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Lutz Grossmann receives international talent prize for alternative protein research

December 4, 2023

Lutz Grossmann, Assistant Professor of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst), has been honored with the 2023 Nils Foss Talent Prize for his research into the development of environmentally friendly alternative proteins made from algae, bacteria and plants.

The international award, bestowed on an early-career scientist, was presented at a ceremony at the annual Food Analytics Conference at the University of Copenhagen.

When awarding the prize to Grossmann, Henrik Wegener, chair of the Prize Committee and rector of the University of Copenhagen, emphasized his outstanding contribution to the systematic design of environmentally friendly food ingredients, particularly alternative proteins. Grossmann’s achievements include pioneering a holistic approach along the alternative protein value chain and utilizing analytical technology.

Grossmann “has exhibited exceptional talent, dedication and innovation in sustainable food technologies,” Wegener noted. “His work significantly contributes to practical product development within the food and agriculture community.”

“Being honored with an award is always remarkable, yet being granted the Nils Foss Talent Prize holds a unique significance, particularly due to the immense effort contributed by everyone at FOSS,” said Grossmann, who traveled to Denmark for the awards ceremony.

Beginning in 2016, FOSS, a multinational food tech company, has presented the Nils Foss Prize – two awards, Excellence and Talent – named in memory of the company’s founder. The Talent Prize is awarded to a promising scientist who has made a significant contribution in research or innovation to improve the sustainable use of agricultural resources and/or to ensure food quality and safety. The award is given to an early-career scientist who has completed a master’s degree within seven years or a Ph.D. within four years. The cash prize is €15,000.

Grossmann’s research focuses on creating tasty, animal-free protein that has a low carbon footprint and is produced without relying on agricultural land. In one project in the Grossmann Lab, researchers seek to use renewable energy – solar, hydropower or wind – to split water into hydrogen and oxygen (the process of electrolysis) and then use the hydrogen as an energy source for the bacteria, known as hydrogenotrophs.

“Scientific awards are mostly given to individuals, but they are truly team awards,” Grossmann said. “Without great mentors, previous and current students/postdocs, as well as colleagues, this wouldn’t have been possible.”

The other Nils Foss award – the Excellence Prize – recognizes a laureate who is an active and internationally recognized scientist who has demonstrated breakthrough innovative research in the field that leads to 'remarkable improvements' in the quality, safety, nutrition and sustainability of food. The 2023 Excellence Prize was awarded to Anne Meyer, professor of biotechnology and biomedicine at the Technical University of Denmark, for her achievements in the field of enzyme technology and its applications in food and agro-industrial processes.

Widely considered among the most significant global awards bestowed in the academic and industrial food science field, the Excellence Prize has been won twice by a UMass Amherst food scientist – in 2022 by Eric Decker, professor; and in 2019 by David Julian McClements, Distinguished Professor. The Excellence Prize includes a cash award of €100,000.

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