Excellence in Leadership Award

The Excellence in Leadership Award recognizes two student members of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), one undergraduate and one graduate student, who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in their execution of student activities that furthers the mission of IFT.

The Excellence in Leadership Award was created to recognize student members who have given outstanding service to their Student Chapter, provide the opportunity for additional participation in IFT by student chapters, assist the IFT Student Association (IFTSA) in identifying student leaders, and create a sense of ownership in the IFTSA for students and chapters.

2022 Award Recipient

  • Graduate Students: Sonali Raghunath, University of Minnesota

2021 Finalists

Undergraduate Students

  • Philip Eberly, Ohio State University
  • Valentina Mata, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Mirai Miura, University of California, Davis

Graduate Students

  • Amy Andes, Ohio State University
  • M. Laura Rolon, Pennsylvania State University
  • Jennifer Vuia-Riser, University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Each awardee will be presented with an award during the IFTSA Closing Ceremony at IFT FIRST: Annual Event & Expo. Each awardee will also be eligible to receive $1,000 award and $500 travel stipend to attend IFT FIRST but must be present and recognized on stage at the awards celebration in order to receive the travel grant.


Any student member of IFT, as of March 1, 2022 or who has not graduated prior to July 1, 2022, is eligible to compete. Applicants may either be self-nominated or nominated by a mentor and/or peer. Students serving in the office of the IFTSA President (Elect, Current, and Past) are not eligible for this award, during or after their service. The recently elected incoming President-Elect is still eligible for this award before their terms of service. The current Excellence in Leadership Award Chair is ineligible for this award during their year of service.

For complete details, consult the guidelines document for this award.

NOTE: Multiple students per school are allowed to apply for this award.

2022–2023 Award Application and Guidelines

Preliminary applications for this award are open now through March 1, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. CT.

Finalist Interviews occur April 1, 2023 – April 30, 2023

Submit your application

Click here for EIL Guidelines (PDF)

A panel of IFTSA appointed judges, which will include at least two IFT leaders and one leader from the sponsoring organization (if applicable), will evaluate the submissions, and awardees will be notified in writing by the IFTSA on or before May 1, 2023.

Competition Chair

Barsha Bastola, Texas A&M University