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Alumni Affairs

Getting involved as an alumni!

Our efforts to reconnect with alumni are going wonderfully! Your continued support is instrumental in the success of our current and future students and we greatly appreciate all that you do.

We are working on a few projects that we hope will continue to foster the growing relationship between the current students and our alumni. Our goals as a department have always been centered around our students and ensuring they are prepared for the next step in either their career or their education. Keeping with that, we will be holding a Curriculum Advisory Committee Meeting this fall and would be honored to have our alumni join us in reviewing our undergraduate program, to ensure that each student is receiving the tools they need to be successful after they leave the department. If you are interested in participating in this meeting, we encourage you to contact Jessica Black (  or Dr. Mark Morgan ( for more details.

Recent graduate, Alexis Hamilton M.S., is leading the effort in creating The UT Food Science Alumni Network. We are looking for enthusiastic Vols For Life to begin establishing informal regional chapters of Food Science Alumni, to act as mentors, supporters of the department, and examples of Volunteer Food Science spirit. If you are interested in taking over a region in your area or joining a regional chapter, contact Alexis Hamilton ( or Jessica Black (


Ways for students to get involved!

There are many ways that students can be involved in the department and find opportunites ot volunteer, compete, and build life long relationships with their fellow students and faculty members. We encourage students to be involved in the many activities available within the department.

IFTSA College Bowl Team

(standing: Kayla Adkins, Dr. Vermont Dia; sitting left to right: Jennifer Vuia-Riser, Michael Luethke, Lana Matic, Steven Wesolowski)

If you have ever dreamed of being on a Food Science themed Jeopardy episode, this team is for you! This a fun way to learn interesting food science facts, travel and compete with your peers. The team will begin practices during the Fall semester and competitions will be held in April. This year we won second place in regions and hope to make it to first next year so we can compete in nationals! If you are interested in joining the team please contact Team Captain Jennifer Vuia-Riser ( or Dr. Vermont Dia ( Continue reading

2018 Department Award Ceremony


On April 13 the department came together for an evening of fun, food, and awards. Dr. Phil Perkins was the speaker that evening and gave us a wonderful talk about his “10 Lessons on Leadership”. His extensive background in multiple areas of food science really resonated with our students and faculty.

Several awards, some recognizing excellence in specific classes and others that were fun and light hearted, were presented by the Food Science Club as well as the department. See all awards here: 2018 Department Award Ceremony

Fall 2018 Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Jiajia Chen

Please tell us about yourself.

Hello, I am Jiajia Chen, originally from China. I did my bachelor and master in Beijing University of Chemical Technology, China and completed my Ph.D. work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA. I have extensive educational training on food, chemical, and environmental engineering areas. Prior to my current position (70% research and 30% teaching) at The University of Tennessee, I worked on different positions of research assistant professor (100% research) and assistant professor of practice (85% teaching). I like my current positon better, where I can do both research and teaching in a more balanced manner. This allows me to explore and learn many new things, as well as interact with students in the classrooms.

In my spare time, I like to spend time with family and friends. I like to play with my son, Ryan, a four-year-old happy boy. We like to go to zoo and playground, almost every week. I also like to read interesting stories about chickens, rabbits, and all other cute animals, with Ryan. Continue reading

2018 Grad Student Summer Activities

It isn’t just our undergrads that spend their summer’s taking the opporunity to learn more about their chosen field, our graduate students are also busy with research and attending conferences.

Melody Fagan

Graduate student, Melody Fagan, has spent time working with strawberries this summer. The strawberries that you buy at the store are not washed or coated; they are picked in the field and directly placed into those little clear clamshell packages that you take home from the store. Despite extensive efforts to reduce the rate of strawberry molding, we all know that strawberries are some of the first fruits to go when we leave them on the counter or place them in the fridge.The results of this experiment may help to identify ways to control fungal growth on one of the South’s favorite seasonal fruits!Strawberry Continue reading

Alumni Spotlight

Chayapa (Koi) Techathuvanan, Ph.D.


What year did you receive your degree/s from The University of Tennessee’s Food Science Department? What made you choose UT’s Food Science program?

I received an M.S. in 2009 and a Ph.D. in 2012.

I visited UT during my undergraduate sophomore year as an exchange student in 2004 and had the opportunity to explore UT’s Food Science graduate program. I chose to come to UT as the professors in the department are among the best in the field and the research focuses matched my interest. In addition, the people in the department, the university and Knoxville are great, very friendly and kind

What is your current position and employer and how long have you been there?

I’m currently a Sr. Scientist – Microbiology at Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. and I’ve been with the company for 4 years. Continue reading

2018 Undergraduate Student Activities

This summer several students were around the country,and in some cases around the world, taking the opportunity to learn more about Food Science through internships and part-time or temporary jobs.

Jaime Ragos

Food Science senior, Jaime Ragos, has had a busy summer! She has interned at NC State for an REU involving education and extension on sanitaiton and spent time at Lonerider microbrewery where they discussed sanitation and GMPs with the brewery owners. In addition, she was also part of the Normandy Scholars Program where she was able to visit historic WWII sites in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Continue reading

2018 Innovative Teaching Award

Dr. Francine Hollis

Dr. Francine Hollis

Congratulations to Dr. Francine Hollis and collaborator Dr. Cheryl Rock of California State University they have been awarded the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities’ 2018 Innovative Teaching Award for their project Deciphering Food Laws and Regulations: An Interactive Course Module Approach to Enhance Student Learning and Understanding. The overall goal of this project is to ensure that students play an active role in the learning process. Read the full announcement.

2018 CASNR Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Craig Bacon, Mrs. Bacon, Dr. Dwight Loveday, and Dr. Mark MorganCongratulations to alumnus Craig Bacon, Ph.D. for being awarded the 2018 CASNR Dinstinguished Alumni Award! He received his M.S. in 1987 and his Ph.D. in 1990 from the Food Science Department. Bacon was formerly the Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Tyson Foods and is now the Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Quality Assurance at Simmons.

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