IOP sets up a group dedicated to physics in food manufacturing

26 May 2017

A group to promote the role of physics in the food sector and support physicists who work in it – the Physics in Food Manufacturing Group – has been set up by the IOP.

IOP sets up a group dedicated to physics in food manufacturing

The new group was approved by the IOP’s Council on 4 May and will hold its launch meeting on 18 September. Its aims include supporting research into areas of physics that impact the food sector and encouraging collaborative research between academic and industrial physicists.

Key goals will also include highlighting the role of physics in the food industry to policymakers and promoting it as an exciting sector in which to work, particularly to students and early career physicists.

It is also intended to provide a way for physicists in the food sector to feed their perspectives into the IOP and to have their views represented to funders and policymakers.

The idea for the group grew out of substantial work that the IOP has been doing with physicists and partners in the sector, including its open innovation programme in physics in food manufacturing, which attracted more than 100 people to its initial summit in April 2016.

IOP sets up a group dedicated to physics in food manufacturing

This was followed by the launch of an IOP report on the health of the sector in October 2016 with a networking event again attended by people from industry and academia, and a Topical Research Meeting in January 2017. These activities identified a need for support for the physics community working in the field, while further attention was focused on the sector by a special issue of Physics World in November 2016.

The Physics in Food Manufacturing Group Launch Event will be held on 18 September at the IOP’s centre in London and its future programme is likely to include a multi-day annual conference, two or three shorter events each year, and an annual electronic newsletter and media campaign.

A particular focus will be encouraging students to be involved in the group, giving opportunities for them to present research posters at scientific meetings and possibly instituting an annual poster prize.

Currently nine IOP fellows and members have joined a founding committee, with the chair of the new group to be Professor Roger Eccleston, pro vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University. The secretary will be John Bows, R&D director of PepsiCo global snacks, with Dr Robert Farr of Unilever to be the treasurer.

Commenting on the new group, the IOP’s head of science and innovation, Anne Crean, said: “The Physics in Food Manufacturing Group has an exciting vision to champion the role of physics and physicists in enabling global competitiveness and productivity in the sector.

“Through the group, members working in industry and academia will come together to solve major challenges in food manufacturing – challenges associated with population growth, globalisation, improving food security, minimising environmental impact, and health and nutrition concerns.

“Because of the variety of physics disciplines to tackle these challenges, the group will be very interdisciplinary in outlook. Consequently the group is very keen to work collaboratively with other IOP groups and would encourage members with related interests to attend the group’s launch meeting at the IOP on the 18 September.”