The Chemistry of Wildfire Smoke in Wine

smoke taint experiment

Using thiophenols, a chemical marker for smoke taint, to eliminate smoke taint during the winemaking process.

Extended exposure to wildfire smoke compromises the quality and value of wine grapes and adversely impacts aroma and flavor of wines. Wildfire impact is particularly accute on the United States West Coast which is comprised of three of the top four wine-producing states in the country. The changes in flavor and aroma have traditionally been attributed to a class of compounds known as volatile phenols, however recent research has attributed the undesirable smoky or burnt aroma and flavor notes found in smoke-tainted wines to thiophenols. These compounds are characterized by the presence of a sulfur atom in their molecular structure, specifically in a phenolic ring, giving them their name. At Oregon State University, I am researching ways to mitigate the impact of thiophenols and other smoke-related compounds on wine quality.

Bioinformatics Education

A Data Science Primer to Engage Undergraduate Students in Research

An explosion of data available in the life sciences has shifted the discipline towards genomics and quantitative data science research. Institutions of higher learning have been addressing this shift by modifying undergraduate curriculums resulting in an increasing number of bioinformatics courses and research opportunities for undergraduates. This study aimed to explore how a newly designed introductory bioinformatics seminar could leverage the combination of in-class instruction and independent research to build the practical research skillsets of undergraduate students beginning their research careers in the life sciences.

Plant Genomics

Revealing the interspecific breeding history of Hawaiian macadamia through transcriptome sequencing and analysis

Macadamia is an important agricultural crop in Hawaii, utilizing significant land and resources. Aging orchards, changing climate and increased pest pressure threaten the Macadamia industry in Hawaii. As orchards are replanted, genomic knowledge of crop wild relatives will be central to determining the possible role of breeding to mitigate these challenges. Macadamia tetraphyllais a crop wild relative of the economically valuable crop Macadamia integrifolia. We aimed to create a new genomic resource for macadamia agriculture in Hawai’i through new transcriptomic data for M. tetraphylla. A transcriptome assembly of M. tetraphylla was constructed from existing NCBI data along with new RNA-sequencing data collected from wild collected feral macadamia tetraphylla and putative hybrid breeding lines in Hawai’i.

Exploration of Taro breeding populations that show improved performance against diseases in Hawaiʻi

Yield is one of the important criteria used for selection in a taro breeding program. Each cross-pollination of the flowering structure could produce thousands of taro seedlings and initial evaluation of the offspring is done in unreplicated trials where only a few check cultivars are replicated. This leads to a poor estimation of the residual variances. This study explored a hierarchical Bayesian G ×E model, designed to deal with the unbalanced data from many trials. Further, a DNA fingerprint was established to distinguish breeding groups and help facilitate cultivar identification.