Magazine article American Scientist

Meet Your Fellow Companion: Hailong Yu

Magazine article American Scientist

Meet Your Fellow Companion: Hailong Yu

Article excerpt

This issue, we are excited to feature Dr. Hailong Yu, currently a research scientist in the Biogums Innovation Group at CP Kelco. Following his master's studies in genetics, microbiology and immunology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and the receipt of his Ph.D. in food science from Rutgers, Yu's work today can be seen on the shelves of your local grocery store and pantry. As the world of food science bends toward creating healthier options for consumers, Yu's talents and skills will no doubt continue to be in high demand.

What is the focus of your current research?

My current research focuses on studying the structure-function relationship of polysaccharides and the generation of novel fermentation-based polysaccharides for food, personal care and industry applications.

Tell us about something we might see in our daily lives that directly correlates to your work.

Salad dressing is a mixture of water, oil and spices. To make it stable during storage, easy to pour, able to cling to the salad and have a pleasant mouth feel, xanthan gum is put into the dressing to function as a thickening agent. Part of my work is to modulate the chemical structure of xanthan gum so that it can be accommodated into different foods with varying pH and salt content.

Give us an example of how multidisciplinary research directly contributed to your work.

In my Ph.D. research, to generate proper formulations to improve the oral bioavailability of curcumin, cell biology experiments were primarily performed to identify the key factor of the low absorption of curcumin. Subsequently, nanotechnology and physical chemistry knowledge was used to prepare the formulations, during which statistical method of experimental design was used in the optimization process. Finally, the oral bioavailability of the formulated curcumin was demonstrated in pharmaceutical experiments.

What are your thoughts on the future of STEM education?

Basic and applied research is one of the key factors of the competitiveness of a country. STEM education is die only way to generate the qualified scientists needed to perform the research. I believe that more resources and socia attention should be put into STEM education, to keep the United States in a leading position in the world. …

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