Mark Bollom

Mark Bollom plans to hold a research and development career in the dairy industry. When he isn't studying, he enjoys cooking, playing piano, running, and reading.

Mark Bollom excels in bigels research, uses his substantial knowledge in dairy industry

Mark Bollom pursued graduate school for two reasons: he’s always sought the answers to his “why” questions, and he was intrigued about the research assistantship he was offered by Iowa State University.

“I saw the potential for [my research project] to impact people’s health positively, so that was of interest to me,” Mark said.

Mark’s research has two phases that relate to what are called bigels. Bigels encapsulate probiotics, which are known to be beneficial to consumers’ health. The problem is, probiotics are difficult to keep alive through their shelf life and human digestion. Mark’s research focuses on a solution to those issues.

“We think that the [bigel] will not only protect [the probiotics] during shelf life of the product, but also through digestion of our gastrointestinal tract,” Mark said.

The first phase of his research focuses on the microstructure of the bigels, and the second phase involves looking at how bigels are digested. His group’s final application of this research is to put the bigels into yogurt, which has never been done before. This is where Mark’s expertise in dairy comes in.

The microstructure of foods has always fascinated Mark, especially with dairy products. He has held three internships in the dairy industry, in which he gained first-hand knowledge about cheese and ice cream production from start to finish. These experiences further heightened his desire to continue in dairy research and keep answering his “why” question. 

“I want to know why something is happening the way it is,” Mark said. “If you understand how [food] is assembled, you can understand a little more about why it’s having the impact that it does on our health.”

Mark has had ample opportunities to complement his research with other impactful experiences. In addition to presenting the first phase of his bigel research for the American Dairy Science Association in summer 2019, he has been involved in the Graduate College’s Three Minute Thesis competition, and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition Food Product Development team. 

Mark is appreciative that he gets to practice what he loves in order to get where he envisions himself in the future. His ultimate goal is to hold a research and development career focusing on dairy.

“The opportunity to do research and to do a project that I’m really interested in has really been beneficial in helping me determine where I see myself going in the future,” Mark said.