AMHERST, Mass. – Professor Eric Decker, head of food science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been elected president of the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS), a century-old group that aims to advance the science and technology of oils, fats, proteins, surfactants and related materials. He has served as vice president of the organization over the past year.
Among the world’s most highly cited researchers in agriculture, Decker will begin his one-year term as president at the 2019 AOCS annual meeting May 5-8 in St. Louis, Mo. The following year, he will serve as past president.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by your peers and have the chance to work with the great members of the top international scientific organization on fats and oils,” Decker says. “Over the next year I hope to help the organization do more work on sustainable foods and improving the health and wellness of the food supply.”
Decker has more than 350 publications and has served on committees of the FDA, Institute of Medicine, Institute of Food Technology, USDA and American Heart Association. Most recently, 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 last month.
Decker’s current research focuses on efforts to improve nutrition by incorporating more stable, unsaturated fatty acids into foods while preventing oxidative rancidity that causes food waste. He and UMass Amherst food science colleagues are also developing technologies to increase the levels of healthy bioactive lipids in foods.
Decker has been recognized for his research with awards from the AOCS, the Agriculture and Food Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the International Life Science Institute, Royal Society of Chemistry and Institute of Food Technologists.
The AOCS was founded in 1909 as the Society of Cotton Products Analysts. As oil and fat chemistry began to emerge, the name was changed and, since the 1920s, AOCS methods have been internationally recognized.