Ken Lee, PhD

Board of Directors Candidate
Current Title:
Professor and Director
Employer: Ohio State University, Food Innovation Center, Food Science & Technology

Why do you want to serve in this role?

IFT has an exciting future with outstanding leadership, active membership and a great strategic vision. Our profession is one of the very few where both domestic and global industry, academic, regulatory and entrepreneurial food scientists share common goals. Ensuring safe abundant food for ten billion people before year 2050 casts food science in the leading role. Food for billions is a theme of my competitively funded Food Innovation Center where I continue to serve as Director. The science of food is how the sun sustains all forms of life on earth. As stated by many, there is no plan B for food as there is no planet B.

Please describe how your attributes and experiences have prepared you for board service.

Prior service includes the IFT executive, chair of IFT long range planning, chair of IFT Awards, elected IFT councilor, Wisconsin IFT president, and several IFT tasks, ad hoc or working groups, most recently two IFT Fellows task forces as Chair. With continuous IFT membership and volunteer activity since 1974 I understand what works and what needs work. As twice-elected chair of a University Steering Committee, with the Provost and VP for Finance as members, I appreciate governance and professional networks. Serving three terms as a food science chair, we attained excellence through consensus and shared vision. I ran effective meetings that turned ideas into actions. We raised $12M, built a building and advanced food to a top academic priority. IFT gave me professional media training as a science communicator. I was recruited to the 2017 TEDx for a food idea worth spreading.

In reviewing IFT’s Strategic Promises, please describe the challenges and opportunities you believe IFT will face in achieving our mission and vision.

In italic are strategic promise phrases:

We honor the diversity of people and ideas with the challenge of not being exclusive. Inclusive excellence is a way to achieve our vision of universal acceptance of the science of food. We gain members and social validity by being the objective voice of the science of food. This has urgency as social media creates a platform where evidence-based science can be trumped by belief-based folklore. IFT’s sponsorship of the Food Evolution documentary is a remarkable outcome of this promise. We build on the power of community. My Food Innovation Center succeeds with collaboration across borders and scientific disciplines. IFT now challenges its members, staff and governance with key values: community, integrity, passion and respect. This promise gives us broad appeal and compelling ideas. It is an exciting time for IFT as these promises can be achieved within the current generation of science.

Please describe an IFT or other volunteer leadership experience and how it will assist you in serving on the board.

I now serve the IFT Diversity Task Force and understand inclusive excellence, having won a University Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award based on successful culture change at Ohio State. IFT can inspire best practices in diversity. I completed several IFT Fellows Task Force assignments, with two as co-chair, and understand the value and capabilities of IFT members, including an under-utilized Fellows cohort. Phi Tau Sigma is the honorary society for food science and technology, where I was elected the first president after its endowments were made independent from the IFT Foundation. As a non-profit professional society we have a major role in raising the stature and professionalism in food. I co-founded with Phil Perkins of Solaster the FoodBev Forum that brings together food industry leaders with compelling interests. An engaged network of industrial, government, academic and independent food scientists is the preferred path to a prosperous food future.

Please provide a short narrative biography of important career and personal accomplishments.

Dr. Lee is the Food Innovation Director at Ohio State, with the mission of “Food for Billions.” Lee served 15 years as food science academic chair. He chaired several initiatives of the IFT. He taught the first course at UW-Madison broadcast on cable TV, inspiring many to consider food science. He rallied support for a new food science building at Ohio State. His successful fund drive raised $12M in gifts and $11M in appropriations. Lee was selected as an ACE leadership Fellow. He advances food commercialization as the leader of a $3M Ohio development award.  He published 75 scholarly papers. Ken was the first OSU Commencement speaker post 9/11. He won the 2007 IFT Fellers award, the 2014 IFT Macy award, is elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is Past-President of Phi Tau Sigma, and serves continuously on its executive team.

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