Interview with Dr. Katie Maloney

Dr. Katie Maloney drives technical collaborations to enhance plant-based foods and beverages

Dr. Katie Maloney

Novozymes, USA

Katie Maloney

Dr. Maloney presented "Enzyme Solutions for Plant-based Food and Beverage Production" during the session on Processing and Utilization Technologies. A recording of the presentation is available to registrants for 30 days after the meeting.

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About Dr. Maloney

Katie Maloney is the Technical Business Development Manager for Plant Protein at Novozymes driving technical collaborations to enhance plant-based foods and beverages. Katie has been with Novozymes for nine years in various food industry roles. Prior to joining Novozymes, she obtained her Ph.D. in Food Science from North Carolina State University (NCSU). Katie is passionate about innovation and education. In addition to her work at Novozymes, she holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences at NCSU.

What discoveries from your previous research inform the work you plan to discuss at the Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum?

I will be discussing how enzymes can be used to create differentiated plant-based beverages. Our work on plant-based beverages started many years ago using alpha-amylase to reduce the viscosity of starchy substrates, such as rice, oats, and wheat to convert them into a drinkable product. The plant-based beverage market has grown significantly since we started our work. Now, companies are looking at using novel substrates, increasing protein content and improving sensory properties. In my presentation, I will go through how enzymes can help in each of these areas.

What is the significance of the research you plan to discuss at the Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum, either for future research routes or for real-world applications?

The research I will be sharing will help companies tailor their plant-based beverages to meet consumer needs. I will go through how to produce plant-based beverages from a variety of substrates, how to increase the beverage’s protein content and how viscosity and sweetness can be optimized.

Describe the biggest problem you encountered and solved during your most recent project?

The biggest challenge we encountered was figuring out how to increase the protein content of plant-based beverages while maintaining the desired organoleptic properties. In general, plant proteins are not very soluble. We found that certain proteases are better at solubilizing plant proteins, increasing protein content and providing a smooth mouthfeel.

Share a turning point or defining moment in your work as a scientist and/or industry professional.

Joining Toastmasters, an international educational organization promoting public speaking, communication and leadership, and working on my fear of public speaking was a major turning point for me. I have always enjoyed organizing information to share with others, but Toastmasters helped me also enjoy presenting the information.

What excites you about your work?

I am energized by collaborative innovation and solving challenges. Developing plant-based foods and beverages often requires final food, ingredient and equipment manufacturers to work together closely. It is really exciting when teams from different companies come together to share knowledge and work towards a common goal.

What are potential future directions for the work you are discussing at the Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum?

We continue to evaluate enzymes for novel plant-based substrates. We are also working on some exciting advances in plant-based yogurts, such as reducing fermentation time and improving texture.

What do you like to do when you are not in the lab or presenting at meetings?

My hobbies include hiking, yoga, reading and cooking.