AOCS Member Jerry King on winning the Kenneth A. Spencer Award and AOCS membership

Learn more about AOCS member Jerry King's recent recognition, his research and his AOCS membership.

Jerry KingDr. King has over 55 years of experience in the field of chemistry, chemical engineering and food technology. He has worked in government, industrial, academic and consulting environments. Dr. King has published over 275 documents, including government reports and holds three patents. He is world renown for his expertise and contributions to supercritical fluid (CO2) technology in the fields of food, botanical and natural product processing as well as analytical chemistry and materials science (i.e., packaging, coatings, surface modification, CO2-based cleaning processes). Since 2013, Dr. King has had a focus on consulting and Research & Development (CFS) related to the cannabis industry. He is a recognized expert in the fields of extraction, chemistry and latest CO2 technology and has made numerous presentations at many science & engineering conferences.

Why did you join AOCS?

I joined AOCS in the 1980’s in anticipation that it would be of value to be a member in connection with my industrial position at that time with CPC International and anticipated transition to working in the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS). In truth AOCS’ influence career-wise extended beyond this period (1980-2002) – into the new century, so to speak – and continued to be of value professionally in many ways later as a university professor, and to even this very day as a professional consultant and researcher in what has been an interdisciplinary career.

The Kenneth A Spencer award recognizes meritorious contributions to the field of agricultural and food chemistry. Tell us more about your contributions to the field that helped you in winning this award.

The ACS’ Kenneth Spencer Award does indeed recognize contributions in agricultural & food chemistry which have been seminal throughout my career. If one defines “agricultural chemistry” in the broadest sense, a considerable number of my contributions have been involved in applying environmentally-benign solvents to sustainable agricultural resources – such as oilseed crops. These have involved, for the most part, extraction agents such as CO2 and water under compression for conducting extractions, reactions, etc. in these fluids. On the food chemistry side, these approaches have also been applied on both a laboratory- and process-scale to produce or improve commodity and specialty food ingredients, hence food-related products that are safe for the consumer.

Describe your research and explain what big challenge or problem your work is trying to solve. How do you hope or how has AOCS helped in solving this challenge?

There has been a diverse array of problems that I have had the opportunity to apply the area I am best known for R&D in, i.e. supercritical fluid technology. These have included applications in oilseeds extraction and processing, including hydrolysis, enzymatic and hydrogenation reaction chemistries – always with producing an end-use product that has application in the real world. These and other lipid-like “substrates”, including by-product streams from the oleaginous and similar industries. Examples would include applying the critical fluid technology platform to deodorizer distillate, enhancing the value of glyceride-based compositions derived from oilseed sources, deriving physiologically-active extracts from a diverse array of agricultural-food related substrates, such as grape/berry pomaces, soapstocks and waste streams - not only from agriculture, but the marine, forest and paint/coatings industries.

The knowledge I gained from AOCS membership and interaction over the years with its members was invaluable in addressing problems I was presented to solve, such as reducing the use of organic solvents in toxicant analysis on a laboratory scale via CO2-based extractions - as well as applying those same principles and techniques to nutrient analysis as well. The basis of much of this work involved applying the physical chemistry of lipids, such as solubility, their physicochemical properties, and often times chromatography-based methodology – both in the analytical and “inverse” modes. Many of these studies have been reported in AOCS’ journals or in the peer-reviewed literature.

How has AOCS impacted your career?

To some extent my memberships in both the ACS and AOCS have been mutually beneficial to my career and have run in parallel during this 55-year period. Over time, one discovers that one reaps unexpected value from these societal memberships – both social as well as technical. Addressing these two specific areas, AOCS allowed me to connect with members in its multiple divisions: analytical, industrial oil, edibles, processing, phospholipid, health & nutrition and surfactants-detergents/ Interaction with them and the technical content of their programs helped in numerous way in research projects involving biofuels, cleaning technology, surface chemistry as well as the more obvious areas.

Conversely, in ACS I have been a member for years in approximately 10 or more divisions or sub-divisions including agriculture & food, industrial & engineering chemistry, polymer & engineering science, analytical, separation science, and most recently cannabis chemistry (CANN). The synergism for me between these two professional societies has been mutually supportive to me professionally by increasing my knowledge base and interpersonal relationships which I treasure to this very day. For example, I would not have expected that the knowledge I gained from my AOCS membership over the years would have benefitted me in contributing to the ACS CANN sub-division, but it has and that knowledge has provided me with the tools to apply as a consultant to the cannabis and hemp industries.

You have been involved with a variety of AOCS publications, including journals, books and INFORM magazine. What’s motivated you to dedicate your time to volunteering?

Yes, AOCS has provided me with a scaffold to publish and contribute to the literature of lipid technology as well as those dealing with agriculture and food. This has ranged not only for peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed contributions, but some highly cited review articles over the years. Of particular note are two books edited with AOCS’ member, Gary List, on supercritical fluid technology and hydrogenation. It would be a reach to say these were “volunteer” actions, but more a requisite activity of having been associated with academic and government laboratories throughout my career where this activity was a requirement.

On volunteering, it is seminal to my very nature. Whether it is organizing a session for AOCS or ACS meetings, or participating as a division officer, I have tried to contribute over the years. Perhaps I am proudest of helping colleagues, particularly younger researchers in the diverse fields I have been privileged to work. Participating in short courses, webinars, and in these days, “virtual” events, are major volunteering activities. This has included many interactions with individuals in over 70 countries throughout the world – which continues to this very day in countries such as Canada, Spain, Colombia, Iran, New Zealand, among others. It is these relationships both from a professional as well as a social aspect that have enriched my life.

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