Foods for Health — December 11, 2017

Global food science organization recognizes Hatzakis with Young Scientist Award

The organization that serves as the global voice for food science and technology has honored Dr. Emmanuel Hatzakis with its Young Scientist Award, which recognizes an early career investigator for the potential to make outstanding scientific contributions and provide future leadership in the field.

The award from the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) was announced Nov. 30 in Frankfurt, Germany. The organization represents more than 200,000 food scientists and technologists from more than 70 countries.

Hatzakis is an assistant professor of Food Science and Technology in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and a member of the Food Innovation Center. His research interests include applications of liquid and solid state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy in food science and metabolomics.

“This award is an important recognition of my achievements in the field,” he said, “and it further encourages me to keep advancing the application of NMR spectroscopy in food science.”

NMR spectroscopy analyzes the magnetic properties of certain nuclei to determine the structure, concentration and the physicochemical properties of chemical compounds of various sizes and classes.

Hatzakis is developing rapid and robust analytical methods that can monitor the biochemical composition of foods and thus be used as reliable tools for food evaluation and classification. For example, he has produced faster and cost-efficient NMR techniques to evaluate and authenticate edible oils and fish oil supplements. In addition, he employs NMR spectroscopy for the discovery and characterization of compounds with high commercial and nutritional value that can be produced from low cost sources, such as food industry waste. One example is AvoColor, a natural food color additive extracted from avocado seeds and produced by his start-up company, Persea Naturals. Further, by combing spectroscopy, metabolomics, and microbial analysis, he also investigates the interplay between nutrition and the microbiome and how it affects health and disease.

Hatzakis was hired in conjunction with the Discovery Themes' Foods for Health program and started on the Columbus campus in autumn 2016. Before coming to Ohio State, he was the NMR director at Pennsylvania State University. He received his PhD in food analysis in 2007 from the University of Crete in Greece.

His interdisciplinary work involves collaborators from several departments and colleges, including horticulture and crop science, human nutrition, biomedical informatics, periodontology, animal science, and pediatrics.

“I found most of my collaborators through the Discovery Themes,” he said. “This is vital because modern research has to be collaborative to achieve maximum results.”

In June, the Institute of Food Technologists presented Hatzakis with the 2017 Samuel Cate Prescott Award for his work with NMR spectroscopy. An international, non-profit scientific society, IFT has more than 18,000 members representing virtually every discipline related to food science.