Two Food Science Doctoral Students Honored by Chemists Society

Ruojie “Vanessa” Zhang
Ruojie “Vanessa” Zhang
Zipei “Zach” Zhang
Zipei “Zach” Zhang

Two doctoral students of food science professor David Julian McClements recently received awards from the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS) at its annual meeting in May in Minneapolis and at the Gordon Research Conference in June in Holyoke.

McClements reports that Ruojie “Vanessa” Zhang won the Honored Student Award, the Lipid Chemistry and Nutrition Award and the Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship for the 2017-18 academic year. She also was awarded first place in the poster awards in the Edible Applications Technology section for her poster, “Control of protein digestion under simulated gastrointestinal conditions using biopolymer microgels.”

The Smouse fellowship carries a $10,000 stipend, $5,000 in research and travel funds and an award lecture at the AOCS annual meeting. Further, she recently got the excellent graduate research award in “Nanoscale Science and Engineering for Agriculture and Food System” at the 2018 Gordon Research Conference.

Zipei “Zach” Zhang won the Hans Kaunitz Award for the 2017-18 academic year, as well as an excellent poster award in the AOCS’s Health and Nutrition division for his poster, “Edible hydrogel beads fabrication with self-regulating microclimate pH properties: Retention of enzyme activity after exposure to gastric conditions.” In addition, he received the Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship for the 2018-19 academic year, as well as the 2018 Gideon “Guy” Livingston Scholarship from Phi Tau Sigma, the honor society for food scientists.

Both of them were invited to give speeches in the “Proteins for Delivery Functions” section at this year’s AOCS annual meeting. Zach gave a talk titled “Development of Protein-based Filled Hydrogels for Oral Delivery of Lipophilic Active Ingredients.” Vanessa gave a talk on “Design of Alginate Based Microgels for Protein Encapsulation and Delivery: pH Triggered Release.”

McClements says, “Both students have done an incredible job while working in my laboratory and are a real credit to UMass. During their Ph.D. research, they have both published over 35 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and have won several highly competitive honors. I’m delighted that they have received such recognition for their efforts in food science research.”