Credit: UMass Amherst
Eric Decker, professor of food science, has recently received the two top awards in his field – the American Oil Chemists’ Society’s (AOCS) Supelco/Nicholas Pelick Research Award and the Institute of Food Technologist’s (IFT) Lifetime Achievement Award in Honor of Nicolas Appert.
A pioneering researcher whose work focuses on lipid chemistry and foods, Decker says these latest honors mark the pinnacle of his career.
“These awards are a very exciting recognition of all the tremendous work done by my post-docs, students and research collaborations. Their work has helped decrease food waste, make foods safer, and protect important shortfall nutrients such as antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids,” says Decker, who served as 2019-20 president of the AOCS. The century-old group strives to advance the science and technology of oils, fats, proteins, surfactants and related materials. Decker also chairs the AOCS Foundation.
“Winners represent the very best and brightest minds in research areas of prime concern to the AOCS,” according to a statement from the organization.
The IFT’s Nicolas Appert award, named after the French inventor known as the “father of canning,” recognizes “consistent lifetime contributions to food science and technology.”
Decker’s research aims to characterize mechanisms of lipid oxidation, antioxidant protection of foods and the health implications of bioactive lipids. These efforts focus on improving nutrition by incorporating more stable, unsaturated fatty acids into foods while preventing oxidative rancidity that causes food waste.
Decker, a Most Highly Cited Scientist in Agriculture with more than 440 publications., has served on committees of the FDA, Institute of Medicine, Institute of Food Technology, USDA and American Heart Association. He was one of 13 appointed members of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for sodium and potassium, an 18-month process that culminated in new recommendations in 2019.