Many people in the general public are unaware of the science that goes into each and every food product they see on their grocery store shelves. For some, food science conjures up negative emotions and fear. But to us it’s a passion and a sense of purpose and a certainty that our work is essential to providing safe, nutritious, and sustainable food for people everywhere. It’s the farmer working to find the best way to sustainably feed his or her community; it’s the communicator who asks that we listen to the facts before jumping to conclusions; it’s the professor who is molding the next generation of scientists; it’s the CEO looking to find ways to keep his or her employees excited about product innovation; it’s the government agency ensuring public health through sound regulation; and it’s the research scientists and engineers working to find ways to continually improve our complex global food system.
This year I’m truly honored to have been elected to represent all of you. This opportunity is an outstanding period of time in my career as a food science professional. I envision my year as president as an opportunity to both learn and to advocate for our collective profession.
Throughout the year, I hope to bring more of you to our community’s table, to understand your unique concerns and to hear about your exciting innovations. The diversity of our membership is a wonderfully unique asset. To fully leverage this asset, I wholeheartedly encourage those voices in our community that have previously not been heard to start a conversation. Every member of our community plays an integral part in achieving our mission to advance the science of food. I will work hard to ensure no voice is left unheard because it is only then that we give every member the opportunity to be successful and to be served by our organization.
Many in our community may think of IFT as a once-a-year event and may not be aware of the opportunities available year-round to enhance both our professional and personal lives. As an active member of IFT since 1989, I know there is so much more available to us—IFT has certainly been a constant throughout the many changes during my career. As president, I will make it a priority to ensure these exciting opportunities are visible and available to each of you, our members—and hopefully to inspire new members to join our organization.
I’ve seen firsthand how sections can propel great collaborations and ignite friendships. I’ve experienced the benefits of being a Certified Food Scientist. As the former chair of both the Nonthermal Processing and Biotechnology Divisions, I’ve watched as IFT divisions provided an online outlet for the commercialization of global innovation. As a trustee on the Feeding Tomorrow Board, I’ve watched inspired students be given the resources to pursue a career in the science of food. Most importantly, I’ve made lifelong connections in our industry and the science of food profession at large.
I encourage you to ask how IFT can play a role in your life. With our new membership model due to roll out this fall, there are even more options for you to participate. Whether you are a student or new professional, looking to network, share and be inspired by new innovations, want to be recognized for your contributions to the profession, or to give back, the new model provides accessible options for our growing community.
Along with extending the voices at our table, as president, I will encourage innovation. This past year we teamed up with Ingredion Inc. to build IFTNEXT, a commitment to exploring provocative ideas that challenge convention and inspire innovative, forward-thinking solutions. We kicked off the initiative with an outstanding suite of presentations at IFT17 and are continuing the initiative with an exciting fall program lineup. This commitment to innovation and creative thinking is one I do not take lightly. Without innovation, our vision and mission cannot be fully achieved.
As we bring more voices to our table to collaborate, share, and advocate for the important work we do to help feed the world, our profession will grow and the science of food will begin to become less of a mystery and instead viewed as essential to building a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply for everyone.
I am excited to work together to make this happen. In the coming year, I hope to work with the IFT Board and staff to be sure each voice of our membership is heard and needs are met through the execution of our strategic plan. I will also work to ensure that our community’s environment is one where all of our members—and those who may be future members—feel welcomed in sitting at our IFT community’s table.
Cindy Stewart, PhD, CFS
IFT President, 2017–2018
Global Cultures and Food Protection Technology & Innovation Leader, DuPont Nutrition & Health, Wilmington, Del.