David Pink is a senior research professor in Physics at St. Francis Xavier University. He started his career 40 years ago, modelling biological membranes, which he quickly determined required computer simulations to predict the way they would react. sites.stfx.ca/physics/david_pink
Dr. Pink does theoretical and computational physics. For the last five years, he’s been investigating the behaviour of solid structures in edible oils. Among the questions he’s trying to answer is “why are certain shortenings or cooking oils perfect for baking?” These products contain solid particles some of which involve trans fats. Current thinking is that trans fats are unhealthy and should be replaced while not compromising taste. To identify a reasonable alternative, one has to know what structures these solid particles form. To replace them with a polymer, for example, it’s important to know what structures the polymer must imitate.
The simulations involved in modelling biological membranes and, more recently, edible oils, are so complicated, they require the use of Compute Canada’s resources. “Compute Canada is essential to my research; without them, I wouldn’t function,” Dr. Pink says.
For his work, he will receive the distinguished service and outstanding achievement award in the 2015 Edible Applications Technology division of the American Oil Chemists Society. He credits four colleagues for their collaboration in his multi-disciplinary, applied research and for his receiving this award: food scientist Alejandro Marangoni, code writer Bonnie Quinn, carbohydrate chemist Erzsebet Papp-Szabo and ACEnet’s computational research consultant Shah Razul.