Virginia Tech Department of Food Science and Technology

Program Director: Dr. Susan S. Sumner


Dr. Joseph D. 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

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

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/ microbiology, biochemistry, food chemistry, packaging, sensory and quality evaluation, and process and product development. 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 GPA of 3.0, and minimum GRE scores of 153 (Verbal) and 150 (Quantitative) are required for consideration. 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).

Graduate Requirements: M.S. students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of approved course work, conduct research to complete a thesis and pass a final defense of the thesis material. Ph.D. candidates must complete a total of 90 hours of approved course work beyond a B.S. degree or 60 hours beyond an M.S. degree, conduct research to complete a dissertation, pass preliminary exams a final defense of the dissertation. All graduate students must also conduct yearly seminars, submit semester progress reports, and assist with teaching.

Statement of Costs: In 2013, tuition and fees for a 9 credit hour semester were approximately $6,200 for in-state students and $11,600 for out-of-state residents. In-state students receiving graduate assistantships with tuition waiver pay approximately $700 in fees per semester.

Availability of Financial Aid: Several highly competitive assistantships as well as fellowships are available.

Faculty and Research Interests:

Renee Boyer, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Harvest interventions to enhance the safety of fruits and vegetables
Melissa Chase, Consumer Food Safety Program Manager, food safety educational programs.           
Susan Duncan, Professor, Sensory evaluation, dairy foods products and processing
Joseph Eifert, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Food microbiology, quality and safety of poultry products
William Eigel, Associate Professor and Coordinating Counselor, Food biochemistry, food proteins and enzymes
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
Molly Kelly, Extension Specialist, Enology
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. Reactivity, digestion and metabolism of food compounds and their relationship with diet and chronic disease.
Sean O'Keefe, Professor, Food chemistry, lipid and flavor chemistry.
Monica Ponder, Assistant Professor, Microbial interactions of native microbes with its host and other microbes, especially human pathogens
Amanda Stewart, Assistant Professor, Wine fermentation modeling and the role of fermented foods and beverages in human health.
Robert Williams, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Food safety/ Food microbiology. Detection and control of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in food