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Featured Researcher Bio - Zhao Jin 2023


Meet Zhao Jin, PhD, an assistant professor at North Dakota State University and the primary investigator for the NDSU wheat and barley DON lab. Jin was previously involved with the USWBSI through her post-doctoral research position with Paul Schwarz, PhD, the former NDSU barley DON lab PI.


Measuring Mycotoxins

Jin grew up in an agricultural environment in the midland of China. She earned her doctorate degree from Jiangnan University in 2014. Her PhD research focused on studying malt quality and grains-based beverage and food fermentation technologies. In 2015, she came to the U.S. as a post-doctoral researcher with Paul Schwarz, at North Dakota State University. As a post-doc, Jin worked on the analysis of trichothecene mycotoxins in scab (Fusarium head blight, FHB) infected barley, wheat, and other grains. Her research focused on the growth of Fusarium and its production of DON during the malting process.


Jin recently became an assistant professor at NDSU. In her new role she will continue her work on researching the impact of FHB on food quality and safety as well as analyzing grain samples and products for DON content.


Her inspiration to work in the field of analyzing Fusarium-produced mycotoxins in grains came from seeking strategies to cope with this food safety concern. In worldwide commercial beer and grain-based beverage and food surveys, Fusarium-produced mycotoxins, i.e., DON, were frequently found as low-level contaminants. While occurrences only happen occasionally, DON has the potential to cause serious food safety threats which would lead to economic losses and quality deterioration issues.


Optimizing Analysis

Her favorite research project is the evaluation of DON in wheat and barley. The DON lab at NDSU prepares samples submitted by USWBSI collaborators and tests DON and other mycotoxins upon request, and then returns the data collected. Providing analytical support for the Initiative’s researchers and stakeholders aids them in developing new varieties and management strategies. Thus, the DON labs are an essential component for the USWBSI to achieve their mission and goals.


Jin recently attended the 2022 NFHB Forum in Tampa, FL. Her favorite part of these events is the ability to communicate with other researchers about FHB and understand their needs and requirements for mycotoxin analysis. “This, in turn, helps the DON lab to tune and optimize this service,” says Jin.


If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Zhao Jin's research, you can reach her via email.


You can also check out the series of previous USWBSI Featured Researchers.