Faculty Spotlight: Yue Zhang

Yue Zhang
Yue Zhang
About Yue Zhang:
I grew up in a peaceful town of half a million people in East China. I earned my bachelor’s degree in chemistry and Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Wuhan University, China. I studied the binding of serum albumin with drugs, toxicants to understand their distribution, metabolism and efficacy in the body, as well as the effect of nanoparticles on mitochondria to help learning the toxicity of those nanoparticles. I came to the U.S. in 2011 and worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the food biophysics group at University of Tennessee for four years. I studied the physical properties of dairy proteins and worked on the encapsulation of various bioactive compounds in dairy proteins. I also developed a low-energy and solvent-free encapsulation method and demonstrated its prospect to deliver antimicrobials to enhance the microbial safety and quality of fresh produce.

What is your position at UNL?
I joined the Department of Food Science and Technology at UNL as an assistant professor in August. I will be teaching a course on food chemistry this semester and developing a new course on food physical chemistry. I will begin to form a research group focused on the fabrication and characterization of food-grade delivery systems of bioactive food components and additives, as well as the molecular interactions of biopolymers with other food components. Thermal analytical and rheological methods will be employed to evaluate the correlations between molecular interactions, structures and functionalities of food systems.

What drew you to UNL?
I was drawn to UNL by the opportunity to conduct research in the brand new Food Innovation Center and develop new and in-depth collaborations with international companies and experts.

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
The opportunity to interact with students and faculty to discuss and address questions together. 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My background is physical chemistry and I relied on it when I started my postdoc and began the first assigned project of decoloring cheese whey. I developed a physical method for decoloration and finished the project successfully. It not only brought me good ideas but it also strengthened my resolve to transform my knowledge and experience into the improvement of food production.

What is something most people don't know about you?
I have tried to learn to play the guitar and flute, but I gave up quickly.  I hope I can pick up them one day.

What is your life like outside of work?
I like travelling, reading and cooking. On the weekends I like to hang out with my husband and go to the theater to watch a new-release movie.