Decades after his early thermal preservation process research helped lay the foundation for Aseptia’s evolvement, Dr. Kenneth R. Swartzel returns to the technology company as its new science adviser. Swartzel, a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus from North Carolina State University, moved into the role in early August 2016.
“Aseptia is doing what I have been focusing on for a big part of my academic career,” says Swartzel who dedicated 40 years to N.C. State before retiring in 2015. “Becoming commercial and becoming a commercial success, that’s what I’ve worked toward since the early 1980s.”
As technology leader Aseptia pushes for new commercial achievements within its intellectual property portfolio, science adviser Swartzel brings his four decades of knowledge, skill and personal triumphs to the company. He also extends his expertise as an Aseptia co-founder and a food science researcher with unique and specific industry familiarity beneficial to continued advancements, growth and future development.
Holding both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from N.C. State, Swartzel joined the Raleigh university in 1975 as a research technician. In 1979, he earned his Ph.D. from the department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. While in academia, Swartzel published more than 120 scientific papers and acted as principal or co-principal on numerous projects, garnering outside monetary support surpassing $26 million. Among his research goals were new, thermal-preservation processes that yield high-quality, nutritious, safe and economical foods—goals central to Aseptia and research that began in Swartzel’s N.C. State lab.
For his advanced research and findings, Swartzel has received countless international accolades in his four decades of academic dedication. Among his most prized achievements—as a lifelong proud North Carolinian—are the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, as awarded to him by Governor Bev Perdue in 2012, and being named Tar Heel of the Week by Raleigh’s The News & Observer. Swartzel also received the Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) Nicholas Appert Award for preeminence in, and contributions to, the field of food science and technology, among several other prestigious IFT awards. In the spring of 2016, Swartzel was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the loftiest distinctions accorded to any engineer.
As he foregoes retirement for the Aseptia role, Swartzel notes excitement for returning to research once conducted in his lab. Swartzel acted as a co-founder for Aseptia’s technologies and remains on many of the original patents laying the foundation for the growing company.
“I was there from day one,” he adds. “A lot of the ideas originated from people in my lab.” Swartzel’s former student, who later became an N.C. State colleague—Dr. Josip Simunovic—also served as an Aseptia co-founder and recently moved into the company’s position of chief science officer.
Adds Swartzel, “This technology with continuous flow and rapid heating ... it’s going to increase the quality of life for people. It’s going to give so much satisfaction, and for a researcher, you can’t get any better than that—that’s the peak, to see people enjoy the fruits of your labor. To get back involved with this company, it’s just really exciting, and to see companies put [the technology] into play, to see the end result and see companies put it on the shelf, it doesn’t get any more exciting than that.”
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