Dr. Lingyan Kong
The research interests of Dr. Kong research group are to understand the structure-function relationships in food biopolymers at the molecular, microscopic and macroscopic levels, and to develop food materials of unique structures and properties for improving food quality and nutritional benefits. We value interdisciplinary and collaborative research projects that integrate knowledge from food science, nutrition, physical chemistry, and materials science. Our in-depth inquiry in the field of food science and nutrition should ultimately aim at finding solutions for a safe, nutritious, and affordable food supply that enhances quality of life and human health.
We are looking for enthusiastic undergraduate, graduate students and visiting students/scholars to join our group.
Despite intensive research on the polymorphic crystalline structures of starch, there are still many uncertainties and contradictions. We use various microscopic, spectroscopic, and crystallographic techniques to elucidate structural details of starch polymorphs and their interconversions. A more complete understanding of starch structure will help explain its functions in food and for health.
Dietary Fiber & Resistant Starch
Dietary fiber is the portion of plant food that cannot be completely broken down by human digestive enzymes. Research has shown that dietary fiber may benefit health in several different ways. Resistant starch, the enzyme-resistant portion of starch, may be considered as part of the dietary fiber and have a host of health benefits.
Flavors are often the most expensive ingredients in a product formulation. Flavor stability and release behavior are significant quality and acceptability factors for food, but they are difficult to control. We are developing innovative solution to the challenges of food flavor uses, including extended release of aromas, improved stability of flavors, taste masking, and off-flavor scavenging.
Biopolymer-based nanofibers possess various advantages, such as their biodegradability, biocompatibility, and sustainable supply, which make them potentially useful for food packaging and biomedical applications. We have been developing biopolymer nanofibers using the electrospinning technique and exploring their reinforcement using nanostructured fillers.
Microgreens are young and tender vegetable greens, and represent an exotic class of specialty crops. This project seeks to optimize postharvest conditions to improve the nutritional and sensorial quality, shelf life, and microbial food safety of microgreens grown in Alabama.
We are developing supramolecular guest-host structures, including starch-guest inclusion complexes, as delivery systems for guest molecules of interest such that the active guests, such as essential fatty acids, lipophilic vitamins, and drugs, can be protected against the adverse environment, and their bioavailability may be increased.
The size of the delivery system significantly influences the release rate and, hence, the bioavailability and functional activity of the guest compounds. This project involves fabricating micro-and nano-scale particles containing starch-guest inclusion complex. Starch micro- and nanoparticles have the potential as functional ingredients in food, nutrition, and pharmaceutical formulation.
A tree nut is a fruit composed of an inedible hard shell and a seed, and grow in trees. Tree nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. In general, nuts are good sources of fat, fiber and protein. In addition, tree nuts contain various types of phytochemicals that warrant more exploration.