Renewing Phi Tau Sigma (Online Exclusive) DENNY HELDMAN | March 2011

To fulfill its goals, the Society is updating its bylaws, improving communications through a new monthly newsletter, and actively soliciting new members as well as reaching out to inactive members.

The mission of Phi Tau Sigma—the Honor Society for Food Science and Technology—is to recognize scholarly achievements and contributions to the food science and technology profession. It is accomplished through continuous identification and recognition of outstanding scholarly achievements by undergraduate and graduate students in food science, and by recognizing the contributions of outstanding food science professionals.

Phi Tau Sigma was established at the University of Massachusetts in 1953, when the Food Technology Dept. was chaired by Carl R. Fellers. The initiative to create the Society was led by Gideon “Guy” Livingston and six graduate students (M.P. Baldauf, R.V. Decareau, E. Felicioti, W.D. Powrie, M.A. Steinberg, and D.E. Westcott), who were charter members. The four goals of Phi Tau Sigma were: 1) to recognize and honor professional achievements of food scientists and technologists; 2) to encourage the application of fundamental scientific principles to food science and technology in all its branches; 3) to stimulate the exchange of scientific knowledge through meetings, lectures, and publications; and 4) to promote charitable, scientific, literary, and educational programs within the meaning of sections 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 or the corresponding provision of any future United States Internal Revenue law.

Becoming a Member
According to the current Constitution and bylaws, members can be nominated in writing by two members or emeritus members, by an officer of the Society, or by a Chapter. The nominations shall include an outline of the nominee’s qualifications for review and approval by the Membership Qualifications Committee. Following approval, nominees are elected by a majority vote of the Executive Committee, and membership is confirmed after payment of dues.

The election of students to membership begins with nomination by two members, with one being a faculty member who is familiar with student’s scholastic performance and professional objectives. These nominations are reviewed by the Chapter Officers, and if elected, the student becomes an Associate Member after certification by the Executive Committee and payment of dues. Associate Members become eligible for election to Member after graduation.

Phi Tau Sigma is led by an Executive Committee, which is comprised of officers (President-Elect, President, Past-President, and Executive Secretary), plus six At-large Councilors elected by active members of Phi Tau Sigma. In addition, the structure supports the establishment of local Chapters to encourage and promote the mission among students pursuing the study of food science and technology. Chapters exist at most universities providing a program of study in food science. The Constitution of Phi Tau Sigma describes an Advisory Council to work with the Executive Committee. The composition of the Advisory Council includes one Councilor elected by each Chapter. The Advisory Council is expected to meet with the Executive Committee on an annual basis, and is an important communications link between the Executive Committee and the Local Chapters.

Society Goals
The current goals of Phi Tau Sigma are to:

  • ensure that local Chapters are active and continuously nominating outstanding undergraduate and graduate students for membership;
  • encourage IFT Divisions to identify outstanding research contributions by undergraduate and graduate students for recognition at the IFT Annual Meeting;
  • provide mechanisms for communications among active members of the organization;
  • provide oversight of the Carl R. Fellers Award, and ensure that recognition of outstanding contributions to the food science & technology profession are recognized on a continuing basis;
  • continuously explore pathways for recognizing and provide visibility to outstanding contributions to the food science and technology profession.

To achieve these goals, the Phi Tau Sigma leadership has initiated several changes in the structure of the organization, as well as the relationship of the organization to the membership. One of the more visible changes is the relocation of the Phi Tau Sigma headquarters to the IFT headquarters in Chicago, with Patti Pagliuco as the primary staff liaison for the organization. The Executive Committee has initiated an updating of the bylaws, along with corresponding amendments to the Constitution. One of the more significant changes being considered is greater emphasis on identification of the distinguished leaders in the food science and technology profession for nomination to Phi Tau Sigma membership. In addition, the Executive Committee has launched a membership drive to build the active membership base of the organization. These efforts are supported by an excellent monthly newsletter edited by Tony and Kathy Kotula, recent recipients of the Carl R. Fellers award.

The most visible activities of Phi Tau Sigma are the Carl R. Fellers Award and the Annual Student Recognition Event at the IFT Annual Meeting. The stated purpose of the Carl R. Fellers Award is “to honor a member of IFT and Phi Tau Sigma who has brought honor and recognition to the profession of food science and technology through a distinguished career in that profession displaying exemplary leadership, service, and communication skills that enhance the effectiveness of all food scientists in serving society.” This Award is presented as a part of the IFT Achievement Awards Program during the Annual Meeting. Since 1984, the contributions of 27 leaders of the food science and technology profession have been recognized as recipients of the Carl R. Fellers Award.

The Phi Tau Sigma Annual Recognition Event provides visibility for the special contributions of undergraduate and graduate students. The event is arranged in cooperation with the IFT Divisions, and recognizes the winners of over 30 oral or poster competitions conducted during the Annual Meeting. On June 11, 2011, the event will host the presentation of awards to winners of the poster competitions for many of the IFT Divisions. In the future, the event will continue to spotlight the outstanding scholarly contributions of Phi Tau Sigma members and future leaders of the food science and technology profession.

All Phi Tau Sigma members (active and inactive) should become better acquainted with current activities by reviewing the contents of the recent and previous monthly newsletters at These newsletters provide more details and background on the various initiatives being pursued by the leadership of Phi Tau Sigma. All members should contact Patti Pagliuco at to provide current contact information and consider becoming active members of Phi Tau Sigma, the Honor Society for Food Science and Technology. FT

Dennis R. Heldman, IFT President 2006–07, President (2010–11) of Phi Tau Sigma, is Principal of Heldman Associates (

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