Zoha Ahmad, a junior in the Nutrition: Dietetics program at Oregon State University, joined our lab in December after she was awarded the Undergraduate Research Award Program scholarship to research breast milk proteases. Zoha's research interests are in nutritional management of infants and children.
With the help of Carly Robertson and five other undergraduate interns, Zoha has been examining the effects of different heat treatments on protease activity in breast milk. Currently, milk banks pasteurize breast milk donations but the effect of this heat treatment on protease activity hasn’t been studied. Zoha, and others in the lab group, were able to create an experiment plan and identify the best research methods to determine whether protease levels change with current pasteurization practices. The work will examine alternative treatment methods to ensure microbiological safety of donor milk while retaining more active enzymes. These enzymes may be important in helping the premature infant digest milk proteins.
Zoha has also been helping Veronique Demers-Mathieu with her research on breast milk digestion in preterm and term infants, and presented the findings at the Oregon State University Celebrating Undergraduate Excellence poster fair on May 19th, 2017.
Zoha’s goal is to gain a dietetic internship with a clinical concentration in pediatrics to become a Registered Dietitian and use her knowledge and research skills from the lab to help infants in need through nutrition intervention. Her future goals include pursuing a graduate degree and becoming a physician’s assistant to further help preterm and term infants get the right start in life so they can grow up to be healthy adults.