About us

Our Team


Iris Joye obtained her Ph. D. degree at the University of Leuven (Belgium) in 2010. Her doctoral research encompassed an in-depth study of enzyme systems in wheat that affect the redox state of bread dough and the quality of the final bread loaf. After her Ph.D., she focused on chemical redox agents which are commonly used to improve dough and bread quality, on fortification of breakfast cereals and encapsulation technology with special emphasis on biopolymer-based systems. Iris Joye is currently working as associate professor Cereal Science and Technology at the University of Guelph. She combines her research expertise in cereal science with her knowledge on colloidal chemistry. The research line she and the students in her team are working on combines the different aspects of cereal science and colloidal chemistry by focusing on cereal proteins as intriguing and highly functional food components. Iris Joye is the (co-)author of 43 peer reviewed publications, 3 book chapters and contributed to 50 presentations on scientific meetings.

Research Staff

Wei Cao obtained her Ph.D. degree in Bioresources Science in Japan in 2004. Her doctoral research mainly focused on the dynamic modelling of drying to improve processing quality of wheat and rice. After her Ph.D., she worked more than 10 years in the China Agricultural University. Wei Cao has worked in the Cereal Lab of the University of Guelph since September 2014 as a post-doctoral fellow. Her expertise covers wheat functionality, cereal chemistry and processing. For the last five years, she has benchmarked diversity in Ontario grown hard and soft wheat (more than 50 lines/varieties) with different end-use and explored the lipid compositions and gluten functionality changes in wheat flours during aging. Wei Cao is the (co-) author of about 40 peer reviewed publications, 3 book chapters and has more than 30 contributions to scientific meetings on her name.

Mauricio Espinal-Ruiz obtained his B.Sc. (2007), M.Sc. (2010), and Ph.D. (2016) in Chemistry at the National University of Colombia (Bogotá, Colombia). He continued his research training under the supervision of Dr. Lorenzo Zacarías at IATA-CSIC (Valencia, España) on the characterization of the expression of carotenoid biosynthesis in tropical fruits before shifting focus to the analysis of inhibition of fat digestibility with dietary fibers with Dr. David Julian McClements at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (MA, United States). In 2016 he was appointed as Assistant Professor in Biochemistry and Food Chemistry at Pontifical Xavierian University (Bogotá, Colombia). In January 2021 he moved to the Cereal Lab of the University of Guelph as a post-doctoral fellow (Mitacs Accelerate Fellowship). His research focuses on the design of acrylamide mitigation strategies in bakery products.

Graduate Students

Alyssa Francavilla obtained her undergraduate degree in Food Science at the University of Guelph in 2019. She successfully defended her MSc in 2021 and started her Food Science Ph.D. program in January 2022. Her research focuses on encapsulation of hydrophilic bioactive molecules for applications in cereal products. The end goal is to develop vehicles for controlled release during cereal processing, hence, ensuring chemical food safety. Alyssa is also closely involved with the outreach activities within the Department tailored towards high school students.

Azin Sadat started her Ph.D. research in the Department of Food Science in 2018. Her research focuses on the structure and interactions of cereal proteins in complex food matrices. In this context, she is exploring the potential of non-invasive, but underutilized techniques such as fluorescence and vibrational spectroscopy to study the (sub/supra-)molecular properties of cereal proteins in a complex matrix. Her project is important to the cereal industry as it will not only lead to the development of innovative tools to study complex systems, but will also shed light on the protein structures that are crucial to cereal product quality. Her project is fully funded by the prestigious Ontario Trillium Scholarship.

Jessica Chang obtained her B.Sc. degree in Food Science (2020) at the University of Guelph. Her undergraduate work-study terms (Sensory lab assistant; Data entry) had inspired her with an interest in enhancing nutrition for consumers with specific dietary needs. Thus, she decided to further her studies at Guelph as a graduate student in the M.Sc. Food Science program. Her project builds on the growing demand for eggless products which subsequently require replacements. Her research focuses on repurposing canned coloured bean processing liquids as functional food ingredients with an emphasis on their potential as acceptable and potentially healthier egg alternatives in cereal recipes. The resulting insights will aid in adding value to bean liquids, similar to chickpea aquafaba, and expand healthy food options. The project may also create incentive to repurpose other agri-food waste streams.

Katherine Petker completed her B.Sc. degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Ottawa in 2017. Throughout her undergraduate degree, she did CO-OP placements at Environment Canada and the Quality Engineering Test Establishment (QETE) at the Department of National Defence. These research placements sparked her interest in polymer chemistry. Katherine began her M.Sc. in Food Science in Fall 2018 in the Cereal Lab. Her research focuses on the use of cereal proteins for the production of colloidal nanoparticles. She is particularly interested in the aggregation behaviour of gliadin (nanoparticles) and the utilization of these particles to build and stabilize novel food products.

Navneet Navneet obtained her M.Sc. degree in Food Technology from Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. She started as a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science, University of Guelph in 2019. Her project focuses on the development of functional bean flours using extrusion technology and other physical bean flour treatments. The altered starch and protein properties are believed to affect the functionality of bean flour in food processing.

Pedro Faria graduated in Biological Sciences at the University of Minas Gerais (Belo Horizonte – MG, Brazil). His research was related to genetics and animal breeding. After graduation, he started a small business working with food, where he discovered product development and Food Science. With this on the mind, he started his M.Sc. degree in 2017 at the University of Lavras (Lavras-MG, Brazil). His M.Sc. research comprised different methods for concentrating melatonin in cow’s milk in order to further development of melatonin-rich dairy products. During his M.Sc., he also conducted a consumer research study on milk and dairy products consumption and participated in workshops on bread and cereals, and fermentation. This ignited his interest in starting a Ph.D. in Cereal Science. He started his Ph.D. program in 2020 in the Cereal Lab and will be focusing on flour ageing.

Reihane Abdi received her Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology from Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran, in 2012. The focus of her Ph.D. research was on optimization of exopolysaccharide production and carbohydrate metabolism. She spent a part of her Ph.D. program as a research assistant at the University of Alberta under the supervision of Professor Michael Ganzle, working on gluten free baking and the role microbial exopolysaccharides can play in replacing gluten functionality. Reihane started her second Ph.D. program in Guelph in 2019 and is looking into the changes in biopolymer properties in sprouted wheat. Reihane aims to use the combination of her food microbiology and cereal chemistry background to further her career as an all-around food scientist. Reihane is closely involved with the outreach activities within the Department tailored towards high school students.

Zahra Saghafi received her Bachelor of Food Science and Technology from Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran and a Master of Food Science and Technology from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran. She has two years of working experience in the Iranian National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute as a pilot plant technician, collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Medical Education and the food industry in the field of formulation, consumer acceptance and policy making. Before pursuing her PhD in Canada, she spent two years working as a senior research and development specialist in Solico group (food industry) to challenge herself in the various facets of food science and business. Zahra her research focuses on the production of plant-based beverages.

Undergraduate Students

Ali Zogheib is a fourth year BSc student, majoring in Biological and Pharmaceutical Chemistry currently completing his third coop term. Ali has garnered a great interest in the Agricultural and Food industry based on his previous internships with SGS Canada Inc and Mirexus Biotechnologies Inc. For his third co-op term, Ali applied for a summer Undergraduate Research Assistantship in the Food Science Department for the summer of 2022. During the summer, he worked in the Dr. Joye’s lab alongside Dr. Abdi and other research assistants in sprouted wheat xylanase activity, the effects of different surface sterilization techniques on wheat kernels
and phenolic acid production of sprouted wheat.

Sarah Gammage just finished her third year in the Food Science Co-op program. Last summer she worked in Dr. Marangoni’s lab working on the physical properties of protein and fats. This summer Sarah is working in the cereal lab on the surface sterilisation of wheat and the properties of enzymes in sprouted wheat. She enjoys working in lab environments and has an interest in enzymes.

Former researchers

Amanda Cameron, M.Sc. student 2017/2019

Effect of temperature-relative humidity treatments on the physicochemical and functional properties of egg white protein powders.

Joshua Salamun, M.Sc. student 2018/2020

Prolamin proteins as building blocks for food-grade anthocyanin encapsulation systems.

Ievgen Nakonechnyi, Ph.D. student 2019/2021

Gaining insight into the potential of bean cooking liquid as a novel functional food ingredient.

Maryam Moraveji, M.Sc. student 2019/2021

Impact of deamidation on the physicochemical properties and air-water interfacial behaviour of gliadin nanoparticles.

Nirmala Prasadi, Ph.D. student 2017/2022

Unraveling the effect of dietary fibre on biopolymer structures and interactions in (frozen) dough products.