New Faculty Profile: Vassilis Kontogiorgos
Dr. Vassilis Kontogiorgos joins the Faculty as an Associate Professor in Food Chemistry. Dr. Kontogiorgos’ research focuses on the physical chemistry of carbohydrates and their specific ability to provide texture and stability to food products.
He completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and his PhD at the University of Guelph. Prior to his appointment in LFS, Dr. Kontogiorgos taught for 11 years at the University of Huddersfield and four years at the University of Queensland.
Dr. Kontogiorgos was drawn to B.C. by the province’s readiness to collaborate with academia. His lab focuses on hydrocolloids, like starches or pectin, providing ample opportunity for commercial applications. These carbohydrates can either improve the functional use of processed foods through texture and structure modification or minimize their environmental impact by recycling from waste products like fruit pulp.
“You can’t imagine any processed food without hydrocolloids,” Dr. Kontogiorgos says. “From the most basic to the most premium, you use hydrocolloids to stabilize, improve, or extend the shelf life of food.”
His lab mostly uses physical chemistry. Experiments measure the characteristics of components in food: surface tension, firmness, and other molecular properties.
Dr. Kontogiorgos is open to working with any new product. While in the U.K., he worked with well-known beverage brands. In the months since starting at the Faculty, he has been contacted by local brands, looking for research to develop new product lines.
“Expertise around carbohydrate chemistry is new at UBC and compliments existing talent in the Faculty,” he says. “This is something that industrial partners now know is possible at LFS.” Applications of hydrocolloids expand past food processing. Dr. Kontogiorgos has collaborated with pharmaceutical partners, stressing that the mechanisms to deliver nutrients and drugs often overlap.
At LFS, Dr. Kontogiorgos is excited to work in the new BC Food and Beverage Innovation Centre at UBC and collaborate with other researchers such as Drs. Derek Dee and John Frostad.