Professor José Miguel Aguilera is a food engineer, based at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He was Chair of the Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering Department for several years and served as Vice-Dean of Engineering. During 2010-2013, Aguilera was President of CONICYT, Chile’s National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (the equivalent of the U.S. National Science Foundation, NSF), the agency responsible for funding most science and technology research, with an annual budget exceeding US$560 million. He retired from PUC in 2012, becoming Honorary Emeritus Professor of Food Engineering, and continued leading research at the Laboratory of Food Microstructure, and supervising graduate students.
Prof. Aguilera has made outstanding and breakthrough contributions to food research and development, education, and internationalisation. In particular, his pioneering work to establish food microstructure and food materials science as a foundation of food processing and product engineering has resulted in a better understanding of the science and engineering of food and the innovative design of healthy food products. He has authored or co-authored over 220 refereed papers and 13 books and has served as a consultant to major food companies (Nestle, Unilever, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Mars), local entrepreneurs and international organisations.
Professor Aguilera’s contributions to food engineering have been recognised by an impressive number of awards and distinctions in his native country and worldwide. In 2008, he received the highest award bestowed by Chile to a scientist or engineer, the National Award for Applied Science and Technology. In 2010 he became the first Chilean elected as a foreign member of the U.S. Academy of Engineering (election to NAE is considered one of the highest honours that can be accorded to a scientist or an engineer in the United States), and in 2014 he joined the Academie d’Agriculture de France. He was awarded the important Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize (Berlin, 2002) and the Life Achievement Award of the International Association of Engineering and Food, IAEF (Athens, 2011). Recently, he received the 2019 GCHERA World Agriculture Prize in Nanjing, China, and the 2020 Nicolas Appert Award of the Institute of Food Technologists (USA).