Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

March 05, 2002

U of G prof wins top NSERC fellowship

A University of Guelph food science professor has received a 2002 E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, the most prestigious award made by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to outstanding young researchers.

Alejandro Marangoni is one of six Canadians to receive a 2002 fellowship, considered one of Canada's premier science and engineering prizes. The award was announced today in Ottawa. Marangoni is the first professor to receive the award while at Guelph. Botany professor Derek Bewley received a fellowship in 1979 when he was at the University of Calgary.

The fellowships are named for NSERC president and physical chemist Edgar William Richard Steacie, who believed that promising young scientists should be given every opportunity to develop their ideas. Fellowships have been awarded since 1964 to the most outstanding Canadian university scientists or engineers who have earned their doctorate within the last 12 years. Nominations are received by NSERC from universities across Canada and judged by a distinguished panel of independent experts. Recipients are relieved of their teaching and administrative duties for two years to concentrate on research.

"I am very happy about the award because it is always gratifying to see one's work recognized at a national level," said Marangoni. "But this fellowship is also an endorsement of the agricultural sciences, a field that is always pushing the envelope and is starting to gain recognition."

University president Mordechai Rozanski said: "This is a very proud day for the University of Guelph. We are delighted that Prof. Marangoni has won this prestigious national award. It is testimony to his excellence as a researcher and to the importance of his work. Ultimately, these investments in Guelph's talented people and in our research capacity will pay off in new advances that contribute to our economic, social and environmental quality of life."

In collaboration with researchers from the University of Waterloo, Switzerland, Malaysia and France, Marangoni will spend the next two years collaborating with researchers around the world on modifying the physical properties of fats and oils, focusing on milk fat, palm oil and cocoa butter. "We are trying to decipher the structure of the liquids state of these fats in order to modify the structure of their solid states via control of processing conditions," he said. His work has helped establish a new area of study into the micro or nanoscale structure of fats and oils. The practical uses of his work range from making butter spreadable at refrigerator temperature to reducing fat's tendency to deposit in the arteries. "Whatever I do in my lab must somehow, sooner or later, have an application," he said. Originally from Ecuador, Marangoni added that his work is influenced by the experience of coming from a poorer country. "There is little room for basic science that doesn't produce tangible benefits."

A faculty member at Guelph since 1991, he has received numerous other awards, including a Premier's Research Excellence Award, a Canada Research Chair and the first-ever Young Scientist Research Award from the American Oil Chemists' Society, an award that required him to compete with 20 other researchers from around the world.

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