AOCS member leaders in focus

Get to know AOCS member leaders and learn about their significant contributions.

Learn more about the contributions AOCS member leaders have made to their scientific fields and the Society.

Dharma Kodali

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.



David Scheuing

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 — register. 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.



Susan K. Raatz

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.



Megan Hums

Megan Hums


Why did you join AOCS?

I initially became a member of AOCS to attend a meeting. I continue to be a member because of the diversity of research and the ability to get involved. 

Describe your involvement with AOCS (committee work, attendance, and other).

I have attended the annual meeting, am currently the Young Professional Common Interest Group (YP-CIG) secretary, and recently joined the Industrial Oil Products Division. I also helped with planning the joint CIG luncheon at the 2018 meeting.

What have been some of your most meaningful volunteer experiences?

From my first year at AOCS I have had the opportunity to get involved right away. I enjoy volunteering on the YP-CIG board because the members are so full of energy and there are exciting ideas for the future. It is rewarding to see our plans get executed throughout the year and not just stay as ideas at the annual meeting.

Tell us about your work experience since your last degree and explain the connection between your work and this volunteer experience. How has this volunteer experience shaped your professional development?

I obtained my PhD in 2016 from Drexel University in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, working with Dr. Richard Cairncross and Dr. Sabrina Spatari. My thesis was focused on biodiesel production from wastewater greases and their environmental impacts. I am currently a postdoctoral research chemical engineer at the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, in the Sustainable Biofuels and Co-products unit with Dr. Robert Moreau. My research is focused on waxes extracted from sorghum grain, bran and post-fermentation co-products.

AOCS links my past and present as I develop my career in lipid research. AOCS and volunteering has provided opportunities to meet professionals outside of my research field and to think about other applications and inspire ideas. I have also gained more confidence with communication and collaboration through my various volunteering experiences.

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?

Sorghum wax has similar physical properties to carnauba wax, which is an imported commercial wax. In our laboratory, we are focused on lab-scale extraction and characterization of waxes; however, the physical properties and applications for waxes and scale-up for wax production still need further research. Excitingly, AOCS has provided a platform to present our research, meet and reach out to fellow researchers, and continue our collaborations with academic and industrial partners.



Dr. Raj Shah

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.



Walter Vetter

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.



Keshun Liu

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.



Sarah A. Echols

Sarah 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.



Ismail Hassan Hussein Abdalnabi

Prof Ismail 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.

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?

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.



Dennis Murphy

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.