- December 2018
Years in Position: 1
Years at MSU: 1
Yan Zhang works as a Postdoctoral Associate at the Experimental Seafood Processing Laboratory in Pascagoula. He handles various analytical tools and technologies and studies the physical, microbiological and chemical makeup of foods. He and his team work to develop safe, nutritious foods with extended shelf-life.
“We can use our knowledge to solve problems for the food industry and benefit the local economy,” Yan said.
Their research is in the catfish industry, and because Mississippi is the leading catfish producer, they hope to benefit the state’s rural communities. Scientifically, this study can also provide new physical, biochemical, kinetic and engineering information needed for optimal manufacturing and applications which can be used in other fish products.
“My interest in food science developed after I attended college. It is really wonderful to produce nutritious, delicious, and safe foods through understanding of the chemistry of food components, such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats and water and the reactions they undergo during processing and storage,” Yan said.
What people may not know about Yan’s job is that Food Science is a multi-disciplinary field involving chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition, microbiology statistics, and engineering to give one the scientific knowledge to solve real problems associated with the many facets of the food system.
“Food science is essentially an applied science. But it is vital to master all-round basic sciences. If a student wants to be a good food scientist, he/she needs to learn as much pertinent knowledge as possible, which is not limited to what is taught in the classroom,” Yan advised. “Hard work is always my motto and the key to success. In addition, as a scientist, always keep passion and curiosity to the unknown.”
Yan enjoyed playing tennis and badminton when he lived in Starkville. However, since his move to Pascagoula in July, he has missed the Sanderson Center on campus. Yan said that he has found other enjoyments, such as running on the beach and exploring the beautiful coastal scenery.