A Chat with… Kai Knoerzer


Kai surfing in Australia

Name: Kai Knoerzer

 Job title: Senior Research Scientist

 Company: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Div. Animal, Food and  Health Sciences

 Highest Level of Education/Degree: PhD

 What does your schedule look like today?

Way too many meetings. Need to get reviews done of a number of papers and get a student settled who has just  arrived from overseas.  Maybe tomorrow there’s some time to do real science again?

How did you go about finding your current job?

Good question … It was mostly a decision about in which country I wanted to work. When I was close to completing my PhD in Germany, having lived there for 30 years and only got to know the life outside Europe on internships in the States and China for a few months, I knew that I had to leave this country at least for a few years. So after I had made the decision that Australia would be the place to go, I asked a contact from an Australian university if he was looking for postdocs. He didn’t have the funds but forwarded my request to one of his contacts at CSIRO and from then it all went really quick … sent my formal application to CSIRO a few days after that, had a telephone interview a week later; they flew me into Australia another week later, where I signed the postdoc contract straight away and 2 months later I left Germany with my wife, 2 kids and dog (luckily all paid for by CSIRO). I finished my postdoc after 1.5 years instead of 3, became an Australian permanent resident and was promoted to “research scientist” with indefinite contract. 


Who do you think is the most influential person in your field?  

Myself?? Just kidding, there are a number of people who are very influential in my field. From a classic food process engineering perspective and in particular in Europe, I’d say my PhD advisor, Prof Schubert (retired), from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. Also very influential in this field is Prof Fryer from Birmingham University in the UK. When it comes to new and innovative technologies, I’d say the most influential ones are Prof Knorr (retired) from Technical University of Berlin, Prof Hendrickx from Katholike Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and Prof Barbosa-Canovas from Washington State University.

When are you most inspired? 

When I wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea … or at least what I then think is a brilliant idea 😉  Very inspiring is also working with excellent students, luckily I’ve had plenty over the last few years.


Swimming at Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia

If you could know one thing now that you didn’t know then, what would it be?

This is a confusing question. Most of the things that have been or are relevant in my life (in general) which I didn’t know then I hopefully do know now already 😉

Though, I’d like to know the answer to the question “Are we alone?”. I didn’t know it then (whenever) and I still don’t know it now. Nothing to do with my job or career, maybe a bit nerdy, just curious 😉

Why should I join the International (or any other) Division?  

Great networking opportunities with people from all around the world. Latest news about what is of global relevance in the food and related industry, or the food science community in general. And that is probably true for most IFT divisions (at least the ones I am involved in, which are the International, the Nonthermal Processing and the Food Engineering Division).

Given that I am the chair-elect of the International Division, I’d like to take this opportunity and encourage you to join this division; there are many opportunities to become actively involved, also as a student, and you can only benefit from it … we are a great bunch of people. 😉

The most valuable thing I will do to further my research/career as soon as I finish reading this interview is:  

Finally take the time to summarize all that data we’ve collected in various projects over the last couple of years and turn it into publications.

What is your favorite food?  German Bratwurst 😉

To join the International Division, click here.  

Photo Credit: Kai Knoerzer

Science Meets Food

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