By Morgan Wolfe
Through an international study abroad journey from China to the United States, PhD student, Ziyi Linghu discovered her passion for food science and industry and fatefully made her way to Kansas State University. Originally from Shanghai, China, Linghu focused her schooling around biochemistry and technology. It wasn’t until she studied at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for her master’s degree that she realized she was missing out on a whole new world that interested her: food science and industry.
“My roommate was an undergrad food science student,” Linghu said. “She drew me in very quickly. I started attending tons of seminars and events that promoted food science and industry.”
In fact, it was at one of these events that Linghu got connected with K-State. During her attendence at an IFT conference, Linghu crossed paths with Dr. J. Scott. Smith, where they had a lengthy discussion about her passion for chemistry.
“Dr. Smith was amazing,” Linghu remarked. “He told me to submit an application at K-State for the PhD program, so I did. I remember later on, I emailed him, worried if he would remember me or not. Luckily, he said he remembered me exactly!”
It wasn’t long after her interaction with Dr. Smith that Linghu landed in Manhattan, Kansas at the doors of The Food Science Institute in 2014.
“My first year here was really hard,” Linghu commented. “I didn’t have any friends, and it was an adjustment time for me. But it quickly changed. The other graduate students are super friendly, and we all help each other out. Dr. Smith is really great too; he always invites us over or has little parties at his house.”
For the last seven months, Linghu spent her time in Battle Creek, Michigan interning with Kellogg’s as a food chemist, a position she described as an amazing experience. Last fall, Kellogg’s made the visit to K-State to seek potential employees and interns.
“They hired me due to my strong background in food chemistry,” Linghu mentioned. “They asked me what kind of technology and equipment I had experience using; luckily, K-State uses the same stuff as they do, so it worked out perfectly. I hope to go back to Kellogg’s in the future, but I’m still very open to other places. I have my list; Kellog’s is at the top.”
Currently, Linghu is researching food chemistry and toxicology, specifically food carcinogens in cooked meat. Why is it being formed in meat, and how can we alter food ingredients to reduce food carcinogens? Linghu spends much of her time finding strategies to reduce the formation in cooked meats.
“I enjoy my research because it is a meaningful project,” Linghu stated. “I get to display the information I find to the people – something that is important to public health.”
Beyond her research studies, Linghu has teamed with master’s student, Yuda Ou, to compete in a food science competition regarding food marketing in China. The goal of the competition is to launch an innovative food product that fits the healthy snack trend. Additionally, Linghu is a member of the food science club and acts as a coach for the K-State graduate school research forum.
Her teammate Yuda Ou believes that Linghu is a very talented and goal oriented team player.
“She understands how to combine her in-depth food science knowledge in the current food market trends in an innovative way to create a unique product,” Ou said.
Despite her busy schedule and packed-on extracurriculars, Linghu finds time to relax and unwind doing the things she loves.
“I often attend Zumba classes at the rec center, and I love to watch Gordon Ramsey’s cooking shows,” Linghu chuckled. “Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef, and Master Chef Junior; it’s amazing what those little kids can do!”
It’s certainly clear from Linghu’s classmates and superiors that she is an outstanding individual in the K-State food science community. Because of her, others are motivated to learn more, do more and think more creatively about food science and industry. We are eager to witness the amazing things Ziyi Linghu will complete in her upcoming years.