Published on 04/10/12

UGA food scientist Casimir Akoh awarded two top professional honors

By Sharon Dowdy

Casimir C. Akoh, Distinguished Research Professor in the University of Georgia Department of Food Science and Technology, has received the top award from the American Oil Chemists’ Society and the Institute of Food Technologists.

Akoh will receive the society’s Supelco/Nicholas Pelick Research Award on April 29 and the institute’s Nicholas Appert award on June 25.

The American Oil Chemists' Society is a global scientific society for individuals interested in fats, oils, surfactants, detergents and related materials. The Supelco/Nicholas Pelick Award is the AOCS’s most prestigious research award that recognizes outstanding original research in fats, oils, lipid chemistry or biochemistry. Three past winners of this award are Nobel Prize winners.

The award consists of a plaque and an honorarium sponsored by Supelco Incorporated, a subsidiary of Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, and Nicholas Pelick, a past president of AOCS.

The Institute of Food Technologists is a nonprofit international society for professionals working in the field of food science and technology. The Nicholas Appert Award, the institute’s highest honor, recognizes preeminence in and contributions to the field of food science and technology.

Akoh has made significant contributions in basic and applied research in lipid modification.

His research focuses on the use of enzymes – specifically lipases and phospholipases – as biocatalysts for the modification of fats and oils for better health and functionality in foods. His research also involves the modification of other lipids for use as flavor and fragrance materials.

Akoh has designed various structured lipids for infant formula fat analogs and studied their applications in infant formula.

He has also synthesized trans-free structured lipids to replace hydrogenated fats and used them to make trans-free spreads, margarines and shortenings. He’s also synthesized alkyl glycoside fatty acid esters, and lysophospholipids for use as emulsifiers in foods and pharmaceuticals.

Akoh discovered eight fat substitutes that compete with olestra as zero- or reduced-calorie fats. These have been patented. His UGA patent on improvement of frying oil life and quality has been licensed.

An Institute of Science Information Highly Cited Researcher in Agricultural Science, Akoh is credited for more than 578 publications and presentations.

In addition to his research efforts, Akoh edited the first authoritative book on food lipids for classroom use. First published in 1998 and updated second 2002 and third edition in 2008, it's used worldwide for lipid instruction.

Akoh’s other industry honors include Stephen S. Chang Awards from the American Oil Chemists' Society and the Institute of Food Technologists, the institute’s Research and Development Award, and Samuel Cate Prescott Award and the society’s Biotechnology Division Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a fellow with both the American Oil Chemists' Society and the Institute of Food Technologists, and he served president of the society between 2008 and 2009.

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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