Balasubramaniam receives 2021 IFT Achievement Award

July 26, 2021

Congratulations to FST Professor Dr. VM 'Bala' Balasubramaniam who has been selected as the 2021 IFT Research and Development Award recipient. 

The IFT Achievement Awards recognize an individual or team for remarkable contributions in research, applications, and service in the food science and technology industry.

Meet the 2021 IFT Achievement Award Recipients

Lifetime Achievement Award in Honor of Nicolas Appert
Eric Decker, PhD

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Eric Decker is the recipient of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award in Honor of Nicolas Appert. He is professor in the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an internationally recognized expert for his pioneering research on lipid chemistry and foods. A highly cited scientist, he has over 440 publications and numerous chapters, books, and patents to his credit. Decker has also received numerous honors for his research, including awards from the American Oil Chemist Society, the Agriculture and Food Chemistry Division of ACS, the International Life Sciences Institute, and IFT.

Include Award in Honor of George Washington Carver
Ruth Oniang’o, PhD

Rural Outreach Program-Africa and African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development

Ruth Oniang’o is the 2021 recipient of the IFT Include Award in Honor of George Washington Carver. Notable among Oniang’o’s many extraordinary accomplishments are her contributions in advancing the science of food across Africa, alleviating food insecurity, promoting equitable access to education for women, and uplifting and improving the quality of life for many people in Kenya and beyond. Oniang’o, through the Rural Outreach Program-Africa, an organization that she founded, has played a key role in eliminating poverty and hunger in the community by encouraging and training women to work in agriculture. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of the African Journal of Food Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, a peer-reviewed journal that chronicles recent developments in the science of food and agriculture across the African continent. Among her many honors and other distinctions, Oniang’o is the 2017 recipient of the African Food Prize. Her work with women in agriculture and with the impoverished population in Kenya embodies the spirit of Dr. Carver and of IFT’s Include Award.

Distinguished Career Award in Honor of Carl R. Fellers
Joe Regenstein, PhD

Cornell University

Joe Regenstein is the 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Career Award in Honor of Carl R. Fellers. He is professor emeritus in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University and heads the Cornell Kosher and Halal Food Initiative. He teaches kosher and halal food regulations at Cornell and Kansas State (remotely). He is a distinguished foreign expert at Jiangnan University (China), adjunct professor at Chiang Mai University (Thailand), and guest faculty at Southwest University (China). Regenstein was IFT’s first Congressional Science Fellow. He wrote Food Protein Chemistry, An Introduction for Food Scientists and An Introduction to Fish Technology with his wife, Carrie, and Genetic Modification and Food Quality with Robert Blair. An IFT Fellow, Regenstein is also an IFST Guest Fellow in New Zealand. Previously he received IFT’s Bor S. Luh International Award and the Elizabeth Stier Humanitarian Award; he is the current recipient of IUFoST’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Regenstein is on advisory boards for the Food Diversity Innovation Program, Texas A&M, and the Global Harmonization Initiative.

Distinguished Service Award in Honor of Calvert L. Willey
Leslie Herzog

The Understanding & Insight Group LLC

Leslie Herzog is the recipient of the 2021 Calvert L. Willey Distinguished Service Award for his lifelong, innovative, and passionate service to IFT and the advancement of food science and technology. Herzog has been a dedicated volunteer to IFT for over 45 years, working with the New York Section and contributing through his philanthropy, leadership, and mentorship to food science students at Cornell University, the University of California, Davis, Rutgers University, and the University of Massachusetts. Herzog has served on numerous IFT task forces, the Executive Committee (now called Board of Directors), and award juries, as a member and chair, as well as numerous IFT committees. An IFT Fellow, Herzog loves coaching student teams in IFT competitions, helping them to utilize his knowledge of product development and food product commercialization learned during his career at Lipton / Unilever.

Excellence in Education Award in Honor of William V. Cruess
John Coupland, PhD, CFS

The Pennsylvania State University

John N. Coupland is the 2021 recipient of the Excellence in Education Award in Honor of William V. Cruess. He is a professor of food science at The Pennsylvania State University, where he serves as the undergraduate program coordinator. Coupland’s research relates the physical structure of foods to functional properties, using theories and methods adapted from physical chemistry. He also uses this approach in his “Food Physical Chemistry” graduate course and in his textbook, An Introduction to the Physical Chemistry of Foods (Springer, 2014). Coupland is interested in the social context of food science and in advancing the food science profession. In his course “Arguing About Food,” he uses modern controversies to help food science students explore the roles science can play in society, while in his large general education course “Food, Facts and Fads,” he takes a historic approach to teach a general audience the ways our food system developed. Coupland is a Fellow and former president of IFT.

Humanitarian Award for Service to the Science of Food in Honor of Elizabeth Fleming Stier
Robert Gravani, PhD, CFS

Cornell University

Robert Gravani is the recipient of the 2021 Humanitarian Award for Service to the Science of Food in Honor of Elizabeth Fleming Stier. The award recognizes significant contributions to the well-being of the food industry, students in food science, and public health. Gravani received a BS in food science from Rutgers University, where he was an advisee of Dr. Stier, and an MS and PhD in food science from Cornell University, where he is currently professor emeritus of food science. He has worked with all sectors of the food system, developing innovative food safety programs for constituents in production agriculture, food processing, food retailing, and foodservice, as well as for regulatory agencies and consumers. He is a past president, past treasurer, and Fellow of IFT and has received several other IFT Achievement Awards. He is also the past president and a Fellow of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP).

Outstanding Partnership Award in Honor of Myron Solberg
Aurora Saulo, PhD

Food Science Interests LLC

Aurora Saulo is the recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Partnership Award in Honor of Myron Solberg. An emeritus professor and specialist with the University of Hawaii and a principal of Food Science Interests LLC, Saulo has a record of world-class excellence and leadership across industry, government, and academics. She was a flavor chemist for United Brands, a senior food technologist for Hunt-Wesson, a technical advisor to Orchards Hawaii Ltd, chair of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and committee clerk to the Higher Education Committee for the Hawaii State Legislature. Saulo was also the force behind the certification of a Better Process Control School (BPCS) when conducted outside the United States, and taught the first BPCS under the new Food and Drug Administration BPCS course requirements. Her exemplary leadership and originality on all food frontiers led to her election as an IFT Fellow in 2006.

Public Health Award in Honor of Babcock-Hart
Jianping Wu, PhD

University of Alberta

Jianping Wu is the recipient of the 2021 Public Health Award in Honor of Babcock-Hart. The award honors Wu’s globally recognized research in bioactive peptides from foods such as eggs, meat, soy, canola, and pulses. Wu has made significant advances in understanding food proteins as a source of bioactive peptides, including the use of a bioinformatics approach to identifying them and uncovering the molecular mechanisms of action. The ultimate goal of his work is to utilize the food proteins to prevent and even mitigate oxidation, inflammation, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis.

Outstanding Young Scientist Award in Honor of Samuel Cate Prescott
Xiaonan Lu, PhD

McGill University

Xiaonan Lu is the 2021 recipient of the Outstanding Young Scientist Award in Honor of Samuel Cate Prescott. Lu is associate professor and Ian & Jayne Munro chair in food safety in the Department of Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry at McGill University. His research focuses on food safety and food microbiology. Lu’s lab develops innovative and rapid sensing, instrumentation systems, and detection methods for ensuring food safety as well as preventing food bioterrorism and fraud. His lab also applies molecular biology and genomic approaches to investigate stress response and pathogenesis of microorganisms that pose threats to agri-food systems and public health. He has published more than 110 peer-reviewed papers.

Achievements in Microbial Research for Food Safety Award in Honor of Gerhard J. Haas
Yaguang Luo, PhD

U.S. Department of Agriculture, ARS, NEA, BARC, FQL, EMFSL

Yaguang (Sunny) Luo is the 2021 recipient of the Achievements in Microbial Research for Food Safety Award in Honor of Gerhard J. Haas. Luo is an internationally recognized authority on food safety in fresh and fresh-cut (minimally processed) fruits and vegetables. She joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service in 2001 with more than five years of research and management experience in the fresh-cut produce industry. Luo has served on the Inter-Agency Food Safety Task Force of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, and consulted for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization on food safety in leafy green vegetables. Her research centers on creative solutions to food safety challenges, and her findings have significantly impacted food safety policies and industry practices internationally and in the United States, where she has helped to enhance the safety of our nation’s food supply.

Food Packaging Award in Honor of Don Riester, Rees Davis, and Aaron Brody
Dong Sun Lee, PhD

Kyungnam University

Dong Sun Lee is the recipient of the 2021 Food Packaging Award in Honor of Don Riester, Rees Davis, and Aaron Brody. He is professor emeritus at Kyungnam University, Korea, where he taught and conducted research in food engineering and packaging for 33 years. He is recognized for his achievements in advancing active and intelligent packaging technologies to improve food safety and quality. His professional contributions include over 100 peer-reviewed publications, co-authoring of Food Packaging Science & Technology, co-editing of Emerging Food Packaging Technologies, and serving on the editorial boards of Food Packaging & Shelf Life and Packaging Technology & Science. This year he published Modified Atmosphere Packaging of Foods: Principles and Applications through IFT Press.

Research and Development Award
V.M. Balasubramaniam, PhD

The Ohio State University

V.M. “Bala” Balasubramaniam is the 2021 recipient of the Research and Development Award. Balasubramaniam’s integrated multidisciplinary approach to research and industrial outreach has advanced knowledge about innovative food manufacturing technologies and resulted in a significant impact on the thermal and nonthermal processing of foods. In particular, his work in the area of high pressure processing has opened new pathways for product offerings by developing safe, clean label, high-quality alternatives to traditional processes. The award reflects a career of prolific basic and applied research, including 115 journal papers, 22 book chapters, two books, five webinars, and four invention disclosures. Balasubramaniam was previously a recipient of the IFT Calvert Willey Distinguished Service Award.

Sensory & Consumer Sciences Achievement Award
John Hayes, PhD

The Pennsylvania State University

John Hayes is the recipient of the 2021 Sensory and Consumer Sciences Achievement Award, which recognizes excellence within the sensory and consumer sciences field. Hayes is a full professor in the Department of Food Science and director of the Sensory Evaluation Center at Penn State; he also holds graduate appointments in Neuroscience and Nutritional Sciences. Throughout his career, he has been an enthusiastic and effective advocate of the science of food and has made significant academic and research contributions to sensory and consumer science.

International Food Security Award in Honor of W.K. Kellogg and Bor S. Luh
Joseph Awika, PhD

Texas A&M University

Joseph Awika is the recipient of the 2021 International Food Security Award in Honor of W.K. Kellogg and Bor S. Luh. Awika, a professor at Texas A&M since 2008, works to develop and transfer food science and technology knowledge to enhance the food security of developing economies. He uses a multidisciplinary approach that combines postharvest and food processing technologies with plant genetics and human nutrition research. This strategy helps to develop grain-based food product value chains that address food and nutrition security needs among vulnerable populations, with the primary crops of focus being sorghum and cowpea. His work has made a significant impact on the economies of numerous African countries, where the technologies have advanced high-quality, locally produced and processed foods with enhanced nutritional properties and broad consumer appeal. Awika’s research in cereal science has resulted in 71 peer-reviewed articles, 10 book chapters, and two books. Additionally, he is heavily engaged in reviewing articles for numerous journals, including Food ChemistryFood Hydrocolloids, and Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. He currently serves as editor of the Journal of Cereal Science and was the recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship in 2018/2019.