Lactose Intolerance: Exploring Reaction Kinetics Governing Lactose Conversion of Dairy Products Within the Undergraduate Laboratory


  • Jimmy L. Smart University of Kentucky


Lactose intolerance is a condition suffered by an estimated 50 million Americans. Certain ethnic and racial populations are more widely affected than others. As many as 75 percent of all African-American, Jewish, Native American, and Mexican-American adults, and 90 percent of Asian-American adults are lactose intolerant.[1] Some populations in Africa are completely lactose intolerant, whereas some northern European populations are unaffected.[2] Why so? Genetic evidence indicates that lactose intolerance arose over 5,000 years ago and spread among populations due to positive selection. Correlations have revealed lactose intolerance is prevalent in geographical areas of extreme climates and where there have been persistent occurrences of communicable diseases affecting cattle.[3]

Author Biography

Jimmy L. Smart, University of Kentucky

Jimmy Smart is an associate professor of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Kentucky. He received his B.S. from Texas A&M and his M.S and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, all in chemical engineering. He has more than 20 years industrial experience with companies such as IBM and Ashland Chemical. His research areas include applications of membranes to purify water supplies and treatment of hazardous wastes.