Food Science Graduate Association Summer 2020 Newsletter

Spring 2020 has surely been a challenging time for all of us. Amidst a pandemic, move to working remotely, celebrating online graduation ceremonies and experiencing the completely virtual SHIFT20 events have been unique and unforgettable experiences! As we wish that all students are staying safe and finding community in people around them- we want you to know that the GSA has started getting organized on how to stay connected and develop programming for its members such as online trivia nights, virtual cook-alongs, social media challenges and still find a way to connect our students to professional development opportunity. This fall, we have a number of events being planned and are looking to involve you in as many ways as possible with the new academic format! Please take a few minutes to complete this Google form to help us know how you're doing.

First general meeting will be Sept. 11th!

The first general meeting of the year will be held Sept. 11th online! Come see some of the things we have planned this year as well as meet some of the incoming graduate students. Additional information will be provided with the meeting link soon.

GSA New Executive Board for 2020-2021

It is our pleasure to introduce you to the GSA e-Board of the next academic year.

President - Michael Shen

Hi! My name is Michael and I am pursuing a Masters working in Dr. Takhistov's lab. I completed my B.S. at Northeastern University in Chemistry. My current research is examining the physical and chemical properties of sweeteners to help researchers determine how sweetener substitution will affect taste and mouthfeel in beverages. Having come from a different background, I understand it can be hard and overwhelming to understand all the resources GSA and IFT have to offer. I am hoping that I can provide a bridge between communities so that we can all make the most of our experiences here!

Vice-President - Aishwarya Vengatesan

I am Aishwarya Vengatesan, enrolled in the Masters' of Food Science program at Rutgers. I completed my undergrad in the course, Food Process Engineering at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India. With increasing food-borne disease outbreaks from produce and seafood, my current research at Dr. Matthews' Lab focuses on eliminating food borne pathogens using photo-sensitization method. In my first year at Rutgers, the Food Science GSA gave me a sense of belonging in a community of students with similar interests. The GSA is a forum that enables one to meet, develop connections and share ideas. I am thrilled to be a part of the e-board this year, bringing exciting opportunities to the Food Science student community at Rutgers.

Secretary - Hemani Batra

My name is Hemani Batra and I am an MBS Food Science student, currently in the second semester of the program. I finished my undergraduate degree in Food Technology from the University of Delhi, India. My interest lies in Food Chemistry, Ingredient Chemistry, Product Development, and Formulation Science. I have previously worked with Dupont India Pvt Ltd as an Application technologist. Being an international student, it was through the GSA events and meetings that I got a chance to meet and interact with everyone from the department and exchange ideas on the newest innovations and development in the world of Food Science and Technology. As a part of the GSA team, I would like to provide the new incoming students with the same sense of belonging and try to further develop the resources and plan new events for the already existing students. Please feel free to contact me in case of any questions or concerns.

Treasurer - Xin Luo

I am Xin Luo, a second year PhD student from Dr. Matthews lab. I used to be a social media chair in GSA, which helped me know what the main stuff of the GSA are. I want to challenge myself and switch to treasurer position. Not only for the improvement of myself, but also want to make contributions to the GSA of our department. GSA is a warm family to me. Joining in GSA has enriched my PhD life and brings me a lot of fun.

IFT Liaison - Marina Girbal

Hi/Hola! My name is Marina Girbal and I am a chemical engineer from Catalonia working my way through the exciting world of food science and microbiology. My research in Dr. Schaffner's lab is focused on modeling the growth and survival of Listeria monocytogenes on fresh produce. I am very passionate about nutrition and health, and some of my hobbies include cooking healthy foods, exercising, reading and traveling. Through my role in the Food Science GSA I want to help create a stronger Food Science community, where everyone feels represented and included, a safe place to enjoy valuable time with people with a shared passion in food! My goal for this year's GSA is to help each other in the coming semesters, which are definitely going to be different, but together we can make it work. As we say at home: let's turn this challenge into an opportunity! [Cheers]

The new board plans to work closely with the undergraduate Food Science Club to hold events as a unified IFTSA chapter. Congratulations again to the new GSA board and we look forward to upcoming activities and events! If you are interested in getting more involved in GSA event planning, please reach out to us.

Thank you for all efforts and contributions from 2019-2020 E-board

From 2019 to 2020, each of us worked diligently to align our programming with IFTSA's 3 promises: connection, development and support.

We connected our members by bringing people, ideas, and opportunities together to support students’ professional goals such as working with undergraduates to have Alumni mixer and food science research mixer.

We developed our students by providing opportunities for acquiring skills beyond the classroom and lab. For example, we had Anatomy of a Food Scientist's Resume Workshop to help students determine what skills are important in the food industry and how to use an IFTSA membership to get the best value! We also encouraged our students to participate competitions such as PD competition and College bowl.

Finally, we worked to support our members by cultivating friendship, mentorship, and leadership among those pursuing an education in the science of food. Health and wellness chair was recruited to focus on caring about students' mental health, which is especially important as we find ways to adjust in a post-covid world.

Some highlights from the past 2019-2020 year

IFT & NYIFT Events

HUGS Events

De-stress mixer

An event closed to the public and faculty, where graduate students had a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment to socialize over food, drinks and board games.

Mood Board

Each month, we would post a prompt on the mood board and provide students a chance to post anonymous responses. Some prompts included: “How are you today?”, “How was 2019 for you?”, “What do you do to de-stress and unwind?. The intention was to offer people a chance for introspection, and to show the members of our community that they are not alone.

Product Development Competition Teams

Training for College bowl

Tea time series

Bubble milk tea time, Masala tea time, Duck donuts tea time and etc. Each tea time was a great opportunity for graduate students and faculty to enjoy a beautiful afternoon, chatting, relaxing after heavy study task or experiment.

Monthly meetings

We have had monthly meeting with graduate students and faculties every month, to share upcoming events and encourage more students to get involved in each activities.

Graduate student activities

Autumn hangout: Donut science

Thanksgiving Potluck

Christmas Holiday Party

As we look back on these times when the words 'social distancing' were not commonplace, we are reminded of the strong and vibrant community that we once had in our Department. As we look to the fall, the GSA hopes to still deliver a sense of community and belonging that has been central to everything we do from the beginning. If you have any ideas, comments or thoughts about what type of events you would like to see in the fall, we would love to hear from you here or at rufoodscience@gmail.com.


Created with an image by Jakob Owens - "Palm Leave"