Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Spotlight on Casimir C. Akoh, recipient of the 2022 A.R. Baldwin Distinguished Service Award

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Casimir C. Akoh is the recipient of the 2022 A.R. Baldwin Distinguished Service Award. This award, sponsored by Cargill Inc., recognizes long-term, distinguished service to AOCS in a variety of positions of significant responsibility. This is the Society’s highest service award. Get to know Dr. Akoh better in this Q&A!

Casimir C. Akoh

Casimir C. Akoh

Dr. Casimir C. Akoh is a distinguished research professor at the University of Georgia. He earned a Ph.D. in food science and an M.S. in biochemistry from Washington State University and a B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of Nigeria.

He served on the AOCS Governing Board as secretary, vice president, and president (2008–2009). He has also served on many committees — including the Recognition Program, Membership Steering and INFORM Editorial Advisory committees — and as an associate editor of the Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society.

Dr. Akoh’s research is mainly in lipid chemistry and phytochemicals. He is an internationally recognized expert on low calorie fat substitutes and structured lipids. He edited eight books and his “Food Lipids” book, now in its 4th Edition (2017), is used worldwide as a textbook for graduate instruction. Dr. Akoh’s research has resulted in over 850 publications and presentations, including up to 296 peer-reviewed refereed publications, 50 book chapters, eight edited books, four patents, 313 presentations and 187 invited presentations. He has received nearly $7.5 million in grants and gifts. He is an editorial board member or associate editor of six journals.

Dr. Akoh received two top research awards from international professional societies in 2012: the AOCS Supelco Research Award and Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Nicholas Appert Award. Dr. Akoh has received seven awards or honors from IFT and six from AOCS. He recently received the University of Nigeria Alumni Achievement Award (2015), IFT Babcock-Hart Award (2018) for food technology contributions that resulted in improved public health through nutrition or a more nutritious food, and AOCS Alton E. Bailey Award (2019). He is a fellow of the IFT, AOCS, American Chemical Society and ISBAB.

Can you tell us about your current research?

We use biocatalysts (enzymes) to modify lipids in general, especially fats and oils for better functionality in foods and potential healthful outcome. New phenolipids and glycerol-based phenolipids as antioxidants (both lipophilic and hydrophilic) are being synthesized, their structures confirmed, characterized, and tested in bulk oils and emulsions. We are also studying infant formula fat analogs and chocolate fats with improved heat stability.

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

Awesome! There you go! Volunteering and excellent service is being rewarded!

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

Volunteering and being active in AOCS enriched my career in many ways. It helped me grow in research, expand my research horizon, learn how to be a good administrator, and allowed me to meet new and retain good friends. There are definitely benefits in networking with your colleagues in a similar profession. 

I had the opportunity to serve as an editorial board member or associate editor of several journals. I became a member of the AOCS Governing Board in 2001 and served as Biotechnology Division Chair (2001–2004) and AOCS Secretary (2004–2006). I had the honor of serving as AOCS Vice President in 2007 and AOCS President for 2008–2009 during the Society's 100-year anniversary.

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