AJ Banks Travel Bursary Recipient, Ashok Patel, reports from Florida

19 May 2015

Ashok Patel was awarded an AJ Banks Travel Bursary in 2014. Here, he reports on his attendance at the 106th AOCS (American Oil Chemists Society) meeting, which took place in Orlando, Florida, USA on 3 – 6 May 2015.

‘I would like to acknowledge the support offered by SCI in the form of an AJ Banks Travel Bursary to assist my participation at the recently concluded 106th AOCS (American Oil Chemists Society) meeting held in Orlando, Florida, USA.

‘It was a very useful experience for me to meet some of the world leaders in the field of Lipid Science and Technology such as Prof Marangoni (Guelph University, Canada), Prof Rousseau (Ryerson University, Canada), Prof McClements (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA), Prof Sato (Hiroshima University), Prof Toro Vazquez (Universidad Autónoma de San Luis, Mexico) and Prof Garti (Hebrew University, Israel). The technical  sessions  and  the informal division events gave me ample opportunity to interact with researchers active in the field of food lipid science and technology. I also had the opportunity to give an oral presentation (Colloidal inorganic particle-based oleogels and bigels) in the session organised by the Edible Application Technology division of AOCS. The presentation was well-received both by students and established researchers. Following my presentation, I had some useful discussions with researchers who were interested in knowing more about my work (particularly about bigels) and a possibility of a short research stay at Hiroshima University in Japan in the near future was also finalised.

‘There was a lot of interesting sessions at the conference but the stand-out sessions for me were ‘Alternative approaches for oil structuring’, ‘Fat crystals at different length scales’ and ‘Emulsions and Foams’ organised by the Edible Application Technology, the Agricultural Microscopy and the Surfactants and Detergents divisions of AOCS. I got to learn a lot from the talks given by international researchers from around the globe. New approaches that can be used to tackle the pressing issue of trans and saturated fat reduction in food formulations were discussed at these sessions with oleogelation being considered as our best possible option. In the last 6-8 years, oleogelation has changed from a relatively unheard term to a well-explored research domain as suggested from a large rise in the number of oleogel-related publications appearing in field-specific (food journals) as well as multi-disciplinary journals. Besides the industrial need for such an approach, the main driver for such increased interest in this area has to do with the interesting properties of oleogel systems which make them an attractive subject for interdisciplinary research. However, there are still a few bottlenecks including limited options of food-grade structuring agents, regulatory issues and processing complications which need to be overcome in order to translate oleogelation approach from bench scale academic research to commercial applications. The physical aspects of characterising fat crystallization were also discussed at length by researchers from Guelph University (Canada) and Utah University (USA). Apart from this, I was also happy to learn new concepts of excipient food design and edible particle-based emulsions which I can use for my current research dealing with the stabilisation of structured food emulsions. Particularly, a comprehensive overview on food-grade Pickering stabilised emulsions which was presented by a researcher from Wageningen University was very interesting to listen to.  The poster sessions also provided me with a chance to interact with young students working in the field of food colloids and I met some interesting students who I could consider hiring in the near future.

‘Last but not the least; I was invited by the editor to write a book chapter on ‘Biopolymer based edible oleogels’ for a book to be published by Wiley Blackwell early next year. The book will feature a collection of chapters from some of the leading researchers from USA, Canada, Japan, Mexico, UK in the field of lipid crystallisation, it is a real honour for me to be a part of this elite group.

‘I would once again like to thank SCI for awarding me with AJ Banks Travel Award, the award will be used to offset my expenses related to my conference registration fee and accommodation fare.’

Prof Ashok Patel,
Vandemoortele Centre, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University

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