B.S: Gujarat Agricultural University, Anand, India
M.S: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
PhD: Texas A&M University, College Stattion, TX
Research in our laboratory spans the cereal grain value chain with focus on cereal grain quality, processing and ingredient interactions, and on consumer acceptability and health. A significant number of HQP also have a research focus on starch structure and architecture, and on digestibility of starch following hydrothermal treatments.
Research on grain quality (8 HQPs), in collaboration with cereal breeding companies, grain farmers of Ontario and processors, focuses on profiling Ontario wheats for functionality and nutritional attributes including antioxidant activity, fibre content, and phenolic content. Focus is also on developing new techniques to assess flour quality for different end uses and to understand/explore differences in gluten protein aggregation kinetics and develop a better understanding of the nature of network. This research has been underway over the past year and is funded by the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Council with contributions from the Ontario Cereal Industry Research Council (OCIRC), Kellogg, Kraft, Kraft Canada Mill, Dow AgroSciences, C&M seeds, Grain Farmers of Ontario and Brabender GmbH. Another aspect of work with breeders and processors relates to the chemistry and sensory properties/consumer acceptance of whole grain products, with specific focus on red vs white wheats and within different kinds of product matrices.
Research on processing and ingredient interactions has three broad focus areas; 1) Understanding kinetics and changes during the baking process: Knowledge gained from the areas of polymer science and thermodynamics have demonstrated that the particular hydrothermal conditions experienced by the starch granule is critical to the nature and type of structure set in the product that in turn governs all aspects related to product shelf stability and digestibility. Through a series of publications, work in our laboratory has demonstrated that the baking process is a variable in itself and can be potentially modulated to create different structures in the product and influence shelf stability. Current work extends that concept and we are working in collaboration (and funds) with Kraft and other companies to map the physicochemical changes in products as they evolve in real-time baking in a commercial facility. Based on data to-date, we have been able to advice companies on different strategies to conserve energy during baking and modulate textural and sensory attribute of products. 2) The behavior of starch in concentrated systems: All of our understanding of the role and functionality of starches in foods derives from experiments conducted under dilute systems. However, in a multi-component product system, there are not many instances where starch is used in a dilute condition or where there is no other competition for water in the food matrix. Research from our laboratory has made significant contributions to this body of research and demonstrated that the extent of starch granule swelling, polymer leaching and the structure established are strongly associated with the amount of water present in the system and the kinetics of time-temperature regimen experienced by the starch granule during heating and cooling impact of processing on health.
Elucidation of starch granule structure and architecture
The study of the starch granule continues to engage scientists because of the simplicity of constituent molecules that make up starch and the complexity of the organization of these molecules in the granular form. Natural and induced mutations in corn provide a diverse range of materials to investigate various aspects of starch biosynthesis, starch structure and functionality. Work in my laboratory (collaborations between myself, students, and colleagues) has elucidated the impact of genetic and environmental interactions on starch structure and function; and, work in my lab has demonstrated that the constituent polymers that comprise starch are not easily classified into two groups as the linear amylose molecule and the branched amylopectin molecule. Rather, we have shown that these constituent polymers are in fact a series of polymers ranging from linear to branched, depending on several factors including genetics and environment. Moreover, the proportion of these polymers further defines their functional properties. More recently, we have made a significant discovery on the mobility of these polymers within a native granule at very low moisture contents. We have demonstrated this mobility using a novel technique developed in our laboratory using iodine vapor to bind mobile polymers at different water activities. This observation, and the technique used to demonstrate this mobility, has spawned a series of experiments in our laboratory that show promise in understanding starch granular architecture, that highlight the differences in the nature of organization of the constituent polymers in starches from different species/mutants, and that begin to provide some explanations for the differences in behavior of starches from different sources in food and non-food systems (see section B below). Further investigations in this area, currently underway in my laboratory, will have significant impact in addressing some of the fundamental unanswered questions in the area of starch granule crystal initiation and architectural makeup.
- 2009. Optimization of oat and barley β-glucan bioactivity in cereal-based bakery products.$185,000
- 2008. NSERC. Understanding Starch Granular Architecture. $44,000
- 2008. NSERC Instrumentation Grant. Acquisition of a Konica Minolta Multifunctional Top Port Spectrophotometer (Model CM-3500d) to investigate starch granule architecture . $22,000
- 2008. OMAFRA. Exploration of soy isoflavone-enriched bread in relation to improved formulation and sensory attrib- utes and cardiovascular disease risk. $50,000
- 2008. OMAFRA. Understanding the behaviour of oil-water-monoglyceride nanostructures in baked food matrices and evaluating human health benefits following consumption of these products $228,000
- 2009. OMAFRA. Characterizing the sensory attributes of whole grain wheat-based products and the phenolics associated with these attributes $191,500
The next session of the Fundamentals of Wheat Flour Properties short course will be held in May 2013.