I am senior scientist with broad expertise in physical chemistry and food physics, working in the areas of food structure, stability and ingredient functionality, and specialized in food oral processing and tactile sensory properties and digestive behavior of food systems. I have published more than 60 scientific journal publications. A description of my scientific expertise is given on http://www.nizo.com/explore/people/98/van-aken/ and on http://nl.skillpages.com/george.vanaken. Summaries of the most relevant publications can be found on http://nl.linkedin.com/in/georgevanaken. You can go to these pages by clicking on the links below.
Next to my activities through insight FOOD inside, I am employed for 2 days per week by NIZO food research, where I have advisory and leading roles in various contract research projects, mainly giving input on food physics, food structure, rheology and stability. A main role within NIZO is to translate scientific knowledge from background research to practical applications.
My areas of expertise are: Food technology, Beverages, Soups and sauces, Emulsions and foams, Infant formula, Proteins, Fats and oils, Polysaccharides, Starch, Food ingredients, Enzymatic modification, Food and Function, Satiety, Digestion, Nutrition, Medical Nutrition, Sensory, Thickeners, Emulsifiers, Rheology, Tribology, Knowledge Integration, Computer Modelling, Acquisition, Presentation and Publication, Project leader, Management.
(October 2014-current) Owner of insight FOOD inside
Acquiring contract research projects on food structure function relations, temporary assignments within companies and institutes and development and application of innovative research tools.
(October 2014-current) Developing the acoustic emission measuring technique for measuring crispiness and crunchiness. Extending the in silico digestion model with modules for all macronutrients and post-absorptive processes.
(October 2014-April 2015) Application specialist (interim) at AVEBE innovation centre Veendam: Researching the functionality and applicability in food products of modified potato starches. In this function I identified the functional differences (required temperature for activation, functional starch content, gelling mechanism) and sensory effects of gelling starch types and explored application opportunities in dairy products. This effort has delivered much new insight, new characterization techniques and several new opportunities that are highly relevant for AVEBE and its customers.
(January 1991-current) Senior scientist, new product/expertise developer at NIZO food research
My main role is to lead, perform and give advice in contract research projects for clients from a broad range of food companies, giving support by my expertise in food structure and ingredient functionality.
I have conducted more fundamental studies as investments by NIZO and seconded to the Top Institute food and nutrition (TIFN, multidisciplinary strategic background projects for consortia of companies including Unilever, Nestlé, Vion, Fromagerie Bell, DSM and AVEBE and knowledge institutes TNO food, IFR and the universities of Wageningen and Maastricht. ). These are:
(April 2011-June 2014) Senior scientist at TIFN: In this position I had an advisory role in scientific studies towards a reduction of saturated fat in meat, cheese and layered dough products. My main tasks were to guide the scientific direction and interpretation of various studies within the project, present and discuss the results with the stakeholders, model the rheological behavior of the multiphase gels and write publications.
(September 2007-September 2012) Senior scientist at TIFN: Senior scientist in physical chemistry of food emulsions, studying the digestive processes in stomach and small intestine, in an interdisciplinary team. The project involved in vitro and in vivo studies of digestive processes in stomach and small intestine, the formation of fat digestion products (fatty acids) and the way these regulate the digestion process and feelings of hunger and satiety by hormone controlled feedback mechanisms. Focus was on the way digestion of fat in food can be modulated by adapting the formulation (free fat, emulsion structure) and how this affects physiology.
(March 2002-December 2007) Project team leader at TIFN : Assembling and leading a multidisciplinary project team. The project has delivered knowledge on texture-mouthfeel interactions and engineering rules to optimize the structure and compositions of emulsions and foams in relation to in–mouth behavior and the related sensory attributes. A break-through has been achieved by identifying the way food emulsions and foams are structurally changed in the mouth by the interaction with saliva and the tongue surface, and the role of emulsion droplets in facilitating breakup of protein and polysaccharide gelled networks during mastication.
(October 1997-December 2004) Senior Scientist at TIFN: Project "Stability of Emulsions and Foams". Focusing on several colloidal processes relevant for structuring and stability of food emulsions and whipped food emulsions, such as the interaction with polysaccharide thickeners leading to droplet aggregation, droplet coalescence in highly concentrated or aggregated emulsions and adhesion and spreading of emulsion droplets to bubble interfaces during whipping, producing the typical structure of whipped cream.
(April 1995-October 1997) Project leader for NIZO food research: Technological properties and the applicability of milk fat and fractionated milk fat. Contract research projects related to the formulation of butter, vegetable fats and oils, cream, sauces, chocolate, cattle-feed, sport formula, infant-formula and mouth rinses.
(January 1991-.March 1995) Scientist for NIZO food research: I conducted more fundamental studies on the emulsifying and foaming properties in relation to the surface-active and surface rheological behavior of milk proteins and peptides.
University Ph.D. Physical and Colloid Chemistry.
University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.
November 1985 - October 1990.
Thesis: "A study of Winsor II microemulsion equilibria", advisors: Prof. Dr. P.L. de Bruyn, Prof. Dr. H.N.W. Lekkerkerker and Prof. Dr. J.Th.G. Overbeek. The subject concerned phase equilibria in colloidal systems containing oil, water, emulsifiers and salt. Experimental techniques included spinning drop tensiometry, static light scattering and small-angle X-ray scattering. The experimental results were modelled on the basis of thermodynamic theories and the electrical double layer.
Master degree in Chemistry.
University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.
September 1979 - October 1985;
Subject: Physical and Colloid Chemistry at the Chemistry Department.
Subsidiary subject: Theoretical Physics at the Physics Department.
Scientific research highlights
· Inventor of an acoustic technique that measures oral processing parameters that are relevant for oral perception of food. This new methodology has been appreciated with an IFT innovation award in 2013 and is currently used in a number of commercial NIZO projects in which I participate to optimize the method and for one of which I am the project leader.
· Organizer of the Lorentz workshop “Biophysics, Biochemistry and Physiology of Fat Digestion”, September 2013, bringing together Medical experts, Pharmacists, Gastroenterologists, Food physicists and representatives of leading Food Companies for a 3-day cross-disciplinary workshop to identify what is needed in the field http://www.lorentzcenter.nl/lc/web/2013/578/info.php3?wsid=578
.· Identified separate roles of emulsified fat and foam bubbles in providing creamy textures, classifying these to transient effects under oral conditions on rheology, the interaction with saliva and tribological interaction with the tongue surface. Measuring techniques have been established and new insight have been used to optimize creaminess perception by introducing specific starch, thickeners and colloidal particles.
· Inventor and developer of a computer modeling program that integrates knowledge from the physiological and digestion literature, describing the physiological feed-back mechanisms that control digestion, absorption and food intake. The program enables the translation between in vitro digestion measurements and in vivo response and is in continuous development supported by research questions from commercial projects. The program has been used successfully to identify a structuring approach for a food-intake reducing formulation based on grated cheese and for demonstrating a the role of gastric flocculation of proteins in modifying the release of leucine to the blood stream supporting skeletal muscle protein accretion.