Undergraduate Research

Entry must be submitted by 11:59pm Central Time on March 1

If you have been participating in an independent research project, then the Undergraduate Research Competition is for you. The competition is open to any IFTSA undergraduate member who has participated in original research, and who has not graduated by July 1 of the year prior to the competition.

Entrants are asked to submit a letter of intent to enter, an abstract describing the research (500 words or less), and a verification letter from the Food Science Department Head. Six finalists will be chosen to present their research both orally and via poster at the IFT Annual Meeting in the summer. Each finalist will be given a $500 travel award. In addition, the top three finalists will be awarded prizes of $1000, $750, and $250 and will be sent to them after the Annual Meeting.

Submit your Entry


Any student member of IFT, as of March 1 of the year of the competition, who is an undergraduate student or who has not graduated prior to July 1 of the year preceding the Annual Meeting is eligible to compete. Work must have been done individually by an undergraduate. A signed letter from the Department Head or a professor verifying the originality of the student's work will be required. The letter must be received by the Undergraduate Research Competition Chair no later than March 1. Letters can be emailed and MUST be sent by the Department Head or the professor.

*Review updated competition rules for recent rule changes and improvements 

2014 Finalists

1st Place: Paula Feldmar from University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Research: Development of a Colorimetric Aptamer-based Gold Nanosensor for Rapid Detection of Ampicillin in Food

2nd Place: Robert Divine from Cornell University
Research: Isolation of bacteria from compost for potential use in biodecaffeination

3rd Place: Clinton Hervert from Cornell University    
Research: Characterization of toxin genes among Bacillus cereus Group isolates

Honorable Mention:

Erin Castelli from Texas Tech University     

Research: Inhibition of Listeria monocytogenes with LactiguardTM Cultures on Fresh Strawberries
Andrea Chica from Texas Tech University
Research: Antibiotic Resistance of Salmonella isolates recovered from beef cattle from Honduras, Mexico and the United States
Tara Okuma from Chapman University
Research: Identification of Meat Species in Pet Foods Using a Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Assay

Past Winners


1st Place: Wisiani Wijaya of University of Massachusetts Amherst
2nd Place: Soon Kiat Lau of University of Nebraska, Lincoln
3rd Place: Jake R. Fischer of Washington State University

1. Margaret Debrauske, University of Wisconsin
2. Brittany Miller, Cornell University
3. Graysen Ortega, Texas Tech University


1. Abilgal Snyder, Ohio State University
2. Dominique Sinopoli, Cornell University
3. Karen Chang, Rutgers University

1. Rarinthorn Thammakulkrajang, Cornell University
2. (Tie) Ashley Hart, University of Wisconsin, Madison
2. (Tie) Ambrose Chan, University of Georgia


1. Kurt Ellis, Ohio State University
2. Melvany Kasih, Cornell University
3. Kari Michelle Jones, University of Tennessee

2008 Joseph Kreger, University of Illinois

2007 Jon Hutchinson, University of California-Davis

2006 Elaine Fan, Cornell University

2005 Mila Wihodo, Purdue University

2004 Chris Duncan, University of Florida

2003 Devon Cameron, University of Arkansas

2002 Sarah Woodling, Penn State University

2001 Matt Glaser, Oregon State University

2000 Rebecca Montville, Rutgers University

1999 Shonokeep Modak, Mississippi State University

1998 Christina Edwards van Muijen, Oregon State University

1997 Wendy Bennett, Rutgers University

1996 Kirby Hayes, Purdue University

1995 Kathryn Diebler, Clemson University

1994 Shawn Davis, Cornell University

1993 Douglas Christensen, University of Nebraska

1992 Rebecca Guzy, University of Missouri

1991 Gwen Allison, University of Alberta

1990 Robin Hewitt, University of Tennessee

1989 Sonia M. Hartunian, Iowa State University

1988 Mary M. Guyer, University of Arkansas

1987 Jane Prince, University of Tennessee

1986 Lisa Bruggman, Texas A&M University

1985 David R. Baldwin, Pennsylvania State University

1984 Catherine M. Gryniewicz, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

1983 Jody Enrich, Cornell University

1982 Jeffrey A. Stamp, University of Minnesota

1981 Sarah K. Geisert, University of Missouri

1980 Julie L. Komar, University of Illinois

1979 B. Brooks, University of Arizona

1978 Nina Birnbaum, Cornell University

1977 Gail B. McBride, University of British Columbia

1976 Rebecca M. Hamilton, University of Florida

1975 Eunice C.Y. Li, University of British Columbia

1974 Steve Sorenson, University of California-Davis


March 1
Abstracts due

Finalists will be notified

July 11 - 14, 2015
IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo: Oral & poster presentation

All submissions are due by 11:59pm CST

Shintaro Pang
University of Massachusetts, AMherst

Competition Rules (PDF)
IFTSA Competition Penalty Policy

Submit your Entry