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 IFTSA (IFT Student Association) in identifying student leaders, and create a sense of ownership in the IFTSA for students and chapters.

2020 Award Recipients

  • Undergraduate Students: Kaitlyn Davey, University of Maryland
  • Graduate Students: Jelisa Thomas, Alabama A&M University

2020 Finalists

Undergraduate Students

  • Michael Diehl, Texas A&M University
  • Katrina Fernandez, University of California, Davis

Graduate Students

  • Mark Bollom, Iowa State University
  • Jennifer Vuia-Riser, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Janam Pandya, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Each awardee will be presented with an award and $1,000 during the IFT Awards Celebration at the IFT Annual Event & Food Expo. Each awardee will also be eligible to receive a $500 travel stipend to attend the IFT Annual Event & Food Expo 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, 2021 or who has not graduated prior to July 1, 2020, 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.

Award Application and Guidelines

The submission deadline for this competition has passed.

Download award 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, 2021.

Competition Chair

Email Myhan Nguyen, University of California, Davis