The Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Food Science and Technology prides itself on providing high-impact learning opportunities for students while also meeting the current and emerging needs of stakeholders.
Students are given the opportunity to apply principles learned in the basic sciences such as food chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, microbiology, food engineering and nutrition to provide consumers with safe, wholesome and attractive food products that contribute to their health and well-being.
The success of the program begins by engaging with the best and brightest students. One such food science and technology student is Allison Brenner ’23 from San Antonio.
Why did you choose to attend Texas A&M University?
Texas A&M University has the only accredited food science program in the state, which was very important to me. Additionally, I am a third-generation Aggie, so it just made sense for me to come here.
What made you decide to major in food science and technology?
I really enjoy chemistry and the processing aspects of food, which influenced my decision to major in food science under the industry option.
Who is your favorite food science and technology professor?
Dr. Rebecca Creasy (instructional assistant professor, food science and technology) is my favorite. She is very caring and always wants her students to succeed. Dr. Creasy has been a mentor for me and really helped me find my way at Texas A&M while also inspiring me to achieve my full potential. It has been wonderful knowing a professor at such a large university who cares about me as a person and is always looking out for my best interest.
Before COVID-19, she hosted a Texas Study Abroad program where we toured various food companies in the San Antonio area. I attended the trip as a freshman, and it was wonderful to see what career opportunities were available to me as a food science student. It really opened my eyes to the opportunities available in the food industry, and I learned a great deal in a short period of time.
What is your favorite food science and technology class?
Fundamental Baking. I loved learning about ingredient functionality through baked goods. I learned a great deal because the material was very detailed and specific.
Additionally, we had a fun project where we developed healthy alternatives to baked goods. I made sugar-free shortbread cookies with maltitol and high-fiber English muffins with sorghum fiber. This project helped me learn the fundamentals of product development and good experimental design. I was also able to translate the skills I learned in this class to help me in my internship this summer at Unilever.
What activities are you involved in within the department?
I am highly involved in the Institute of Food Technologists, IFT. Currently, I am on the student board of directors serving as the vice-president of chapter engagement. I enjoy contributing to the strategic vision of the IFT Student Association as well as supporting food science clubs around the world by providing support through chapter leader workshops and other programs.
Closer to home, I had the pleasure of serving as the president of the Texas A&M Food Science Club last year. The club is open to all students interested in a career in the food industry. We offer activities that help encourage networking with industry members, leadership opportunities and educate members on the principles of food science. I enjoyed helping the club increase membership numbers as well as create an amazing community of food science students with the goal of preparing future food industry leaders.
Participating in leadership roles on campus and nationally has helped me gain confidence in my leadership and communication abilities, as well as grow my professional network. I gained many soft skills that I would not have learned in the classroom.
You mentioned an internship; what internships did you participate in through the department?
I completed three internships, which helped me gain marketable skills while also showing me what I don’t like doing and what I truly enjoy doing.
My first internship was with Ardent Mills in Wichita, Kansas. I enjoyed working at the third-largest flour mill in the country. It was a great experience. I gained a ton of confidence and matured as a person.
The next summer I did an internship with Glanbia Nutritionals in Springfield, Missouri. I was a technical service and food safety intern. I completed very challenging projects as well as polished my communication skills as my manager was located in Ireland.
My final internship was with Unilever in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. I was a product development intern. My project was to remove the artificial coloring from four of their gravy SKUs (stock keeping unit). While I was reformulating the gravies, I performed cost-saving measures and sodium reduction. It was a fun project that allowed me to learn about ingredient functionality and flavors. Also at the internship, I was exposed to other research and development projects in their ice cream portfolio. It was hard to beat having free ice cream every day at work.
In addition to what I learned from the internship itself, it also gave me the opportunity to explore an area of the country I hadn’t previously seen. I lived in the middle of Manhattan and was able to explore the city on nights and weekends. It’s rather different from College Station.
How do you feel your time as a food science and technology student helped prepare you for your future career?
Being a food science major has allowed me to gain a unique and marketable skill set. With a food science degree, you can really do any job within the food industry. One can do quality and food safety, product development, production management, marketing or sales, among many other roles. Once I graduate, I will essentially be qualified to do anything within the food industry. Furthermore, the size of the department has allowed me the opportunity to get to know everyone — students, faculty and industry members alike. This has really helped to not only make great friends, but also network and establish future job prospects.
What is your favorite food?
Chocolate chip cookies. They are always so good, especially when warm and fresh.