Saturday, June 2, 2018

My research as a gateway to travel, to knowledge wonderland, and self-improvement

My research as a gateway to travel, to knowledge wonderland, and self-improvement

By: Sihui Lang

Three years ago, I started preparing to apply to Chapman University’s Food Science Program. At that time, I never imagined that three year later, I would have three scientific published papers and attend three scientific meetings seen below!

AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo 2017

IFT Annual Meeting 2017

AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo 2018

This year, American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) Annual Meeting and Expo 2018 was held in Minneapolis, MN. AOCS mainly focuses on the science and technology of oils, fats, proteins, surfactants and other related materials, which tied well with my research on protein and phenol oxidation interactions: chlorogenic acid covalently bonds with amino groups to form green pigments in sunflower butter cookies when we add baking soda. During the Annual Meeting and Expo, there were more than 1,600 attendees and about 500 different presentations and posters on novel technologies and science information on lipid and protein extraction, purification, processing, or application. This year, I was most interested in and attended the speeches or looked for the posters of functions of oilseeds and protein (mainly about pulse protein) and new methods in using of oil and proteins.

There were so many interesting topics, for example,

I.       Nutrition: the application of medium-chain triglycerides/ MCT oil on Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s diseases and the need for more studies to determine if MCT oil could prevent Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s diseases.
II.          Protein products on application of pulse protein to mimic the texture of real meat such as chicken; application of insect protein or oil in food products; establishing novel emulsions using pulse protein or starch; using by products from extraction or purification as biofuel and using potato peptides as antioxidant in food products, etc.

When I took research methods in 2016, I chose my lay audience topic on mango kernel oil, which is rich in Triglyceride to replace or make oil blends to prevent the blooming of chocolate at room temperature. Coincidentally, during the AOCS meeting, there was an oral presentation on Preparation of Mango Kernel fat stearin using 2-methylpentane and its application in heat-resistant chocolate fats. Instead of a theorical hypothesis, the presenters were trying to use it in production of the real world. Additionally, our 2017 FSNSA president Tara Okuma had a topic on CRISPR-Cas9, a gene editor for her FSN 660 lay audience topic and during the AOCS meeting, there were three topics related to the application of CRISPR-Cas9 to improve the yield of oilseeds or change the lipid profile during culture. I am so proud of our food science program that it is on the cutting edge of the latest science, technology and modern trends, and I was able to relate what was introduced in class with specific topics in a scientific meeting!
My advisor Dr. Lilian Were always encouraged us to attend scientific meetings where we could have a chance to get close to the most recent scientific topics and methods, to meet and get to know more brilliant scientists and professionals. This time, I presented my research on “Greening, reducing capacity, and protein oxidation in sunflower butter cookies as a function of different acidic ingredients”, as a novel topic. People were mostly curious about the sensory evaluation and consumers’ acceptance of sunflower butter cookies greening, which could be a major focus for future studies.
In addition to learning tons about new technologies and gaining more knowledge, the best part of attending awesome scientific meetings, such as AOCS and IFT, is also making new friends with other intelligent scientists and technologists. I feel that we are trying our best to make our world better! AOCS is not as big as IFT, but it can let you get close to all the topics you are interested in and ask or discuss questions with the presenters. In addition, as AOCS mainly focuses on oil, lipid and protein, the topics were more specific compared to IFT, and AOCS can give you time to think about what you’ve learned during the meeting.
After a poster presentation in IFT and two oral presentations in AOCS, if you are also doing research and will attend scientific meetings, I would suggest oral presentation because during your presentation time, the audiences focuses on your presentation and asks questions after, which is more efficient and specific. Slides (with animation) and your speech provide more information and communication. I think doing the poster presentation is harder because of you need to have a very interesting catchy topic (the TITLE) and well organized and standout poster, otherwise the audiences may just glance over your poster and pass by without saying a word!
I feel so grateful that Dr. Lilian Were was my thesis advisor. She has always been supportive and encouraged me to do things that allow me to become a better student and worker. I could not have accomplished all my achievement without her guidance, motivation, and selfless help. I really appreciate everything she did for me. Many thanks to all my brilliant lab mates: Amanda, Joele, Lan, and Natalie for always being by my side and supporting me! I’d like to thank Chapman University, Schmid College of Science & Technology for their financial aid to support me to go to Minneapolis and get the chance to learn a lot and make myself better.