Spotlight on: Yiliang Cheng
I am Yiliang Cheng, a second-year Ph.D student majoring in Food Science and Human Nutrition at ISU. I am an international student from China and came to ISU to pursue my Master’s degree in 2018. I started my Ph.D in Dr. Watrelot’s lab in August, 2020. The main reason I decided to take the opportunity to study with Dr. Watrelot is her grape and wine chemistry research and extension programs.
“My first time making Marquette wine for my Ph.D project in the ISU winery”(August 2020)
Is a complex matrix, which involves various reactions from crushing to wine tasting. Thus, I keep exploring and satisfying my curiosity during my study in the grape and wine chemistry field. My Ph.D project is about the improvement of polyphenol extraction in red wines made from cold-hardy grapes. Cold-hardy grapes are interspecific varieties mainly grown in the U.S. Midwest. There are so many things we do not know about these grapes, such as their polyphenol composition and structure of cell wall material. Also we do not know how these characteristics could affect the extractability of critical phenolics and the subsequent reactions occurring throughout the wine making. In particular, the low content of condensed tannins in finished cold-hardy wine is the main focus of my research, as it leads to unbalanced wines.
Since my first semester in the lab, I work on improving the extraction of tannins from Marquette grapes by applying various winemaking techniques, which could help disrupt cell wall material and interactions between tannins and other compounds. Overall, I hope my research could answer more and more relevant questions regarding cold-hardy grapes and wines. Because I am passionate about doing research, I look forward to keeping working in the academic field after graduating. My further interest fields will not only focus on grape and red wine, but also include other food model, such as green tea or enhancing bioaccessibility of phenolics in plant-based foods or beverages.