Sheri Schellhaass

This year promises to generate a multitude of changes from an economic, political, and personal standpoint. Across industries and across borders, we are faced with many daunting economic issues and many unknown solutions. In the wake of all this change, there are a wealth of opportunities right in front of us.

I recently heard about a behavioral research study on how people react during a crisis. The study indicated that during turbulent times, most people cease all activity, a smaller portion act, but do so poorly, and only a few step forward and lead. Because we are a community of leaders, this is a time when we must be focused on our vision rather than being among that vast majority who lose perspective.

From a food science leader perspective, I can think of no better way to kick off the new year than by becoming more involved in the advocacy of food science. A renewed commitment to our mission will allow us to continue the momentum that has led to innovation in food science. In addition, we must be active, not only in the IFT community, but also in our at-large communities. As IFT members, each of us has access to unique resources that enhance our ability to chart a course of achievement, leadership, and success in the food science industry and beyond. So I propose that we use the benefits of our IFT membership as the basis for some resolutions for 2009.

First, resolve to make connections with people in our industry and outside of it. Through IFT, you can share expertise and insights with not only colleagues but also industry leaders and decision makers in public policy. IFT regional sections facilitate the expansion of your professional networks and the enhancement of your business. And perhaps the most prominent manifestation of IFT’s wide-reaching network of professionals is the Annual Meeting & Food Expo.® It is the only venue of its kind that assembles industry, academic, and government innovators from an array of food science disciplines for professional development, networking, and knowledge enhancement.

Second, resolve to be well informed. IFT provides access to the latest information on food science and the food industry. Through IFT science reports and peer-reviewed journals, you can review scientific and technical research on current and emerging food science issues. IFT’s award-winning magazine, Food Technology, covers industry news, product innovations, emerging food trends, and professional opportunities. Plus, IFT’s service directories and the Food Technology Buyer’s Guide help you find suppliers and services your business needs to thrive in the competitive market.

Third, resolve to make strides in your career. IFT has several options for professional development and leadership opportunities. The Knowledge and Learning Center is your gateway to continuing education programs and courses that hone your professional skills and enhance your industry knowledge. The IFT Career Center and Employment Bureau are available to assist you in finding either a challenging new position or the best person for an employment vacancy. Work groups and advisory panels afford you the opportunity to participate in the evolution of our community, the exploration of scientific frontiers, and the advancement of our profession. Moreover, IFT is a trusted advocate for food science by supporting science-based public policies and working with agencies, coalitions, and organizations to address regulation, safety, and food defense.

And fourth, resolve to remember our mission to advance the science of food. Perhaps the best way to accomplish this is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply contributing to healthier people everywhere. This requires a high level of commitment and discipline to advance the profession and enhance the benefit food science and technology has on our global community. While we certainly want to keep an eye on innovation, we also want to keep a firm grasp on how our contributions impact society at large. Besides working in the classroom, laboratory, or corner office, we also might want to work in the field—volunteering to give back to the community that desperately needs our help right now. Hunger is still an issue for most of the world, and until there is a solution to resolve it, our mission can be only partially fulfilled.

As a thriving society of professionals dedicated to advancing the science of food, together we ensure a safe and abundant food supply. And while there are obvious signs that our profession has made great accomplishments, there is more for us to do. The spirit of change is in the air, and I hope it inspires you to step forward and make a difference. I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year!

by Sheri Schellhaass,
IFT President, 2008–09
Vice President of Research and Development, General Mills, Minneapolis, Minn.
[email protected]