Mary Jo Cantoria | Spotlight

Grad student’s ‘nutty’ research garners Best Student Poster Award

Mary Jo Cantoria

With approximately 12 million Americans reported as having food allergies, CSULA graduate student Mary Jo Cantoria said, “Understanding the behavior of peanut allergens can lead to comprehension of the behavior of other allergens with the same molecular feature.”

Cantoria’s imperative research on peanut allergens was recently recognized by the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC).

Cantoria, a nutritional science major, received the AACC Best Student Poster Award in the Protein Division for her presentation, entitled “The Effects of Glycosodic Treatment on the Levels and Allergenic Properties of the Major Peanut Allergens Ara h 1 and Ara h 2.”

Currently working in CSULA Professor Harmit Singh’s laboratory, Cantoria is investigating various techniques to decrease allergenicity of peanut allergen proteins. Cantoria coauthored the award-winning poster in collaboration with Professor Singh and Soheila Maleki from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans.

The Protein Division of AACC selects the best protein chemistry papers presented by a student at its international annual meeting. The Division’s Best Student Poster Award consists of an engraved plaque, an honorarium, and recognition at the annual meeting.

An international programs student, Cantoria received her bachelor’s degree in community nutrition from the University of Philippines. She has worked as a teacher’s aide at Cal State L.A. and has volunteered for the CSULA-hosted Los Angeles County Science Olympiad. Last year, she presented a poster about the antioxidant capacity of isoflavones in soymilk and tofu at the Institute of Food Technologists meeting in Chicago.

Cantoria is a recipient of a 2007-08 Graduate Office Travel Award and a 2008-09 Phil Bates Scholarship. Additionally, she was a recipient of the 2008 AACC Student Travel Fund Award.

“My experience at Cal State L.A. has been great. Cal State L.A. professors are very willing to guide students in their academic careers. Having a great mentor, being continuously supported by the College of Health and Human Services and the Office of Graduate Studies and Research, family and friends—these are all contributors to my development as a graduate student and future professional.”  -- Mary Jo Cantoria

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