Professor Benedetto Marelli at MIT is making waves with ingenious ways to preserve food and boost agriculture. A Milanese native and child tinkerer-turned-scientist, Marelli's journey began with dismantling gadgets for the sheer joy of reassembling them, a passion that's now blossoming into innovations stretching from "lab to fork.", according to MIT News.
Marelli's shift from biomedical to environmental engineering has led to the development of silk-based technologies with the potential to combat global woes, including food waste, poor crop yields, and detrimental environmental impacts of traditional farming practices, he's been on the ground running transitions seamlessly that excite with new potentials. At the heart of his research are natural materials, namely silk, used to concoct coatings that prolong the shelf life of perishable produce and fertilize crops in the most testing of landscapes, endeavors that resonate with Marelli's philosophy of drawing from nature's bounty to serve societal needs.
One such breakthrough, as MIT News reports, occurred in the realm of culinary arts—a strawberry, coated in an edible silk suspension, retained freshness beyond expectations, inadvertently laying the groundwork for Marelli's patented techniques. This discovery spearheaded the launch of Mori, a spinoff company that has since commercialized the innovative silk coating, bringing sustainable solutions to the food industry and employment to scores of individuals passionate about making a difference.
Marelli sees the urgency for academia and industry to cross-pollinate; he’s nurtured concepts that translate research into real-world applications, thereby amplifying the practical impacts of academic endeavors, this has been an instrumental shift in perspective for both himself and the students he mentors. Marelli told MIT News that he encourages students to entertain seemingly outlandish ideas, as one never knows which will translate into the next big sustainable solution.
With over 20 patents to his name and a tenure under his belt, Marelli continues to pioneer pathways infusing life sciences with engineering—a testament to the professor's blend of scientific rigour and a fervor for societal impact, he’s not stopped at finding sustainability solutions but is also dedicated to mentoring the next wave of innovators poised to take up the mantle of a world in dire need of sustainability champions.