2013 Alumni Spotlight - Meet Our Alumni

Featuring: Dianna Liu

Upon finishing her BS degree in Taiwan, Dianna Liu came to the US to pursue her graduate degrees. She received her Master Degree in Food Science in 1988 at Iowa State University (ISU). Her Master of Science thesis research was on chemical, physical and sensory evaluations of the effects of sodium addition to green beans. That was a collaborative project between the Departments of Horticulture and Food Science & Human Nutrition and funded by Del Monte company. She spent one year working on a nutrition project in the Department of Home Economics Education before entered PhD program in Horticulture Department working with Dr. Nick Christians on corn gluten meal project. Her dissertation research involved isolation and identification of the naturally occurring compounds with herbicidal activity in corn gluten meal. She developed bioassays, and isolated and identified five bioactive peptides during her program of stud and received her Ph.D. degree in 1993 with a major in Horticulture and a minor in Biochemistry.

As a postdoctoral researcher at ISU, she continued the identification of active compounds from corn gluten meal, and also conducted field trials in Horticulture Research Farm for the development of marketable products. She often passed her research results through publications and presentations at professional meetings. Service-related activities were also important part of her professional experiences at ISU including as a project advisor on Honors Project of the Agriculture College (name at the time), and as an interpreter for a Delegation of Chinese Agriculture and Fruit Tree Scientists from Beijing.

During October 1996, she had to leave ISU for Australia to attend her family needs. Shortly after she arrived in Brisbane, she joined a biological control research team at The University of Queensland (UQ). As a Research Officer, she coordinated a biopesticides project for Integrated Pest Management program, and managed the Artificial Diet and HPLC/GC Laboratories in the Department of Entomology. Subsequently, She was the recipient of UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for 2 years and conducted a genetic diversity study of neem tree using RAPD molecular markers. With my neem research project, she collaboratively worked with plant breeders, molecular biologists, entomologists, and field botanists. She also undertook another project and developed four keys to the species of turfgrasses, turfweeds, vegetables, and medicinal plants using interactive software developed at UQ. In May of 1999, she went to China as one of four delegates on a Biopesticide Mission that was part of an Australia-China Agricultural Cooperation Agreement.   

In January 2000, she accepted the offer from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and worked with a team composed of entomologists, weed scientists, and plant biochemists on a USDA funded project. They studied glucosinolate and cropping system impacts on weed and insect populations in crucifers. She was responsible to manage resources, train and supervise technicians, and coordinate the collaborators from multi-disciplines and inter-research groups.

At the completion of the spring season study at UIUC, she joined the team of Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center (VFIC) at Texas A&M in August 2000. As an Associate Research Scientist, she worked collaboratively with plant breeders, plant pathologists, chemists, physiologists, and molecular biologists on the project of 'Food for Health' funded by USDA. Being responsible for the analysis of phytochemicals to develop more nutritious and health-beneficial crops, she designed and implemented research experiments. She also initiated several projects to develop postharvest methods for retaining nutrition values and improving the shelf life of different crops. Besides assisting the Director of VFIC, Dr. Leonard Pike, with supervising and training of graduate students in their research programs, she participated in the VFIC Kids Program by teaching young visitors the basic sciences in the laboratory.

When her mother became disabled and terminally ill in 2002, she decided to move to Australia to be a full-time carer. After her mother passed away, she re-entered scientific research workforce. Dianna has been employed as a Research Scientist in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry of Queensland State Government in Australia since 2009. Her current responsibilities include developing and coordinating domestic and international collaborative research projects on value adding horticultural crops. She also participates in various funded projects making contributions by preparing proposals, literature reviews, progress reports, presentation, and posters.

Her professional research has been centered the maximal use of natural resources for sustainable agriculture and food supply chains, discovery of naturally occurring bioactive compounds, and production of high quality, healthy and safe value added horticultural crops for consumers. Other than her professional qualifications and experience, she has performed translation and interpretation from/to English, Mandarin and Taiwanese throughout her professional career. In September 2013, Dianna chose to spend her vacation time in Iowa to revisit friends in Ames. She was amazed to see the changes and improvement in Horticulture Department as well as on campus since she departed in 1996. She truely enjoyed her 2-weeks stay in Ames. 


Dianna Liu prepared fresh-cut tropical fruit products at a food research lab of Queensland Government in Australia



Past Features

Ben Matthews
Nick Baker
Fredy Romero
Conor Carey
Marcus Jones
Rich Bristol and Sue Bristol (Kennedy)
Aaron Steil
Dr. Olivia Marie Lenahan
Dennis Portz
Dave DeVetter 
Dr. Ryan Stewart
Dr. Michael Dosmann
Luke Dant
Gary Polking
John M. Williams
Angela Tedesco
Rolston St. Hilaire
Kimberly Hilgers
Jim Nau