Member Spotlight: Meet Linsen Liu

Member Spotlight is a regular INFORM magazine column that features members who play critical roles in AOCS.

Linsen Liu
Fast Facts
Name Linsen Liu
Joined AOCS 1991
Education Ph.D. in food science and technology, Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa, USA)
Job title Vice president of sciences
Employer Guittard Chocolate Co. (San Francisco, California, USA)


What’s a typical day like for you?

Typically, my days involve leading cross-functional meetings to enable effective manufacturing, innovation, and production.

Flash back to when you were 10 years old. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an electrical engineer when I was in middle school. In fact, I taught myself basic electrical engineering and did electrical wiring in my parents’ and neighbors’ houses.

Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?

In 1977, I was assigned by the Chinese government to study oil processing. My passion for fats and oils, however, was developed in graduate school under the late Professor Guoqi Han, who was one of the pioneering researchers into oil chemistry in China. Then, during my doctoral study at Iowa State University, the late Professor Earl Hammond broadened my view from oil chemistry to oil biochemistry and food sciences.

Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of? Why?

I conducted a systematic study on chemical interesterification in the 1990s. The study was published in the Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society (81: 331–337, 2004) and its key application was patented in US Patent 6238926B1. This study revealed the essential role of alpha-proton, the mechanism of byproduct formation, and a technique for monitoring interesterification; the technology was recognized by peers as a breakthrough and has been adopted by the global oils and fats industry.

What event, person, or life experience has had the most influence on the direction of your life?

I was born in China during the Great Starvation (1959–1962) and grew up during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) in Mao’s [Chairman Mao Zedong, 1893–1976] communist China. Poverty and political madness might be the most striking events impacting my life. In middle school, I began studying electrical engineering and mechanics in the hope of having a better future life and dodging the political nonsense.


How do you relax after a hard day of work?

I like to read Bailey’s Industrial Oil and Fat Products and Beckett’s Industrial Chocolate and Manufacture and Use in my spare time, both of which have given me the most joy professionally and intellectually. In fact, I have read all the editions of Bailey’s; my favorite is the third edition.

What skill would you like to master?

I look forward to mastering the skill of fine-chocolate manufacturing because cocoa butter presents the most intriguing formulation challenges for an oil chemist with its variety of polymorphic crystal structures. As a technical leader, I have been optimizing innovation management, which is considered to be an emerging science and would improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the commercialization of technology.

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?

Becoming a chocolate maker and applying best practices in the commercialization of technology.

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