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Yuan Yao

Department of Food Sciences 

  • Associate Professor of Food Science


In my lab, we integrate fundamental research with technology development. Our interests include the creation, characterization, and applications of novel carbohydrates, study of interactions among food ingredients, and development of value-added materials for the food and non-food industries.

  • Functional dendrimer-like polysaccharides & food nanotechnology
    Functional dendrimer-like polysaccharides (DLPs) are fundamentally novel materials created in my lab. Compared with synthetic dendrimers, DLPs are larger in size (~45 nm), far more economical, and can be designed and prepared with a broad variety of food and non-food approaches. A primary application of DLPs is the construction of multi-functional assemblies to protect and deliver bioactive compounds, such as drugs, antibacterial peptides, and nutrients. By manipulating the backbone structure and surface properties of DLPs, the performance of loading and release can be controlled. Grants have been awarded from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and USDA-NIFA to support the research in this area.
  • Oligosaccharides and polysaccharides with tailored digestibility
    Our target is to develop oligosaccharides and polysaccharides with modulated digestibility. My group is developing technologies to manipulate carbohydrate profiles, thus tailoring the ratio among rapidly digestible, slowly digestible, and resistant carbohydrates. These materials have potentials in foods to confer extended glucose release or prebiotic properties.  
  • Genetic, enzymatic and chemical starch modifications
    We use genetic, enzymatic and chemical approaches to modify starch structure and functions. The goal is to develop carbohydrate materials with enhanced values, such as high fiber content, controlled digestibility, or specific thermal and rheological properties. To conduct genetic starch modifications, we use Single Kernel Screening (SKS) methodology to identify maize mutants with novel starch structures.


FS 591 Food Enzymes
FS/F&N 630 Carbohydrates
FS 655 Case Study