Eda Ceren Kaya

Eda Ceren Kaya comes to us from Ankara, Turkey. During her lifetime, Eda has lived in 20 different cities in Turkey and has traveled and held internships in many regions in Europe.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree from the Department of Food Engineering at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey in July 2017. Immediately after graduation, Kaya started work on her master’s degree in the same program.

Eda Ceren Kaya in EuropeDuring that time, Eda was given the opportunity to work in one of the most important global companies, Unilever Turkey. She began her work in Unilever in November 2017. However, Eda realized that the position would require her to move away from being a researcher in food science — which she loved. Eda worked as a demand planning specialist in the personal care category of the supply chain department for seven months. This position entailed working as an industrial engineer and strategic planning for distribution.

Eda decided to turn back to her profession by finishing her master’s degree in September 2019 and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in food science and industry in the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University.

Why did you select Kansas State University for your studies?Eda in the lab at Kansas State University

“My advisor, Dr. Umut Yucel was one of my instructors at Middle East Technical University, Turkey during my bachelor’s degree. I had the chance to take a food chemistry course from him. However, I did not see him after 2015, and knew that he had returned to the United States. During the time I worked on my master’s degree, Dr. Yucel and I were in contact, and he invited me to start my Ph.D at Kansas State University. Within two months, I had completed all exams and acceptance procedures.”

“I have always wanted to be a researcher in the food science area. During work on my bachelor’s degree, I knew that being a researcher, doing experiments, research, trying to find innovative solutions in the food industry and learning more about this area — specifically, sustainable foods and biodegradable applications have been attractive to me. I wanted to work at a global company to see the risk management, team working and professional life, but I have always known that being a researcher was ideal for my personality.”

Eda in a sorghum fieldWhat is the most interesting thing about your research?

“Working with sorghum is the most interesting thing in my research. I had not heard about the properties of sorghum in my previous studies. Being in Kansas, which is the largest sorghum production state in the U.S., is really the luckiest thing about it. Also, wealthy protein properties, being biodegradable, and finding new and value-added applications for sorghum distiller's dried grains, DDGS, are interesting points. One of the challenges facing sorghum research is that since sorghum proteins have a complex structure, in order to improve the functional properties of it, more literature sources are required. However, due to difficulties for extraction of the protein, relatively few research papers have been written and this slows down further research. Therefore, being innovative and developing new methods are required. In addition, sharing the importance about the real food applications of biofilms obtained from sorghum could be a challenge”

“The current trend in food packaging is mainly oriented towards the substitution of synthetic packaging by materials that are eco-friendly and also prolong food shelf life. In the last decade, there has been considerable attention in identifying materials and technologies for the fabrication of biodegradable food packaging systems that come from renewable natural resources and the agri-food industry.”

“Although pullulan is an excellent material for production of biodegradable films, it is trademark-protected and therefore expensive. Further, large-scale availability is limited. Sorghum can provide an alternative with similar or better film forming properties. Sorghum is a hardy, sustainable, and GMO-free crop and of economic significance to Kansas as the leading sorghum-producing state in the nation.”

How has working on this seed grant project changed or created your perspective as a researcher?

“I have learned that trying to find ways to produce environmentally friendly, safe, sustainable, innovative and low-cost products is really important in today’s world. We should not remain unresponsive to global world problems — such as lack of resources, economic depression and nutrient deficiency. Therefore, the project and product that I am working on should provide advantages and positive future impacts in food science in these ways.”

Who has influenced you the most?

“Every person I have met during my lifetime has an impact on me in different perspectives. However, my mom is the person who has influenced me the most. I have learned to be fighter, questioner, innovative and open-minded as a young woman, as a person from Middle East European region and as a researcher from her.”