Carbohydrate Function & Application Lab

about us

Dr. Senay Simsek and her group have developed a research program focused on the integration of crop quality with the structure-function relationships of carbohydrates and other polymers to increase the utilization of cereals, legumes, and other underutilized crops and their byproducts in the food and baking industries.

Contact Us

Senay Simsek, Ph.D.
745 Agriculture Mall Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765) 494-8256


Research areas

General Research Areas:axos-01.gif

  • Structure-function relationships of carbohydrates
  • Industrial hemp utilization
  • Grain and legume quality & utilization
  • Carbohydrates in the baking industry

Specific Research Areas:

  • Characterization and utilization of industrial hemp grain and byproducts
  • Innovative uses for processing by-products and waste materials
  • Carbohydrates and bioactives from grains for human health
  • New carbohydrate functional ingredients
  • Biodegradable packaging films
  • Variation and functionality of sorghum carbohydrates and bioactive compounds
TDF Analyzer
MS spectra
Baking Hemp Muffins
Hemp Grain
Hemp Muffins

Current Research Projects

Dr. Simsek's laboratory team has several projects aiming to expand the utilization of grain polymers, emerging crops, and agricultural by-products. Click below to learn more about these ongoing projects.


Industrial hemp has several products, from the stalks and from grain material. We want to answer the question, “How can we use these products in the food industry to benefit industrial hemp producers?”

Development of Industrial Hemp Product Strategies:

  1. CHARACTERIZATION- Characterize hempgrain composition to identify unique traits and valuable food production components.
  2. UTILIZATION & DEVELOPMENT- Develop innovative strategies to create hemp food products, create unique food components and capture valuable hemp by-products.
  3. VALUE-ADDING INNOVATIONS- Provide critical information regarding value-adding strategies for hemp growers andinnovative products for the food industry.hemp-graphic.png



Research and Education

Soybean growers can appreciate the need for fueling the market and value-added soybean food segment with the discovery of new processing techniques, generating consumer demand, creating a selling story for soy, and exploring how to incorporate this mighty legume into everyday products. With the demand for food-grade soy products increasing each year, growers can rest assured that this investment will benefit farmers, industry, researchers, and students for years to come.

Currently, soy food innovations and developments mirror global health, wellness, nutrition, and lifestyle trends. Many consumers are looking for healthier and more environmentally friendly products. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to cconsumers seeking new information and becoming more involved in the protein markets while searching for plant-based proteins that are best for them. On a global scale, there are several important soy food categories to watch (functional & fortified foods, dairy alternatives, and new spins on traditional soy foods).

Food, Feed, and Industrial

  • Development
    • Functional Foods - Meat Analogs - Dairy Alternatives - Fermented Soy Products
  • Extraction
    • Value-Adding - Sustainability - Transformation
Connect: Growers, Researchers, & Consumers
  • Breeding
    • Variety Development - Functionality - Agronomics
  • Marketing
    • Students and Stakeholders - Market Development - Education

soybean-harvest.jpg soy-milk.jpg soy1.jpg soy2.jpg soy3.jpg


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Our Team

Senay Simsek

Dr. Senay Simsek

Principal Investigator (PI)

Dr. Simsek joined the faculty at Purdue University and the Department of Food Science on July 1, 2021. She serves as the Head of the Department of Food Science and is Dean's Chair in Food Science. Her research focuses on the integration of cereal quality with the structure-function relationships of carbohydrates; expanding utilization of grain-derived and carbohydrate functional ingredients in the baking industry, value-adding strategies for cereal and legume by-products; and the investigation of carbohydrates and fiber components of grains and legumes to increase utilization while finding new and innovative applications for carbohydrates in the food industry.

Kristin Whitney

Kristin Whitney

Sr. Research Associate

In August 2021, Kristin joined the Department of Food Science at Purdue University as a Sr. Research Associate in Dr. Senay Simsek’s group. Kristin Whitney completed her BS in Food Science and MS in Cereal Science at North Dakota State University. She previously worked in the Department of Plant Sciences at NDSU as a research specialist in the Carbohydrate Chemistry and Wheat Quality group. Kristin assists with research projects related to structure-function relationships of carbohydrates and grain macromolecules. She is responsible for coordinating research projects and sample analyses related to crop utilization, carbohydrate functionality, and functional ingredients in baking.

Laila Hossain

Dr. Laila Hossain

Research Associate

Laila joined the Department of Food Science at Purdue University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in September 2022. Previously, Laila worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Adelaide, Australia, where she worked on the development of biodegradable active food packaging film. Laila completed her PhD from Monash University, Australia, in developing biodegradable, renewable nanocellulose superabsorbent for personal care products, food packaging and biomedical applications. Currently, Laila is working on extraction, functionalization and surface modification of hemp fibers and quantifying their structure-property relationship to produce new and innovative value-added products for the food industry. Laila is very enthusiastic about developing new materials and playing with their structure to tune the specific properties while maintaining environmental sustainability. 

Elise Whitley

Elise Whitley

Research Assistant

Elise graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Food Science and Technology in May 2023. She joined the Simsek Lab in June 2023 as a Research Assistant in the Department of Food Science. Elise studied Spanish and completed her minor after studying for 2 months in Mallorca, Spain. Previously, she worked on projects concerning the gut microbiome, anti-inflammatory plant bioactives, and effects of polysaccharide fermentation in the colon. Elise is enthusiastic to work on the team to study and report on new carbohydrate functional ingredients and apply her baking knowledge to new projects.

Taylor Main

Taylor Main

Undergraduate Laboratory Assistant

Taylor is currently a junior studying Food Science and Biochemistry. Taylor joined Dr. Simsek’s team in November of 2021. Since then, she has assisted in the research on a 3-D food printer and developed methods for automating specialized food techniques and practices. Taylor is interested in how this technology can be applied to a broader scope of food science.

Riley Menzer

Riley Menzer

Undergraduate Laboratory Assistant

Riley is from Wisconsin and came to Purdue as an undergrad in 2020. Riley became a part of Dr. Simsek’s team in October of 2022. He has assisted in the research and upkeep of the lab. He hopes to continue to learn about research and techniques behind it. 

Visiting Students / Scholars

Madelina Asttorga

Madelina Lopez Asttorga

Marcos Bejarano

Marcos Leon Bejarano

Yusuf Durmus

Dr. Yusuf Durmus

Tingting Hong

Tingting Hong

Yadelis Roman

Yadelis Bonilla Roman