Jiajia Rao
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NDSU Food Scientist Receives Oil Chemists’ Young Scientist Research Award

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North Dakota State University (NDSU) Department of Plant Sciences faculty member Jiajia Rao received the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) Young Scientist Research Award for 2022 during the AOCS annual meeting on May 1-4, 2022. Rao is an assistant professor in the NDSU Food Science and Cereal Science programs.

The Young Scientist Research Award, sponsored by the International Food Science Centre A/S, recognizes a young scientist who has made a significant research contribution in one of the topics represented by AOCS Divisions. Rao has chaired technical sessions on plant proteins in the AOCS Protein and Co-Products Division, and she and her students have presented their research at AOCS meetings, helping to advance this topic within the Society and beyond. Rao has been involved in the AOCS since she was a student. She won the AOCS Honored Student Award in 2012. 

“Being a recipient of the AOCS Young Scientist Research Award will inspire me to continue to contribute to my research program at NDSU and the long-term growth of AOCS by offering mentorship to graduate students and young professionals in the future,” says Rao.

Rao has worked at NDSU since 2015, where her research focus is on identifying the structural and functional properties of food ingredients from agricultural crops, such as pulses, industrial hemp, oat and barley, and their application in food. This includes improving plant protein functionality and developing delivery systems for encapsulating bioactive ingredients. Since 2015, she has procured over $1 million in research funding, including grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the food industry and commodity groups, and she has published more than 70 peer-reviewed articles. 

Rao has mentored 10 graduate students, six postdoctoral research scientists and four visiting scientists. She also teaches courses in food unit operations, food ingredient technology, food product development and cereal and food chemistry.

Author: Kamie Beeson
Editor: Karen Hertsgaard