Name: Ana Clemente
Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Degree Pursuing: Food Science M.S.
Adviser: Ted Labuza
Research Title: DNA nanotechnology: Developing and Analyzing a new tool for sensing allergens
My research focuses on developing a sensing tool to detect milk allergens by using aptamers targeting the protein and liquid crystal as the sensor material. Allergens have become an increasing concern, every year the number of people getting sick due to undeclared allergens in foods is increasing. Undeclared allergens are the number one cause of recalls in the US. Most undeclared allergens end up in foods due to cross-contact, a method is needed to combat this issue in the industry.
How did you become interested in food science?
I think my first interest in food science arose during high school, when I decided that I wanted a profession where I could contribute to people's healthy lives with a proper scientific background. With that in mind, I decided to apply for a chemistry major with a food science minor, because I thought the chemistry major with a food science background would make it a better applicable science for everyday lives.
Why did you choose the University of Minnesota?
Once I finished my undergraduate degree I knew that I wanted to go for a Food Science M.S. outside of Brazil so I started looking for schools in the US. Minnesota was always my first choice because I knew the area, I lived in Wisconsin for a year during my undergraduate years doing an interchange program, and also the University of Minnesota is a top-ranking university with an outstanding food science program.
How does your research tie into the research being done in your adviser's lab?
Our lab focuses on food safety especially allergens, and this collaborative project tied in with one of our goals towards developing a more simple method for allergens detection that can be implemented soon.
What are your future plans?
After graduation, I would like to return to Brazil and would like to contribute positively in the food industry of Brazil with all the knowledge and experience acquired throughout this M.S. degree.