Kansas State University


Food Science Institute

Professor Aramouni Provides FSMA Training in Lebanon

On December 16-23rd, 2017 Dr. Aramouni was a volunteer with the United-Nations Development Program (UNDP) in his native Lebanon and provided Food Safety Preventive Control (FSPC) training in English, French, and Arabic  to food professionals to help them comply with FDA regulations for Foreign Supplier Verification under the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Forty-five people from various companies that export food to the U.S., along with government food inspectors, received the Preventive Control Qualified Individual (PCQI) certification.  Dr. Aramouni will travel back to the Middle East this Summer for 4 additional projects:

1) To provide Train the Trainer food safety sessions to UN personnel working in Syrian refugee camps in cooperation with the Italian Barilla Pasta company  and the UNDP.

2) To review the newly developed Bachelor of Science program in Food Safety at Notre-Dame University (NDU Louize) in Lebanon with USAID/Land-O-Lakes

3) To Provide Food Product Development workshops with the Lebanese Food Industry Association

4) To provide training on new FDA labeling regulations and additional FSPC workshops with various consulting groups

Row Hard or Row Home

By Morgan Wolfe


An early seven a.m. cardio workout before class is a normal everyday routine for four food science students. In fact, they also attend weight training every afternoon. Taylor Flowers, Cassidy Haufler, Samantha Samskey and Johari Snell are all teammates on the women’s rowing team who balance their busy schedules between school and sports and have a significant interest in food science.

This season the women have participated in two fall races that took place in October. At the Head of the Oklahoma Race in Oklahoma City, their boat placed 8th out of 24 boats, and at the Jayhawk Jamboree in Lawrence, their boat took 10th out of 22 boats. Their remaining season will resume in April after the winter months pass, but their training will continue regardless of the weather.

Two seniors on the team, Sam Samskey and Taylor Flowers both declared a food science major after taking Dr. PhebusIntroduction to Food Science class. Samskey changed from animal science, and Flowers was previously undeclared. From their underclassmen years to now, these two have been living a near identical schedule between rowing practice, class, labs and races; but both agree that their contribution to the rowing team has been well worth the hard work.

“I hold myself accountable more,” Samskey mentioned. “I’m more motivated.”

“Rowing is such a mental sport,” Flowers added.  “It’s made me mentally be able to focus and set tasks aside and know when to do things. Mind over matter, no matter what.”

As seniors, Flowers and Samskey now have to act responsibly as leaders to the younger girls on their team and show a good example.

“Rowing is definitely overwhelming at first,” Samskey said.

“60 girls come in, you’re all there and no one knows what they’re doing,” Flowers added. “We were scared. But you pick up fast. Coach will come in and say, ‘you need to improve, someone will take your spot, things like that. It’s very competitive.”

Flowers and Samskey have learned to take that ambitious attitude from sports and apply it to their academic career as well. Flowers and Samskey are diligent students who both are in the process of figuring out the next step after graduation.

“I like being in the lab and learning the science behind all the food,” Flowers explained.

“I like the dairy side of things. I’m not sure what I want to do with my degree after college right now, but I’m currently looking for an internship,” Samskey noted. “It’s hard to leave when all the professors are great. Dr. Schmidt is always so upbeat and excited to teach everyday.”

“Yes, all the professors are great,” Flowers added. “They know what they’re talking about and they’re all very passionate. They really care about what they teach.”

The Food Science Institute is grateful for all of the girls’ hard work and contribution throughout their time at K-State. The rowing women are strongly committed to the success of their athletic and academic careers, and we wish them the best in their futures!


Slam Your Final Exam

Morgan Wolfe


Well… there’s no getting around it; the time of year that we’ve all been dreading this semester has quickly approached us – finals. For most students, final exam week is a stressful period that creeps up way too fast leaving little to no time for preparation or rest. However, there are some tricks that can help alleviate some stress and anxiety.

Get Some Rest

A good night’s sleep will help you retain information longer and do well on your exams. Studies show that rapid-eye movement or REM sleep aids memory and thought process. Remember to take naps too! A twenty-minute power nap can help boost your alertness and physical stamina.

Change up Your Study Spot 

Instead of studying in the same room over and over again, adventure to a new spot around town with a different atmosphere. A study referenced by the New York Times, found that alternating study spots improves retention.

Manhattan has a lot of great coffee shops that make it easy unpack your books, sip some caffeine and get to work. Some spots include: Sparrow Specialty Coffee, Radinas Coffeehouse and Roastery, Arrow Coffee Co, Bluestem Bistro and Paramour Coffee.

If you’re looking for some on-campus spots, Hale Library is providing quite the hook-up with their freebie events as follows:

CAFFEINE FIX: Mon. – Weds., Dec. 11-13, 6 – 8 p.m. 2nd and 4th floors. Free Einstein’s Bros. coffee and bagels, Jimmy John’s sandwiches, and hot chocolate from the Union Program Council while supplies last.

ALL WEEK: RANDOM ACTS OF SNACKS sponsored by K-State Libraries, Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs and Varsity Donuts!

DE-STRESS STATION: Coloring pages and pencils, Sudoku, word searches, and more located near Library Help!

Divide it Up

Instead of spending hours cramming for your exams, divide your time up and give yourself a break. Study in 20-50 minute increments with 5-10 minute breaks in between. Managing your time will also help relieve stress and anxiety.

Move It!

Take a break and get some exercise. Research at Columbia University found that physical activity promotes neurogenesis (creation of new brain cells) and overall increases brain performance. It’s also a great way to wake you up when you feel tired from studying too long. The K-State Rec Center offers a diverse range of workout opportunities for people of all interests. Manhattan has also recently adopted a new yoga center in Aggieville called, Orange Sky Yoga, giving students the chance to come relax and de-stress in any of their numerous classes. 



Student Spotlight: Rene Perla

By Morgan Wolfe


Whether he’s running for the K-State track team or studying at Call Hall as a food science student, Rene Perla truly works hard at everything he does. As a K-State athlete, Rene currently dedicates 20 hours of his week to track practice and soon will be dedicating even more time when the spring season arrives and traveling for the sport begins. Although he works around a busy schedule, Rene finds gratitude for the challenges he faces along the way.

“Push yourself as much as you can,” Rene said. “That’s what I like to live by. I don’t like failure, but I know that sometimes I need it in order to learn.”

This motto definitely influenced decisions in Rene’s life prior to coming to K-State.

“I grew up in Central America,” Rene said. “My parents have a water bottle business, and they always pushed my sisters and I to go after our dreams and choose good industries to work in when we got older. I studied food science back home for a year until I realized that there were schools with better food science programs for me. So I came to Kansas State University.”

Now a junior in food science, Rene is trying to figure out what part of food science he likes best.

“I’m interested in food quality and safety, microbiology too,” Rene mentioned.

Although he hasn’t determined a concentration, Rene still plans to attend graduate school in the future.

“I’m thinking either Purdue or Penn State. Maybe even K-State. Dr. Getty has been a great help in making decisions and giving advice as to where to go, what to do and what big role I want to pursue in a career path.”

Rene’s dedication to learning and sports certainly leaves an impression on those around him.

“I have been impressed with his interest in food science and his efforts to succeed in the class and on the track field,” Dr. Kelly Getty comments. “He’s always looking for new opportunities within food science. I look forward to watching him progress and make an impact in the food industry and his community.”

Keep an eye out for Rene this upcoming spring as he competes in the 400 meter hurdles!


Science Communication Week at K-State

By Morgan Wolfe


This week is the first ever Science Communication Week at K-State, and a whole line up of events will be in action throughout the week for students to attend and participate in. The schedule includes a research colloquium, a presentation with National Geographic photographer, Jim Richardson, a library scholarship expo, a Science Café presentation with The Scientific Research Society’s Michael Veenan and a USDA-ARS Center for Grain and Animal Health Research Open House.

The week is centered around The Kansas Science Communication Initiative or KSCI. This action seeks to engage communities to understand, promote and actively participate in science and research. One major role in achieving this goal is to simply build the bridge between the arts and science. This partnership allows scientists and communicators to work collaboratively on ways to explain the work conducted by researchers and scientists to different audiences. Additionally, it will work to connect researchers with K-12 teachers, informal education institutions, and other citizen groups to engage publics in new scientific studies and opportunities. The KSCI also hopes to produce effective content for mass communication channels.

As a large contributor to science and research at K-State, the Food Science Institute will be participating this week and invites food science students to join in on some of these events. Dr. Valentina Trinetta, Assistant Professor will be presenting about food microbiology art at the library scholarship expo. She, along with four students, Gabriela Magossi, Chloe Shearon, Bethany Herl and Caroline Peters will explain how bacteria, yeasts, molds and other microbes are associated with foods and food processing.

“I think that a lot of times scientists get trapped in their labs with formulas and reactions,” Dr. Trinetta said. “Sharing information with the public is therefore, slow and difficult. Integrating scientific results with communication is fundamental to give a stronger understanding of the current research and moreover, increase science relevance in society.”

The library scholarship expo will be held at Hale Library on Tuesday, Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come visit with Dr. Trinetta as well as tons of other science leaders to learn what research and practices are being conducted.



Alumni Spotlight: Nigel Harper

By Morgan Wolfe


It’s not common to find a job after college that will allow you take your dog to work every day. Luckily for Nigel Harper, he found a job that does; in fact, his company encourages it!

Nigel Harper, a former K-State food science grad, returned to the university in September with his colleague, Melissa Weber, for the Fall Career Fair. Nigel represents his company, Mars Petcare, where his daily job involves wearing the hat of a product scientist, an engineer, a marketing associate and a quality scientist every day.

“I wouldn’t really say that there is an average work day at Mars Petcare,” Nigel said, “and that is what is exciting about it. I carry between two to five projects at a time, and they range from new innovations that we are launching to continuous improvement work that we do to make our products more efficiently.”  

Although Nigel loves his job, he admits it can be very challenging at times.

“When it comes to testing products that you are developing, you always want feedback from your consumers,” Nigel explains. “Well, our consumers “bark” and “purr” so getting verbal descriptions of the product are not straightforward.

Fortunately, Nigel and the crew at Mars Petcare work alongside many brilliant scientists that study the cues that animals can give, as well as what pet owners love about Mars products. Nigel even works beside a very close associate, his dog, Darby!

“Darby is actually a former associate at Mars Petcare because I adopted him from our Pet Feeding Center. It’s basically a four star, all-inclusive resort for dogs and cats,” Nigel laughed.

Though he’s submerged in a job that he loves, Nigel acknowledges his earlier years during school of making tough decisions about his future.

“I actually wanted to go to medical school, Nigel confessed. “My father is an optometrist, and medicine has always been a passion of mine. However, I decided not to go because I didn’t like where the careers in medicine are headed. I was looking for a field that could combine my love of nutrition, microbiology, biochemistry and physics; food science was the perfect fit.”

With big decisions like moving 11 hours away from home, committing to a master’s and doctorate degree and accepting his first job out of college, Nigel offers wise advice to current food science students.

“Build a strong network, and stay in contact with your fellow classmates,” Nigel remarks. “Also, take business classes in college to build your business acumen early. That is an area I have had to build on the job. And lastly, be comfortable with discomfort; that’s how you grow as a person. Push yourself past your comfort zone, no matter how scary that seems.”



Alumni Spotlight: Melissa Weber

By Morgan Wolfe


Bringing ideas to life is what motivates Melissa Weber everyday in her job at Mars Petcare. Melissa lives with a passion for taking consumer insights and developing solutions to unmet consumer needs. Mars Petcare allows her to practice this passion daily and even pushes her to think more creatively

Although she is happy in her career and current pursuits, Melissa had to push herself to get where she is. Her hard work began here at K-State after she finished her undergrad at The University of Tennessee Martin.

“I grew up with a fascination for Agriculture and knew that I wanted to pursue a career in an agriculture field,” Melissa explained.  “I looked into Agricultural Communication, but quickly realized that I had a strong passion for science that was not met in the communications field. My undergraduate advisor recommended graduate study in meat science and pointed me to K-State.”

With minimal experience in food science, Melissa followed this recommendation and left her lifelong home in Tennessee for the great Midwest.

“I quickly grew to the love the field with the complexity that exists in live animal production, conversion of muscle to meat and the development of high quality meat products that are consumer relevant,” Melissa said. She faced some challenges throughout the program too though.

“I had limited experience in meat science and had a lot of catching up to do. I had to study hard, listen and learn from my fellow graduate students and immerse myself in the meat lab to become ‘fluent’ in meat science,” Melissa reflected. “I also learned that research doesn’t always go as planned.”

During her Ph.D. research, a tornado hit Weber Hall, shutting down the meat lab entirely. Melissa had to get creative.

“Thankfully we had industry partners who allowed us to use their facilities to insure my research who be completed. I learned the difference between finding solutions and just identifying problems. There will always be challenges and people who can find ways around those challenges will stand out,” Melissa noted.

This skill has helped Melissa greatly in her career. In a face-paced work industry, one of Melissa’s first standalone projects at Mars Petcare was to bring a new brand to life in just six months.

“An average day is spent working on projects in various stages (some are at ideation, some are in testing and some are being launched) and collaborating with marketing, plants and peers to scope projects and troubleshoot issues,” Melissa explained. “No day is ever the same, so I never get bored!”

Melissa loves her job at Mars Petcare because the family-owned business truly stands behind its five principles to create an environment focused on quality, efficiency, mutuality, responsibility and freedom.

“It’s challenging,” Melissa mentioned. “We have two consumers: pets and pet parents. We have to create complete and balanced meals, and we have to lower tier raw materials to create high quality, highly regulated products. I also get to bring my dog to work!.”


Alumni Spotlight: Mayla Kritski Baez

By Morgan Wolfe


From Pastry Chef to Food Scientist, Mayla Kritski Baez has had a variety of experiences in the food industry. Upon recently graduating in spring 2017 with a bachelors degree in food science, Mayla has proceeded to fulfill the rest of her career dreams. Growing up in Brazil with a family that cherished good food, Mayla had always been interested in food her whole life and knew that working in the food industry would be a passion of hers.

“Our family reunions were always held at the kitchen table around a good cup of coffee and fresh baked pastries,” Mayla said.” She knew food was something she was passionate about and wanted to continue learning about.

“I graduated from Johnson County Community College with an associates degree in culinary arts, a Pastry and Baking and a Sous Chef Certification from the

American Culinary Federation. I was also part of the JCCC Culinary Team, Mayla Said.”

Mayla worked for her certification as a pastry chef for 715 Restaurant in Lawrence, KS and as a Catering Sous Chef for JCCC in Overland Park, KS.

“I worked for almost three years while finishing my associates degree,” Mayla added. “We were required to have 6,000 hours of kitchen experience in order to be able to take the practical test for the Sous Chef Certification. The American Culinary Federation has a very strict policy regarding their certifications.”

Her hard work paid off though. Mayla now has a position as a food scientist for JBS Beef in Souderton, Pennsylvania, and truly enjoys everything she does.

“Working for JBS is rewarding and very exciting,” Mayla said. “An average day at work for me starts by attending my first meeting at 5:10 a.m. to see what the numbers are for the day. We check the exports orders, the cattle heads that will need to be fabricated; we talk about packaging costs, food safety topics, usually carrying out new implementations for the front and back pack areas, etc. After that, I usually go to the production floor for four and a half hours to check on everybody and make sure everything is in place to start production. I stay in the plant usually from 4:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. until the production department is done. That usually depends on the number of cattle heads. It could range from 1,500 or 2,200 heads per day; every day is different.”

The long days seem to be worth it. Mayla hopes as a food scientist to bring products to the consumer table that can reach proliferation; even items in the beef industry that are on the cusp of becoming a trend.

“Going to culinary school and earning a bachelors in food science helped me to understand the science behind food, how to play with flavors, colors, cooking techniques, food safety and how great is to create new food products,” Mayla explained. “I hope K-State food science students really take advantage of all the opportunity around them. Ask questions, talk with your professor(s), participate in competitions and try to find a mentor to discuss your career goals.”

Last June, Mayla and her team won 2nd place in the 2017 National Dairy Council New Product Competition. Mayla worked alongside two other colleagues, Conrad Kabus(undergraduate, senior in food science) and Karthik Sajith (M.S. graduate student). Their challenge was to develop a dairy beverage that will be the drink of choice for 15-25 year old consumers. The team responded by creating Mate Au Lait Protein Plus. The overall product development was no easy task, but the end result was well worth the hard work.  Mayla encourages all students to challenge themselves and participate in as much as possible.

When asked the one thing she would have done differently at K-State if she could go back, Mayla laughed, “I would have had more Call Hall ice creams.”

Student Spotlight: Karina Desiree

By Morgan Wolfe


Growing up in an “international family” made it easy for Karina Desiree to travel to the United States to pursue her college education. Karina grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia her whole life and attended an IB international school that required students to learn English. She always knew she would attend a university in the United States, and although miles away from home, the idea never instilled the slightest bit of fear.

“My uncle attended Ohio State University for his college education, so I already

had someone to talk about international studies with,” Karina said. “My mom also married a retired marine from the United States nine years ago. We have taken frequent vacations to the U.S. to see all the American tourist attractions.”

Before coming to K-State, Karina first completed her undergraduate degree at Purdue University in Indiana. “I was always interested in biology,” Karina explained, “and I wanted to be a doctor. However, in Indonesia they require doctors to complete medical school there, and I wanted to study abroad. So I looked for a more applicable science major. I wanted something less theoretical and more hands-on, and then I found food science. Purdue had a great food science program, and I also knew it was a popular university for Indonesians.”

Karina came straight to K-State after graduating from Purdue last May. She is currently a Food Science graduate student with an emphasis in Food Microbiology under Dr. Jessie Vipham and has been helping out in Dr. Phebus’ labs.

“I chose to come to K-State because of Dr. Vipham and her research,” Karina said. “I knew I liked microbiology, but I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do with it. When I looked at her research and how it involves developing countries and improving their agriculture, I grew very interested. Cambodia is right there by Indonesia, and I feel like that could be very useful in the future if I decide to go back to Indonesia and work there. I believe I could truly make an impact if I dive into that field and make improvements in my own country.”

Karina has found her new home at K-State to be very comfortable. Although only being here for a month, she has adapted to her surroundings very well.

“I’m used to the college town. Manhattan is a lot smaller than Purdue, but the atmosphere is very similar. It’s very quiet and relaxing here, very suitable for studying. I like it here because I’m easily distracted,” Karina laughed.

When she’s not busy helping out in food science classes, Karina spends her time singing in her church choir and gardening. She even has an impressive succulent collection and names her succulents after microbes! Now THAT is a dedicated student! Welcome to K-State Karina!

Food Science Alum Returns to Interview Students


By Morgan Wolfe



Returning to her old stomping grounds, Rachel Pearson, a 2015 K-State graduate traveled back to Manhattan last week in hunt to find the best-fitting students for the posterity of her represented company, Land O’ Lakes.

Rachel began her college career in the pre-veterinary program. It wasn’t until she took Dr. Phebus’ Introduction to Food Science class that she noticed a shift in her attention. “I found food science to be a very engaging subject for me,” said Rachel.

“Dr. Phebus’ intro class definitely peaked my interest in food science for sure. I had a follow-up meeting with him shortly after and realized his passion for food science. He quickly revealed the impact and opportunities that food science has,

so I started weighing the factors, advantages and disadvantages.  Then I decided that I would have a lot more going for me if I switched over to food science.”

Rachel has been working for Land O’ Lakes for about three years. She first worked for the company during her junior year where they shipped her off to Orland, California for a summer internship.

“I remember one of the first things they asked me during my initial interview was, ‘Are you willing to relocate,'” Rachel mentioned. “And I said, ‘I want to get out of Kansas. I want to see what the world has to offer.” She enjoyed her internship so much that the following summer she accepted another intern position with Land O’ Lakes; this time in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Rachel now works at the Minnesota Land O’ Lakes branch where she just started her second year in a program called TAP (training).

“It’s a broad training course where you get exposure to the plant. It includes anything from sourcing to environmental health and safety to quality as well as production,” Rachel explained. “You learn how each part of the process plays a role in making the final product.”

Rachel started her first year of the program down in Texas doing feed. Although she loved it, she realized she loved dairy more. She is currently back in R&D butter and spreads team in Minnesota until she finishes training and is relocated to another plant.

“At Land O’ Lakes, you really make your own career,” Rachel stated. “Land O’ Lakes is very supportive if you have an interest. Go for it. That’s why I enjoy coming back to K-State to interview students.

I love talking about Land O’ Lakes and the opportunities within the company and how it plays a part in making the world a better place.”

Rachel interviewed food science students here in Manhattan for two days. She and her colleague, Daniel Coen (KSU Food Science Alumni), really wanted to find those special students whom they know would do well at Land O’ Lakes.

“We want students to feel comfortable during the interview process. It’s more of a get-to-know you process on both sides,” Rachel noted.

“We are looking for someone who has those true values, takes integrity very seriously and is not afraid to get their hands dirty and get the job done. At the same time, we also look for people who really value the impact that Land O’ Lakes has in the world and people who are passionate about making a difference.”



Tips & Tricks for the Best Career Fair Interview

By Morgan Wolfe


The K-State Career Fair is scheduled for September 19-21, 2017 at Bramlage Coliseum from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and we are so excited for our K-State food science students to show the real world what they are made of! If you haven’t registered, please do so before September 18 by visiting the Career Center in the Berney Family Welcome Center. We know all of you will do extremely well; but just as a reminder, here are a few job interview tips to help you stand out. Good luck students!

Study Up

Before you interview, research the company’s earnings calls, quarterly reports and blog posts. Bring up one of their current projects in your interview to show that you really did your homework and know what they are working on. Express your interest and concern in what they do so that they can see you would be an excellent attribute to their company.

First Impressions are Everything

Employers are busy. Show them that spending their time on you is an investment. Arrive early. Be polite. Extend warm greetings to everyone you meet from the company. Employers want to see that you are intentional and treat others with kindness. Make a strong first impression by dressing appropriately, demonstrating professional body language and speaking with enthusiasm, confidence and positivity.

Craft your Story

Instead of just reading down your resume, think of five things you really want to communicate to the interviewer. What do you want them to remember about you? What makes you stand out? Talk about your past jobs that are most relevant to position you are interviewing for.

Walk the Walk

Have a portfolio already put together with some of your best work samples or project highlights inside. This collection can be physical or digital. Show the employer that you haven’t just recited material that you learned in class, but instead that you have practiced and experienced it firsthand and are ready to use your skills to benefit the company.

Always Thank the Interviewer

Before you interview, have a thank you card already addressed and ready to go in your bag or notebook. After your interview, take five minutes to sit down elsewhere and write a thank you note. Include a few points you talked about in your interview to show the employer that you didn’t pre-write one. Drop it in the mail. Your letter should get to them two or three days after the interview – perfect time to remind them of you and get them thinking about that next point of contact.

Student Spotlight: Carla Schwan

By Morgan Wolfe



After living in Brazil for 22 years, Carla Schwan decided to step out of her comfort zone and step into the United States. Upon finishing two years of her undergraduate degree in Brazil, Carla knew she needed to aim high in order to fulfill the rest of her dreams. “I applied for a program called “Science Without Borders,” said Carla. “It was a government program that gave students the financial opportunity to further their education globally for a year. It was highly selective. The entire process took three months.”

When she received the news that she had been selected, Carla experienced a variety of emotions. “I was very excited to come to Kansas, but also so scared,” Carla noted. “I had only learned English for five months in Brazil. I wasn’t sure how I was going to communicate with people!”

She adjusted quickly though. “I learned most of my English here in the labs at K-State. After that, I used sticky notes for everything. I put one on the wall that said wall, I put one of the mirror that said mirror, I put one on the chair that said chair. Eventually, I got it.”

Carla completed her junior year at K-State in food science then returned to Brazil to finish the rest of her bachelor’s degree in food science and technology at the Federal University of Santa Maria. She had no idea she would return to Kansas until Dr. Randy Phebus called her one day. “ He asked if I wanted to come back for my master’s degree for the next two years,” Carla mentioned. “So of course, I did.”

Carla focused on antimicrobial interventions to minimize the risk of Escherichia coli in beef and did most of her master’s research in the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) and at the Food Safety and Defense Laboratory at K-State working under Dr. Phebu’s supervision. She has returned to K-State to continue working on her PhD in Food Science. She is currently researching Shiga toxin-producing E. coli as part of a 25 million dollar STEC CAP USDA project. Carla works under Dr. Phebus as he is a key investigator in the project. The rest of her PhD research will be under Dr. Jessie Vipham, Assistant Professor in animal science and industry at K-State. “Dr. Vipham has given me the opportunity to work with her in Ethiopia. One of the goals of this project is to develop a basic food safety training program that focuses on meat safety. Additionally, I’ll be collaborating in the development of a food safety master’s program in Ethiopia.”

Although Carla is very excited to study abroad yet again, she is equally thrilled to soak in another year back at K-State. “I love the environment here,” said Carla. “I’ve been to many universities in the United States and K-State is by far the most welcoming. There is an overwhelming sense of help and generosity here; it really helped me when I first got here and didn’t know English very well.”

We are very excited to welcome Carla back for the third time, and we look forward to all the brilliant things she will do this year in her research as well as next year while she works in Ethiopia.

KC-IFT in the Little Apple

By Morgan Wolfe



On Friday, August 25 our students were given the opportunity to dip their toes into the vast waters of the food science industry when the Kansas City Section Institute of Food Technologists (KC-IFT) hosted a networking and scholarship event here in Manhattan, KS..

As one of 53 regional sections of the IFT organization, KC-IFT serves as a major source for food industry opportunities. With over 17,000 members, KC-IFT represents all areas of work in the food industry such as manufacturing, retail/consumer goods, research and product development, process engineering and more. The organization strives to link industry professionals with academic personnel in order to stimulate growth and development in food technology.

Students, faculty and IFT members were invited to attend a presentation and tour by the American Institute of Baking International (AIB) as well to a scholarship awards dinner and social networking event at the K-State Alumni Center. Industry guests included businesses like Infor, Cereal Ingredients, Kerry Ingredients, Ardent Mills, Richardson Milling, Bunting Magnetics as well as numerous other local companies. Students were given the opportunity to visit with the members of these companies over a nice meal catered by Coco Bolos.

Following dinner, KC-IFT president, Carmelo Marafioti announced the undergraduate and graduate student scholarship recipients. A big congratulation goes out to Janelle Debus and Karthik Pandalaneni. Janelle is a junior studying nutrition and kinesiology. She hopes to attend physical therapy school after she graduates, but is still in the process of finding a school that is suitable for her. Karthik is a PhD student in food science. He has attended K-State for three and a half years and is currently researching dairy processing; his major professor is Dr. Amamcharla. Both students demonstrated their merit with impressive academic achievements and outstanding personal resumes. We are eager to see who will win this scholarship again next year.

“We hope to host more KC-IFT events in the future,” said Marafioti. KC-IFT recently welcomed Dr. Sara Gragg, assistant professor in food science as the new president of the organization. Dr. Gragg’s experience in the food industry makes her an ideal fit for the position; she has traveled extensively presenting on the topic of food safety and studying processes of food safety and microbiology, and she currently works in the Animal Health Corridor at K-State Olathe campus.

We look forward to the next KC-IFT function and can’t wait to hear what Dr. Gragg has in store for the organization. The next KC-IFT meeting is likely to be held in spring 2018.

Get to Know Your Professors: Dr. Phebus

Dr. Randall Phebus has long had a love for food science. In fact, it all began as he was growing up.

“My mom and dad in Waverly, Tennessee have been in the grocery business for over 50 years, and I began working for them at the age of 14,” said the newly-named Interim Director of the K-State Food Science Institute. “This afforded me the opportunity to learn quite a bit about food marketing, processing hygiene, packaging and labeling, and consumer behaviors and expectations.  At the time, I didn’t know that all of these things are basically defined as ‘food science,’ but I knew it was interesting to me.”

In 1981, he enrolled at the University of Tennessee (UT) as an Animal Science major, with the goal of applying to UT’s College of Veterinary Medicine. A chance meeting with a faculty member in food science, however, changed Phebus’ path for the better.

“A faculty member talked to me and convinced me that the career opportunities I would have as a food science major would be great,” said Phebus. “I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in food science focusing on food safety. I also loved college and was afforded the opportunity to work as a Teaching Assistant in several food science courses at UT while in graduate school. I developed a passion for working with students, and ultimately decided to become a professor.”

There are many aspects of teaching that make the field so rewarding, but Phebus singles out two in particular. “First, I genuinely enjoy working with young people who are curious and excited about science, and I think the field of food science is unparalleled for providing opportunities to integrate multiple scientific disciplines to generate applied solutions that can impact almost everyone in the world,” said Phebus. “Secondly, I myself am a science nerd. As a professor teaching food science, I have to study daily to stay abreast of the rapid advances occurring in technology, public health, and food manufacturing. Yes, I like to study science.”

In 2013, won the Elmer Marth Educator Award through the International Association for Food Protection. He cites it as a favorite teaching moment, thanks in part to those involved in making it all happen. “My former students put most of the nomination package together for selection committee evaluation, and a panel of my peers in food safety with many years of teaching at universities around the world made the determination,” said Phebus.

According to Phebus, K-State is a special place. “Within the College of Agriculture, the feelings of family and community are very apparent,” said Phebus. “I also enjoy K-State because of the broad diversity of interdisciplinary opportunities for students and faculty that exist across the campus targeting almost all elements of the complex global food system. I don’t think another university in the country can claim such a broad and in-depth approach to understanding and improving the whole food system.”

As someone who has studied food science for years, his opinion might be biased, but he encourages incoming students to look into the field. “There’s no better major in my opinion, if you would like to have a dynamic career in either a STEM discipline or some element of business,” said Phebus. “Think about it. By getting a food science undergraduate or graduate degree you can be a chemist, microbiologist, product developer, lawyer, regulator, engineer, procurement officer, marketer, writer or even a professor! Then you can go work in one of the biggest and most secure industries in the world doing great things to improve the lives of people.”

From the Interim Director’s Desk

It is with sincere gratitude and humbleness, and simultaneous excitement and determination, that I begin working as the Interim Director of the Food Science Institute (FSI). I know that everyone associated with the FSI has the goal of making the K-State food science program the best in the land, and I look forward to working with everyone, including our wonderful alumni, to continue to improve our program and the impact the Institute has on our students and stakeholders. First, I want to recognize and thank Dr. Curtis Kastner for the 15 years he spent as the FSI’s founding director. His passion for students and the development of FSI programs was phenomenal, and provided a very solid foundation for our future. He’s now officially an Emeritus professor and has assured me that he will continue to support our FSI efforts. Thanks also to Dr. Ken Odde and Elsa Toburen for taking care of the FSI shop over the past several months. Elsa is a “rock star” in the way she oversees and coordinates our business office activities.

We have very important business to accomplish for the FSI, and particularly for the undergraduate program. This includes a continued reevaluation of our B.S. curriculum (course offerings, course content, and scheduling and sequencing), and thanks to Dr. Karen Schmidt for her strong leadership to this initiative. Dr. Abbey Nutsch is bringing a new level of scrutiny to our formal food science program assessment activities, both undergraduate and graduate, and we will continue to look for ways to effectively utilize this assessment information to improve our academic programs. We are focusing a high level of attention to undergraduate student recruitment, and the recruitment committee is energetically initiating a campaign to draw the brightest students possible into our Science and Operations Management (Business) options. There are no better majors than Food Science & Industry here at K-State, and we must get the word out across Kansas, the region and even the nation!

In an interim position, you never know how much time you have to accomplish your goals; however, I’m asking everyone involved with the FSI to help me accomplish positive things for our food science program. Priorities for me include increasing interactions with industry stakeholders, increasing the number of student opportunities (eg., internships and scholarships, international experiences), having more productive engagement with our K-State Olathe colleagues and programs, synergizing with the K-State Global Food System Initiative for mutual benefit, and increasing Food Science student numbers. Please let me know when you have needs and/or ideas in which the FSI can assist, and students and faculty/staff, have a great Fall 2017 semester!

-Dr. Randall Phebus, Interim Director of the Food Science Institute

Abilene-Omitama Sister City Board visits FSI!

A connection program between two cities over 6,000 miles apart made its way to the Food Science Institute last week.

The City of Abilene’s Abilene-Omitama Sister City Board hosted the 16th delegation from Japan. 20 delegates from Omitama had arrived, 16 students and four adults.

The exchange takes place every year. The Japanese guests visit Abilene in odd years and Abilene sends a delegation to Japan in even years.

“The Sister City relationship developed from Japanese interns coming to the Harold Scanlan dairy farm to learn about U.S. dairy operations,” according to the Abilene RC. “In 1984, an agreement to form a Sister City relationship between Abilene and Minori, Japan, was signed. Since that time, adult and student delegations have made annual visits to each other’s towns.”

“The Sister City Committee has identified student exchanges/youth friendships, daily life experience and cultural experience as the main emphasis of the program.”

On Friday, the middle school students visited FSI to learn about food science. Dr. Fadi Aramouini and Dr. Kelly Getty, with the assistance of various food science students, provided a hands on experience for the visiting students.

This included teaching the students how to make chocolate chip cookies, learning about nutrition labels and the different kinds of American foods.

We hope these students enjoyed their stay and continue to learn more about exciting food science field!

Meet Morgan Wolfe!

Originally from Monument, CO, Morgan Wolfe was drawn to K-State from the very beginning. “I wore purple from the day I was born,” said Morgan. “I came to K-State because it’s where both my parents went to school and fell in love. I just always kind of knew it was my calling.”

This fall, Morgan will return to K-State to begin a new role. She will be joining the FSI team as the new Social Media and E-Newsletter Writer, and we couldn’t be happier to have her join us!

Morgan has had quite the busy summer juggling two jobs, the first with Momentum Advertising and PR. “I am responsible for doing all the PR and marketing work for a new neighborhood development called Banning Lewis Ranch,” said Morgan. “I write articles, work on quarterly magazines, coordinate concerts and special events, work with home-builders to promote their companies too, and have learned a lot about media buying as well.”

Her second summer job at Olson Plumbing and Heating has also provided valuable experience. “So far here I have written and developed the new summer commercial, done web-writing for the website, designed new business cards, infographics, and proposal documents, and put together promotional swag items for trade events,” said Morgan.

These work experiences have taught her a lot about her intended field. “Both jobs have helped me network tremendously,” said Morgan. “I’m really excited to graduate and begin a career soon.”

It’s a career she knows she’ll enjoy. “I like that public relations is so face-paced and people-oriented,” said Morgan. “Everything has deadlines, dates, and priorities to meet; and I’m constantly interacting with people, which makes the job way more fun.”

She’s hoping to bring the skills she developed and her excitement for the profession to the Food Science Institute. “I hope to get FSI noticed more around K-State and Manhattan, whether that be incorporating SnapChat, radio ads, or hosting special events for FSI around town,” said Morgan.

When she’s not working hard in her jobs or her classes, Morgan enjoys taking time for her various creative outlets; drawing caricatures of people or fun DIY projects. And of course, hanging out with her pet tarantula.

Morgan officially joins the FSI team August 20th! We’re thrilled to welcome her to the team, and she can’t wait to join it. “I’m super excited to join the FSI team and help promote the program,” said Morgan. “Not to mention also looking forward to taste testing all the FSI concoctions that will be created in the next year!”

The “gift that keeps on giving”… the Academic Resource Center!

In just a few short weeks, we’ll be welcoming incoming freshmen to the food science program! The first few weeks can be overwhelming for new students, so make sure to check out this important resource just for food science students.

Inside 216 Call Hall, you’ll find the Food Science Institute Academic Resource Center (FSI-ARC). This is designed to reduce the cost to students of obtaining an undergraduate food science degree by reducing the ever-increasing costs of buying textbooks each semester. Here, you’ll find multiple copies of textbooks for a wide variety of classes (see here for the full list). These textbooks can be checked out by food science students on a daily basis, or overnight if desired. This center was made possible thanks to a generous donation by Danisco.

Also in 216 Call Hall are two computers and a printer available to students for last-minute assignments and projects.

In addition, students can enjoy the Fountaine Reading Room Library, available so students may study without being disturbed. The library is also a useful space for group work, and contains multiple textbooks, journals, and magazines available for student use.

We hope our new students enjoy these resources as they begin their food science education. For any questions, please contact Elsa Toburen at etoburen@ksu.edu.


Student Spotlight: Georgia Pate

Georgia Pate has been working in confections for 11 years, beginning after high school. Her fascination with the process fueled her desire to learn as much as she could. Working in the Quality Department led to her first project. “(It) allowed me to research food science, and make something new with the R&D group,” said Georgia. “I wanted to learn more – and I needed a program that was compatible to my at-the-time schedule. K-State was perfect.”

A return to school meant figuring out how to balance work and studying. “When I started, I was already good at arranging schedule with family due to rotating shifts so frequently,” said Georgia. “When I added classes, it did become more of challenge – and I had to learn how not to become distracted, and ensure I was not sacrificing family, friends or education at the same time.”

It was no easy feat, but Georgia had a support system ready to help her out. “I was very thankful for my advisor, Dr. Deanna Retzlaff, who had patiently worked with me to ensure I would meet all requirements prior to my planned graduation date,” said Georgia. “If something didn’t work, she was always there to provide another option and support.”

Her efforts paid off. She was able to finish her degree in three years, while applying what she was learning to her job. “While in school, I continued working for the confectionery company and was promoted to Food Safety Document Control, developing the position and enhancing the food safety program at the company,” said Georgia. “I was also used as an instructor for sister companies globally to come and inspect according to FDA regulations, and new food safety requirements.”

Georgia’s hard work and perseverance has opened new doors for her. “Now with my degree, I have been able to launch into a new professional world, working with some of the top research professionals within my company, helping to launch new products, and gaining invaluable knowledge and growth,” said Georgia.

Professionally, Georgia says the sky’s the limit. “I was promoted to the Research & Department group of my company, which has really given me opportunities both in the states and with the R&D group to learn, innovate, and be a part of the optimization process,” said Georgia. “I really am looking forward to working towards and completing my graduate degree at K-State, while also developing myself further within the R&D group with my company.”

Congrats to our food science product development team!

K-State’s own food science product development team consisting of K-State food science undergraduate students Mayla Kritski Baez and Conrad Kabus and graduate student Karthik Sajith Babu recently won 2nd place in the 2017 National Dairy Council New Product Competition! The team advisor is Dr. Jayendra Amamcharla.

The team was originally selected as one of the “Top 3” outstanding student teams, allowing them to move on to the final round. Their 2nd place finish was announced on Tuesday, June 27th at the American Dairy Science Association Joint Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA.

The challenge? Develop a dairy beverage that will be the drink of choice for 15-25 year old consumers. The team responded by creating Mate Au Lait Protein Plus. The drink is described as “a unique, ready-to-drink, dairy-based tea beverage made with only four simple ingredients: whole milk, brewed Yerba mate tea, sugar and milk protein concentrate. Caramelized cane sugar provides sweetness and enhances the color and texture of this one-of-a-kind beverage that one can drink either hot or cold. Mate Au Lait Protein Plus is an excellent source of dairy protein, a good source of calcium with a caffeine content that varies between green tea and coffee. The convenient re-sealable cap makes it easy to drink some now and save some for later.”

The overall product development was no easy task, but the end result was well worth the hard work. “The Mate Au Lait Team for Kansas State University had many challenges when developing the milk-based product,” said Conrad. “But from those challenges we learned the valuable lesson of patience. Our product’s formulation and application was a tedious endeavor, but rather than rush some of the aspects of production, the team took their time and tried to perfect every detail and stay true to the original concept of Mate Au Lait.”

Alumni Spotlight: Nick Fief

Nick Fief has always been a science fanatic. So when a neighbor mentioned the variety of career options in the field of food science, he knew he had to take a look.

After a semester of introductory classes, Nick knew he had found his calling. The environment in particular had drawn him in. “I personally enjoyed the faculty and their dedication to the program,” said Nick. “It was enjoyable and beneficial to get to spend time directly with the faculty. They were always available, helpful, and reasonable to get along with, not to mention knowledgeable about a variety of areas from microbiology, chemistry, dairy, meat, you name it.”

Now an Operations Specialist at Land O’ Lakes, Nick credits his undergrad experience for helping him prepare for a manufacturing work setting. “There are things I come across every day that I learned about from one course or another,” said Nick. “A lot of the simple, every day or every week things we do can sometimes get lost on people, like why we use certain sanitary practices or do environmental swabbing. Most people don’t really understand how important those little things really are.”

Nick’s role in the company also includes a research aspect. “Additionally, my job works directly with our company’s research and development team,” said Nick. “So having taken research and development courses in college helped prepare me for real world application of those processes.”

According to Nick, a food science degree is the gateway to a number of career opportunities. “If you have any interest in manufacturing, agriculture, management, research and development, government regulations, chemistry, biology, etc., then give food science a chance,” said Nick. “There is a job and a bright future in the food industry for anyone willing to work for it.”

Nick has found that the structured learning environment is what he misses most about K-State. “It was more enjoyable than I think I realized at the time to have so much knowledge and information at my fingertips and to learn something new every day,” said Nick. “And even though the nights were often long and the work load was high, it was never entirely dull when a group of us food science students were all working together on a project or studying for a final.”

Any other takeaways? “It was also rewarding to take classes like wine tasting,” said Nick. “You could say we enjoyed that homework the most. We all aced the class with flying colors, too!”

Graduate Student Spotlight: Amanda Wilder

Some student struggle when deciding on a career choice. For recent graduate Amanda Wilder, the decision was an easy one.

“Growing up with sheep, pigs, and dairy cattle, I’ve always been inherently attached to the food I eat,” said Wilder. “Studying food science was a natural choice for me to learn more about food while supporting my love for agricultural production and science.”

Wilder’s passion for her field of study led her to the graduate program, where she recently completed her master’s in food science. “Nearing the end of my undergraduate studies, even with 3 completed internships, I didn’t feel like I knew nearly enough about anything to really be productive as a food science professional,” said Wilder. “I chose to pursue graduate school to hone in on food safety and enhance my knowledge and skills in an area of food science I was most passionate about.”

The ability to cultivate the program to her interests made the program a good fit for Wilder. “I really loved that the graduate program at Kansas State was flexible yet challenging,” said Wilder. “I was able to develop my own coursework curriculum based around my interests in food safety and public health.”

While in school, Wilder took on the role of Graduate Research Assistant in Professor Randy Phebus’s Food Safety and Defense Laboratory. Wilder said this position gave her “real-world” experience that can’t be found in a classroom. According to Phebus, “Amanda put the same level of attention to detail into the selection of the school where she wanted to pursue her Master’s degree as she did in conducting her actual research projects. K-State, and my lab especially, were extremely fortunate to have Amanda for a couple of years and her research will be very impactful to the meat processing industry.”

Wilder advises potential graduate students to carefully consider each component of their program. “Don’t expect a master’s program to be similar to the undergraduate experience,” said Wilder. “Graduate school is more about hands-on applied skill development and research, while coursework is meant to supplement and enhance your understanding of the research you are conducting. Studying food science is generally a broad topic and it’s impossible to be an expert at everything. Weigh out your options compared to your personal interests and become an expert in something you truly care about.”

Since graduating, Wilder has taken her talents to Boar’s Head Brand, working as an R&D Concept Developer. Manhattan, however, remains close to her heart. “I miss the people and the food,” said Wilder. “For a small town, Manhattan has some first class eating spots. My favorites included Taco Lucha, 4 Olives, Thai Noodle and the Little Apple Brewery. Manhattan is the only place I have lived where I felt genuinely welcomed and included by everyone I interacted with both on and off campus.”

Meet Your Student to Student Recruiter Austin Weber!

Our new student to student recruiter, Austin Weber, was originally drawn to K-State based on the welcoming environment. “Everyone is so pleasant with one another, and will go out of their way to help a complete stranger to them,” said Weber. “The fact that we all come from very different backgrounds and all have different passions, but are able to coincide with each other is beautiful.”

Now a junior, Weber’s initial reason for becoming a food science major has turned into a great experience. “I love food. So, I figured I would love the science behind it, and how it is processed,” said Weber. “Needless to say, I plan on being a food science student for awhile.”

Like many food science students, Weber was initially unsure about what he wanted to major in. Weber was able to discuss the possibilities that come with a food science degree, and hopes to provide that same knowledge to incoming students. “I was grateful that I had someone to talk to and help me figure out my future,” said Weber. “I want to be able to be the same person for future students here at Kansas State.”

This summer, Weber will be staying busy before returning to K-State. “I was lucky to receive an internship offer at ADM, working as a summer lab technician,” said Weber. “I will be running quality assurance testing on flour and wheat to ensure optimal baking.”

Meet Your Student to Student Recruiter: Erika Kringen

We’re continuing our profiles on student to student recruiters, and this week we’ll learn a little more about sophomore in food science Erika Kringen!

“As long as I can remember, I have always read through the nutrition label of any food product before eating it or using it to cook,” said Kringen. “I did this and continue to do this because I’m genuinely interested in what makes up the food we eat.”

That interest led her to K-State, where Kringen said she found the perfect environment for her undergrad education. “I like K-State because of the endless opportunities it has brought me, not just through my education but outside activities like clubs and my sorority,” said Kringen. “By having these opportunities I have met some of my best friends and have learned so much through my education that will help me in my future career.”

Her decision to major in food science was the result of a lifelong curiosity. “I was drawn to food science because I was always interested in the components that make up food,” said Kringen. “I wanted to better understand how food made is from farms or productions facilities to the consumer.”

Her major has allowed her to focus on the details of food, as well as the production aspects. “By receiving an education in food science, I’m learning how the amount of certain ingredients, like sugar, affect the way food tastes, looks and feels,” said Kringen. “Also, since beginning my studies, I’m starting to understand the chemical aspects of food. I’m learning how we can produce food in ways that keep it safe for people to consume, as well as producing new food products all together.”

Becoming a student to recruiter allows Kringen to show potential students the opportunities a degree in food science can afford them. According to Kringen, there are some difficult decisions that come with choosing a degree path. Kringen hopes to make these tough decisions easier on the potential students.

This summer, Kringen will be a Student Research Assistant in a Post-Harvest Physiology lab at the K-State Olathe campus. “I’m excited to learn and understand what goes into research,” said Kringen. “As well as apply what I have learned through my food science education this summer.”

Meet Your Student to Student Recruiter: Halle Sparks

By Maggie Stanton

The Food Science Institute has recently selected four undergraduate students as student to student recruiters. We’re so excited to welcome them to the team, and introduce them to everyone!

Halle Sparks was immediately drawn to K-State during her first visit. “It totally defied my expectations,” said Sparks. “I didn’t expect to fall in love with the school so quickly and feel a warm attachment to this place I now could call ‘home.’”

Although Sparks originally began her college career as a biology major, she quickly realized it wasn’t for her. A mentor advised her to explore food science as a possibility, and soon, Sparks knew she had found the right place. “I was welcomed into the major with open arms by my advisor and professors and immediately, I was hooked,” said Sparks. “I appreciate the versatility of the program and as I have progressed throughout my classes, I realize that food science is the perfect combination of art, creativity and science that I had been looking for, for so long.”

Now a senior, Sparks wouldn’t change a thing. “My professors and peers are incredibly friendly and are always willing to support me,” said Sparks. “I feel like I am getting a great education and am applying what I learn in class to everyday life.”

Sparks hopes to use her new position as a student to student recruiter to advocate for people and point them to the program. “I wish I had someone talk to me about food science before I came to K-State, or at least at the beginning of my college career,” said Sparks. “Diversity is very important to me, and being a recruiting leader would also give me the chance to get more minority groups involved in the STEM and agricultural fields.”

In addition to spending the summer training in the recruiting program, Sparks is also taking courses and working. She loves being a part of the Food Science Institute, and added “Call Hall Ice Cream is pretty great as well!”