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When the goal is to advance the science of food in new and meaningful ways, relying upon conventional thought processes and a limited pool of thinkers doesn’t get the job done. So it’s fitting that the power of difference was an overarching theme at the IFT Annual Event and Food Expo in New Orleans this summer. It was a theme reflected and expressed in myriad ways—via visionary researchers, provocative presenters, disruptive entrepreneurs, cutting-edge ingredient suppliers, and students eager to show off their new product creations.
Tapping into divergent thought processes, recognizing the importance of a diverse food science community, and cultivating inclusivity were among the ideas IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean celebrated in a welcome address at the annual Awards Celebration.
“IFT is an organization that is incredibly diverse,” said Tarantino-Dean. “We represent many scientific disciplines from food science to microbiology to chemical engineering to nutrition and dietetics. We represent members from more than 90 countries. We represent the young, the mid-career, late career, and the retired. We represent members from various racial and socio-economic backgrounds, members of the LGBTQ community, and differently abled people. And we want IFT to be a place where all feel welcome and have the opportunity to engage in the way they would like to engage.”
One of the event’s most inspiring messages came from autism advocate and animal behavior expert Temple Grandin, who reminded the kick-off session audience that it’s often those who approach the world differently—the “geeks, misfits, and kids with labels”—who are responsible for the greatest technological innovations.
IFT President Michele Perchonok spoke movingly about the importance of creating a culture of inclusion before introducing Grandin to a large crowd. “The global food system is changing, and so must we,” said Perchonok. “And to do so, we must include everyone who shares our mission.
“Embracing diversity and inclusion calls on us to sometimes get out of our comfort zone,” she continued. “By doing so, we learn to expand our field of vision and perspective to see the world through others’ eyes.”
IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean interviewed New Orleans–based chef, author, and philanthropist Alon Shaya, who served as the emcee for the 2019 IFT Food Disruption Challenge™ pitch competition in New Orleans.
Ideas, information, experiences, and more fed the future of food science at IFT19.
What follows offers a look at some of the many ways the power of difference was in the spotlight at IFT19.
It’s a longtime IFT tradition to officially launch the annual event with an Awards Celebration where a select group of the association’s members—IFT President Michele Perchonok described them as “heroes of food science”—were honored. Here’s a look at some of the honorees recognized at this event and on other occasions during IFT19.
Although he was unable to be in New Orleans, David Julian McClements of the University of Massachusetts was recognized with IFT’s highest honor, the Nicolas Appert Award. A prolific author and distinguished professor and researcher, McClements specializes in food biopolymers and colloids.
Left: IFT Student Association Excellence in Leadership Award undergraduate level recipient Nayara Luna Guzmán graduated this year from Cornell University, where she served as president of the university’s food science club and was an active member and leader in Cornell’s Christian Union organization. Guzmán also served as a member of the IFT Student Association Board of Directors for two years.
Right: IFT Student Association Excellence in Leadership Award graduate student recipient Nigel Gilbert Chimbetete, who received his PhD in food science from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, displays the award. Chimbetete served two terms as the university’s food science club president, actively participated in regional and national product development competitions, and mentored fellow food science students.
Dedicated service and high achievement earned 12 IFT members a place in the 2019 Class of Fellows. Fellows honored in New Orleans are, from left, Lauren Jackson, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Alejandro G. Marangoni, University of Guelph; John Coupland, Pennsylvania State University; Christopher J. Findlay, Compusense; Hosahalli S. Ramaswamy, McGill University; Elena M. Castell-Perez, Texas A&M University; Milda E. Embuscado, McCormick & Co.; Martha Verghese, Alabama A&M University; R. Roger Ruan, University of Minnesota; Josip Simunovic, North Carolina State University and SinnovaTek Inc.; and Phillip S. Tong, professor emeritus, Cal Poly State University. Not pictured is Fellow Martin Cole, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
IFT Achievement Awards recognize remarkable contributions in research, applications, and service in the science of food profession. 2019 award recipients are, from left, Han-Seok Seo, Samuel Cate Prescott Award for Research; Kiyoko Kubomura, Calvert L. Willey Distinguished Service Award; Hang Xiao, Babcock-Hart Award; Mary Kay Pohlschneider, Elizabeth Fleming Stier Award; Suzanne Pecore, Sensory and Consumer Sciences Achievement Award; Valente B. Alvarez, Bor S. Luh International Award; Ken Lee, Myron Solberg Award; Christiani Jeyakumar Henry, W.K. Kellogg International Food Security Award and Lectureship; Lisa J. Mauer, Research and Development Award; Colin Dennis, Carl R. Fellers Award; M. Mónica Giusti, William V. Cruess Award for Excellence in Teaching; and Ahmed Yousef, Gerhard J. Haas Achievement Award.
IFT President Michele Perchonok (third from left) congratulates the five young professionals chosen for 2019 Emerging Leaders Network Awards in recognition of their outstanding leadership potential and commitment to the science of food profession. From left, are Claire Zoellner, Katherine Wilkes, Perchonok, Jeffrey Swada, Jennifer Elegbede, and Oluwafemi Ayodeji Adebo.
IFTNEXT at IFT19
Inspiring innovation to feed the future is the goal of the IFTNEXT initiative, and dynamic programming designed to deliver on that was well-supplied at the Annual Event and Food Expo.
Kenton Harmer, CEO of EnSolución, a startup working to bring an innovative postharvest wash solution to market, accepts a $25,000 check from IFT President-Elect Pam Coleman. Harmer’s pitch in the final round of the IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge™ held at IFT19 earned him the top prize in the competition in which five enterprising entrepreneurs shared their startup stories.
Scott Massey’s pitch for Heliponix, the company he founded to bring an in-home hydroponic growing device called GroPod to market, earned him a $5,000 People’s Choice Award in the IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge. IFT President-Elect Pam Coleman presented the check.
Jump-Starting Entrepreneurship Via Start-Up Alley
Now in its third year, the IFTNEXT Start-Up Alley at IFT19 included 10 future-forward entrepreneurs displaying some of the most innovative products and solutions in the science of food. Start-Up Alley was launched at IFT17, and this year’s group of exhibiting startups included three of the five IFTNEXT Food Disruption Challenge™ finalists. In addition, Renewal Mill, winner of the inaugural Food Disruption Challenge at IFT18, displayed its upcycled okara flour in Start-Up Alley this year.
“IFTNEXT has helped launch Renewal Mill into the R&D departments of some large Fortune 500 food companies,” said Caroline Cotto, COO at Renewal Mill. “Through this experience we’ve built a large development pipeline of interested CPGs shaping the future of food. IFTNEXT provided us with the direct access we need to scale our burgeoning ingredients business.”
In addition to having a kiosk in a prime location of the food expo floor, the startups had the opportunity to participate in a showcase event on the IFTNEXT stage. Each startup had a few minutes to pitch its company and product or service to a captive audience of food science professionals. The Start-Up Alley Showcase offered a great way for attendees to get a peek at what the startups were displaying, and it gave the entrepreneurs a chance to practice pitching—a vital skill in acquiring funding.
And along with providing a venue for the startups to meet with prospective buyers, suppliers, and partners, the IFTNEXT Start-Up Alley enabled them to get to know the resources and networks available at IFT. “I appreciate IFT’s desire to showcase new companies and new ideas that could eventually have a big impact on the food industry,” said Alan Greensmith, U.S. head of commercial development, FODMAP at Monash University Australia. “Start-Up Alley provides the venue and opportunity to tell your story.”
Leadership in Action
The days were long but filled with memorable activities for members of IFT’s elected leadership who served in many different capacities at IFT19, introducing sessions, attending meetings and events, and interacting with attendees.
Members of the IFT Board of Directors met prior to the start of the Annual Meeting and Food Expo. Front row, from left, are Stacy Pyett, E.B. Russell, Soo-Yeun Lee, Lauren Shimek, President-Elect Pam Coleman, President Michele Perchonok, Past President Cindy Stewart, CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean, IFT Student Association (IFTSA) Past President Morgan Von Staden, and IFTSA President Elizabeth Clark. Back row, from left, are Sarah Kirkmeyer, Chris Findlay, Treasurer Scott Lineback, Roger Lawrence, Ken Lee, Christopher Downs, IFTSA President-Elect Sam VanWees, Gordon Smith, Feeding Tomorrow Chair Bernhard van Lengerich, and Bryson Bolton.
Celebrating the Value of Connection
If someone were to ask me what my first impression of IFT19 was, I would sum it up in one word: connection. IFT is a diverse organization of people joined together by a shared commitment to advance the science of food by ensuring all of the best minds work together for the benefit of science. I found in every corner, session, lounge, and even on the shuttle bus that people were connecting and sharing who they are and what they do.
That is the beauty that exists in the work of diversity, inclusion, and equity. It is about making space for perspectives, voices, and experiences to have a seat at the table in order to create something that could not be accomplished alone. The questions that exist within the science of food, the problems science is looking to solve, and the research and insight brought forth are all informed by the experiences of our members. Knowing this, IFT is proud of its commitment to ensuring that we celebrate and recognize the diversity that exists within our organization and continue to seek the various experiences and perspectives that will guide us to innovative solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.
At IFT19, a number of new initiatives helped to highlight the importance of recognizing and celebrating the individual strengths reflected within the IFT community. One new and very popular initiative IFT launched was the diversity “superpower” button wall. These buttons were on display in an array of colors and represented the many ways in which our attendees contribute to the diversity of the organization.
In addition to creating a fun way for our attendees to display the diversity that they bring, IFT curated two professional development sessions aimed at creating awareness and understanding around the value of showing up as your authentic self and how developing cultural competencies is not only a competitive advantage in the workplace but helps to foster a more inclusive culture where all people feel valued and seen. These sessions encouraged attendees to self-reflect, learn from the speakers, and from one another.
Lastly, in celebration of Pride month and seeing an opportunity to bring inclusion to life, IFT held its first LGBTQ + Allies welcoming reception. This reception provided the space for LGBTQ professionals and allies to connect with industry peers and create a community to strengthen relationships as well as develop new connections.
We each play a role in creating, sustaining, and growing connections within the IFT community. These connections that we make allow us to broaden the scope of experience, perspective, and knowledge within IFT so that we may live out our vision of a world where science and innovation are universally accepted as essential to a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply for everyone.
Nancy Ukpe Gargula is Director of Diversity & Inclusion at IFT ([email protected]).
Leaning Into Learning at IFT19
From a full day devoted to many different aspects of a single topic to fast-paced 20- or 30-minute sessions, learning options took many different forms at IFT19.
The research work of more than 700 students, academics, and industry professionals was on display in poster presentations in New Orleans.
New to the food expo, IFT’s Traceability Central was a gathering place for companies with products and services related to traceability (think blockchain, the internet of things, supply chain services, and more).
New Professionals Translate the Art of Science
A new competition that gave new professionals and postdoctoral students an opportunity to hone their scientific communication skills debuted at IFT19. The Art of Science Translation competition paired three finalists—Courtney Schlossareck, Amy DeJong, and Matthew Teegarden—with an IFT Food Science Communicator, who acted as a mentor to help them prepare for the competition, which took place at the IFT Central booth.
The presentations, which were on crystallization in confections, the sensory evaluation of spicy paneer cheese, and using metabolomics to establish the bioactivity of black raspberries, were each 12 minutes long with three minutes of questions and answers. During the presentations, a visual notetaker was present to sketch out, in real time, the main themes of each presentation based on what she heard and how well each finalist communicated the science.
After a deliberation by the judges, Amy DeJong was named the winner of the competition. Confectionery science has so much to do with careful control of crystallization, explained DeJong. She went on to explain that there is an abundance of work that has been done in this space for sugar-based systems, but that there is much still to learn about sugar-free systems. The crystallization behavior of sorbitol, one of the more popular sugar-free bulk sweeteners with widespread use in sugar-free gum and mints, is difficult to control and is not well understood in complex systems.
Tasting the Power of Innovation
For a sample of ingredient innovation—not to mention the latest in equipment and services—it’s hard to imagine a better destination than the IFT19 food expo. A total of 1,049 companies from around the globe displayed their offerings on the show floor in New Orleans, many of them serving up hard-to-resist food and beverage prototypes.
Networking in New Orleans
Interacting with science of food peers from around the world is one of the hallmarks of the IFT annual event, and IFT19 provided ample opportunities for that—whether it was a social event, informal meeting, or a luncheon gathering.
Global partnerships play an important part in the work of the IFT community. Among those who gathered at IFT19 to celebrate those partnerships were representatives of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST). From left, are IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean; Bola Osinowo, chairman of the International Relations Committee at NIFST; IFT President-Elect Pam Coleman; future IFT President Noel Anderson; Chijioke Osuji, past president of NIFST; IFT President Michele Perchonok; and IFT Past President Cindy Stewart.
Acknowledging Student Achievement
Members of the IFT Student Association (IFTSA) are an important part of the IFT community—a point that IFT President Michele Perchonok made clear at IFT19.
“You’ll hear a lot about IFTNEXT here at IFT19 and throughout the year,” said Perchonok. “There is nothing more IFTNEXT than our students.”
Student members of the association stayed challenged and engaged over the course of the annual event courtesy of competitions, leadership development programming, and social events planned specifically for them.
University of Wisconsin–Madison food science students show some school spirit after capturing first place in the 2019 College Bowl Competition sponsored by Nestlé Purina. Pictured, front row, from left, are Abbey Thiel (team captain), Rachel Fehring, and Dana McMorrow. Back row, from left, are Sam VanWees, Eric Williams, Cameron Wicks, Will Northway, and Michael O’Connell.
Alexander Joseph Taylor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (third from left) won top honors in the Graduate Research Video Competition sponsored by the United Kingdom–based Campden BRI, a food research organization that he will visit later this year. Pictured, from left, are IFT Past President Colin Dennis; Jeremy Davies, commercial director, Campden BRI; Taylor; Bertrand Emond, head of membership and training, Campden, BRI; and Amadeus Driando Ahnan, the first winner of the video competition.
A team from the University of California, Davis, clinched first-place recognition in the Journal of Food Science Education’s “Food Science in Action” video competition, which aims to create a rich library of food science resources for educators from kindergarten through high school. Team members (from left) Jacqueline Yee, Matthew Poon, and Katrina Fernandez developed a video around the theme “Why Does It Hurt When You Eat Pineapple?”
Sarah Caballero of California Polytechnic State University Pomona receives the Undergraduate Research Competition first-place award from competition judge Bradley Bolling, a food science faculty member at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Creating a concept called Smooshables Yogurt earned the team from Rutgers University first place in the Smart Snacks for Kids Product Development Competition. Team members include, from left, Nicole Savio, Beatriz Dos Santos, and Jasmine Fong. Team members not pictured are Taylor Borz and Nicholas Neuenschwander.
A team from Lund University in Sweden clinched first place in the Developing Solutions for Developing Countries Product Development Competition at IFT19, creating a product called MORINGAU. Team members include Mushonnifun Faiz Sugihartanto (left), Cynthia Andriani (right), and Ashri Nugrahini (not pictured).
Creating an Asian-themed meal kit called TryDough earned the team from Michigan State University first place in the IFTSA & Mars Product Development Competition sponsored by Mars Wrigley. Team members, from left, are Ran Tao, Kaylan Hayman, and Karl Seiwert.
2019 IFTSA Student Competition Winners
College Bowl Competition
The 29th Annual IFTSA & MARS Product Development Competition
Developing Solutions for Developing Countries Product Development Competition
Smart Snacks for Kids Product Development Competition
Excellence in Leadership Award Recipients
Undergraduate Research Competition
Graduate Video Competition, sponsored by Campden BRI
Chapter of the Year: Brigham Young University
Outstanding Chapter: Connect – Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral
Outstanding Chapter: Develop – University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Outstanding Chapter: Support – Cornell University
IFT Division Competition Winners
Hundreds of research papers were submitted in the division poster competition. The first-, second-, and third-place winners are as follows:
AAFSIS—1st place: Sheik M.D. Moniruzzaman, Tokyo Univ. of Marine Science and Technology
Aquatic Food Products Div.—1st place: Derek Warren, West Virginia Univ.; 2nd place: Xue Zhao, National Univ. of Singapore; 3rd place: Sami Humaid, Univ. of Maine
Biotechnology Div.—1st place: Purni Wickramasinghe, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville; 2nd place: Thirawat Tantamacharik, Univ. of Otago; 3rd place: Devanshu Mehta, Univ. of Florida
Carbohydrate Div.—1st place: Seon-Min Oh, Kyung Hee Univ.; 2nd place: Caroline Smith, Univ. of Nebraska–Lincoln; 3rd place: Hao Zhang, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville
Dairy Foods Div.—1st place: Raheleh Ravanfar, Cornell Univ.; 2nd place: Rachel Gipson, North Carolina State Univ.; 3rd place: Linran Wang, Cornell Univ.
Dairy Foods Div. (Graduate, Oral) (Manfred Kroger)—1st place: Peter Rizzo, North Carolina State Univ.
Food Chemistry Div. (Graduate, Oral)—1st place: Gonzalo Miyagusuku Cruzado, The Ohio State Univ.; 2nd place: Minwei Xu, North Dakota State Univ.; 3rd place: Xiaoyi Zhu, The Ohio State Univ.
Food Engineering Div.—1st place: Halak Mehta, Purdue Univ.; 2nd place: Xueqian Shi, Univ. of Illinois; 3rd place: Wusigale, Jiangnan Univ.
Food Microbiology Div.—1st place: Yawen Zhai, North Carolina State Univ.; 2nd place: Bog Eum Lee, Univ. of Hawaii; 3rd place: Li Kwang, West Virginia Univ.
Food Microbiology Div. (Graduate, Oral) (John Z. Ordal)—1st place: Hsiao-Wen Huang, National Taiwan Univ.; 2nd place: Jaewon Lee, Univ. of Illinois: 3rd place: Tushar Verma, Univ. of Nebraska–Lincoln
Food Packaging Div.—1st place: Ashutos Parhi, Washington State Univ.; 2nd place: Xiaoyu Luo, Univ. of Guelph, Canada; 3rd place: Yan Zhang, Purdue Univ.
Fruits & Vegetables Products Div.—1st place: Bennett Dzandu, Louisiana State Univ.; 2nd place: Yucheng Zhou, The Ohio State Univ.; 3rd place: Nishtha Lukhmana, Univ. of Georgia
International Div. (George F. Stewart)—1st place: Oluwasegun Modupe, Univ. of Toronto; 2nd place: Elisabeth Hoegg, Technical Univ. of Berlin; 3rd place: Ana Clara da Costa Pinaffi, School of Public Health, Univ. of Sao Paulo
International Div. (Malcolm Bourne)—1st place: Ruican Wang, China Agricultural Univ.; 2nd place: Yagmur Yegin, Texas A&M Univ.; 3rd place: Karen Sánchez, ITWSM
Muscle Foods Div.—1st place: Sandra Ebert, Univ. of Hohenheim; 2nd place: Xingyi Jiang, Florida State Univ.; 3rd place: Natalie Oswell, Univ. of Georgia
Nonthermal Processing Div.—1st place: Ozan Kahraman, Univ. of Illinois; 2nd place: Shaun Sim, Cornell Univ.; 3rd place: Dongjie Chen, Univ. of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Nutraceuticals & Functional Foods Div.—1st place: Snigdha Guha, Univ. of Nebraska–Lincoln; 2nd place: Cindy Andrea Nieto-Veloza, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville; 3rd place: Qiaobin Hu, Univ. of Connecticut
Nutrition Div.—1st place: Maritza Sirven, Texas A&M Univ.; 2nd place: Rohil Bhatnagar, Cornell Univ.; 3rd place, Aubree Hawley, Univ. of Arkansas
Product Development Div.—1st place: Junsi Yang, Univ. of Nebraska–Lincoln; 2nd place: Mehmet Turker, Montana State Univ.; 3rd place: Nigel Chimbetete, Alabama A&M Univ.
Protein Div.—1st place: Emily Woolf, San Diego State Univ.; 2nd place: Enrico Federici, Purdue Univ.; 3rd place: Tolulola Adeyewa, Florida State Univ.
Protein Div. (Oral)—1st place: Emely Lopez, Univ. of Illinois; 2nd place: Emily Mason, McGill Univ.; 3rd place: Yige Zhou, National Univ. of Singapore
Quality Assurance Div.—1st place: Amanda Sia, The Ohio State Univ.; 2nd place: Bipin Rajpurohit, South Dakota State Univ.; 3rd place (tie): Maria Izabel Milani, The Ohio State Univ. and Didem Aykas, The Ohio State Univ.
Refrigerated & Frozen Foods Div.—1st place: Vondel Reyes, Louisiana State Univ.
Sensory & Consumer Sciences Div.—1st place: Leah Hamilton, Virginia Polytechnic Univ.; 2nd place: Sasha Barnett, Washington State Univ.; 3rd place: Heather Keefer, North Carolina State Univ.
Sensory & Consumer Sciences Div. (Graduate, Oral) (Rose Marie Pangborn)—1st place: Courtney Schlossareck, Washington State Univ.; 2nd place: Sara Nishku, North Carolina State Univ.; 3rd place: Victoria Minette, Washington State Univ.
Toxicology & Safety Evaluation Div.—1st place: Hualu Zhou, Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst; 2nd place: Mostafa Taghvaei, Kansas State Univ.; 3rd place: Andrea Bernat, Florida State Univ.
Supporting Scholarships + Fitness
Runners, walkers, and yoga enthusiasts gathered in New Orleans’ scenic Audubon Park early on Monday morning during the annual event for the 2019 Fun Run + Fitness activities. A total of 422 individuals from 21 countries, including 51 who participated virtually, teamed up for this year’s event, which raised more than $97,000 in support of student scholarships. Fun Run + Fitness is hosted by Feeding Tomorrow, IFT’s foundation.
A number of Phi Tau Sigma scholarships and special honors were presented at the Phi Tau Sigma and IFT Division Competition Awards Ceremony in New Orleans. Phi Tau Sigma is the honor society of food science and technology. Congratulations to the following honorees: