My research focuses on the transport phenomena (e.g. mass, fluid flow and energy transfer) in food and biomaterial processing. The goal of my research is to better understand the mechanisms of the complex change of the physiochemical properties of food during the process, transport and storage, which will subsequently help optimizing process sustainability and improving food quality and safety. To achieve this goal, our lab focuses on developing advanced physics based mechanistic models and uses a multidisciplinary approach that involves food process engineering, fluid mechanics, and applied mathematics.
The current interests in our lab are divided in several categories:
Mechanistic Understanding of the Interfacial Dynamics in Food Dispersion Systems. Food dispersions (e.g. foams, gels, and emulsions) accounts for a large part of the contemporary food industry. Common examples of food dispersion include milk, butter, salad dressing, beer etc. major components of the human and animal diet. Food dispersions typically exhibit complex rheological property in the bulk and the interface due to the presence of surface-active agent (surfactant) that occurs naturally (e.g. lecithin, proteins) and/or added commercially. Characterizing the interfacial dynamics is of critical importance to the quality and stability of food dispersions. Our lab is currently conducting research to understand the synergistic effect of surfactant transport and bulk rheology on fundamental processes related to the stability of food dispersions such as drop/bubble coalescences and film drainages.
Fouling Layer Growth and Removal Mechanisms. In the dairy industry, fouling on the surfaces of thermal process equipment is a serious issue because of its adverse impact on the efficiency of the thermal process. The formation of fouling increases pressure drops and reduces heat transfer efficiency, and consequently affects the economy of processing plant. The negative impact on heat transfer efficiency can further cause serious food safety issue. Our lab is interested in developing computational tools to better understanding the fundamental mechanisms of how fouling layer formed on the heat exchanger surface and its further growth during the heating process of dairy product such as milk. The study will focus on how the layered structure can affect hydrodynamics, heat and mass transfer, as well as reactions in the heat exchanger. In addition, we are also developing mechanistic models to enhance the understanding of how soft fouling layers are removed using physical based methods such as jet impingement, and droplet or microbubble impact in an effort to achieve a more sustainable process.
Understanding the PharmacoMicrobiomics of Narrow Therapeutic Drugs. Microbiome-mediated drug biotransformation can lead to significant interpersonal variations in drug efficacy and toxicity. However, the extent of such bacteria-drug interactions and its contribution to drug metabolism remain poorly understood. A systematic examination of microbial metabolism and intraluminal drug concentrations will contribute to a better understanding of bacterial contribution to drug and metabolite exposure. Our lab will develop Physiological Based Pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models as important tools to quantitatively understand the contribution of bacterial biotransformation to drug metabolism.