Healthier, happier lives for people living with obesity, diabetes and other digestion-related diseases
Silvia Keppler received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Birmingham (UK). Over the last 12 years, she visited academia and industry around the world to gain experience in process and food engineering.
Keppler is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis, investigating the human digestion process from an engineering point of view. She was a Leaders for the Future Fellow in spring 2019.
Describe your project or venture.
Obesity, diabetes and other digestion-related diseases are an increasing problem in the western world. My research aims to tackle these challenges by investigating the digestion process from an engineering point of view. Specifically, I am studying the effect of food composition and processing on different aspects of digestion such as nutrient release of particle breakdown. By understanding the digestion process in detail, we might be able to design novel food products with targeted functionality to overcome digestion-related health issues.
What’s important about your research—and where do you hope to take it?
Approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, and almost 10% are living with diabetes. My research can help them to live healthier and happier lives, while decreasing healthcare cost at the same time.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
Finding solutions and transferring academic knowledge into real-life applications to make the world better.
What was the most important thing you learned at the Entrepreneurship Academy?
A systematic approach to mostly anything, even things that cannot be easily put into words, such as people’s behaviors. I learned a lot about strategic planning, reducing uncertainties and communication beyond university boundaries. I was surprised about the willingness of successful (and very busy) people to give back by taking the time to share their experience with us.
If I am uncertain or worried about something, others are typically, too. By communicating, we can encourage each other and create a plan together.
What is the most important thing you discovered in the Leaders for the Future program?
What I found most helpful was the advice to just go out and talk to people. It helps to understand any situation or problem better, and provides different angles to it. Also, I discovered that if I am uncertain or worried about something, others are typically, too. By communicating, we can encourage each other and create a plan together.
How will your experiences help you to change the world?
I met so many wonderful and passionate people during the Leaders for the Future program. They are the beginning of my interdisciplinary network, which will help me to be successful in fighting some of the world’s health problems.
How will your experiences as a Leader for the Future and at the academy shape your professional future?
These programs taught me so much about people, diverse networks, interdisciplinary collaborations and communication. I am convinced of these concepts and determined to implement them in my career.