Monday, February 15, 2021

Spotlight on Silvana Martini, 2021 AOCS Fellow

The AOCS Fellow Award recognizes achievements in science and/or extraordinary service to the Society. This spotlight will tell you more about 2021 AOCS Fellow Award Winner Silvana Martini. 

Plan to attend her award lecture on April 23, 2021, from 12–1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, USA; UTC-5). You can join the livestream on our website, on FaceBook Live, or on YouTube Live. The abstract for this lecture is at the end of this post. 

Biography:  Dr. Silvana Martini obtained her BSc in Biochemistry in 1997 from the University of La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina.  She obtained her PhD in Chemistry from the same institution in 2003. She spent 2 years in the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph as a Postdoctoral Researcher and joined the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences in Utah State University in November 2005 as an Assistant Professor.  Dr. Martini was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011 and to Full Professor in 2016.   

Tell us about your research:

"My research program is currently focused on use of high intensity ultrasound (HIU) to change the physical properties of edible fats.   Healthy fats with low levels of saturated fatty acids and no trans fatty acids lack structure and physical properties required for many food applications.  Application of HIU to healthier fats can improve their physical characteristics and improve their utility to the food industry."  

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

"I was honored to be nominated for the 2021 AOCS Fellow Award and I am thrilled to be selected for this award. It is a privilege to be recognized by experts in the fields of fats and oils for my contribution to science and to the AOCS Community."

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

"From the beginning of my career as a student, AOCS was crucial in the development of my professional network and leadership skills that helped me build a career in the fields of edible fats and oils.  I have used the various invaluable resources offered by AOCS such as scientific journals, annual meetings, and Official methods to enhance my knowledge and grow my expertise in these areas."

Dr. Martini has published more than 110 papers in peer-reviewed journals, participated in more than 180 conferences, and published 11 book chapters.  She has received awards including the Young Scientist Award from the Agricultural and Food Chemistry Division of the ACS, the Robins Award for Faculty Researcher of the Year for Utah State University, and the Timothy L. Mounts Award from the AOCS. Dr. Martini serves as Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society and is a member of the Governing Board of the AOCS

Congratulations to 2021 AOCS Fellow Silvana Martini

Award Lecture:

Sonocrystallization of fats: Considerations for industrial applications

The elimination of partially hydrogenated oils from food formulations and the reduction of saturated fatty acids has challenged food producers to generate appropriate physical properties in healthier fats.  High-intensity ultrasound (HIU) has been used over the past 15 years as an additional processing tool to improve the physical properties of fats.  Studies showed that this technique is very helpful to process healthy fats that have a low level of saturated fatty acids and that crystallize slowly.

Increase in crystallization rate, hardness, elasticity, and reduction in crystal size and oil migration, are some of the common physical properties that can be obtained in sonocrystallized fats. The degree of change in these physical properties is highly dependent on various processing conditions such as a chemical composition of the material, degree of agitation of the sample, heat transfer and removal of heat generated during sonication, and crystallization kinetics of the sample.

Many experiments related to the sonocrystallization of edible fats have been performed in batch proving the benefits of this technology, but only a few have shown the practical application of HIU in continuous systems similar to the ones used in industrial settings. This presentation will describe how processing conditions affect the outcomes of the sonocrystallization process. Strengths and limitations of HIU to process edible fats and the incorporation of this technology in a scraped surface heat exchanger will be discussed. 

Overall, this presentation will describe important concepts that must be considered when evaluating the potential use of HIU in industrial applications.

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