How to Feed a Hungry Mind with the Institute of Food Technologists
Since it was founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has been an organization where food scientists could come together to share their research and findings and discuss new and innovative ideas to further the advances in the field of food science. Every year, IFT holds a meeting where members from all over the world come to be updated on the latest trends, ideas, and groundbreaking research as well as expand their professional network. This year, the IFT annual meeting (IFT17) was held in Las Vegas, NV at the Venetian Resort and Casino. The meeting had a variety of activities that encourage membership engagement and the development of new ideas such as educational sessions, division mixers, leadership workshops, research posters, a variety of competitions, and an expo.
Of the activities offered at IFT17, many are specifically created for student members through the IFT student association (IFTSA). The members of Chapman University’s food science program are highly active in IFTSA. IFTSA always holds multiple student competitions at the annual IFT meeting such as the Disney Product Development Competition, IFTSA/MARS Product Development Competition, and last but not least, the College Bowl Competition. College Bowl is a food science based trivia competition where schools from all across the nation form teams of four or more students and compete against each other. The competition starts on a regional level with Chapman competing in the Pacific Southwest region. We were extremely proud of Chapman’s team players Alexa Sarcona (team captain), Vyom Meta, Natalie Tom, Alyssa Hardy, and Costa Spyrou and their coach, Dr. Were, as they took home the gold in the regional competition. This brought them to compete on the national level at IFT17. After multiple rounds that kept us on the edge of our seat, our little university came home as 4th in the entire nation! We couldn’t be more proud!
Chapman University’s College Bowl Team comes in 4th place in the nation.
But that was not our only accomplishment at IFT17. We also had eight students present their research in either a poster presentation or an oral presentation. Of those eight students, three (Natalie Tom, Tara Okuma, Shayna Bosko) were finalists in the student research competition. Tara Okuma took 3rd place in the Toxicology Division Competition with a cash prize of $500 and Shayna Bosko took home 1st place in the Aquatic Foods Division Competition with a cash prize of $1,000! Wow!
Tara Okuma (left) takes 3rd place in the toxicology division student research competition and Shayna Bosko (right) takes 1st place in the aquatic foods division.
Our accomplishments at IFT17 did not stop at students. We even had some of our very own professors take home some prestigious awards as well. Dr. Rosalee Hellberg won the 2017 inaugural Emerging Leaders Network Award. This award is given to candidates who demonstrate high potential for success in leadership roles and a strong commitment to their profession. This is such an incredible achievement and there is no one more fitting for this award than Dr. Hellberg. Dr. Lilian Were on the other hand was awarded the IFT Muscle Foods Division Outstanding Volunteer Award for service and exemplary leadership.
After all the hard work our students and professors put in this year to accomplish all that they did, we had to have a little fun too! On the first night of the conference, Chapman’s food science program hosted a Chapman Food Science Alumni and Student Mixer. This was a great opportunity for students, alumni, and professors to relax, reconnect, and even meet new people all while enjoying delicious food and drinks at the Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery on the Las Vegas Strip. Overall, we would say IFT17 was a great time with many accomplishments and learning experiences along the way. We would especially like to thank Chapman University’s Schmid College of Science and Technology and the Southern California IFT section for providing travel grants to IFT for many of the Chapman food science students. These organizations, by providing these grants, give students the opportunity to further their education and grow professionally. If you are a student and want to attend IFT18 next year, these grants can be a great option for you as well! IFT18 will take place in Chicago, IL from July 15th-18th, 2018 but until then, there are many ways to stay involved with IFT and IFTSA. If you are wondering how to get involved or just want to learn more, check out the link below: http://www.ift.org/community/students.aspx. We can’t wait until IFT18 and hope to see you there!