Rockville, Maryland, September 27, 2023—AOAC INTERNATIONAL honored analytical science leaders in an awards ceremony at its Annual Meeting with almost 700 analytical science colleagues at the AOAC INTERNATIONAL 2023 Annual Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Monday, August 28. More than a dozen awards recognized scientific excellence across the spectrum of AOAC activities, including method development, expert review panels, editorial contributions to the Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL, and technical service.
John Szpylka, AOAC President, gave an emotional speech at the awards ceremony where he spoke on the meeting’s theme of “Doing Your Part.” After experiencing a medical event, Szpylka looked back upon his life and shared the sense of accomplishment he and all of us need to remember as we continue to contribute to the analytical science community. He spoke about the importance of “Doing Your Part” alongside our colleagues. “All of us doing our part is making our food supply safer and more nutritious, thus saving lives,” Szpylka said. “This work protects everyone; all of our loved ones and everyone else.”
The Harvey W. Wiley Award, presented each year for outstanding contribution to analytical method development in an area of interest to AOAC INTERNATIONAL, went to Michelangelo Anastassiades, PhD, internationally recognized for his analytical approach called QuEChERS (pronounced “kechers”), which stands for quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe. It is an extraction process for testing for most pesticide residues and their metabolites. The QuEChERS method led to the development of two important official methods for pesticide residue analysis: EN 15662 and AOAC Official MethodSM 2007.01. Anastassiades is currently examining ways to cover 20-25% of pesticides and pesticide metabolites not amenable to the basic QuEChERS method.
The Fellow of AOAC INTERNATIONAL Award, which recognizes the dedication of volunteers who serve the Association, was awarded to Susan Audino, S. Audino & Associates, LLC, Bethany Beach, Delaware. Audino is a chemist/chemometrician and independent consultant to chemical and biological laboratories. She is currently the science advisor for the AOAC Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP).
This year, a Special Recognition Award citing his dedication and support of AOAC INTERNATIONAL was presented to Amit Chandra, Amway Research and Development, Ada, Michigan. A champion for students and new researchers, Chandra has been outspoken about providing opportunities for recognition and has organized the first-time poster contest at the Annual Meeting since 2017. During his membership at AOAC, Chandra has served on the Editorial Board, Stakeholder Panel on Strategic Food Analytical Methods Program, AOAC Methods Committee on Dietary Supplements, and on the AOAC Technical Programming Council.
A relatively new and important addition to AOAC’s awards ceremony is the recognition of current students’ research endeavors. Those student award winners receive travel and registration to the Annual Meeting and the opportunity to present their research there, as well as a cash award.
The Harvey W. Wiley Scholarship Award was awarded to Rosalie Ormos, Universities of Stuttgart and Hohenheim, Germany. She is currently pursuing a PhD, with a focus on isolating and characterizing rare minor lipid compounds. This scholarship recognizes a student who has made an outstanding contribution to analytical method development.
The AOAC/Eurofins Foundation “Testing for Life” Student Award was presented to five student innovators who submitted abstracts on basic or applied research in support of analytical or molecular testing for food safety, food security, food defense, food authenticity, or health and environmental protection. The winners were Yigong Guo, The University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada; Hieu Le, Carleton University, Ontario, Canada; Shandry Tebele, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; Zhihan Xian, University of Georgia, Griffin, Georgia, USA; and Yaqi Zhao, Florida State University (FSU), Tallahassee, Florida, USA. In addition to a cash award, the five young scientists will submit an article for AOAC’s Inside Laboratory Management magazine.
The AOAC INTERNATIONAL/Herbalife Scholarship, supported by contributions from Herbalife and designed to encourage student researchers who are advancing analytical or molecular (DNA) testing in herbal or dietary supplements, was awarded to Ellie Abraham, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, USA; and Pushpa Deore, Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI), Maharashtra, India.
The AOAC INTERNATIONAL/SCIEX Rising Star Award, supported by contributions from SCIEX and designed to encourage the integration of graduate students into AOAC INTERNATIONAL who offer demonstrable potential to become thought leaders and scientific influencers in their respective fields, was awarded to Hassan Zia, University of Ljubljana, Berlin, Germany.
The Inés Cereijo Technical Division of Reference Materials (TDRM) Student Award was presented to Andres F. Ortega, Cornell University. The award is offered annually to both undergraduate and graduate students at any college or university to support students promoting awareness of the need for method performance evaluation early in a chemist’s career, using reference materials.
AOAC’s Official Methods Board presented the Method of the Year – Chemistry to AOAC Official MethodSM 2020.07 “Measurement of Available Carbohydrates in Cereal and Cereal Products, Dairy Products, Vegetables, Fruit, and Related Food Products and Animal Feeds” and its method authors Barry V. McCleary, FiberCarb Consultants; and Ciara McLoughlin and Vincent A. McKie, Neogen Corp.
Method of the Year – Microbiology was also presented for AOAC Official MethodSM 2021.08 “Assurance® GDS for Cronobacter Tq II in Infant Formulas, Infant Cereals, Ingredients, and Environmental Samples” and its method authors Andrew Lienau, MilliporeSigma; and M. Joseph Benzinger Jr., Benjamin Bastin, Erin Crowley, Kateland Koch, and Wesley Thompson, Q-Laboratories.
The Technical Service of the Year Award went to John Szpylka, retired, for his significant contributions to AOAC. Szpylka served as president of the AOAC Board of Directors from 2022 to 2023 and was previously president-elect and secretary. He continues to chair and serve on numerous divisions, panels, and groups. He was also president of the AOAC Midwest Section.
The award for Achievement in Technical and Scientific Excellence went to Special Guest Editor Section of the Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL on “Green and Roasted Coffee Authentication: Species, Origin, and Diluent Methods of Analysis,” edited by Brian Schaneberg, Institute for Food Safety & Health. Presented by the AOAC Official Methods Board, the award recognized outstanding volunteer commitment and leadership.
The Expert Review Panel for Stakeholder Program on Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals (SPIFAN) Nutrient Methods won the Expert Review Panel of the Year award based on its high level of activity and review of numerous methods urgently needed in the infant formula community. The panel was chaired by Darryl Sullivan, Eurofins Scientific, and included members Sneh Bhandari, Consultant; Sean Austin, Esther Campos-Giménez, Christophe Fuerer, Société des Produits Nestlé S.A.; Hans Cruijsen, Martine van Gool, FrieslandCampina; Brendon Gill, Fonterra Cooperative Group; Estela Kneeteman, Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia Industrial; Karen Schimpf, Philip Haselberger, Abbott Nutrition; Melissa Phillips, Catherine Rimmer, NIST; Maria Ofitserova, Pickering Laboratories; Thomas Vennard, Shay Phillips, Reckitt; Yannis Vrasidas, Consultant; David Woollard, Consultant; and Jinchuan Yang, Waters Corp.
The Best Manuscript Award,recognizing the most outstanding article in the Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL, went to “Improving the QuEChERs Liquid/Liquid Extraction of Analytes with Widely Varying Physicochemical Properties: Example of 201 Veterinary Drugs in Milk” by Anton Kaufmann, Kantonales Labor Zürich, Fachhochschule Burgdorf, Switzerland. This manuscript was selected for its overall scientific merit; study design, writing quality; technical quality; and potential impact of the work in advancing the field of analytical science, and the mission of AOAC. Kaufmann’s paper concluded that the proposed p-QuEChERS concept, compared to conventional QuEChERS, improved the recovery of various polar analytes. Analytes benefiting from this methodology are drugs, which are particularly relevant in the specific field of multiresidue analysis in milk.
The Section of the Year Award was presented to the AOAC Southern Section. The Section was recognized for facilitation of multiple activities throughout the year, communication across various platforms, recruitment, and service to the Association. Sections provide opportunities for participants to share information, build professional contacts, expand leadership skills, and gain practical management experience. There are 19 AOAC Sections that connect analytical communities in the U.S. and worldwide, representing four continents and more than 120 countries.
Five poster authors won the First-Time Poster Contest: Jake Carter, US Food and Drug Administration; Sarah Dowd, Waters Corporation; Alejandro Garrido-Maestu, International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory; Autumn Phillips, Inorganic Ventures; and Mengliang Zhang, Middle Tennessee State University in the poster categories of Botanicals and Dietary Supplements, Detection and Measurement of Foodborne Contaminants and Residues, Hemp and Cannabis, and Microbiological Methods.
In addition, 167 AOAC INTERNATIONAL members were recognized for their years of service, including one individual who has contributed their expertise to the organization for an impressive 45 years, three 40-year members, six 35-year members, seven 30-year members, 10 25-year members, 52 10-year members, and 88 five-year members.
To view the full list of leaders profiled in these awards, visit the 137th AOAC Annual Meeting and Exposition Awards page.
About AOAC INTERNATIONAL
AOAC INTERNATIONAL is a globally recognized, 501(c)(3), independent, third party, not-for-profit association and voluntary consensus standards developing organization founded in 1884. When analytical needs arise within a community or industry, AOAC INTERNATIONAL is the forum for finding appropriate science-based solutions through the development of microbiological and chemical standards. The AOAC Official Methods of AnalysisSM database is used by food scientists around the world to facilitate public health and safety and to promote trade. For more information, please visit AOAC.org.
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Pictured: AOAC President John Szpylka speaking at the awards ceremony on the meeting’s theme of “Doing Your Part”