Name: Tong Ding
Hometown: Qingdao, China
Degree Pursuing: Food Science M.S.
Adviser: David Baumler
Research Title: Analysis of Salmonella strains using genome-scale metabolic models
Salmonella infection remains a great concern all over the world, as certain strains evolved with unique metabolic capabilities to adapt to stressful niches such as the human macrophage. My project uses computational modeling along with experimental characterization to explore the differences in metabolic capabilities among pathogenic Salmonella strains in various niches, and the goal is to identify unique metabolic properties and related gene targets for the development of novel pathogen control strategies.
How did you become interested in food science?
Food is fascinating to me. Compared to the most dangerous chemical reactions, every food-related reaction sounds yummy (ex. Maillard reaction). Fortunately, my background in biochemistry encouraged me to pursue the study in Food Science.
Why did you choose the University of Minnesota?
My experience as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota Duluth made me love everything about Minnesota except the cold winter. I decided to pursue a M.S. degree in Food Science at UMN, and the Baumler lab is like a warm family for me in the cold winter here.
How does your research tie into the research being done in your adviser's lab?
The Baumler lab uses systems biology as an approach to develop novel strategies solving food safety problems, and my project on constructing computational models to analyze food-borne pathogens ties in with my adviser's work.