The winner of the GCHERA World Agriculture Prize 2019 is announced and the award will be presented at the Ceremony at Nanjing Agricultural University, Peoples Republic of China on 28 October 2019.
The GCHERA Laureate 2019 is José Miguel Aguilera, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
The Award recognises Professor Aguilera’s exceptional and significant lifetime contributions to the fields of food engineering and food technology, and as an example of a dedicated scientist based in a country with an emerging economy who has succeeded in developing fruitful global collaborative partnerships with outstanding impacts on education and research.
José Aguilera, who joined the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile as associate professor in 1981, has made outstanding and lifetime contributions to education, research, internationalization and technology transfer in food engineering and food processing. He introduced teaching and advanced research in food engineering in Chile.
As vice-Dean of Engineering and Associate Dean for Research for 8 years he was instrumental in the growth of a nascent doctoral program, now with over 200 enrolled PhD students. In his role as Department Head, Professor Aguilera led in the mid-eighties the re-orientation of a classical chemical engineering curriculum to one focused on bioprocessing and food technology, more tuned in to the needs of the country.
José Aguilera is a pioneer and a foremost scientist in relating food microstructure to product processing and properties. His widely accepted thesis, which is a foundation of modern food product development, is that food components (e.g., nutrients, flavors, etc.) come in matrices which can be manipulated during processing to improve product stability, safety, texture, taste, and the bioavailability of nutrients.
José Aguilera’s pioneering work to establish food microstructure and materials science as a foundation of food processing has resulted in a better understanding of the science behind processed foods. His studies of extrusion-cooking of grains, plant-based protein foods, intermediate moisture foods, frying and of nutritious soft food products have led to practical applications worldwide.
José Aguilera has published over 200 refereed papers and 13 books and been a consultant to major food companies, local entrepreneurs and international organizations. He has supported the careers of over 40 PhD and MSc students from several countries, and supervised many postdocs.
José Aguilera has been visiting professor at TU Munich, Cornell U., Rutgers U., and UC-Davis, among others. He has lectured or presented talks in 13 countries of Latin America, including those with a lesser tradition in food technology (e.g., Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay), aiding in the establishment of food engineering as an academic discipline.
José Aguilera has been consultant to international agencies (FAO/UNIDO, IDB, SELA) and became a member of the IUFoST Board of Directors in 2016. During 2010-2013 he was President of the National Commission for Science and Technology (CONICYT), thus becoming the highest ranking officer for the promotion and funding of scientific research in Chile.
José Aguilera has been recognized by an impressive number of awards and distinctions including the National Prize of Applied Science and Technology, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Prize and three awards from the Institute of Food Technologists (USA). He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and associate member of the Academie d’Agriculture de France.