Kansas State University


Food Science Institute

Category: Spring 2018

Creativity and Motivation in Food Science Product Development Bring Success

By Morgan Wolfe


They say slow and steady wins the race, which is just the case for one food science alumnus who took her time completing her degree and remained faithful to her passion. Danielle Conover, a 2014 Kansas State University food science and industry graduate recently proved that her extensive food science education was well worth the time and effort as Dr Pepper Snapple Group has just launched the very first product that she helped develop. 

Conover first started at K-State as a bakery science major, then moved to chemistry and finally stopped at food science and industry, where she found her match.

“I heard about food science from a friend,” Conover said. “It was an ideal field of study for me as it combined my passion for food and my interest in science.”

During her fifth year at K-State, Conover worked as a student-to-student recruiter for the Food Science Institute and also participated on the RCA Product Development Competition Team.

“I really enjoyed my experience in the food science program,” Conover noted. “I enjoyed the smaller classes as they allowed me to get know my fellow classmates, and I loved being in the College of Agriculture. I felt that faculty really went above and beyond and truly showed they cared about their students and their future success.”

After completing her undergrad degree at K-State, Conover went on to pursue a master’s degree in food science at the University of Arkansas. Though she loved the required coursework of her undergrad, Conover admits she was caught off guard when she started grad school initially.

“In graduate school, the focus changes quite a bit,” Conover remarked. “The research becomes a much higher priority than the coursework. I think graduate school gave me a really good foundation for product development; it taught me how to ask more questions and gave me experience managing a long term project while also juggling multiple other smaller projects.”

During her studies, Conover completed two summer internships with Land O’ Lakes, one in quality assurance and one in product development. Both internships involved working on the Kozy Shack pudding brand. In her final semester of grad school, Conover was able to intern with Tyson Foods in quality assurance at one of their plants in Springdale, Arkansas.

“The internship experiences were incredibly valuable to me,” Conover noted. “The skills and knowledge gained throughout each internship as well as exposure to different team dynamics and work environments gave me a lot of insight into what I wanted in a position and in a company.”

Currently, Conover works as a Senior Associate Scientist at Dr Pepper Snapple Group. She loves going to work each day because she’s surrounded by great people and an ambitious, encouraging environment.

“I wanted a job where there would be constant opportunities and challenges to ensure that I kept growing in my career and skills,” Conover mentioned. “I also wanted a job which allowed me a mix of work environments such as time developing on the bench, time in plants, time at my desk and having lots of contact with others. The amazing product portfolio full of brands I had loved since I was a kid was really the icing on the cake!”

She’s definitely proven her growth from her time working at Dr Pepper Snapple Group, as the company has just launched a product that she helped develop, Mott’s Sensibles. The product is available in three flavors: Apple Raspberry, Apple Cranberry and Apple Pineapple and is 100 percent juice and contains 30 percent less sugar than apple juice. To reduce the sugar, the cross-functional Sensibles team decided to add coconut water and vegetable juices, which are naturally a lower Brix value.

“This product was a lot of fun partially because it was so challenging,” Conover mentioned. “As a product developer, your number one focus is always the taste of the product, but there are many different pieces of the puzzle that you have to balance. These include product stability, product, cost, product appearance, etc. I spent a lot of time working with vendors and trying out different vegetable juices to find the optimum combination to maximize taste, appearance and cost of the final product. I am very proud of the final product, and happy to announce it is available nationwide!”

An internally motivated person always, Conover has further developed both her technical and leadership skills. She strives to continue to be her best, work hard, continue learning and be proud of the work she is accomplishing. In the future, Conover hopes to be open to opportunities that push her outside of her comfort zone while at the same time, allow her to stay true to herself.

Student Spotlight: Ziyi Linghu

By Morgan Wolfe


Through an international study abroad journey from China to the United States, PhD student, Ziyi Linghu discovered her passion for food science and industry and fatefully made her way to Kansas State University. Originally from Shanghai, China, Linghu focused her schooling around biochemistry and technology. It wasn’t until she studied at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for her master’s degree that she realized she was missing out on a whole new world that interested her: food science and industry.

“My roommate was an undergrad food science student,” Linghu said. “She drew me in very quickly. I started attending tons of seminars and events that promoted food science and industry.”

In fact, it was at one of these events that Linghu got connected with K-State. During her attendence at an IFT conference, Linghu crossed paths with Dr. J. Scott. Smith, where they had a lengthy discussion about her passion for chemistry.

“Dr. Smith was amazing,” Linghu remarked. “He told me to submit an application at K-State for the PhD program, so I did. I remember later on, I emailed him, worried if he would remember me or not. Luckily, he said he remembered me exactly!”

It wasn’t long after her interaction with Dr. Smith that Linghu landed in Manhattan, Kansas at the doors of The Food Science Institute in 2014.

“My first year here was really hard,” Linghu commented. “I didn’t have any friends, and it was an adjustment time for me. But it quickly changed. The other graduate students are super friendly, and we all help each other out. Dr. Smith is really great too; he always invites us over or has little parties at his house.”

For the last seven months, Linghu spent her time in Battle Creek, Michigan interning with Kellogg’s as a food chemist, a position she described as an amazing experience. Last fall, Kellogg’s made the visit to K-State to seek potential employees and interns.

“They hired me due to my strong background in food chemistry,” Linghu mentioned. “They asked me what kind of technology and equipment I had experience using; luckily, K-State uses the same stuff as they do, so it worked out perfectly. I hope to go back to Kellogg’s in the future, but I’m still very open to other places. I have my list; Kellog’s is at the top.”

Currently, Linghu is researching food chemistry and toxicology, specifically food carcinogens in cooked meat. Why is it being formed in meat, and how can we alter food ingredients to reduce food carcinogens? Linghu spends much of her time finding strategies to reduce the formation in cooked meats.

“I enjoy my research because it is a meaningful project,” Linghu stated. “I get to display the information I find to the people – something that is important to public health.”

Beyond her research studies, Linghu has teamed with master’s student, Yuda Ou, to compete in a food science competition regarding food marketing in China. The goal of the competition is to launch an innovative food product that fits the healthy snack trend. Additionally, Linghu is a member of the food science club and acts as a coach for the K-State graduate school research forum.

Her teammate Yuda Ou believes that Linghu is a very talented and goal oriented team player.

“She understands how to combine her in-depth food science knowledge in the current food market trends in an innovative way to create a unique product,” Ou said.

Despite her busy schedule and packed-on extracurriculars, Linghu finds time to relax and unwind doing the things she loves.

“I often attend Zumba classes at the rec center, and I love to watch Gordon Ramsey’s cooking shows,” Linghu chuckled. “Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef, and Master Chef Junior; it’s amazing what those little kids can do!”

It’s certainly clear from Linghu’s classmates and superiors that she is an outstanding individual in the K-State food science community. Because of her, others are motivated to learn more, do more and think more creatively about food science and industry. We are eager to witness the amazing things Ziyi Linghu will complete in her upcoming years.





Student Spotlight: Wyatt Williams

By Morgan Wolfe


In my half hour spent getting to know freshman student, Wyatt Williams, it was clear to me the high level of ambition and excellence he puts forth in everything he pursues. Williams, originally from Wamego, Kansas, is a food science and industry/pre-med student who is highly involved around campus. Though always interested in the medical industry, he was unsure what to do for his undergraduate degree.

“I knew I wanted pre-med, but I wasn’t sure what my major should be,” Williams mentioned. “My neighbor growing up was the Assistant Dean of the College of Agriculture, Dr. Christine Wilson,” Williams said. “She encouraged me to look at the food science and industry program at K-State.”

His journey began last year when he privately visited the Food Science Institute with his father, Chris Williams, who played a role in the startup of the lab in his time with the Kansas Department of Commerce. After speaking with Dr. Fadi Aramouni, Williams was convinced that food science and industry was exactly what he wanted to do.

“Dr. A sold me,” Williams commented. “There’s lots to do in food science and the job placement is really good. Food science sets me apart from a lot of other students applying to med school with similar majors such as, biology or kinesiology. Not many can say they majored in food science.”

An honest and thorough conversation between the two resulted in an offer from Dr. Aramouni for Williams to work in his lab as an assistant.

“I knew after talking with Dr. Aramouni how serious he is,” Williams mentioned. “He looks for students with big aspirations.”

Since the fall, Williams has worked on numerous projects in Dr. Aramouni’s lab alongside a select group of other students: Haley Davis, Samantha Fischer, McKenna Mills and Alex Sevart. Some of his first projects involved assisting in the development of a Korean nut tea and making labels for a small soda company in Missouri. Currently, he is getting ready to help in the development of non-alcoholic versions of popular alcoholic beverages for a different client. Williams delivers many hours of work in the lab and it certainly doesn’t go without notice.

“Wyatt is an amazing individual and an outstanding student,” Dr. Aramouni stated. “He approaches his job with a sense of responsibility and accountability. This attitude coupled with his friendly personality, his punctuality and his can-do attitude makes his an excellent worker that I have come to rely on a lot in our Kansas Value-Added Foods Lab. I feel so lucky to have him on my team!”

Though his weeks are consumed with classes and lab work, Williams still seeks additional time to be involved with other organizations at K-State and in the community. Last semester he aided in the production of the Call Hall Dairy Bar in the student union and worked there as one of the store’s first employees. He also tutors students for the ACT through a company in Manhattan called Power Prep and serves as the recruitment and social chair in his fraternity, Alpha Kappa Lambda. He’s truly a man devoted to helping others.

The few moments Williams is able to catch a break, he enjoys being outdoors.

“I like to hunt and fish a lot,” Williams mentioned. “Half of my baby pictures, I’m hanging out with my dad after a hunting trip. My favorite place to go is Saskatchewan, Canada.”

Williams has undoubtedly shown his commitment to the development of his education as well as the development of others. The Food Science Institute feels truly honored to have him and is eager to see all that he will accomplish in his upcoming years at K-State.



A Food Science Foreshadow


By Morgan Wolfe


We’re almost halfway through the semester, but things are just starting to heat up for the food science club this spring. Just right around the corner on April 7 will be the all-university open house. This year, the food science club will be hosting numerous interactive stations for guests to learn, engage and participate in.  For starters, our food science club will be inviting visitors to stop by Call Hall 156 to partake in a sensory taste test. Those who complete the test will receive a raffle ticket and be entered to win for a prize.

Other agenda items include a product development station, a recruitment station and many fun experiments for kids and families to perform together. This year we will host our classic corn starch slime project as well as a germ experiment using hand sanitizer and UV light. The day will be a fun time for visitors to branch off an explore the many areas of food science.

Another exciting event coming up for the food science club is the College Bowl Regional Competition. The event will take place in Columbia, Missouri on April 13-14. Our food science team has eight students competing this year: Nathaniel Brown, Ziyi Linghu, Yuda Ou, Mostafa Taghvaei, Bade Tonyali, Priyamuada  Thorakkattu, Bennett Uhl and Wei Wu.

Past members: Left to right: Neha Maheshwari, Elizabeth Clark, Janae Zimmerman, Alex Thompson, and Amanda Wilder

The questions relate to food science trivia including topics such as food science and technology, food processing, food law and more. Our group will compete against six or seven other universities in the region, and the winning teams will go on to compete in the Annual Meeting. All finalists receive a $100 travel grant. The national champion earns a $1000 award, and the runner-up a $750 award. “Yuda and I are coaching the team together,” Mostafa Taghvaei noted. “Our hope is to encourage students to learn more about Food Science during preparation for this fun competition.” The team meets weekly to practice with Quiz Bowl-type questions. Team member, Bennett Uhl commented, “I am really looking forward to representing K-State at a contest for knowledge of food and food science.” The team will continue to work hard to prepare for the competition in the upcoming weeks, and we look forward to see how far they will make it in the competition. Good luck students!



K-State in the National Dairy Council Competition

By Morgan Wolfe


Nothing seems to hold back these food science students from doing what they love. Graduate students, Yuda Ou, Karthik Sajith Babu and Priyamvada Thorakkattu decided to compete in this year’s National Dairy Council (NDC) Competition and have already experienced exciting results. Last week, the group received news that their product proposal had been selected to be in the top six and will be further reviewed in the next step of the competition.

This year the 2018 NDC competition has one major challenge: “Develop a Dairy-Based Snack that Answers the Evolving Needs of Today’s Snacking Consumer.” Today, modern snacking has three main elements. According to the National Dairy Council, they are:

  • NOURISHMENT: 56% of snacking occasions reflect some need for daily sustenance, long-term wellness, or health management
  • PLEASURE: 49% of snacking fulfills emotional desires for enjoyment, craving and comfort
  • OPTIMIZATION: 34% of all snacking occasions reflect need to fulfill physical and mental performance demands

Our K-State food science students’ innovative idea was recognized as a potential cutting-edge idea in the snack area.

The next leg of the competition requires each group to submit a full project report on April 2 that will be reviewed by a panel of judges selected by the NDC. Following the report, each group must send enough of their product for 18 servings as well as storage, preparation and serving instructions by April 19 to be reviewed. Finally, the groups will present via webinar on April 25 for final judging. Each group will present and respond to questions of the judges for 15-25 minutes maximum. The top three winners will be announced at the end of the day; however, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd placings will not be announced until June 24-27th in Knoxville, TN at the American Dairy Science Association Annual Meeting. The first place winning group will receive $8,000 followed by second place at $5,000 and a third place prize at $3,000.

Luckily for our K-State competitors, two group members have had experience in the NDC competition in the past. Yuda Ou participated in the competition in 2016, and the team was selected to be in the top six finalists. Karthik Sajith Babu participated in the 2017 competition, and their team was placed 2nd in the final. This year the two have teamed with an additional graduate student, Priyamvada Thorakkattu to compete in hopes of taking first place. Dr. Jayendra Amamcharla is the team’s advisor.

Congratulations to these K-State food science students. We wish you the best of luck throughout the rest of the competition.

Festive Foodie Event

By Morgan Wolfe


This past December, the Food Science Club took part in a gift exchange called the Festive Foodie Event. This special holiday arrangement was coordinated by Elizabeth Brown, a member at large of the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association (IFTSA) Board of Directors. The event included each chapter of the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association (IFTSA) that wished to participate. Each chapter was given a maximum spending budget for the gift exchange and randomly assigned another food science club to exchange with. At the end, each group was encouraged to document the opening of their gifts with photos and video.

Our K-State Food Science Club was greatly surprised by the contents of their gift exchange. They group received their package from Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara, Turkey.
“The gift was beyond thoughtful and generous,” Christine Rock, president of K-State’s Food Science Club noted.

The package included postcards with images of beautiful and notable Turkish sights, a sweet note written by members of the Turkish chapter, and a surplus of fun Turkish snacks and treatswhich included descriptions and explanations of their significance. Notable items included Turkish coffee and Turkish delights -yum! 

“We were taken aback by the kindness of our fellow Food Science Club chapter,” Christine commented. The club had no idea where their gift was coming from until it arrived here at K-State.
“It was especially exciting for our Turkish professor, Dr. Yucel and Turkish classmate and graduate student, Bade Tonyali,” Christine said. “Bade was mentioned specifically in their note to us!”
Christine wants to encourage future food science club officers to participate in this event in the years to come. However, the club agreed that they’d wished to see videos or pictures of other chapters opening their gifts. Overall, it was a gift they’d remember forever.
Christine concluded, “It was an awesome chance to connect with other students, around the world in our case, through food and the holiday, gift giving season.” 

Winter Fancy Food Show

By Morgan Wolfe


Last week, a group of our food science friends and colleagues took the amazing opportunity to travel to San Francisco, California to visit the Winter Fancy Food Show. This three-day event welcomed 30,000+ industry professionals, tastemakers, and guests to network, learn and of course, eat! Our Kansas State University food science group got to venture through 80,000+ specialty food and beverage vendors, plus an additional 1,400+ exhibitors from around the world.

The Fancy Food Show is operated by the Specialty Food Association (SFA), a membership-based trade association that currently represents 3,500+ businesses that works to “Shape the Future of Food.” The SFA members are highly involved in specialty food trade and own and conduct the Summer and Winter Fancy Food Shows.

Nine students from the food science club attended the trip to San Francisco last week: Christine Rock, Karen Magana-Moran, Alicia Walker, Amanda Winegard, Conrad Kabus, Jentry Scherer, Kayla Daniel, Xinwei Xu, Bennett Uhl, and program assistant, Elsa Croft. The students agreed they all absorbed a lot of knowledge at the show and said it was a great event. The event made for a great place to network and build connections for future employment.

They learned so much within the short three days they were there, including how to really taste olive oil. A vendor gave the group a quick taste class while they visited the show. Additionally, the group learned about different types of wines and tasted endless amounts of food and beverage – a very filling experience!


Our food science students spent four hours each day at the show then spent their afternoons as tourists exploring the city. They visited The Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, China Town, Ghiradelli Square, and The Three Sisters. They dined at Boudin’s, Z&Y Restaurant, and La Taqueria, a traditional Mexican joint with amazing burritos. Though their exploration was extensive, one of their favorite memories of all was watching the sea lions play on the pier.

“I thought the trip to San Francisco was excellent,” Amanda Winegard said. “It was very neat to see all the latest food trends from around the world. It is a trip I would recommend to go on.”

“This trip really opened my eyes to the diversity and importance of food science,” Alicia Walker mentioned.

Needless to say, the trip was time and money well spent. Food science students, take advantage of all the opportunities you get while studying in college; the experience will last a lifetime! If you weren’t able to attend the Winter Fancy Food Show last week, but still want to go, you can look forward to the upcoming Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City beginning on June 30.

Welcome Back

By Morgan Wolfe


Welcome back, students! We missed you here at the Food Science Institute! Spring semester has quickly approached us, and we want to help prepare you for maximum success during this term. The Food Science Institute offers various resources to aid students in their academic development at a lower cost. Our student resource center includes:


The Food Science Institute Office has a collection of food science textbooks readily available for students to check out for the semester. The program is designed to be a “gift that keeps on giving” in a time when textbooks prices continue to rise. The textbooks are reused by many over several semesters, as opposed to direct one-time scholarship awards. The books can be checked out from day to day or overnight, but obtainment comes on first-come first-served basis.

Computers and Printers

For last minute assignments and projects, food science students have the opportunity to use the computers and printers in the office at 216 Call Hall without having to make the trek across campus to the library.

Study Spots

Our campus offers plenty of great spots to sit down, unwind and grind. The Food Science Institute welcomes students to use the Fountaine Reading Room Library to study without disturbances. The library houses a collection of textbooks, magazines, journals and more to assist students in their projects and class papers.

Additional great study spots include Hale Library, with various floors for specific study and learning purposes. Hale Library also encloses a Media Development Center created for video editing, 3D printing, producing CDs and DVDs, scanning and editing images, developing webpages, creating audio recordings, and more. Students are free to use the lab during any of its operating hours for academic or personal projects.

The K-State Student Union also has an immensity of resources for student use. Whether hungry, tired, studious or in the mood to socialize, the student union can meet your needs with over eight different places to eat, an overhead projector for movies and news, countless study booths, a bowling and game center in the basement and even an art gallery to browse through during passing periods.


Don’t fret if you’re falling behind in a class! K-State offers flexible tutoring services to all students no matter the course or content. The Academic Achievement Center provides walk-in or one-on-one scheduled tutoring and even academic coaching in case you are questioning what path you want to take or what subject you want to study.