Wang’s Lipid and Protein Innovation Lab

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Research Areas

  1. Characterization of bioactive lipids: We use conventional TLC, HPLC, and GC-MS to characterize different classes of lipids, such as terpenoids from hemp extract (shown to be effective bioinsecticides and biofungicides when dispersed as nanoemulsions), phospholipids and glycolipids in microalgae, and other bioactive lipids such as tocotrienols, astaxanthins, and sphingolipids in oleaginous biomass.
    This figure shows the fractionation of CBD hemp and the main and by-productsThis chart shows the comparison of hemp terpene nanoemulsion’s disease reduction effect against hemp powdery mildew in comparison to other commercial formulations.This is an example of HPLC analysis of lipid classes in different types of microalgae.
  2. Lipid oxidation and stabilization: We study how the lipid’s molecular structure, such as a pendent hydroxyl group (free vs substituted), affects the kinetics of lipid oxidation. We also study how to prevent lipid oxidation in bulk oil or in dispersion systems, such as model emulsions and processed meat products.    
    These trends show how lipid oxidation rate is affected by structure and temperature.
  3. Synthesis and evaluation of functional lipids, such as biobased waxes: We use domestic vegetable oil as feedstock to make wax-like materials that can mimic paraffin and carnauba wax’s properties. We investigate the synergistic effect among different classes of lipidic compounds found in wax matrices, so we can deliver tunable properties by engineering molecular composition, nanoscale and mesoscale crystallinity (by SAXS), thermal, mechanical, and coating and barrier properties of the biowaxes.
    This illustration shows the making of a high-melting and hard and glossy biowax.This shows the characterization of lipids at different length scale.This illustrates x-ray diffraction pattern of wax mixtures, and their melting profiles.Coating and moisture loss of oranges with emulsions made from different types of waxes.
  4. Lipid extraction and fractionation: We explore environmentally friendly methods and conditions to maximize and optimize lipid extraction from corn fermentation by-products, microbial biomass, egg yolk, and dairy processing byproduct streams.
    Separation of oil from corn stillage after ethanol fermentationSalt precipitation of dairy phospholipids from wheyVarious steps for recovering polar lipids from dairy processing by-products
  5. Protein chemistry and novel applications: We investigate protein derived compounds that are effective in inhibiting ice recrystallization and growth. These biobased and safe alternatives to the synthesized industrial chemicals have potentials to be used in frozen storage of food and biomaterials to prevent freezing induced damage to food structure and cells.
    Derivatives of food proteins as antifreezing agentsEvaluation of their effectiveness in a model system and soft cheesesThis chart shows how salt concentration affect 2nd structure of peptides and their antifreezing activity.

Examples of Recent Trainees

  • Francisco Layva-Gutierrez, PhD: Research Scientist, BroadPharm
  • Zifan Wan, PhD: Assistant Professor, Food Science, University of Wisconsin
  • Linxing Yao, PhD: Proteomics and Metabolomics Facility, Colorado State University
  • Jose Gerde, PhD: Faculty of Universidad Nacional de Rosario/CONICET, Argentina
  • Guang Wang, PhD: R&D Director, Bunge-Loders Croklaan
  • Hui Wang, PhD: Sr. Technical Manager, Protein Processing, ADM
  • Karamat Rezaei, PhD: Professor of the Department of Food Science, Engineering and Technology, University of Tehran, Iran
  • Lei Fang, PhD: Manager of Technical Services, AgCertain Industries, Inc.
  • Fei Tao, PhD: Research Assistant Professor, School of Food Science and Engineering, Hainan University
  • Brett Brothers, MS: Associate Food Designers, Kellanova
  • Carmen Au, MS: Senior R&D Manager at Pilgrim’s

Awards and Honors for the Work of Wang’s Team

  • UTK GSS (Graduate Student Senate) Outstanding Graduate Student Support Award, 2024
  • AOCS (American Oil Chemists’ Society) Best Paper Award; ADM Best Paper in Protein and Co-Products Division, 2023
  • UTIA’s Charles E. Wharton Institute Professor, 2022 (
  • AOCS Alton E. Bailey Award for Outstanding Research and Exceptional Service in the Field of Lipids and Associated Products, 2020 (;
  • AOCS Best Paper Award; ADM Best Paper in Protein and Co-Products Division, 2020
  • Endowed Jean Bacon Louis Faculty Fellow, Iowa State University (ISU), 2017
  • AOCS Society Fellow, 2016
  • Iowa State University Mid-Career Achievement in Research, 2014
  • American Oil Chemists’ Society’s Timothy L. Mounts Award for Excellence of Research in Basic or Applied Edible Oils, 2013
  • Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Mid-Career Achievement in Research Award, 2012
  • Women of Innovation in Research Innovation and Leadership, Technology Association of Iowa, 2009
  • Iowa State University College of Agriculture Early Achievement in Research Award, 2004
  • Iowa State University Graduate Research Excellence Award, 1998
  • AOCS Honored Student Award, 1997

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Research Supported By

U.S. National Science Foundation
United States Department of Agriculture and National Institute of Food and Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service
United Soybean Board
Midwest Dairy Council
National Dairy Council
Egg Industry Center
University of Tennessee AgResearch
Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment with the Tickle College of Engineering at University of Tennessee