Our lab focuses in solving practical problems and interesting chemical reactions in food using olives and olive oil as study cases.

We are always open to new members joining our lab (to stay or to visit) when we are able to accommodate them. If you are interested in getting to know us, feel free to send an email. Here are our current team members:

Selina Wang

Xueqi Shirley Li

Shirley is the assistant director at the UC Davis Olive Center. Her daily job includes making sure everyone is doing well and feeling happy in the lab, working with Selina on her wonderful and/or crazy research ideas, and assisting Dan with various olive center events and center products sale. When she’s not playing with HPLC or GC in the lab, she likes reading, traveling, snuggling with her cats, and sometimes cooking.

Shirley earned her master’s degree in food science from UC Davis in 2013. Her master’s thesis was on the effect of different cold storage conditions on the quality of extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil study has been a good friend to her for the past five years, and will definitely be a life-long friend no matter what.

Lauren Crawford

Lauren Crawford

Lauren Crawford is a 3rd year PhD candidate in the Food Science and Technology department. She received her B.S. in Food Science from Cornell University with a minor in Nutritional Sciences. Her PhD project focuses on improving the quality and safety of California-style table olives. She has been involved with food science outreach on campus including STEM for Girls and FFA Field Day. In her free time, Lauren enjoys running, rock climbing, reading, playing piano and being outdoors. She also loves traveling and had the opportunity to study in Vienna, Austria for 6 months. In the future, Lauren hopes to either continue with research in the food industry and/or become more involved with science communication.

Juan Polari

Juan Polari

Juan is a third year Ph.D. candidate in the Food Science and Technology department. He earned a degree in Chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he developed most of his professional experience working in the field of fats and oils chemistry, focusing on quality assessment and bioactive compound purification for food applications. Juan’s research focuses on the impact of processing variables on volatile and phenolic compounds composition of virgin olive oils. After finishing his graduate studies, he expects to contribute to the development of the olive oil industry working towards the integration of academic and productive sectors.

Taylor Reiter

Taylor Reiter

Taylor is a PhD student in the Food Science Graduate Group. She is a member of the Olive Center lab group as well as the Lab for Data Intensive Biology in the school of Veterinary Medicine. She studies the microbial impact on the metabolite profile of olive oil primarily using genomic and metabolomic methods. When she's not playing with olives, their microbes, and DNA sequences, she can be found riding her bike or hiking around California.

Austin Phung

Austin Phung

My name is Austin Phung and I joined the UC Davis Olive Center during my 3rd year as an undergraduate majoring in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. As an undergraduate, I took on a Senior Project that involved Method Development for both PV and FFA chemical tests. Now, as a 2nd year master's student, I'm working on a project that is split into two parts. (1) Assess the Oxidative Status of the Top 50 Fish Oil Products on the Market and (2) Assess the chemical changes during the acute oxidations of fish oils. The experiences I've gained in this lab so far have been great in improving my skills and confidence. My ultimate goal after I graduate is to work in the industry as a Research Associate or QC/QA.

Duangkamol (Dahlia) Yingyongkitmongkol

Duangkamol (Dahlia) Yingyongkitmongkol

I like to do pilates, cook, and bake in my free time. I became interested in UC Davis Olive Oil Center and Olive Oil itself when I volunteered for the Olive Oil sensory course. It is very interesting for me to be a part of this lab learning how food and health, chemicals and science, all intertwine. In the future, I hope to go to graduate school and seek a job in the field of food research and development.

Chiaohwei Lee

Chiaohwei Lee

Chiaohwei is currently a fourth year undergraduate at UC Davis majoring in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Her interests in olives began when she attended a presentation given by Dr. Wang regarding olive oil processing and quality. As a chemistry major, she hopes to integrate chemistry into the study of olives. In particular, she is working on an optimization project regarding fat and moisture content of olive fruits. In the future, she hopes to attend graduate school in pursue of her MS and PhD in Chemistry. She enjoys running, reading and spending time with friends and family in her free time.

Ming Ying Kwong

Ming Ying Kwong

I am Ming, a fourth year undergraduate Chemistry student. When I was young, my dietitian instructed me to eat bread soaked in olive oil for breakfast. As I kid, I hated the texture of the soggy bread and the taste of olive oil. For a long time, I associated olive oil with my dietitian and I tried to avoid it as much as I can. However, I wrote a paper on the benefits of olive oil on osteoporosis, a disease that affects many of my loved ones. Then, I joined the UC Davis Olive Center and learned more health benefits that olive oil has. Now, I associate olive oil with work and I sprinkle olive oil on my salad everyday.

Rixin Cao

Rixin Cao

Hi, this is Rixin Cao. I am a fourth year student majoring in Food Science and Technology. My hometown is Guangzhou, China and I plan to continue my study in a graduate school. I've been in the lab for several months. I have meet smart and friendly new friends and have already learned lots of lab techniques including methods of testing oil qualities.

I am currently working on performing PV and FFA tests on 50 oil samples and will continue to do more experiments as well as learn more new lab techniques during my last year of studying in UC Davis. This experience also helps me to determine what I really want to do in the future.

Olive Center is a great and warm big family where I can not only develop lab skills but also meet new friends.

Daryl Ann Dela Cruz

Dee Ann Dela Cruz

My name is Dee Ann Dela Cruz and I am a fourth year Food Science major, minoring in Music. I was born and raised in the bay area and I became interested in Food Science when I took an introductory course my freshman year. After taking many intro classes to various aspects of Food Science, I became more interested in a lot of different fields, specifically olive oil. My professors briefly skimmed the topic of olive oil, antioxidants, and peroxides and that was when I wanted to learn more. After graduation, I hope to use the skills and techniques I've acquired from the Olive lab to pursue a career in quality assurance or product development come June 2018.

Chang Lin

Chang Lin

Hi! My name is Chang Lin. I am a third year undergraduate student majoring in Food Science and Technology. I am from Guangzhou, a city in southern China. I joined the UC Davis Olive center because of my strong interest in the chemistry and preservation of olive oil. I learned a lot of lab techniques and knowledge on olive oil processing after participating in the lab as a research assistant. After successfully mastering all the lab techniques, I hope I can utilize what I have learned to create my own research project in the future. In my free time, I like to learn new languages, try new cooking recipes, and take pictures of food. It is an honor to work in the lab, especially among talented researchers and other amazing interns.

Gary Adrian

Gary Adrian

I am Gary Adrian, and I am a third-year Food Science major student in University of California, Davis. I first learned about the UC Davis Olive Center when I volunteered for olive oil tasting tabling event during Picnic Day 2015, and since then my interest in olive oil has kept getting bigger. Growing up not using olive oil in my food, I never know how a humble food ingredient such as olive oil can have such complex attributes that constitute its quality. In the UC Davis Olive Center, I learn about the different chemical parameters and benefits of olive oil that makes me appreciate olive oil even more. The learning process here is very eye-opening, and I am excited to learn even more on how to produce olive oil with the highest quality.

Haley Fang

Haley Fang

My name is Haley Fang and I am an undergraduate student majoring in Food Science. I started off with the UC Davis Olive Center as a tasting intern my second year. Through this experience, I was able to familiarize myself with the oils that the school produced, learn a lot about the center, and learn what makes good olive oil. The following year, I was able to join as a lab intern. In my free time, I enjoy watching Netflix, listening to music, petting dogs, and napping. I also like to stay active by dancing and running.

Chelsey Souza

Chelsey Souza

Chelsey is a fourth year undergraduate student studying Pharmaceutical Chemistry. She loves being a part of the Olive Center Lab Group, which allows her to apply the knowledge learned in the classroom to research in the lab. Currently, Chelsey has been working with PhD candidate, Lauren Crawford, where they are studying how different enzyme concentrations affect the phenolics in olive oil. She is also involved with hosting tasting events to inform others about the Olive Center. Outside of classes, Chelsey is involved with planning and organizing the UC Davis Field Day: Food Science section. In the future, she hopes to attend graduate school to continue research to answer questions and help find solutions to problems our world faces. She enjoys yoga, gardening, hiking, snowboarding, baking, and spending time with her three year old Corgi. (Photo Credit Melina Nishida)

Filipa Grilo

Filipa Grilo

My name is Filipa and I am a PhD student from the University of Palermo, Italy. As a visiting scholar at the Olive Centre, I study the influence of harvesting time and canopy position on the drupe maturation and olive oil quality. Starting my studies in Portugal I found a passion for fruit physiology that lead me to a master degree in horticultural sciences. During my master’s degree, I had the chance to learn more about the influence of agricultural practices on fruit minor compounds to improve their nutritional value. After developing my experimental work on the influence of irrigation and maturation on orange nutritional value in Italy, I choose to remain and apply for a PhD. For my PhD project, olives enter in my life! I study the Sicilian olive germplasm collection and the cultural factors affecting olive oil quality. At the Olive Centre, you can find me either in the lab or in the fields among olive trees! In my free time, I enjoy hiking, reading, cooking and most of all travelling. I had the opportunity to travel, work and live in different countries but here in California the olive center lab-group made me found a new home!

Xavier Montalvan

Xavier Montalvan

Hi! My name is Xavier Montalvan. I am a 5th year Chemistry major with an emphasis in Forensics. I am from Burbank in Southern California. I've always loved to eat olives and being in college having to cook for myself, I definitely use a lot of olive oil. When I heard about an opportunity to work for the UC Davis Olive Center, I had to take the chance. I started in Spring of 2017 and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I've learned so much about olive oils and all the chemical methods to test quality and there is still so much that I am learning each time I step into the lab. I also work for Unitrans driving and training, so the flexibility of the lab is great so I can balance school, work and the Olive Center. I look forward to the rest of my time with the Olive Center.

Melina Nishida

Melina Nishida

Melina is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. When Melina is not in class, studying, or in the Olive Center lab assisting graduate students with their projects, she is listening to mystery podcasts, watching “The Office”, cuddling with her three-year old cat, Phillip, cooking, or spending time with friends and family. As for her future endeavors, Melina aspires to become a pharmacist, and has hopes to reach out and educate others on drug addiction, prevention, and recovery. (Photo Credit: Chelsey Souza)

In this section

The UC Davis Olive Center is a self-funded university/industry coalition that seeks to do for olives what UC Davis did for wine.