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The Wageningen University & Research Professor Robert David Hall received the Nils Foss Excellence Prize for his pioneering research in plant metabolomics – defining the chemical fingerprint of plant materials. The award consists of 100.000 euro and an art work.

FOSS, supplier of analytical solutions for the food and agricultural industry, introduced the Nils Foss Excellence Prize back in 2016. The purpose is to honour world-class innovative research leading to remarkable improvements in sustainability, quality and safety in the food supply chain. FOSS sponsors the prize, while the nominees are selected by an independent jury of experts from both academia and industry, including chairman of the Technical University of Denmark, rector of the University of Copenhagen, and leaders from the private food sector.

This is the third year in a row the Nils Foss Excellence Prize is awarded, and this year in particular it carries special meaning, as Nils Foss passed away at the age of 90 in May of 2018.

Cell fingerprints to secure global food quality

This year’s winner of the main prize, Robert David Hall Professor of Plant Metabolomics and Deputy Business Unit Manager Bioscience at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, is a pioneer within the field of plant metabolomics, which draws on disciplines ranging from analytical chemistry to computer science. Plant metabolomics is a method of analysis studying the metabolic profiles of plant cells – the fingerprint of the plant – with the aim of understanding the biochemical composition of plant and food materials. Ultimately, the goal is to map how genes and the environment influence plants, and thereby understand how the environment affects food quality.

Professor Hall stresses the importance of the research in metabolomics: “I feel very honoured and humbled to receive the Nils Foss Excellence Prize for the advances my team has made in the field of plant and food metabolomics. What is so special about metabolomics is that you can use this method of analysis to test a sample without needing to decide  in advance, what you are looking for. This makes it a powerful discovery tool and facilitates broad and exciting analytical perspectives, which will benefit many scientific disciplines and industries in the future Our particular goal is to support breeders and food producers to deliver plants, and food, of a much higher quality,” says Professor Robert David Hall.

About the winner

Professor Robert David Hall, is a pioneer in developing and establishing metabolomics technologies as a viable approach to study the metabolic profiles of plants, with a particular emphasis on crop species. The aim of his research is to provide us with a better understanding of the biochemical composition of plant and food materials; how this is influenced by genetic and environmental perturbation and especially, how these changes are related to aspects of food quality. For more than 20 years, Robert David Hall and his team has worked on developing and applying analytical technologies, which can help design new strategies for the development of improved food products.