You can boil it, blend it, roast it, spread it, crush it or sprinkle it.
The average American consumes about 2 pounds of garlic a year, with about 75 percent of their consumption coming from the dehydrated variety.
Besides its taste and flavor-enhancing abilities, is garlic actually good for you?
Eric Lee, a senior studying biotechnology at Cal Poly Pomona, has evidence that garlic affects the immune system.
Lee’s research examines garlic’s effects on macrophages. Macrophages are white blood cells that aid the immune system in fighting bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
Lee has determined that garlic’s effects on macrophages depend on the cell type and the number of cells that receive garlic treatment. He works with garlic at the cellular level, but Lee hopes the conclusions drawn from his research will translate into more advantages for garlic’s everyday use.
“My research was relevant to me because it’s a big part of my diet,” Lee said. “I’m Asian, and we put three times more than the average serving of garlic in our food. I eat a lot of garlic, and I know it’s good for me, so I was curious to know more.”
For his research on garlic’s immunology-related benefits, Lee received the American Physiological Society (APS) Local Undergraduate Research Award in Physiology.
Physiologists and APS members in two colleges evaluated the 2019 Student Research, Scholarship & Creative Activities (RSCA) Conference: professors Juanita Jellyman from the College of Science and Cord Brundage from the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture.
“You get a mixture of presentations every year,” Brundage said. “And this one was clearly understood, and able to address questions in a refined way that made it clear that he had a depth of understanding and appreciation of the science.”
Lee joined Nancy Buckley’s laboratory in April 2018 and began his investigations on the effects of garlic on immune cells.
With practice and help from his professors and peers, Lee describes the preparation for his presentation as a fun, yet intense experience.
“It was my first presentation that wouldn’t be assigned a grade,” Lee said. “My genuine interest in my research topic motivated me to achieve personal success because I wanted to show people what I do and what my interests are.”
Lee has presented his findings at the 2018 Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) and the 2019 CPP College of Science Symposium. He said he is thankful to the Buckley lab for giving him the chance to practice his presentation skills.
“If students can get some exposure to research opportunities outside the classroom, they might find enjoyment for research and new career paths and opportunities.”
Lee said that Buckley influenced his future aspirations. After he graduates in the spring, he plans to return in fall 2019 to begin a master’s program in Buckley’s lab.
“Conducting my own experiments, looking at my results, and understanding how I got those results is a lot of fun to me,” Lee said. “Eventually, I would like to teach and become a guiding figure to students just like how Dr. Buckley has been mine.”
Buckley thinks highly of Lee and his contribution to her lab’s research.
“He is bright, dedicated, creative and passionate about research and academia,” Buckley said. “He is also a very kind person, and it has been a pleasure to work with him.”