Leqi Cui, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor




leqi headshot

Get to know Dr. Cui


My research is primarily focused on understanding how novel food processing technologies affect the physico-chemical properties and health benefits of foods. One particular food I am interested in is the plant-based proteins, whose tertiary and secondary structures can be altered during food processing. We use interdisciplinary approaches to characterize plant protein structures and investigate their correlation with protein functionality, as well as their implications for human gut microbiota and colon health. We also use advanced analytical techniques (e.g., HPLC and LC-TOF-MS) to analyze the phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables and illustrate their health benefits such as antioxidant, anti-diabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and their potential influence on gut microbiota. Additionally, my lab studies the lipid oxidation mechanisms and develops novel antioxidant and shelf-life extension strategies for various types of foods. Ultimately, we envision to provide solutions to critical health and sustainability challenges.

We welcome enthusiastic undergraduate and graduate students to join our team.


  • B.A. Northwest A&F University (China)
  • Ph.D. University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Postdoctoral researcher North Dakota State University

Publications and Other Scholarly Activities

For a full list please see my Google Scholar 

Cui, L., Kimmel, J., Zhou, L., Rao, J., & Chen, B. (2020). Combining solid dispersion-based spray drying with cyclodextrin to improve the functionality and mitigate the beany odor of pea protein isolate. Carbohydrate Polymers, 116546.

Cui, L., Bandillo, N., Wang, Y., Ohm, J. B., Chen, B., & Rao, J. (2020). Functionality and structure of yellow pea protein isolate as affected by cultivars and extraction pH. Food Hydrocolloids, 106008.

Cui, L.; Shen, P.; Gao, Z.; Yi, J.; Chen, B. (2019). New insights into the impact of sodium chloride on the lipid oxidation of oil-in-water emulsions. Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry, 67: 4321–4327

Cui, L.; Cho, H. T.; McClements, D. J.; Decker, E. A.; Park, Y. (2016). Effects of salts on oxidative stability of lipids in Tween-20 stabilized oil-in-water emulsions. Food Chemistry, 197, Part B, 1130-1135

Cui, L.; McClements, D. J.; Decker, E. A. (2015). Impact of phosphatidylethanolamine on the antioxidant activity of α-tocopherol and trolox in bulk oil. Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry, 63, 3288-3294