Gunnar Sigge, PhD, Pr.Sci.Nat

Board of Directors Candidate
Current Title:
Associate Professor & Head of Department: Food Science
Employer: Stellenbosch University

Why do you want to serve in this role?

I believe that IFT is ideally placed to contribute globally in bringing like-minded, scientifically grounded professionals together to collectively address issues of global importance by harnessing the combined knowledge of its members, volunteers and partners. Knowledge promotion, misinformation about food-related issues, food and nutrition security, global food safety and sustainability need to be addressed holistically and in partnerships, as these issues transcend country borders. I believe that associations like IFT are essential in advocating the importance of food science and technology in the survival of mankind. I feel very passionate about this and would like to play my part in changing the way people think about food. I feel that I have gained valuable experience in teaching, research and association management to make an impact in disseminating this important message.

Please describe how your attributes and experiences have prepared you for board service.

I have over 20 years of experience in food science academia and research, as well as more than 18 years of experience in food science associations. These include 9 years as Head of Department, serving on SAAFoST's Council (since 1999) and serving as President of SAAFoST (2010-2013). I have also served on several scientific conference organising committees (i.e. the IUFOST 2010 World Congress) often heading up the scientific programme committee. This has included serving on and chairing IFT's AMSPAP, and I believe that all these experiences serve me well in being able to contribute meaningfully to debates and discussions around science association management and issues of global concern in food science. I am confident of my ability to listen, interpret and synthesise an opinion during a discussion and debate issues rationally and with an open mind.

In reviewing IFT’s Strategic Promises, please describe the challenges and opportunities you believe IFT will face in achieving our mission and vision.

I believe that the Promises of IFT to Develop, Network, Innovate and Advocate are approaches relevant to contributing to solving the global issues facing not only food scientists, but mankind, as mentioned above. However, if IFT is to play a leading role, these ideals and promises need to involve and engage scientists and associations from across the globe to form partnerships capable of contributing to global problems. I believe food science associations, like IFT and SAAFoST that have strong and successful linkages in their respective countries with academia, industry and government can play an important role in helping other groups or individuals to set up similar associations and build these bridges in their countries. Bridges between associations will then also help encourage linkages between academia, industries and governments of different countries in food science and technology related matters. Issues which will need attention include obesity, food and nutrition security, food fraud, food myths, consumer perception, the role of the media and science communication.

Please describe an IFT or other volunteer leadership experience and how it will assist you in serving on the board.

I have served on SAAFoST Committees and Council since 1997, Chaired Branches and was President of SAAFoST from 2010-2013 and currently still serve on the national Council and Exco. I have served on several conference organising committees, including Chairing the Scientific Program for the IUFoST World Congress in 2010. In 2012 and 2013 I was invited to take part in the IFT Strategic Retreat in Reston, Virginia and Huntington Beach, California, respectively. I served on IFT's Gilbert A. Leveille Award Jury in 2015 and served on AMSPAP for IFT16. I have also recently chaired AMSPAP for IFT17 and will serve as Past-chair for IFT18. I am also serving on IFT's Division Champions Team for the term 2017 - 2019. I believe these experiences will serve me well in making meaningful contributions on the Board in shaping the focus and direction of IFT activities going forward.

Please provide a short narrative biography of important career and personal accomplishments.

After completing a BSc Food Science at Stellenbosch University, I continued with an MSc at the same university. During my first year of the MSc, I also took up a full-time position within the Department on the Technical staff. After completing my MSc, I registered for a PhD at the beginning of 2003 took up a position on the academic staff as Lecturer. I progressed to Senior Lecturer in 2010 and to Associate Professor in 2016, while also becoming the Head of Department in 2009 – a position I still hold. I have been actively involved in SAAFoST since 1997 and served as President from 2010-2013. Highlights of my Presidency were the establishment of the SAAFoST Foundation, which oversees all the bursaries, scholarships and grants and also the birth of South African Food Science and Technology (FST), SAAFoST’s own magazine, which has a publishing agreement with Food Technology.

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