With 2015 drawing to a close, we once again look ahead to ring in the new year with hope for a bright future for our families, friends, colleagues, and the broader community here at IFT. At this time of year, we may also have time to reflect on the past and strive to make New Year’s resolutions that serve as promises that guide us in our personal and professional lives.
With so many challenges facing us, it can be daunting to know where to start when it comes to resolutions to meet the challenges of feeding a booming population. Fortunately, we have science as our compass, a new strategic plan as a blueprint for the future, and thousands of enthusiastic IFT members, who will share ideas through our community to generate new scientific and technical achievements. With all the tools of innovation at our disposal, we have the capability to get more engaged as a community in 2016 so that we can make a collective impact—and it all starts with individual resolutions from our members.
First and foremost, we need to make a resolution to share our passion for the profession and serve as mentors and teachers for the next generation of food scientists so that they can develop and advance in their careers. In my role as IFT president,I have been fortunate to meet hundreds of students who share a contagious enthusiasm for personal career development. To meet their needs, we continue to look at creative ways to mentor students and new professionals through product competitions, ambassador programs such as our Lead 360 program, and our Food Communicators Workshop designed to enhance skills in communicating science to the public. More importantly, taking the time to serve as a mentor at your organization, volunteer through IFT, or make a donation to Feeding Tomorrow can have a lifelong impact.
Second, let’s resolve to make connections that strengthen our network. IFT offers numerous ways to get involved with individuals at every level of the food system. If you prefer face-to-face opportunities, attending a local section meeting is a simple way to expand your personal network, which ultimately leads to new business and career opportunities. If you were among the 23,000-plus visitors to IFT15, you saw the numerous face-to-face opportunities to access a wide-reaching network of food professionals through the food expo, scientific sessions, or career center. But there are also new virtual ways to communicate, such as simply posting a comment within our online community, IFT Connect. Using digital communications technology to drive food science and technology is the wave of the future, and our IFT Student Association demonstrated the power of virtual networking with its outstandingly successful Global Summit in November that drew 384 registrants, including 176 participants from 20 countries.
Third, let’s commit to continuous learning and innovation by staying current on the many changes in our fast-moving profession. Whether reading this magazine, our digital newsletters, or IFT peer-reviewed journals, you will stay abreast of the latest scientific trends and innovations. Taking advantage of Knowledge and Learning experiences online or on-demand will generate new learning opportunities to enhance your career, often without even leaving your office. The Certified Food Scientist (CFS) program offers another avenue to pursue formal recognition of the skills and knowledge that you have gained while in the workforce as part of your continuing professional development.
Finally, we need to make a resolution to be better advocates for the science of food. Fortunately, we have the tools to help us explain the complexities of science to the public. This includes easy-to-understand consumer tips and videos from our member experts, impactful stories to share on food science careers through IFT’s Day in the Life video series, and more than 75 stories on scientific innovation at IFT’s FutureFood 2050 website. (Links to all of the preceding can be found at ift.org/ Newsroom/World-Food-Day.aspx.) These efforts, combined with the numerous media interviews featuring our experts, an ongoing dialogue with the public through the IFTSA Science Meets Food blog, and your individual efforts to share your expertise will help everyone to better understand the role of science. Finally, these efforts will complement the2016 rollout of Food Evolution, a documentary film focusing on perceptions of science and food that will serve as a new communications platform.
No matter which of the resolutions you pursue, you will be doing your part to create a world where science and innovation are universally accepted as essential to a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply for everyone. I can’t think of a more noble objective for our community in the year ahead.
Colin Dennis, CBE, PhD, CFS, CSci
IFT President, 2015–2016
Chairman, IFIS Ltd., Reading,