(With files from Jacqueline Terry-Carroll)
How would you describe someone who is a writer/co-writer of more than 400 published refereed research articles, the author of 86 book chapters and 18 books, the holder of more than 40 patents and an Officer of the Order of Canada (2021)?
If you said, “a Pearson College UWC alum,” you’d be correct.
Recently, the College’s Ontario-based Senior Philanthropic Advisor Jacqueline Terry-Carroll had a chance to meet with Alejandro Marangoni, PhD (Year 8/1983, Ecuador) and tour his lab at the University of Guelph (Ontario), an institution regarded as a leader in post-secondary institution food sciences teaching and research.
“It was an honour to meet Dr. Marangoni who has devoted his career to food science research that yields impactful and sustainable change for the health of humans and the planet,” said Terry-Carroll. “He believes in educating the public about conscience-driven decision making and personal accountability as informed choices can lead to a greater change in the right direction for all.”
In his biography, Marangoni writes that he, “was inspired to pursue a career in chemistry by a teacher at the Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific,” which he attended prior to pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Chemistry.
Marangoni told Terry-Carroll that his father was a renowned doctor in Ecuador whose own life reflected UWC values including a commitment to providing medical care and support for whole communities with a special focus on women. “My father, Dr. Paolo Marangoni, saw value in what a Pearson education offered and connected me to the College’s UWC application process – an educational experience that has shaped my life.”
Marangoni added he greatly valued his time at Pearson*, recognizing that it created an environment where people learn to communicate and hold complexity in real-life situations and enjoy life to the full!
Pointing with humility and gratitude to those who helped guide him along the way is characteristic of Marangoni, despite a lifetime of honours, recognition and achievement ranging from founding and commercializing three high-tech companies with global reach, being honoured as one of the ten most influential Hispanic Canadians in 2012 and being named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2018.
But he also knows that good publicity and awareness help support his good works.
“Not that these things matter,” he said. “But such awards bring attention and help get funding and can influence some decisions for the greater good.”
Marangoni’s research, including his nearly 35 years with the University of Guelph, works toward developing novel structured emulsions to use in place of trans fats, saturated fats and palm oil in foods. Other innovations in this area include the development of oil gels, or oleogels, and using physical structuring to modify the physiological effect of fats and oils.
With this, he hopes to create healthier alternatives to high-fat foods, without losing the desired flavor or texture. These alternatives may also have applications in improving the health characteristics of cosmetic products, decreasing the environmental impact of the use of lubricants and grease, and improving the sustainability of food production.
Currently, Marangoni enjoys working with students as they research how to improve vegan cheese’s protein content and stretchability to be a meat replacement in a meal. Like many of his students, he is strongly committed to finding sustainable ways to feed the world and how to produce food sustainably at scale.
*The Marangoni family connection to Pearson runs deep. Marangoni’s sister, Larissa Marangoni Bertini, also attended the UWC school and went on to earn Master of Fine Arts and Master in Public Health degrees and became known as a sculptor. Bertini is currently a Director with the Ministry of Culture in Ecuador and previously helped lead the APROFE (a private, non-profit organization devoted to family planning and sexual and reproductive health in Ecuador.) We hope to have the opportunity to catch up with Ms. Bertini in a future edition.