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Director's Statement

Bruce Hamaker

Dr. Bruce R. Hamaker

Director of Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research | Professor

Welcome to our 2023 Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research annual report. As you might know, we are a leading university research center with industry members focused on carbohydrates in foods and for industrial uses. We are a go-to center for research and education that focuses on how polysaccharides, oligosaccharides and sugars behave in foods and the body. I invite you to take a look inside at what we do and have accomplished in the last year.

Science is moving fast, and it’s also true in the area of carbohydrates. In this time of consumer concern about food and health and ultraprocessed foods, we are at the forefront of understanding the basics of how to improve carbohydrates for health. We now have three laboratories working on prebiotics and have the know-how to select prebiotic fibers for gut and whole-body health. We’re working toward optimizing carbohydrate systems for weight management (i.e., GLP-1 elevation) and glycemic control, and we have cutting-edge research happening in sugar reduction/replacement. We have the largest comprehensive carbohydrate-centric faculty to team up on getting the right texture, building molecular assemblies with new functions, and translating basic carbohydrate science to industry. While we’ve seen, in recent years, numerous changes in consumers’ views on carbohydrates, fundamentally new opportunities are coming with the possibility to be translational all the way to consumers.

What do we offer to our industrial members? We provide an education series including a 2½-day carbohydrate short course with new topics introduced each year in the advanced sessions on days 2 and 3, and a webinar series six times per year, where we give not only the latest research findings but also our perspectives of what opportunities may be on the horizon for companies. We have internally funded research projects with member scientists’ participation and conduct numerous research projects and analyses for our member companies. And, we’re a phone call or web-meeting away for questions, brainstorming and problem-solving with our faculty.

At our May Technical Conference, which follows our annual meeting, we were honored to bring in Professor Christophe Courtin from KU Leuven, Belgium, as our 2023 Belfort Lecturer. In terms of metrics, our 17 faculty members had a terrific year with 102 refereed publications in mostly high-impact journals, 90 presentations at national and international meetings, and graduated 16 MS and PhD students. Our students, postdocs and faculty had numerous recognitions and honors.

I invite you to read through our 2023 Whistler Center annual report, which includes our personnel, starting on page 11, faculty research projects and summaries on page 37, followed by publications, presentations, graduations, awards and a synopsis of our short course and webinars. I also would like to take this opportunity to introduce our new coordinator, Melissa Jones, who joined the Whistler Center at the end of 2023, and announce a new position, Whistler Center Assistant Director, that has graciously been taken by faculty member Owen Jones. The three of us are here to answer any questions you might have.


Bruce R. Hamaker
Distinguished Professor of Food Science
Roy L. Whistler Chair