The Olive Wellness Institute Achievement Award is a new award this year. The award is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate olive science related research achievements of others and to thank them for their contribution to research. The Achievement Award is awarded based on someone who has contributed most to olive science or olive related research in the past 5–10 years.
Congratulations to the winner of the inaugural Achievement Award, Dr Selina Wang!
Dr Wang is a Cooperative Extension Specialist at the Department of Food Science and Technology, and Research Director of the Olive Centre at the University of California (UC) in Davis. With a PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry, she joined the Olive Center as a postdoctoral researcher. She then became the Research Director in 2012, leading the center’s research efforts in olive oil quality, authenticity and standardisation.
Dr Wang was nominated by Dan Flynn, also from the UC Davis Olive Center, who attested to her work:
“Dr. Wang stands among the very best people I have worked with. Her independent and significant research achievement, skill at attracting financial backing and resources, ability to inspire students, robust work ethic, dedication to the public interest and exceptional interpersonal skills place her among the noteworthy olive scientists globally.”
We asked Dr Wang a few questions regarding her research and work with olives.
How did you first become involved with olive research?
In 2008, I received in PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry and was looking for ways to connect my Chemistry knowledge with Food Science passion. At the same time, the UC Davis Olive Center was founded and looking for a chemist to analyze olive oil quality and authenticity. I was interested in the research and inspired by the mission of the Olive Center. I joined the Olive Center as a postdoctoral researcher and became the Research Director in 2012. While my role with the university has expanded, I continue to lead the research efforts at UC Davis Olive Center.
What is your greatest achievement in your opinion based on all your research efforts?
I’m proud of our continuous work in olive oil quality, authenticity and standardization while providing scientific knoweldge to industries and general public. Our research was used as a part of scientific basis for the establishment of California Grade and Labeling Standards for Olive Oil, Refined-Olive Oil and Olive-Pomace Oil. The California standards require producers of greater than 5,000 gallons/year to test every lot of oil produced to meet high quality, thereby, instilling confidence in consumers.
What goals/aspirations do you have for future research and plans?
I look forward to doing research on maximizing quality, health benefits, yield and sustainability in the field and during processing. We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in the past decade, and there’s more work to be done, especially in response to climate change. I will continue extensions with the growers and processors and educations with the students at UC Davis who are the future leaders.
Congratulations once again to our inaugural Achievement Award winner, Dr Selina Wang, and we look forward to seeing another high calibre of applicants in 2021.