Carbohydrates for food and industrial uses seem to be more and more in the limelight, regarding their potential to positively to impact health and wellness, structures that improve texture and food quality attributes, nanoparticles for better delivery of nutrients or antimicrobials, and biopolymer replacement of synthetic polymers to name a few. This is contrary to a comment I remember a decade ago from a fellow faculty member wondering whether we already knew all that was needed in carbohydrate science! At the Whistler Center, we consider ourselves fortunate to have a critical mass of faculty, researchers, and facilities to address many of these research areas, but also have initiated partnerships, domestic and international, that collectively widen our ability to address large important problems related to carbohydrates. Despite a difficult funding environment, we continued in 2012 to be fully active with 75 researchers in the Center including faculty, post-doctoral research associates, graduate students, visiting faculty and scientists and staff. We have overall maintained our industrial membership over the last 5 years, and this year welcome a new member represented through the Carbohydrate Center at National Taiwan University. It looks like we may have a modest increase in 2013 to our longer term aim of having a 15 company membership, a number we feel we can serve well.
It was a busy early 2012 at the Whistler Center with the lead-up to our hosting of the 11th International Hydrocolloid Conference. The conference was a big success with over 300 attendees and an excellent scientific program. Our thanks to our partners at the International Carbohydrate Consortium represented by Glyn Phillips (Phillips Hydrocolloid Research Centre, Wrexham, Wales), Peter Williams (Glyndwr University, Wrexham, Wales), Steve Cui (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Guelph, Ontario) and the Whistler Center. Prof. Peter Williams gave the opening Belfort Lecture on "Functional Polymers from Biomass Residues". The next IHC will be hosted by National Taiwan University in 2014. An important service to our member companies is our yearly Short Course offered in October. This year we again had a strong turn out and offered a number of new or revised advanced sessions on days 2 and 3 including "Water-solid interactions: crystalline and amorphous solids", "Glycemic carbohydrates", "Extrusion rheology", "Hydrocolloids and functionality", "Starch analysis and product quality", and "Protein-polysaccharide interactions". At the Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting in Las Vegas in June, Amy Lin organized a first pre-meeting short course co-hosted by IFT and another organization - the Whistler Center. It was titled "Designing carbohydrate supramolecular structures for food" and brought in speakers from the US and overseas, as well as the Whistler Center, to teach about small-scale structures and their unique functionalities.
In a final note, it would not surprise you that our most valuable asset is our people and we as faculty well recognize that the Whistler Center has helped us attract top students, post-docs and visiting scientists to work with us.
As always, feel free to contact either myself or Marilyn Yundt, our Center Coordinator with any questions or needs.
Bruce R. Hamaker
Roy L. Whistler Chair Professor