Lenox Native, UMass Amherst Food Science Student, ​Wins International Food Science Competition

Joshua Gukowsky
Joshua Gukowsky

AMHERST, Mass. – Food science student Joshua Gukowsky of Lenox recently won the Alltech Global Young Scientist competition in the undergraduate category in what the company calls the world’s largest agriscience competition. Gukowsky, an advisee of professor Lili He, will receive full funding toward his doctoral degree and $5,000. Gukowsky, who earned his undergraduate degree in May in food science, intends to return to UMass Amherst for his doctoral work.

His winning proposal outlines a new method for detecting antibiotics in food samples using gold nanoparticles that change color in the presence of antibiotics. He explains in a Facebook interview that despite the use of gold, materials used in his technique cost less than a penny per test compared to current methods that rely on expensive lab equipment. Gukowski says he plans to continue his research focus on detecting contaminants in food and on food safety in his graduate studies.

The competition attracted 154 applications from around the world. These were narrowed to seven regional finalists who presented their papers on innovative agriscience ideas to a panel of international judges and a live audience during ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference, held May 21-24 in Lexington, Ky. Gukowsky was the undergraduate winner while the graduate winner was Brazilian Jonas de Souza, who attends Michigan State University.

Aoife Lyons, director of educational initiatives and engagement at Alltech, presented the awards saying, “I speak for all of the judges on this year’s panel when I congratulate the 2017 winners. The students not only exemplified great skill, but also aptitude and curiosity, which, in our minds, demonstrate their potential as the scientific leaders of tomorrow.”

Gukowsky’s advisor He adds, “We are very excited about his achievement.” At the awards ceremony, Gukowsky said, “Wow, thank you so much, I was really not expecting this. First and foremost, I want to thank my parents and family.”

Alltech says that students are encouraged to join it in pursuit of solutions in animal health and nutrition, crop science, agriculture analytical methods, food chain safety and traceability, human health and nutrition and other agriscience-related sectors, while also gaining valuable experience with the company’s global team.

Founded in 1980 by Irish biochemist and entrepreneur Pearse Lyons, Alltech is a leading global biotechnology company whose mission is to improve the health and performance of people, animals and plants through natural nutrition and scientific innovation.