Ziegler was in his office and I asked him for a one-sentence description of what work takes place in the lab. He looked at me for a moment and then smiled and told me that one of his graduate students told him that it is frustrating to describe to colleagues what they do because they work across such a broad range. So I wasn’t able to get a short concise answer to my question. And maybe that is the important lesson --- that research is complex and deserves more careful consideration.
I took a look at some of the research publication titles Ziegler has been part of and began to appreciate some of that complexity. Like this one:
Biosynthesis of 1-octen-3-ol and 10-oxo-trans-8-decenoic acid using a crude homogenate of Agaricus bisporus Optimization of the reaction: kinetic factors. Journal of Process Biochemistry.
I’m guessing mushrooms are involved in that work. I found another that I could more easily picture and dealt with something near and dear to my heart- --- chocolate:
Influence of hazelnut paste on the sensory properties and shelf-life of dark chocolate. Journal of Sensory Studies.
Ziegler’s Web site bears out a focus in these areas and describes his research interests as exploring foods as composite materials and an interest in the physical properties and processing of polymeric and particulate foods, with an emphasis on chocolate and confectionery products. One other thing I noticed was his faculty affiliation with the Center for Medieval Studies. Next time I run into him I'll have to explore that.
Chocolate. I wonder if there is chocolate in that lab.