Food Science, Department of Chemistry
I have been with the Food Science program at Carleton since 2008 where I conduct research and teach courses related to nutrition and food chemistry. Before joining Carleton, I worked as a visiting fellow at the Food and Bio-products division of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Saskatoon, SK) and later as a research associate in human nutritional sciences at the University of Manitoba, MB.
- What is your area of interest/research?
I have an interest in nutrition and in understanding the impact of specific food molecules on health. Some of my works include the biochemistry of human milk, the identification of novel peptides, and their role in infant health. I am also interested in finding new peptides from cereals and then elucidating their contribution to 1) the quality of foods; 2) the reduction of inflammation; 3) the regulation of enzymes; 4) the absorption of essential minerals or the detoxification of harmful ones, such as arsenic.
- What drew you to Food Science? What excites you about it?
The work I am doing is quite interesting. It is now clear that foods provide more than energy and nutrients. There is a relationship between diet and health. A food meanwhile can contain thousand of molecules and the excitement is being able to identify the ones responsible for their biological function through a series of experiments that involve analytical chemistry, biochemistry, molecular modeling, and molecular biology.
- Why is it important for society to know?
The human body is highly regulated and is able in most cases to eliminate toxicants some of which are normal products of metabolism. However, with excess energy intake, ageing, exposure to environment toxic and even oxidised food, the body can no longer maintain its balances. The consequence is increased of risk of developing chronic diseases. The research performed in my laboratory is important because it aims to identify molecules often from food by-proteins (i.e., wastes) that can improve the quality of many foods, but also help humans fight inflammation and related conditions.
- What course(s) do you teach? What is your favourite course to teach and why?
I teach three courses, two courses at the undergraduate level and one at the graduate. They are all very interesting at least from my point of view. The second year course covers various aspects of nutrition. Students learn the role nutrients and their contribution to energy and health. They students enjoy performing the analysis of their diet to determine excess or deficiency of a particular nutrient and propose changes to improve the nutritional adequacy of their diet. The third year course covers the chemistry of foods. Here students, use chemical equations, show the flavour of foods, colour changes during storages, or processing (e.g., cooking, baking/grilling) of foods. I like the course, as students will look at the food differently, they will themselves for example, why do we have this colour or flavour? What is the chemical or enzymatic reaction taking place?
- What makes the Food Science Program unique here at Carleton?
The specificity of the Carleton’s Food Science program relies on the strong emphasis of science, economy and policy. Concerning the science, our graduates have deep knowledge of various analytical and molecular techniques to identify not only healthy molecules. This is important for nutritious and safe foods.
- Describe yourself in three words.
Patient, Rigorous, Ambitious