ChemE PhD candidate Erica Di Pede wins Scientific Frontiers Student Award at Probiota Americas conference

At the recent Probiota Americas conference in Salt Lake City, Erica Di Pede (ChemE PhD candidate) claimed the Scientific Frontiers Student Award for her work on the functionality and efficacy of a novel mannan-oligsaccharide (MOS) prebiotic.

Di Pede’s project involves the application of MOSs from coconut, investigating their functionality as prebiotics to support health. She demonstrated the synergistic action of these prebiotics to promote the growth of commercial probiotics, and in a subsequent study in mice using 16S RNA sequencing and PICRUST analysis, demonstrated beneficial changes to the gut microbiota after 14 days of administration of the MOS. Her work represents a new frontier with novel prebiotics to support health.

Di Pede completed her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with a minor in bioengineering at the University of Toronto before continuing to pursue her PhD in Chemical Engineering. Her research focuses on developing and characterizing prebiotics to study their impacts on the gastrointestinal microbiota, and prebiotic-pathogen interactions. In addition to her research on prebiotics, Erica is also the Co-Founder of a startup called ‘Opal Technologies’, that aims to sustainably produce specialty chemicals by up-cycling low-value biomaterials.