipid Library as your “first aid kit” when there are problems identifying lipids in “birth goo”. Can you explain why it’s your “first aid kit”?
The AOCS Lipid Library is the primary information source for lipid analysis - and it is free. Whatever analytical technique we are using- MS, NMR or others - the Library has the answer or gives us a point to start with. We regularly check it and compare with our data. It was also great to contribute a small chapter to the AOCS Lipid Library a few years ago.
Can you tell us a little bit about your research?
Our main interests are the analysis of minor fatty acids and compounds of the unsaponifiable matter. We develop analytical methods, try to assign structures to unknown compounds in the samples and try to produce standards for analytical purposes (typically by countercurrent chromatography) and for determination of the bioactivity (in worldwide co-operations).
How do you hope AOCS can help solve this challenge?
Maintaining the standard for analytical methods as high as it is. AOCS provides the platform (the journals, the conference(s), the homepage) to present our findings and to get in touch with colleagues.
This article reviews research on the effect of coconut oil on cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
Q&A with Dr. Raj Shah
50-word summary of your professional experience
During my doctorate in chemical engineering at Penn State University, I was involved with research in alternate fuels, oil and additives. I ended up as a Director at Koehler Instrument Company, which is one of the largest manufacturers of oil testing instruments, and I have been here for two decades. Besides AOCS, I am active at the Energy Institute, NLGI and STLE, and I am currently a Fellow at these organizations. I work extensively at ASTM, helping put together new testing standards for oils and have the sui generis distinction of being an Eagle award winner along with a triple award of excellence recipient. I also volunteer on the advisory board of directors of a few universities.
Why did you join AOCS?
Right out of graduate school one of my mentors clued me in on the work AOCS does and the amazing reach the Society has within the oil community. I have been an active member for over 23 years since then.
Describe your involvement with AOCS.
I have mostly been involved with the standard development part of AOCS, specifically the Official Methods and Recommended Practices of the AOCS. I am also involved with the Quality Reference Material work AOCS does, specifically working on procedures to calibrate lab instruments, improving new methods and a range of other lab testing activities. I have also been a reviewer for the Official Methods and Recommended Practices of the AOCS. At AOCS, I am behind the scenes often and have had a low-key approach, but I have found that AOCS is well structured and the folks have always been very welcoming.
Describe your research and explain what big challenge or problem your work is trying to solve. How do you hope AOCS can help in solving this challenge?
Koehler Instrument Company is one of the larger analytical lab instrumentation manufacturers that focuses primarily on tests for the oil industry. Our goal here is to be the one source provider for all the needs of an oil chemist, whether they are doing research or routine quality control work. Lately, we have been doing quite a bit of work on new test method development for biofuels, biolubes and biogreases.
Take renewable environmentally friendly lubricants, for example. In order to have them perform the same way in an engine for instance, they need to have the same qualities as a conventional lube oil that is currently being used for that application. This needs to be verified in the laboratory before these oils are actually used in real life and made available in the market.
In order to do so, bench-scale tests need to be developed that emulate real-life conditions of oxidation and friction and these new lubricants have to be tested in these bench tests and results compared to real-life operating conditions. Our challenge and research are to develop such tests that simulate real working conditions (for these biolubricants in this example).
AOCS, along with ASTM, plays a key part in this. Once we come up with these draft test procedures (and instrument prototypes), numerous volunteers in these organizations will run round-robin testing to check on the plausibility, accuracy, repeatability and reproducibility of these new test techniques before they become official test methods.
My own feeling is that organizations like AOCS have a wonderful group of volunteers and mentors, who over the years have helped me immensely, and I for one strongly encourage, especially the younger members, to make use of the phenomenal networking and learning opportunities that AOCS offers.
Q&A with Keshun Liu
Why did you join AOCS?
This goes back to 1992, when I first joined Hartz Seed, a Unit of Monsanto Co., as a food chemist to work on soybeans. I met Dr. Frank Orthoefer, who was then R&D director for Riceland Food. We lived in the same small Arkansan town. With his recommendation, I joined AOCS without hesitation.
What have been some of your most meaningful volunteer or AOCS member experiences?
I think that involvement with the Proteins and Co-Products Division is one of my most meaningful member experiences. I started serving as a newsletter editor, then member-at-large twice, treasurer/secretary, vice president and finally as president - more than a decade of direct involvement with the Division. Through this experience I have learned leadership skills. Another meaningful experience has been organizing symposia for annual meetings. By doing so, I have invited many prominent protein and oil chemists to speak at AOCS meetings and learned a lot from them. I also recruited quite a few new members.
Tell us about your work experience and explain the connection between your work and this volunteer experience. How has this volunteer experience shaped your career?
Since graduation from Michigan State University with a Ph.D. in food science, my professional work has always been on chemistry, processing and value-added utilization of oilseeds, grains, legumes and other plant materials. AOCS is a natural fit for my work and research interests. My membership and volunteer experiences at AOCS have nourished my knowledge, broadened my connections and shaped my career in many ways. For example, by attending AOCS annual meetings, I learn what peers are doing on oilseeds and other work related to my research, and in return I can conduct my research with more focus and more effective tools. I also become more enthusiastic in doing my research. In another example, the achievement awards I received, such as the AOCS Award of Merit and AOCS Fellow, brought honor not only to me, but also to my employer as well.
Describe your research and explain what big challenge or problem your work is trying to solve. How do you hope AOCS can help in solving this challenge?
As a research chemist with U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, the main purpose of my research is to develop plant-based proteins for food and feed uses. This work involves basic chemistry, quantitative analysis and development of innovative processing of oilseeds, grains and their co-products. For example, at present, my lab is working on analytical method improvements, which can accurately assay for trypsin inhibitor activity in soy products. Trypsin inhibitors are naturally occurring antinutrients. Because their elimination parallels nutritional improvement in a rat-feeding model, having methods that can accurately measure their activity is important. The AOCS officially approved a standard method for the trypsin inhibitor assay but it still has some flaws and thus needs modifications. Through extensive lab experiments, we have now figured out what improvements are needed. A new manuscript is ready for submission. The next challenge is to make this an official method so that the food and feed industry can use the new method without hesitation. I think AOCS can help solve this challenge, because it has several committees on Methods. I would like to work with the committees once the manuscript on the modified method for trypsin inhibitor assay is published.
Managing Aflatoxin Risk using AOCS Methods and Laboratory Proficiency Testing
Aflatoxins are a group of metabolic products formed by Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus fungi in several agricultural commodities that can cause serious health issues when ingested. To mitigate the risk of contaminated products moving downstream in the supply chain, producers conduct significant, regular testing efforts. AOCS provides internationally recognized analytical testing methods and a lab proficiency program to help producers detect and quantify the presence of aflatoxins in agricultural commodities.
Q&A with Sarah A. Echols
50-word summary of your professional experience
Sarah Echols is the Head of Innovation of Sweet Ingredients, North America at CSM Bakery Solutions. She works on innovations of CSM’s sweet ingredients (icings, glazes, toppings, fillings, etc.) along with handling CSM's global fat and flavor portfolio from a technical perspective. Previously, she worked at Barry Callebaut as a Project Manager - Fats and Compounds and at AAK USA as a Research Chemist.
Why did you join AOCS?
I joined AOCS in 2010 as a student member. I joined based on the recommendation of my major professor, Dr. Akoh.
Describe your involvement with AOCS :
I started as an AOCS student member and transitioned into an AOCS young professional. I have been on the Young Professionals Common Interest Group (YP CIG) leadership team since its start in 2014 and am currently co-chairing the YP CIG. I took on the role as Secretary-Treasurer for the Edible Applications Technology (EAT) Division last year and hope to continue as the EAT Division Secretary-Treasurer.
What have been some of your most meaningful volunteer experiences?
My most meaningful AOCS volunteer experience was getting involved in the Young Professionals CIG during its start and helping it evolve into the great CIG it is today!
Tell us about your work experiences since your last degree and explain the connection between your work and this volunteer experience.
My work experience has always remained somehow linked to the fats and oils industry — whether it was working for a fats and oils supplier or managing my company's fats and oils portfolio. AOCS and my volunteer experience have helped me network and remain connected with new research in the industry, which in turn helped me with product development and fats and oils portfolio management. Volunteering in AOCS has greatly shaped my professional development by developing relationships throughout the industry, developing presentation and communication skills, and developing confidence within the fats and oils industry.
Describe your research and explain what big challenge or problem your work is trying to solve. How do you hope AOCS can help in solving this challenge?
A current issue we are looking to solve is how to entrap liquid oil in an icing and/or how to reduce the amount of hard palm fat in icings. At last year's Annual Meeting there were many presentations about oleogels. These presentations led us to look at a few ingredients that we would normally have not looked at. We now have a few options that we will be testing out in application to see if oleogels will be acceptable in icings.
Q&A with Ismail Hassan Hussein Abdalnabi
50-word summary of your professional experience
I graduated as a chemical engineer from the University of Khartoum (U of K) in Sudan 1971. After graduating, I joined the local vegetable oil and soap industry. I also earned a PhD (March 1982) and conducted research at the Chemical Engineering Department, Aston University, Birmingham, England. Since October 1982, I’ve taught and conducted research at the University of Gezira (UG), serving as Vice Chancellor (VC) for two terms: 2001–2005; 2005–2009. Currently, I’m a professor at the National Oilseed Processing Research Institute (NOPRI), UG.
Why did you join AOCS?
I knew the AOCS through the JAOCS at U of K and the industry. At Aston, it was a major reference, especially during my PhD research. From the Journal, I learnt about the second AOCS World Conference at The Hague in October 1982. At that time, I was hired by UG and was about to travel to Sudan, but delayed that to attend the conference. Up to that time, I was not aware of the importance of joining the Society; however, at The Hague, I met delegates from government, universities and the private sector. A tour of the accompanying exhibition inspired an idea of establishing an oilseed pilot plant at the UG. Having spoken to some delegates about this and about glandless cotton, I felt that the AOCS was where I belonged, so I signed up at the conference, effective January 1983.
Describe your involvement with AOCS:
After The Hague, I joined the Department of Applied Chemistry and Chemical Technology (ACC), Faculty of Science and Technology (FST), UG. At the ACCT, I presented the pilot plant proposal in December 1982 to UG. A research group was formed from ACCT, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences (FAS), UG, and the Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC), Ministry of Agriculture. Activities included MSc and PhD research, in addition to presentations at local and international seminars and conferences. A notable example of the activities in this group is the establishment of NAPRECA, the Natural Products Research Network for East and Central Africa. Through ACCT involvement, Sudan was a founding member in July 1984. NAPRECA is now a UNESCO affiliate and is doing a great job in research and training of African scientists. A link with Upsala University, Sweden, was also one of the activities of this group, and the late Professor Lars Appelqvist was instrumental to its success.
Meanwhile, contacting AOCS members revealed that Ed Lusas was also establishing a pilot plant for oilseed extraction and oil refining at College Station, Texas. An invitation from Dr. Lusas enabled me to join the Food Protein R&D Center (now the Process Engineering R&D Center, PERC) at College Station, Texas A&M University. There, I worked with him and KC Rhee on castor pomace detoxification. In addition to the knowledge I gained, a discussion with Ed Lusas about our pilot plant proposal was of great value. He advised establishing a center for oilseed processing research and indicated the importance of such a center for the whole of Africa. Thus, a Center was established at FST-UG in 1990, which was promoted to NOPRI in 1994. All of this was achieved because of the networking that was made possible by joining the Society.
The international exposure brought by attending AOCS conferences also resulted in new areas of cooperation. The JAOCS carried news about the progress of PORIM, the Palm Oil Institute of Malaysia, changed to MPOB, Malaysian Palm Oil Board, since 2000. Our contact with PORIM started in 1993. Having attended all PORIM courses, I enrolled in the second Intensive Diploma of Oil Palm Management and Technology (IDOPMT) in July 2000, with the intention of becoming a full-time oil palm technologist. I passed the IDOPMT, but those intentions were interrupted by my appointment as VC of UG. However, NOPRI went on to strengthen its oil palm research by establishing the Oil Palm Research Center within the Institute, and made new links with the University of Malaya on oil palm hybrids. Now, NOPRI has a model one-acre oil palm farm. This is vital to NOPRI in its research on oil-bearing trees, which form an important source of vegetable oil in a number of Sudanese States.
What have been some of your most meaningful AOCS experiences?
I have attended a number of AOCS conferences and each brought a new experience. However, my recent visit to the AOCS HQ in Urbana stands out as the one memorable experience. For a start, it was pleasing to know how well the idea of the visit was received. The meeting itself was well prepared, the level of attendance was high and the discussion was immensely useful. There was a feeling that everyone was eager to help in our endeavor to establish an AOCS African Section. The support gained from the meeting enabled us to proceed confidently and establish new contacts.
Tell us about your work/job function and explain the connection between your work and how being involved with AOCS has shaped your career or brought value back to the workplace?
I have assumed a number of responsibilities within UG: from head ACCT, to deputy dean FST, to dean FST, to dean NOPRI, to VC of UG. The networking experience gained through AOCS was a great help to me in all those positions. The journals and AOCS Press books also provided valuable information, especially for graduate research.
The AOCS exposure was an asset in our dealing with international organizations. Our fundraising efforts led us to the Islamic Development Bank, IDB, Jeddah; a grant of $285,000 was approved to NOPRI and our staff followed it to completion. This was how the pilot plant was setup, the labs modernized and staff training abroad made possible. A special tribute must be paid here to the late engineer Raad Dafallah and Dr. Atif Yasin for their crucial role in making the project a success.
Our knowledge about United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service Centers came through JAOCS and conference meetings. This helped us model NOPRI branches in north, northeast, southeast, and west Sudan. The aim is to decentralize research and bring more contributions from those rural areas, in addition to coordinating with local government and the local oilseed industry in their regions.
The Library at NOPRI includes AOCS journals and books, in addition to MPOB books and literature. It is certainly the only specialized oils and fats library in Sudan and is providing an important service to researchers and graduate students. NOPRI also uses AOCS methods in its research and in its service to industry. Recently, NOPRI was recognized as a center of excellence by the Sudanese Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research; one of the reasons cited was the excellence of the library and its being up-to-date through AOCS journals, books, and electronic AOCS books and journals.
Research at NOPRI studies oils from varied sources for varied uses. The sources include annuals, perennials (shrubs and trees) and other sources such as insects. These may be used for food, biofuel, medical or pharmaceutical purposes. The sources may be established oilseed crops or ones that are unconventional or underutilized. My main area of research investigates developing new oil sources as well as new uses for other sources. Special attention is paid to aromatic plants, for their importance in international trade, especially Basil, Ocimum basilicum. Tree oils are also finding increased interest. A new research area deals with oils from horticultural crops, such as onions and carrots; reports indicate high levels of antioxidants in those oils.
Glandless cotton is an important area of research at NOPRI. Low-gossypol seeds yield a safe oil and a high-quality protein. Our main emphasis is to use this valuable food source for fighting hunger and alleviating poverty and malnutrition in children in rural areas. This entails activating NOPRI branches in those areas to rally support from the local communities for this noble goal.
The study of pesticide residues in oilseeds and their products is one of our major concerns, because they pose a major public health risk. Research on castor falls under this category.
Our work on the Africa Section introduced us to the PeanutBase and the International Peanut Community. This is an exciting new networking area, which we intend to utilize fully.
Graduate research at NOPRI does not include courses; a committee was recently set up by the VC of UG to look into introducing postgraduate diploma and masters via courses and a dissertation in oilseed science and technology. If this is achieved, it is expected to enable NOPRI to better serve the industry as well as those interested in oils and fats research and attract international students.
An oilseeds incubator has always been high on NOPRI's agenda. This was recently approved by the Sudanese Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. It would make more people linked to investment and research in oilseeds and their products.
A special challenge is to translate our findings and those in the literature into the Arabic language; this would create wider coverage and enable those who have no access to English to keep informed. The AOCS Latin American Section offers a similar encouraging model.
The AOCS can certainly play a vital role through networking. inform|connect represents such a possibility. In addition, the Society can help by asking interested members to contribute ideas or suggestions to AOCS platforms. This would spread the word and make more people aware of how to help.
Q&A with Dennis Murphy
What is your interest and/or research area?
All aspects of laundry cleaning and fabric softening technology — this includes fundamental studies to applied research. These two areas have been well researched but there is never a lack of new technical challenges, which keeps things interesting.
What part of the Annual Meeting are you looking forward to the most?
The cold water cleaning session. This area has the most potential to positively impact sustainability as well as improve financial aspects of the laundering process for individuals.
What are the benefits of AOCS membership to you?
First, the networking opportunities it affords are very important to me. Second, the ability to see new findings as they are shared and ask questions about that research in an interactive setting is also important.
How has AOCS membership impacted your career?
By being able to share my results with the broader scientific community, I gain recognition both outside and inside my company. The awards AOCS gives out are well respected in the industry - having been a recipient of the Samuel Rosen Memorial Award was not only an honor for me but also brought prestige to my company.