Virginia Tech Department of Food Science and Technology


Dr. Joseph Eifert, Graduate Program Director,
Human & Agricultural Biosciences Bldg. 1, Room 401B
Virginia Tech
1230 Washington St. SW
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Phone: (540) 231-3658
FAX: (540) 231-9293, E-mail:

Vicki Keith, Graduate Program Coordinator
Food Science and Technology Building
Virginia Tech
360 Duck Pond Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061


Institution Name:  Virginia Tech, Department of Food Science and Technology

Location of institution: Blacksburg, Virginia,  USA

Programs/Degrees offered: MSLFS (Master of Science, Life Sciences) and Ph.D.

Program Description:

Food science and technology is a fusion of chemistry, microbiology and engineering. Our researchers explore innovation in the areas of creating new, healthful food products, and ensuring a safe and tasty food supply. Specific research emphases include: improving food nutrition, quality and flavor, developing novel functional food ingredients and products for promoting human health, packaging design and use of advanced technologies to identify and control food-borne disease causing organisms.

Individual graduate programs are customized with the advisor to emphasize food safety and microbiology, food and flavor chemistry, food engineering, food processing and packaging, aquaculture, education and extension, enology and brewing science, functional foods for health, and sensory science. Student graduate programs are built around courses in microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, engineering, and statistics. This diverse curriculum prepares students for opportunities in industry, universities or government.

Entrance Requirements: A B.S. degree from an accredited institution, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, and desired GRE scores of 153 (Verbal) and 150 (Quantitative). Also, copies of transcripts from all institutions attended, 3 letters of recommendation, and an application must be submitted. International students are required to submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). For the TOEFL, the required scores are a total of 80 or more, and at least 20 in each of the 4 subscores.

Graduate Requirements: Master students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of approved course work and research, conduct a thesis research project and pass a final defense of the thesis material. Ph.D. candidates must complete a total of 90 credit hours of approved course work and research beyond a B.S. degree, conduct research to complete a dissertation, pass preliminary exams and a final defense of the dissertation. All graduate students must also conduct yearly seminars, submit semester progress reports, and assist with teaching if offered an assistantship.

Statement of Costs: For 2016-2017, tuition and fees for full-time graduate students is $7,266 for in-state students and $13,822 for out-of-state/international residents. In-state students receiving graduate assistantships with a tuition waiver may need to pay approximately $700 in fees per semester.

Availability of Financial Aid: Several highly competitive research or teaching assistantships as well as fellowships are available. Most admitted students receive an assistantship that includes a tuition waiver and a stipend of $15,000 to $17,000 for 9 months.

Research Faculty Interests:

Renee Boyer, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist: Development of interventions and educational programs for safe food production/preparation, Harvest interventions to enhance the safety of fruits and vegetables

Susan Duncan, Professor: Sensory evaluation, dairy foods products and processing, food chemistry and quality, functional foods

Joseph Eifert, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist: Microbiological food safety, poultry processing, HACCP and risk assessment, food Laws and regulations, food safety education

Cristina Fernández Fraguas, Assistant Professor: Food chemistry, colloidal food structures and polysaccharides effects on digestibility and nutrient bioavailability
Haibo Huang, Assistant Professor: Food processing, fermentation engineering, process simulation and economic analysis

Michael Jahncke, Professor and Extension Specialist (Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center): Seafood technology, food chemistry, technology and microbiology of seafood products, food lipids and oils

David Kuhn, Assistant Professor: Seafood quality, seafood safety, aquaculture research and outreach programs

Kumar Mallikarjunan, Associate Professor: food engineering, food safety, mathematical modeling and physical properties

Joe Marcy, Professor and Department Head: Food processing and packaging, food chemistry, packaging integrity testing, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and aseptic packaging research

Andrew Neilson, Assistant Professor: Food analysis and food toxicology, development of functional foods for health with emphasis in diabetes, obesity and gastrointestinal health, digestion and absorption of phytonutrientsSean O'Keefe, Professor: Food chemistry, lipid and flavor chemistry

Monica Ponder, Associate Professor, Microbial interactions of native microbes with its host and other microbes, especially human pathogens

Amanda Stewart, Assistant Professor: Wine and hard cider quality, food and beverage fermentation, the role of fermented foods and beverages in human health

Laura Strawn, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist (Virginia Eastern Shore Agricultural

Research and Education Center): Enhanced microbial safety of produce production at both the pre- and post-harvest level.

Robert Williams, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist: Food safety/ Food microbiology. Detection and control of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in food

Extension and Adjunct Faculty:

Herbert Bruce: Beer chemistry and brewery operations
Melissa Chase: Consumer food safety program manager, food safety educational programs

Joell Eifert, Director, Food Innovations Program   
Molly Kelly, Extension Specialist, Enology

Brian Wiersema, Pilot Plant Manager