Skip to Main Content

Fields Of Discovery: Missions amidst plant-based meat

A web banner that reads, "Fields of Discovery."

In a quaint coffee shop in the basement of the Purdue Memorial Union, Minghao He sits down for a quick chat and a mid-day latte to discuss her work in Senay Simsek’s lab in the Department of Food Science. 

Simsek’s lab is doing enzymatic treatment on hemp seeds to try and turn hemp cake into functional material for plant-based meat. Minghao is currently tasked with analyzing the content of dietary fibers in the hemp materials to understand how different enzymes affect the hemp.   

This is one of Minghao’s first times working in a lab. However, she isn’t alone in learning how the lab functions. Minghao has received ample support from her fellow teammates.  

“The lab manager, Kristin Whitney, is helping me throughout my job. Elise Whitley has also been a great help. The whole team is really teaching me how to use all the equipment in the lab. They’re helping me to figure out what our goal is and what I need to do next.”  
Minghao gathers data on her research. Minghao gathers data on her research.

Minghao’s desire to work in food research was developed long before her time as an international student in the U.S. Her love of food originated in her hometown of Guangzhou, China.  

“My hometown is actually famous for food,” says Minghao with a proud grin. “Everybody says Guangzhou has the best food. That’s why I’m really interested in food topics.”  

Minghao chose food science as her major because she wanted to work closely with communities reminiscent of her hometown. “I joined the food science major because I want to work in an industry that is working directly in communities.” Instead of “like, a spaceship,” she adds in jest.  

But her hometown didn’t just inspire a love of food; it inspired a mission, too. “In my hometown, unhealthy foods are really common.”   

Minghao’s focus is to develop healthy foods that will lead to longer lives. “I want to develop tasty food that is also healthy. If I could make anything that is low-calorie but also tasty, that'd be really nice.”  

Minghao will graduate in Spring 2025. Post-graduation she plans to work towards a PhD. Minghao could see herself working in several fields. “I'm interested in more than just food. I could also do something in cosmetics. I want to try for a PhD so that I can work in product development departments for either food or cosmetic companies.”  

Minghao says that knowing how to conduct scientific research enables her to develop and improve products as a researcher. She hopes to bring happiness and convenience to those who use or consume her products. 

Minghao smiles and poses in the lab she is working in. Minghao smiles and poses in the lab she is working in.

Featured Stories

Bryan Pijanoski with sound equipment
The sound of the world

It’s summer, but Bryan Pijanowski is as busy as ever. He’s working on several grant...

Read More
ag econ
Trey Malone named as Boehlje Chair in Managerial Economics for Agribusiness

“A business newspaper published an interview with me a few years ago titled, ‘Ag...

Read More
Purdue College of Agriculture.
Virtual Tour Brings Forest Management for the Birds to Life

How does forest management affect wildlife, specifically birds? Which birds prefer which types of...

Read More
Students on the Sweden study abroad trip stand in front of a church
FNR Field Reports: Lucas Cacula Offers Week 2 Update from Sweden Study Abroad Program

Throughout the 2024 Sustainable Natural Resources study abroad course in Sweden, FNR...

Read More
Wilford tends to Gracie the cow.
Fields of Discovery: From track to trough— leaping into research

This summer, Rieko Wilford is making big leaps researching methane emissions; on the track,...

Read More
Linda Prokopy
Horticulture and Landscape Architecture department head honored by Conservation Technology Information Center

Linda Prokopy, department head and professor of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue...

Read More
To Top