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Celebrating exceptional individuals and teams whose contributions have furthered the science of food has been an IFT tradition since 1942, when the first Nicolas Appert Award was presented at the annual meeting. Since then, IFT’s Achievement Awards have grown to 19 different categories, honoring excellence in research, applications, and service to food science and technology.
The award selection process starts with a jury of IFT members and volunteers who are appointed by the IFT Office of the President and led by a jury chair. The jury reviews nominations, completes ballots, and notifies IFT of the winner for each category. IFT is indebted to the members who volunteer as award jury participants and those who nominate their peers for recognition, without whom the award selection would not be possible.
This year’s recipients represent a diverse group of scientists and companies whose work reaches across a spectrum of disciplines. Commenting on the awards, 2019 honoree D. Julian McClements says, “I was really thrilled to win the Nicolas Appert award last year. This is widely recognized as one of the most prestigious awards in food science, and I was honored to be recognized by my peers for my contributions to this exciting and important research field. I congratulate all of this year’s winners for their important achievements.”
Kudos to the 2020 Achievement Award recipients!
Jose Miguel Aguilera is the recipient of the 2020 Nicolas Appert Award. Aguilera is the emeritus professor of food engineering at the Universidad Católica de Chile and an emeritus member of IFT. A chemical engineer, he holds an MSc from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MBA from Texas A&M University, and a PhD in food science from Cornell University. His research has focused primarily on the role of food microstructure in food processing, as well as several aspects of food materials science. In addition to publishing more than 200 articles and co-authoring 13 books, Aguilera has received numerous awards for his lifetime of meaningful research.
Mary Ann Lila is the recipient of the 2020 Babcock-Hart Award for her leadership in the field of bioactive plant compounds and their translation to healthy foods. Lila’s research program bridges plant, food, and nutrition sciences by identifying bioactive ingredients in plants and developing strategies to ensure practical, convenient delivery to consumers in good-tasting food matrices. Throughout her career, Lila has maintained a strong commitment to mentoring the next generation of leaders who will integrate food and nutrition disciplines.
James R. Coughlin is the recipient of the 2020 Bernard L. Oser Food Ingredient Safety Award. He specializes in global safety evaluation, risk-benefit assessment, and risk communication. Coughlin’s areas of expertise include food additives and contaminants; California Proposition 65; and health and regulatory issues surrounding coffee and caffeine, nitrates and nitrites, red and processed meats, Maillard carcinogens, and toxic metals, among others. Before starting independent consulting in 1991, Coughlin worked with Armour Foods, General Foods, and Kraft General Foods. He was president and a board member of the Association for Science and Information on Coffee, served three terms as chair of IFT’s Toxicology and Safety Evaluation Division, and has been IFT’s Codex subject expert on contaminants in food for the past 15 years. A Fellow of IFT, Coughlin received his MS in food science and technology, PhD in agricultural and environmental chemistry, and postdoctoral training in environmental toxicology at the University of California, Davis, where he researched heat-processed carcinogens formed during the Maillard browning reaction.
Yen-Con Hung is the recipient of the 2020 Bor S. Luh International Award. He is a professor at the University of Georgia and an IFT Fellow, and has distinguished himself internationally in research, outreach, and teaching. Hung has published over 650 papers and more than 210 scholarly journal articles and has five U.S. patents, all of which have contributed significantly to the promotion of international collaboration and understanding. One of the most important technologies Hung developed was the use of electrolyzed water for nonthermal treatment to kill food pathogens. He has lectured around the globe and has affiliations with universities in China, Taiwan, and Japan. He has also facilitated a formal collaboration among six food science universities and advised students from Nigeria, Korea, China, India, France, Ghana, and Japan. Bor S. Luh helped inspire Hung in his international endeavors.
Ellen Bradley is the recipient of the 2020 Calvert L. Willey Distinguished Service Award for her outstanding contributions to IFT. Bradley is the founder and principal food scientist at River City Food Group, and works as a product developer and food science educator. She has been a dedicated, enthusiastic volunteer leader in IFT for more than 35 years, and has served on the Board of Directors for IFT, the Board of Trustees for Feeding Tomorrow, and held numerous leadership roles for the Oregon and Pacific Northwest Sections. She has distinguished herself by helping to improve the IFT member experience, educating food scientists, and promoting the profession of food science.
Carl Winter is the recipient of the 2020 Carl R. Fellers Award. He is cooperative extension specialist emeritus and former extension food toxicologist and vice chair in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis. His research and outreach activities focus on chemical contaminants in food and their risks, regulation, and public policy implications. He has written two books and more than 170 papers in scientific journals or in the popular media and has been involved in more than 1,000 media interviews. Winters is recognized as an innovative educator through his use of musical parodies to convey food safety information and is active in communication skills training for early-career food scientists. He received the Borlaug Council for Agricultural Science and Technology Communication Award in 2012, was elected an IFT Fellow in 2008, and received the IFT Bernard L. Oser Food Ingredient Safety Award in 2016.
John I. Haas Inc. is the recipient of the 2020 Food Technology Industrial Achievement Award. A leading supplier of hops and hop products with a world-class innovations center and research brewery, the company has launched new and effective extracts to replace pelletized hops for the brewing industry, significantly improving flavor and process efficiencies. John I. Haas also developed a proprietary lower pressure and gentler CO2 extraction process, which is coupled with phase separation and other fractionating steps. The process resulted in reduced wax, improved utilization of alpha acids, and higher oil content versus pellets or traditional extracts. The improved consistency with brighter and more distinct hop flavor produces superior beer products and essentially eliminates yield losses due to the hopping process, which can approach 40%.
Kathryn J. Boor is the recipient of the 2020 Gerhard J. Haas Award. She is the Ronald P. Lynch dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), Cornell University, overseeing 350 faculty and 3,600 undergraduate and 980 graduate students. Under her leadership from 2010 to 2020, CALS has ranked among the top three global universities in agricultural sciences. Boor studies biological factors affecting the transmission of bacteria in food systems, from farm to table. She established the Food Safety Laboratory at Cornell. Her group has published more than 170 peer-reviewed manuscripts and identified seminal evidence linking bacterial environmental stress response with virulence gene expression in Listeria monocytogenes. She earned a BS from Cornell University, an MS from the University of Wisconsin, and a PhD in microbiology from the University of California, Davis. She joined Cornell in 1994 and was department chair from 2007 to 2010. She is a Fellow of IFT, the American Academy of Microbiology, the International Academy of Food Science and Technology, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2016, she received an honorary doctorate from Harper Adams University in the United Kingdom.
Barbara Olds Schneeman is the recipient of the 2020 Gilbert A. Leveille Award and Lectureship. She is professor emerita at the University of California, Davis, in the Department of Food Science and Technology and the Department of Nutrition. Schneeman is the first faculty member to be appointed jointly in the two departments, with responsibility to integrate nutrition science into the food science curriculum. After serving as chair of the Department of Nutrition, she was appointed dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She has served in many federal food science and nutrition advisory positions and participated in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) expert group that developed a process for food-based dietary guidelines used by many countries. She also participates in other WHO nutrition advisory groups. At the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, she was director of the Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements, and served as the official U.S. representative to two Codex Alimentarius committees for over eight years. She has also served as a member (1990 and 1995) and currently serves as chair of the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee.
Julie M. Goddard is the recipient of the 2020 Marcel Loncin Research Prize. She is associate professor in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University, and holds a BS in chemical engineering and a PhD in food science. Goddard worked at Kraft Foods as a research engineer before returning to academe to establish her research program on biomaterials and biointerfaces in food and agriculture, which is currently funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and private industry. She has mentored 25 MS/PhD students whose work developing new biocatalytic materials, active food packaging, and nonfouling/antimicrobial materials is reported in more than 75 peer-reviewed publications. Goddard was the recipient of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Young Scientist Award, as well as IFT’s Samuel Cate Prescott Award for Research.
Yanyun Zhao is the recipient of the 2020 Research and Development Award. She is a professor of food science and technology and former associate dean of the graduate school at Oregon State University, where she holds combined research, extension, and teaching responsibilities in value-added food processing. Internationally known for her expertise in edible food coatings/films, she pioneered value-added utilization of food processing by-products. She has generated over 150 peer-reviewed publications, 22 book chapters, and six granted patents, in addition to editing two books and providing over 50 workshops/short courses to the processed food industry. Zhao has been a major advisor to over 30 graduate students, 12 postdoctoral research/scholars, and many undergraduate researchers and interns. An active member of IFT since 1991, Zhao is a member of the IFT Board of Directors, has served as chair of the Fruit & Vegetable Products Division and on IFT committees, has organized IFT symposia, and is a frequent speaker at IFT webinars and symposia. She was elected an IFT Fellow in 2012.
Guodong Zhang is the recipient of the 2020 Samuel Cate Prescott Award for Research. He is an associate professor in the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass). His research focuses on bioactive compounds in gut health. He has produced more than 60 peer-reviewed publications, including several corresponding-author publications in high-impact journals such as Science Translational Medicine, PNAS, Cancer Research, and Gut Microbes, and has four U.S. patents or applications. His independent research at UMass has garnered more than $1.7 million in research grants as a principal investigator and more than $3.1 million as a co-principal investigator. He is the recipient of the 2019 American Oil Chemists’ Society Young Scientist Research Award and is on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Zata Vickers is the recipient of the 2020 Sensory and Consumer Sciences Achievement Award for her contributions as a leader, educator, and researcher. Vickers is a professor of food science in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, and the Director of the Sensory Center, at the University of Minnesota. Her extensive research is grounded in the pleasantness, acceptability, choice, and consumption of foods. Vickers has produced more than 140 peer-reviewed papers and has advised over 50 MS and PhD students. She is well respected within the sensory and consumer sciences community and has shown her leadership through a number of volunteer roles within IFT and other organizations.
Liangli (Lucy) Yu is the recipient of the 2020 Stephen S. Chang Award for her exceptional scientific contributions in lipid toxicology, revealing chemical mechanisms for 3-MCPD ester formation and acute oral toxicity of seven 3-MCPD esters. Her work has also focused on toxicological variables (pharmacokinetics, absorption, tissue distribution, and metabolism) of 3-MCPD esters, which served as the scientific foundation for risk assessment and development of regulatory guidelines. Her research findings have led to value-added development and production of specialty edible oils and by-products of fruit and vegetable seeds, leading to products with nutraceutical benefits.
Christine Bruhn is the recipient of the 2020 Trailblazer Award. She is cooperative extension specialist emerita at the University of California, Davis, recognized globally for her research and outreach programs in consumer behavior, food science, and food safety. Bruhn served as an IFT Food Science Communicator for many years and is a Fellow of IFT, the Institute of Food Science and Technology, and the International Association for Food Protection. She has championed collaboration among food science and nutrition associations to educate the public and media on nutrition and food safety issues.
Alexander Mathys is the recipient of the 2020 W. K. Kellogg International Food Security Award and Lectureship. Mathys has been an assistant professor at ETH Zurich since 2015, where he focuses on the efficiency and sustainability of value chains in food and feed. His current research emphasis is on material and energetic utilization of plant-based side streams, micro process engineering and extrusion for tailored structure formation and synthesis, innovative multi-hurdle technologies for gentle preservation of healthy and high-quality food, novel protein sources from algae and insects to improve food security, and the use of multi-indicator sustainability assessments as a basic analysis in food processing. Mathys is the author of more than 76 publications, including 57 peer-reviewed articles, nine patent applications, nine book chapters, one book, and more than 30 conference papers. He has attended more than 100 international conferences and received several international research awards.
Martha Verghese is the recipient of the 2020 William V. Cruess Award for Excellence in Teaching. An IFT Fellow, she is an accomplished professor of nutritional biochemistry/food product development at Alabama A&M University (AAMU). Her research focuses on the utilization of phytochemicals and the design of functional foods/food products, as well as on the development of designs for evaluating phytochemical/nutraceutical bioactivity/bioavailability. She has provided visionary leadership as chair of the Department of Food and Animal Sciences for the past 12 years and has taught over 20 undergraduate and graduate courses. Verghese has advised more than 60 MS students and 30 PhD dissertations since 2001 and over 130 undergraduate students who have matriculated through the IFT-approved food science program at AAMU. She has also been active in recruiting undergraduate and graduate students and has conducted hands-on workshops and seminars in science classrooms and college fairs. Verghese continually seeks to create a positive learning environment by fostering a sense of belonging, building relationships, setting clear expectations, and staying relevant and positive.