UMass Amherst Food Scientist Julian McClements Receives International Lifetime Achievement Award

David Julian McClements
David Julian McClements

AMHERST, Mass. – The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) honored University of Massachusetts Amherst food scientist David Julian McClements with its 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony in Frankfurt, Germany, on Nov. 30, recognizing his “pre-eminence in and contributions to the field of food science and technology over his career.”

IUFoST is the global scientific organization representing over 300,000 food scientists and technologists from more than 75 countries. Recipients of its Lifetime Achievement Award are recognized “for their significant contributions to scientific knowledge with impact in areas such as food safety, food quality, human nutrition, product, process and package innovation, food security (availability, accessibility, affordability), consumer acceptability, communication of food science and technology regulations, or combinations of above.”

McClements’ special area of research is food biopolymers and colloids, particularly in the development of food-based structured delivery systems for bioactive components, such as vitamins, nutraceuticals and nutrients. His work aims to improve understanding of the physicochemical processes that occur within food matrices and the gastrointestinal tract, “so as to design functional foods and beverages designed to improve human health and wellness through dietary interventions,” he explains.

In a letter nominating McClements, Eric Decker, head of the food science department at UMass Amherst, points out that the professor has “carried out pioneering research on the development and application of physical chemistry and nanotechnology principles to improve food quality, safety, and healthfulness throughout his career.” Further, he has established an “internationally recognized research program in the areas of food biopolymers, colloids, nanotechnology and functional foods” at the university. 

When McClements learned of the lifetime recognition, he joked, “Hopefully I’ve got a few years left in me,” but quickly added, “I feel honored to be recognized. It shows that the research I have done is relevant and significant.”

The food scientist has been invited to officially receive his award at the 19th Food Science and Technology World Food Congress in Mumbai in October. He points out that the conference theme will be “25 billion meals a day by 2025, with healthy, nutritious, safe and diverse foods” – which refers to the anticipated number of meals required globally to feed everyone that year.

McClements says, “I want to continue to apply fundamental scientific principles to ensure an abundant, safe, nutritious and healthy food supply. It will be important for us to produce sufficient food to feed the growing world population without causing environmental problems, to distribute it efficiently, and to reduce food waste, which will require a range of scientific and other disciplines.”

McClements is the author of three editions, the most recent in 2015, of “Food Emulsions: Principles, Practice and Techniques,” and of “Nanoparticle- and Microparticle-based Delivery Systems: Encapsulation, Protection and Release of Active Components” in 2014. He is the co-author of seven other volumes including “Advances in Food Colloids” with Eric Dickinson, “Designing Functional Foods,” and “Encapsulation and Delivery Systems for Food Ingredients and Nutraceuticals.”

In addition, he has published over 800 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and has 12 patents. He is a member of the editorial boards of a number of journals, and has organized workshops, symposia and international conferences in the field of food colloids, emulsions and delivery systems. McClements received his Ph.D. in Food Science at the University of Leeds, U.K., in ultrasonic spectrometry. He then did postdoctoral research at the University of Leeds, the University of California, Davis, and University College Cork, Ireland.

Decker adds that McClements is an excellent teacher and mentor to his students, postdoctoral researchers and visiting scientists. “He combines traditional lecturing methods with innovative teaching approaches to develop team work, critical thinking and creativity skills. He has over 30 researchers currently working in his laboratory, and always has time to mentor them. In short, he is clearly strongly dedicated to training the new generation of scientists so that they have all the skills necessary to work in the modern food industry.”

McClements has previously won many awards for his research, including for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity from UMass Amherst in 2008 and the Research Award from its College of Natural Sciences in 2010; the Babcock-Hart Award in 2015 from the Institute of Food Technologists, and the Hilditch Memorial Award from the U.K. Society of Chemical Industry in 2012. He is also currently the most highly cited food and agricultural scientist in the world, according to Essential Science Indicators.