Food Science and Technology
At the beginning of the past school year, I was given the opportunity to join Dr. Steve Schwartz’s lab group as an undergraduate research assistant. Dr. Schwartz specializes in carotenoids, phytochemicals and functional foods related to chronic disease prevention. Carotenoid compounds are colored compounds found in many fruits and vegetables (for example, lycopene is the red compound which gives tomatoes their characteristic red color). The potential health benefits of eating carotenoid compounds are being researched by several of Dr. Schwartz’s students. A wide range of backgrounds can be found in his lab group, including: research scientists, research assistants, Ph. D students, M.S. students, and visiting scholars from across the world. Dr. Schwartz’s group works with other departments and colleges at Ohio State (including the College of Medicine) which allows for exciting collaborations and more effective research. After spending a few months around the lab, I was given a project: the objective was to purify several individual carotenoid compounds from a unique variety of orange tomatoes called “tangerine tomatoes” using analytical equipment including high performance liquid chromatography. I was able to present my research at several different research forums, including the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences undergraduate research forum, the university-wide Denman Undergraduate Forum and the Ohio Valley Institute of Food Technologists student research forum. In a relatively short time, I was able to gain invaluable experience in laboratory methods and I was able to better understand the flow of the research process. I am extremely thankful to Dr. Schwartz’s lab group for all their support and for allowing me to further my studies outside of the classroom.