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Bringing Science Fiction to Food Science

 

The work that Dr. Scott Lenaghan is doing may seem like science fiction to some, but he assures us that it is far from fiction.

He was featured in UTRF’s Inventor Spotlight where he discusses his work with synthetic biology and the development of biosensors. We were curious to learn more about biosensors and how they play into food science. Lenaghan explains that with the advancement of biosensors in crops, that farmers would be able to detect problems such as drought and pests in localized regions of a farmer’s field. The biosensors could be detected from close-up with handheld detectors, or from space using remote satellite imaging. This would allow the farmer to treat that specific area, not the whole crop, which would save on time and resources. Research such as this focuses on global food security, which with an exponential growth in population over the next several years, is of world-wide concern among many.

Dr. Lenaghan’s research expands on the traditional scope of food science and helps to further the department’s research by opening the door to new collaborations across disciplines. Dr. Lenaghan is a co-director and founder of the Center for Agricultural Synthetic Biology (CASB) along with Dr. Neal Stewart, from Plant Sciences.

 

 

 

2019 Spring Envoy Update

Food Science Envoys are students who represent the department’s mission and values. These students are the first to ask, “How can I help?”, they are the ones that can be found talking to high schools students about food science, and they are the ones that meet with our departmental visitors first. During the fall semester their primary focus has been on recruiting. Envoys traveled around Tennessee attending college fairs and engaging with teachers and students alike.

Having the Envoy program allows students to take on leadership roles within the department and network with industry leaders. We are always looking to add to our Envoy team. The only requirements are a passion for food science and people, flexibility (since plans don’t always go as planned), and an outgoing personality. Please contact Jessica Black (jblack8@utk.edu) for more information.

Spring 2019 Alumni Spotlight

 

What degree did you receive from UT and what year/s did you receive your degree/s? Why did you choose UT’s Food Science program?

I came to UT from UT Chattanooga as a junior in 1982.  I received my B.S. in 1984 and my M.S. in 1986.  I chose UT Food Technology and Science (the department name at the time) because I enjoyed science courses and liked that Food Science had a narrower focus than just Chemistry or Biology.  As a child, I used to read my cereal boxes while I ate breakfast, so I guess it was inevitable that I would end up in Food Science!

What is your current position or what was your last position?

I am currently in the only position from which I have derived income since graduating in 1986.  I stayed home with our 3 children for over 25 years before becoming a Lecturer at UTK in Food Science in 2012.  I also serve as the department’s Undergraduate Program Coordinator and as an Academic Advisor for many of our students. I enjoy helping coach the College Bowl team too.

How did your experiences at UT help to shape your career path?  My favorite thing about UT Food Science was the people—the other students, staff, and faculty members.

The faculty and staff genuinely cared about the students and wanted to help them succeed in their educational and career goals.  I suppose that is why I now choose to teach and advise our current students, and I hope to provide them the same care and attention that was shown to me.

Future goals?

Even though my husband is already retired from UT, I plan to continue teaching for a few more years as long as I am having fun and the students are learning.  At some point, I will retire and enjoy spending time with my current and future grandchildren and the rest of my family.

Favorite memories of your time at UT?

I enjoyed hanging out with other students  and faculty in the department as we would get together at someone’s apartment for food and fun. Everyone in the department knew each other since it was a small department.  I was elected as Chairman of the IFT Student Association and I enjoyed going to the IFT conferences in New Orleans, Anaheim (we also went to Disneyland!), and Atlanta with the other students and faculty, and initiating the first college bowl competition in Atlanta in 1985.

What advice would you give to current and future students?

1.) Take your education seriously, i.e. “Go to class! Work hard.”

2..) Learn to look for and grab the opportunities that are around you.

3.) Find some joy in every situation.  Life is too short to be miserable!

4.) People are more important than things.

5.) Count your blessings

Fall 2018 Recruiting

When high school students are looking at majors, often times they are uncertain as to what Food Science is and what kinds of careers, they could have with a Food Science Major. By attending college fairs, classrooms, and inviting high school students into the department for a hands-on activity we can convey to them the importance of Food Science and safety in our daily lives.

During the fall semester we spent time traveling throughout Tennessee meeting students and teachers. Mrs. Karen Jones attended the Tennessee Science Teachers Association Conference held in Murfreesboro, TN. and the opportunity to hold a Q & A session for the teachers attending the conference. We also visited places like Martin, Cookeville, Nashville, and Jefferson City. Many of these events welcomed students from surrounding cities and counties which we hope will lead to us welcoming even more student from all around Tennessee!

We plan to continue attending college and career fairs in the future. Not only will this allow us to garner exposure to a multitude of students, it will also help to keep us engaged with teachers throughout Tennessee.

2018 Curriculum Advisory Board Meeting

 

This fall we invited a variety of alumni and industry leaders to spend the day assessing our undergraduate program and help us determine our strengths and weaknesses. Those in attendance were gracious enough to take time away from their busy schedules and review the curriculum and extracurricular activities that our students will participate during their time in the Food Science department, and for this we are extremely grateful. Their dedication and passion for not only Food Science, but also the future of our students, is what will keep our program competitive.

Our faculty put together information about their courses and gave a presentation to those at the meeting. We encouraged each member of the meeting to ask questions and give feedback about each course. We understand that those that have gone through the program and have been in the food science industry are one of our greatest resources and our relationship with them allows us to properly prepare our students for different types of careers within the Food Science industry.

2019 Spring Staff Spotlight

Mrs. Ann Henry began her career in Food Science on November 6, 1984 working as a bookkeeper in the UT Creamery. Since that time, she has transitioned into handling the department’s HR tasks and Travel Request. If you need assistance with things like hiring paperwork, payroll, building keys, or travel questions, she can be found in the Food Science administrative office (room 201). Now beware…she is quite the prankster and has been known to jump out and scare unsuspecting staff and faculty, but she says her favorite memory over the years has been dressing up as Santa for Christmas parties. While reflecting on her time with the department she says that she has enjoyed getting to know our international scholars and assisting students, faculty, and staff. Over the years the most notable changes about the department has the closing of the creamery and the new building. When Ann is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing games like Dominos, or shopping with friends.

Mrs. Davean Brown began her career in Food Science in the summer of 1996. Davean started out as a secretary for faculty members within the department but has since taken the position of Business Manager. If students need assistance with fee waivers (graduate students), payroll questions, travel awards or if faculty or staff have questions about financials, she is the person to go to. Like Ann, her office is in the Food Science administrative office (room 201). Her favorite memories of the department have been all the laughter and fun times and most memorable was the painting party in McCloud. She says that changes in faculty and moving into a new building have brought about some challenges but have also led to lots of fun memories. When she isn’t at work, Davean likes to spend time with her husband and chasing her 6-yr. old son and scrapbooking & sewing.

2019 Spring Food Science Club Update

In the fall semester, Food Science Club (FSC) students interacted with industry members, participated in the IFT Volunteer Section Knoxville meeting, and spread food science knowledge at Ag Day. FSC also hosted a fall semester kick-off event to welcome new and returning students back to campus, allow new and old members to pay dues, and to give an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to interact with faculty and staff. Our other club events included assisting with the Wines of the South competition held at UT, going to a corn maze, and hosting department potlucks! In the spring, we have even more industry visits planned and the IFTSA Midwest Area Meeting, where our College Bowl Team and other students will get the chance to meet with food science students from other universities! If you are interested in joining the club or would like more information, please contact our club president (Jennifer Vuia-Riser, jvuia@vols.utk.edu) or our club advisor (Dr. Francine Hollis; hollisf@utk.edu).”

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 (jblack8@utk.edu)  or Dr. Mark Morgan (mark.morgan@utk.edu) 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 (ahamil20@vols.utk.edu) or Jessica Black (jblack8@utk.edu).

 

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 (jvuia@vols.utk.edu) or Dr. Vermont Dia (vdia@utk.edu). 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

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