Face-to-Face: Meet Amelia Chen August 2018

Ever wonder if anyone else is facing the same professional challenges as you? Or just looking to connect with some new people in your field? In IFT's Face-to-Face series, we will be introducing you to a different IFT member every month with a fun, insightful Q&A session.

This month meet...

Amelia ChenAmelia Chen, food scientist, Geltor Inc.

  1. How did you get your start in the food industry?
    I’ve been telling everyone that it was a Domino’s commercial that helped me connect the dots. My background is in biology, and somewhere in my many lab jobs in different research areas, I was always a little bored. I had been looking for any way to connect my projects to food until one day an ad about the new sauce recipe at Domino’s made me realize that it had to be someone’s job to make and deliver all the food we eat.

    I spent the rest of undergrad finding ways to get into food science through study abroad classes and then graduating early to focus on food science courses at another university. I was fortunate to get into graduate school at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where I got more involved in IFTSA activities like blogging—which is incidentally how I found my current job.

  2. What do you love about your job?
    I love being at the forefront of this area that meshes food science and synthetic biology. It’s exciting to help build it and meet so many enthusiastic people along the way that have different solutions for the same mission.

  3. What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
    Being at such a young company comes with a lot of growing pains. Also, since we are creating something entirely new, we have to get creative with applying typical methods and processes to making and using our protein. Often times, we’re working without any guidelines.

  4. What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
    I’ve been fortunate enough to go to a variety of conferences that vary from food culture-centric to science heavy. The common theme has always been "the future of food," and it’s been great to be exposed to all kinds of people with very different relationships to food. Each event helps me learn more about how to effectively talk about my job and the value of what Geltor does in a way that anyone can understand no matter their scientific background.

  5. How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
    I think the use of technology will be crucial to food innovation, especially when it comes to finding more sustainable ways of feeding the growing population. Geltor's (and many other Bay Area companies’) nontraditional way of making food ingredients will be important to help fill in the gaps that traditional food production will not be able to meet.

  6. Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
    This is a tough question as I’m sure it is for many food scientists, but I recently asked my dad what I loved to eat most as a kid (as a potential tattoo idea), and he told me Peking duck—so I’ll go with that.

If you are an IFT member and wish to be profiled, please contact Kelly Hensel at khensel@ift.org or 312-604-0211.