Congratulations to Nick Bokulich, recipient of the Dannon Probiotics Fellowship

Nick Bokulich

As the Dannon Probiotics Fellow, Nicholas Bokulich will receive one year’s tuition to support his continued academic pursuits in the field of probiotics. He will also receive an all-expense paid trip to the Danone Research Center in France where he will have the opportunity to network and learn from over 300 top scientists conducting studies on probiotics, physiology and nutrition, sensorial analysis and consumer behavior as well as product prototyping. 

Bokulich received his M.A. in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis and is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Food Science. Bokulich’s research can be categorized into two different interests. He works with fermented foods that are used for delivery of beneficial bacteria and probiotics, and then he researches the impact of that delivery on human health, particularly the effect of the microbes on infant health.

Bokulich has worked closely with Foods for Health Institute researcher Dr. Dave Mills since beginning his master’s program and it was Dave Mills who introduced Bokulich to matsoon – an interesting yogurt-like product that forms the basis of his fellowship research.

As a Dannon Probiotic fellow, Bokulich will research the indigenous dairy fermentation product known as matsoon in Armenia and Georgia. Bokulich will screen the yeast in the fermented milk product for various potential probiotics. He will then compile samples of this national food product across Armenia and compare the growth of potential health-promoting organisms in the matsoon from different regions.

Dr. Miguel Freitas, Director of Health Affairs at The Dannon Company, commented that the “field of probiotics is rapidly emerging and Nicholas stood out due to his understanding of the field and the opportunities for advancing probiotic applications to health.” Selected from a pool of qualified and talented candidates, Bokulich was chosen due to his strong interest in probiotics and commitment to advancing health through scientific research. Bokulich’s research stood out among the applicants, comprising three main themes: microbiology of fermented foods, the microbiology of the human gut (particularly the downstream impact of probiotic and functional food consumptions), and the development of molecular and bioinformatics tools to analyze and describe these systems of microbial communities.

Bokulich is excited about continuing his research in Armenia and working closely with researchers in that country to further our understanding about the important potential health-promoting microbes in matsoon. Bokulich is also thrilled to visit the Danone Company research headquarters in France and meet with the hundreds of scientists there who investigating the different aspects of food probiotics and fermentation.

Bokulich is an excellent choice for the Dannon Probiotic Fellowship as he continues his important work on the microbiology of fermented foods and the effects of the human gut microbiome.