Face-to-Face: Meet Rene Massengale
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...
Rene Massengale, Director, Food Science & Technology Center and Associate Professor of Biotechnology at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
- How did you get your start in the food industry?
I am a food and water quality microbiologist who began my interest in microbiology very early (in high school science fair!). I have also always loved cooking and food, so the food industry provides a great way for me to combine both areas. In addition, I have experience in developing and testing effective consumer messages and over 11 years of experience in university education.
- What do you love about your job?
I love 3 key things about my job. First, I love mentoring and inspiring students to find their own passions and career opportunities. It is a privilege to mentor them as they get their education and figure out their life goals; and I am always learning as much from them as they do from me. Second, I love getting to partner with industries to do research, education, and economic development. I am passionate about developing a vision for the future then accomplishing goals to achieve that vision. This also gives our students an opportunity to experience industry firsthand. Third, it is awesome to get to be at a new, rapidly growing university where anything is possible and where “the sky is the limit” for strategic planning of new programs and opportunities.
- What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
The biggest challenge that I face is daily balancing the many facets of my job. Not only am I a university professor still teaching in the classroom, but I also direct the HU Food Science and Technology Center, oversee our Sensory Science Research Program and Food Safety and Quality Program, and coordinate food safety and quality regional conferences. It’s exciting to work almost every day at break neck speed.
- What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
In the past year, I received my HACCP Auditor certification and attended the IFT Leadership Forum. Both of these opportunities helped strengthen my professional training and expertise in addition to providing valuable networking opportunities. I also had the opportunity to chair a Food Safety Summit in partnership with the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal that attracted 150 attendees from over 70 companies in 6 states.
- How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
The food industry will be rapidly conducting needs assessments in the coming year in order to effectively respond to the recently signed Food Safety Modernization Act. This new legislation includes significantly increased requirements for traceability, food safety, and food quality. Companies will be working to interpret what this means for their business and also get their employees appropriately trained.
- Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
Real Tex-Mex enchiladas and tamales (I am originally a country girl from Texas) and crème brulee.