Dawn Merrill

Dawn MerrillJust over 6 years ago, I walked onto the campus at Oregon State University (OSU) with the intention of studying food science. In 2008, I worked for a winery, studied Chemistry and knew that there must be a connection between these two things I loved. What I didn’t know at the time was how broad the industry is and how I could find my place within it.

The two years I spent finishing my degree at OSU opened my eyes to the global food industry, my local community of food scientists, and helped me understand how science and technology meets creativity and deliciousness. In every aspect of the expression, I found my passion. While at OSU, I carried a research project, a part-time job, took on a leadership role in our student-run food science club and maintained an active role within the Oregon Section of IFT (OSIFT) and IFT. And, I had a lot of fun. I met friends within my discipline who remain my close colleagues today. I networked my way into a position at Kerr Concentrates, where I’ve spent the last several years learning about the industry and growing into a leadership position. My brief role at Chaucer Foods allowed me to work as a contributor to a global team, an experience I will always value. As of 2014, I am the Technical Services Manager at Kerr Concentrates. I see myself helping to shape the future of new products by supplying fruits and vegetable ingredients and focusing on health/wellness in a new era of the food industry.

Outside my job, I have spent time volunteering within OSIFT and IFT. My roles have included: membership chair, member-at-large, hospitality, chair-elect, and chair of the section. I am currently the past-chair and am responsible for nominations and elections in the coming year. I take pride in knowing our section has seen significant growth in the past three years. Due to OSIFT’s involvement as a pilot section for unified membership, I was able to present our story to the IFT Board of Directors this past July. Our section has always been strong, but together with IFT’s support, we’ve been able to promote food science with educational outreach, give back to our community with food drives, and support the students in our area that are interested in a career in food science. There is no stopping us now.

Whether working for a company, volunteering for IFT or spending time with friends over a meal, I remain an individual who cares about food, food science and the future of our industry. I hope to apply what I’ve learned and bring my unique skill set to IFT. I look forward to learning from my peers who have previously paved the way for this extraordinary opportunity.

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What do you feel you can contribute to the growth and advancement of IFT?
As a new professional in the food industry, I believe I would bring a unique voice to the Board of Directors. I have worked in other industries and have been a volunteer for different organizations in the past. That history will benefit IFT based on my ability to draw from my past experiences in the context of the present and future. This innovative approach pairs well with my ability to listen to others, extract important information and apply that knowledge when necessary. I have a dynamic personality with a lot of energy to support the Board of Directors mission. I see myself becoming more involved with sections when they need support or have questions about engaging and attracting new members. I believe I can apply what I have done with the members of the Oregon Section of IFT to a global community to further connect our ever-expanding organization.

What are the three most important strategic issues facing the profession and the industry that align with IFT’s goals and how would you address these as a member of the Board of Directors?

  1. Consumer Mistrust
    The key to addressing consumer mistrust lies in our ability to communicate on a level that makes sense to a broad audience. If we as an organization encourage and empower our members to become advocates for our industry, and provide communication tools so they themselves can speak about hot topics, we have the potential to become a valuable and ongoing resource for information. I’d like to see IFT engage consumer groups and provide various forums to answer their questions. As an organization, we should talk to the media and provide positive reassurance that we in the food industry care about the issues facing the global food supply. We are consumers too, but it’s our job to provide information when people need explanation. In essence, we are scientists; but we can overcome ourselves to broaden the understanding of our industry. I’d like to champion that effort with new and creative ideas.

  2. Education and professional development is needed for a younger generation (including high school students who are unfamiliar of the career opportunities)
    In this era, we are fortunate to work in an industry which is booming; however we are starved for the next generation of talented food scientists. As a member of the Board of Directors, I will reach out to our sections and encourage each local chapter to continue presenting to area high schools and representing the food science industry at local career fairs. In addition, IFT can continue to design new presentations and craft demonstrations to provide students with an understanding of the profession. I would advocate for and continue to support our programs which provide scholarship funds to students who are currently pursuing this career.

  3. Globalization of food (including accessibility in underdeveloped areas)
    With a growing world population, the sustainability and security of world’s food supply is in jeopardy. We as scientists need to consider this as we formulate and commercialize new products. We need to consider how we will continue to supply those in underdeveloped regions. As a member of the board, I will support and oversee growth of global sections in an effort to encourage community outreach; provide additional resources and call for research and innovative food technologies to solve challenges in these areas. With sections in around the world, we will have the ability to communicate advances to various regions and provide education so food is accepted and enjoyed globally.

Why do you want to serve on the Board of Directors and how has your work and volunteer experiences prepared you to be a strategic board member?
I consider it an honor and a privilege to be considered for a Board of Directors position. I would like the opportunity to work with others who share my passion for the industry and are active in promoting the good in what we do. I believe my communication style and positive energy would work well in this environment. My strengths lie in project management (bringing people from different backgrounds with different goals together), energizing groups of people to work together solve challenges, and my ability to simplify complex situations. I have been a leader in many different situations and work environments, however it is my experience leading OSIFT and the relationship we have with IFT that prepares me to work on the global level.

What defines a successful board and how would you contribute?
Any successful board should be composed of people from all backgrounds and generations and with various levels of experiences. In a word, a board should be diverse. Diversity and communication between members of the board allows for a creative and inspirational environment. In this sense, new ideas are brought to the table and perspectives between individuals can be discussed openly, creating a productive environment.

In addition to effective communication amongst a diverse board, members must also be thoughtful and patient. It is in our nature to react to new ideas (for good or bad), however we have the ability to control our reactions in a thoughtful way to promote respect and encourage everyone’s participation.

Lastly, a sense of humor goes a long way. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves. Of course, we have to be professional and serious within a structure that gets things done, however I believe humor is a welcomed relief from the often heavy workload of a global Board of Directors.

Formal Education
BS, 2009, Bio Resource Research (Food Quality), Food Science, Oregon State University
AA, 2006, Arts & General Studies, Lane Community College
AS, 2006, Science, Lane Community College

Career History

Company

Title

Start Date

End Date

Kerr Concentrates, Inc.

Technical Services Manager

2014

Present

Chaucer Foods

Technical Manager, US

2013

2013

Kerr Concentrates, Inc.

Product Development Manager

2010

2013

LaVelle Vineyards

Bistro Manager

2005

2008

Supplement Science

Food Technologist

2010

2010

Oregon State University

Student Researcher

2008

2009

Leadership Experience

Company/Org

Position

Start Date

End Date

IFT – Unified Membership Taskforce

Chair

2013

Present

Oregon Section IFT

Past Chair

2013

2014

Oregon Section IFT

Chair

2012

2013

IFT – Section Engagement Advisory Panel Participant

Member

2012

2013

Oregon Section IFT

Chair-Elect

2011

2012

Oregon Section IFT

Member-at-Large

2010

2012

IFT – Education & Professional Development Subpanel

Contributing Member

2010

2011

IFTSA - Oregon State University

Student Chair

2009

2009

IFT - E-learning Content

Reviewer

2011

2011

IFT – Education & Professional Development Subpanel

Member

2010

2011

Professional and Community Recognition
Recipient, Professional Development Award, Bioresource Research Interdisciplinary Program, 2009
Scholarship Recipient, Oregon Section of the Institute of Food Technologists, 2009
Elected Fun Committee Chair; Food & Fermentation Science Club, Oregon State University, 2008-2009
Elected President; Green Chemistry Club, Lane Community College, Eugene, OR, 2006-2007
Eugene Weekly – Voted 2nd Best Server in Eugene, OR, 2006-2007