Today we are honouring Octavio Paredes-López, a distinguished Latin American scientist, a founding member of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology, and the President of the Mexican Academy of Sciences. Dr. Paredes-López is internationally recognized for his research on biotechnology to improve the nutritional, functional and agronomic characteristics of Mesoamerican crops. He received the Third World Network of Scientific Organizations Award in 1998 for his contributions to a better knowledge of indigenous plant foods of Latin America.
Dr. Paredes-López held two degrees in biochemical engineering and an M.Sc. in food science when he came to the University of Manitoba in 1977. He came to study in the Department of Plant Science and joined the dynamic cereal research group led by Dr. Walter Bushuk. In 1980 he received a Ph.D. for his thesis on the use of protein markers to identify wheat cultivar quality.
That year he returned to Mexico as a leading scientist at the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute. He initiated research on the physico-chemical properties of fruits, maize, wheat, beans, and cactus cultivars, and helped processors develop these resources into new products for national and international markets. His interest in nutrition led to the development of improved, high protein amaranth cultivars, and to the increasing commercialization of this highly nutritious but underutilized crop. He has recently investigated the expression of genes for the biosynthesis of provitaminA in nopal plants. These plants are sources of carotenoid pigments such as lutein that can help prevent age-related macular degeneration and loss of vison. Throughout his career his diverse interests in functional foods and nutraceuticals have been complemented by his activities to preserve the wide biodiversity of indigenous Mexican plant species.
Dr. Paredes-López has published over 145 refereed research articles, and has authored over 30 reviews, and chapters of books. He is the editor of the monographs Amaranth, Biology, Chemistry and Technology (1994), Molecular Biotechnology for Plant Food Production (1999), and Natural Colorants for Food and Nutraceutical Uses (2003). He has been an active member of the editorial boards of both English and Spanish language publications, and is at present the General Editor of Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, and is an Associate Editor of Food Science and Technology International. He has been the major advisor for over 80 theses, 23 of these at the Ph.D level. He has also published many articles and editorials on scientific issues in the popular press.
Dr. Paredes-López's scientific and academic contributions make him a worthy recipient of the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa). As an outstanding member of the international scientific community and also a University of Manitoba graduate, he is a worthy representative of the university and its students.
Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour and privilege to ask in the name of the Senate of the University of Manitoba, tht you confer upon Dr. Octavio Paredes-López the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
-citation delivered by mentor, Professor Beverley Watts, Faculty of Human Ecology