Featured Member

August Academic Spotlight - Chaoyu Zhai

Headshot of Chaoyu Zhai

Chaoyu Zhai, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor at University of Connecticut

Q: When, why and how did you become involved in AMSA?
A: My first RMC was at Texas A&M. I was a visiting student at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Suman recommended this conference to me, so I went! One of the best choices I ever made!

Q: Why did you decide to pursue a career in meat science?
A: My undergrad was in engineering, but I enjoyed the science classes (biochemistry class and meat science class) the most. I grew up in the city, and I had a 0% agricultural background, but I love cooking and eating fresh meat dishes. I thought it would be great if I could study meat to make more people enjoy meat. Meat means more than just food in the culture I grew up in. It builds up family, friendship, festivals, celebrations, and even a Sunday dinner at grandma's (literally every good thing gathering people together). After I start learning meat biochemistry, I like meat science even more.

Q: How has your involvement with AMSA influenced your career?
A: It make me know and reminds me how many people are passionate about a same subject. It is a conference everyone knows everyone. It is not just a meeting. It is like a meat science family reunion.

Q: What is your major research focus?
A: Omic approaches coupled with machine learning algorithms to explain and predict fresh meat quality variation resulting from preharvest and postharvest factors.

Q: What do you consider to be your greatest contribution to meat science to date?
A: Applied machine learning algorithms to understand how protein covalent modification affects protein function via protein structure/folding for the first time.

Q: What is the most important skill you have developed in your career?
A: I like looking for new things to learn, and I don't mind struggling or frustrated. I believe keep learning new things is the best way to stay humble and criticize my own work. Sometimes, accepting new things means starting an ongoing project all over again. It can be heartbroken or hateful, and it takes a lot to make this decision, but it also builds up the confidence to face the imperfection and defects.

Q: Who has been the most influential person in your career?
A: My wife, Mingyue Zhang. She knows I am passionate about what I do and supports me in chasing my dream.

Q: What is your favorite thing(s) to do outside of work?
A: Eating Texas barbecue, Mexican food, and Chinese hotpot, as well as drinking sour beer!!!

Q: What is one item you cannot live without?
A: There are too many…

Q: If you could plan a vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Switzerland or Austria