Join date: May 18, 2021

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About me

Dear all, I am Lu Zhang. I obtained my PhD degree in Food Process Engineering from Wageningen University & Research in 2018. After graducation, I stayed at the same group and worked as a postdoctoral researcher. Since April 2020, I was appointed an assistant professor on additive food assembly funded by NWO SectorPlan Techniek. My research interests include 3D food printing, food waste valorization, soft robotics and data science. In this tenure track position, I will conduct research to advance the 3D food printing technology for the personalization of healthy and tasty foods.


My research

I am currently supervising a PhD project entitled "Data-driven modelling and adaptive control of extrusion-based 3D printing of complex food systems". In this project, my PhD student Mr. Yizhou Ma will develop an adaptive printing control system for printing complex food materials with high accuracy and quality. We are integrating sensors (e.g. vision camera, see Figure 1) into the extrusion system to monitor physico-chemical properties of food materials and printing quality. Data-driven models will then predict printing quality based on inputs such as specific printing conditions and properties of food materials. We will eventually develop a printing parameter recommendation system to best inform 3D food printing users for formulation development and printing optimizations of various food materials.

Fig. 1. An image captured by a thermal camera during hot extrusion 3D printing of protein gel (© Food Process Engineering, WUR)


In her words

1. What attracted you to your new department and university?

I have been working at the Laboratory of Food Process Engineering since 2014 when I was a PhD candidate. The interdisciplinary research environment at WUR and connections among 4TU universities offer many opportunities for collaborative research in 3D food printing. WUR is a member of Digital Food Processing Initiative (DFPI). Many interesting projects have been conducted within DFPI. I believe WUR is the suitable place for me to pursue my academic ambitions.

2. Describe your one or two most favorite projects at this moment

My student Yizhou Ma is working on his PhD project Data-driven modelling and adaptive control of extrusion-based 3D food printing. In this project, we will develop predictive models for extrusion printing, and we will investigate robust adaptive control to 3D-print a variety of food materials, which will facilitate personalized nutrition.

3. Describe your fondest hopes for your research, and your teaching for the next few years.

Research: I hope my research will help make food printers more intelligent in future, e.g. it can quickly adapt to the change in complex formulations of food inks. Such an adaptive system can print complex food materials with high accuracy and quality, which eventually contributes to the development of personalized nutrition.

Teaching: I hope to develop a new course Automation, Sensing & Robotic Systems in Food Processing that is customized for the Food Technology study programme at WUR. Via this course, I want to equip our students with knowledge and skillsets to solve the forthcoming changes in Industry 4.0.

4. If you could invent one thing, what would it be?

A food printer that can freshly prepare delicious and nutritious foods, can be easily operated and smartly controlled. So consumers like children, the elderly or patients can use this device to prepare foods that are customized to their own nutritional needs and sensorial preferences. Astronauts can take this device with them to space missions.

5. What would you like to explore, learn or do with other scientists, from another discipline than your own, or from your own discipline?

I would like to learn from scientists in applied data sciences and to explore together how we could better make use of tools provided in Artificial intelligence to solve domain-questions or problems in food science.


Looking forward to meeting you all! ☺️


Lu Zhang

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