Food and Health Informatician
Food Science and Technology Dept.
IC-FOODS (The Intl. Center for Food Ontology Operability Data and Semantics)
University of California-Davis, Davis, Calif.
Matthew Lange wants to do more than just innovate. That’s because the key question is, “What’s the most important innovation one can make?” Lange says. In other words, if you fail to ask yourself the best and most fundamental ways you can innovate, you will cease to be relevant.
Even more importantly, he has managed to combine his greatest loves in his quest for the best: His love of cooking and eating better kinds of food, his love of watching things grow, his love of word games, and his love of data—using it to answer questions and visualizing it to tell stories.
These interests propelled Lange to his role leading an initiative at the University of California at Davis called the International Center for Food Ontology Operability Data and Semantics. It’s the only academic center dedicated to building infrastructure for the burgeoning Internet of Food.
Lange’s goal is to develop an internationally recognizable language to describe food, food processes, and health characteristics from nourishing processes.
To do that, the center brings together ontologists with environmental, agricultural, food, and health scientists, technologists, humanitarian scholars, and policy wonks from across industry, government, and academia to develop this language in concert.
The end result is to give consumers clear insights into the food they eat, where it originates, and how it’s been treated. That means building a standardized language and aligning more consumer demands like a desire for increased transparency and traceability of the foods being eaten. Ultimately, Lange says, this will result in new economies, where companies are competing to be more transparent, to be more traceable, and to be more trustworthy.