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Food Scientist Rao Honored by Chemists Society
North Dakota Ag Connection - 05/20/2022

Jiajia Rao, assistant professor in the NDSU food science and cereal science programs, received the American Oil Chemists' Society Young Scientist Research Award for 2022 during the organization's annual meeting.

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 research at AOCS meetings.

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," Rao said.

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. The work includes improving plant protein functionality and developing delivery systems for encapsulating bioactive ingredients.

Since 2015, she has procured more than $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.

She earned her bachelor's degree at Sichuan University of Science and Engineering, China; master's degree in pharmacochemistry from Chongqing University, China; and doctorate in food science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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