Food science and technology senior Osasere Igbinoba’s need to know “why” took her from her mom’s kitchen to the only university in Texas with an accredited food science program.
Ignbinoba grew up in Sugar Land, where her parents had moved from their native Nigeria not long before she was born. Their culture centered around food.
“My mother had me in the kitchen helping her for as long as I can remember,” said Igbinoba. “This and my in-depth need to ask ‘why’ about everything sparked my interest in food science. My mother eventually grew tired of me asking why certain things happened when we cooked food or why we added ingredients like baking soda to food, so she suggested I learn about food science.”
Before taking her first class in the Department of Food Science and Technology in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Igbinoba planned to go to medical school after completing her undergraduate coursework. That changed for her after one simple phrase.
One day during FSTC 201, Suresh Pillai, Ph.D., told his students that they were studying for a job that doesn’t exist yet, but is vital to society. That phrase, coupled with the course content, inspired Igbinoba to pivot to a food science career path. She hasn’t looked back.
Why did you choose Texas A&M University?
My dad was one of the main reasons I chose Texas A&M. Even though he did not attend the university himself, he fell in love with the traditions and reputation and dreamed of one of his children coming here. I was also interested in food science, and we’re the only university in the state with an accredited food science program.
Why did you major in food science and technology?
I have always had a deep love for both food and science. Chemistry was my favorite subject growing up, and I was known throughout my family as “the head chef.” Going into college I wanted to combine my two passions and study something that could genuinely spark my interest.
What activities are you involved in?
I have been a member of the Food Science Club, FSC, and the Institute of Food Technologists, IFT, since my freshman year. Both of these memberships have made me better both academically and as I prepare for my future career.
FSC helped me find like-minded people who motivate me to be my best. Being on the product development team and the college bowl team my freshman year taught me how to apply the knowledge that we learn in our various classes. I don’t think I would have as deep an understanding of certain topics without those two experiences.
Outside of FSC and IFT, I try to be extremely involved on campus to help build my interpersonal skills as well as my networking ability. I am currently a resident advisor and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassador.
I have had the amazing opportunity to complete two internships so far, the first with Ardent Mills and the second with Conagra Brands, and I will have a third one this summer with Nestle. In addition to helping prepare me for my future career, my internships have taught me about myself and how I work with others and in new environments. Each one has tested me in both good and difficult ways. Without my internships, I don’t think I would have been able to have the same level of professional and self-growth.
Do you have a favorite food science and technology professor?
I love all of our faculty members. Each of them has taught me so much throughout my academic career, both through classes and outside interactions. However, Rebecca Creasy, Ph.D., would have to be my favorite. She has truly guided me through my years here and pushed me to be the best version of myself. She is caring, loving and an inspiration to all of her students.
What is one of your favorite memories of your time here?
I loved being president of the FSC. Getting to interact with members, my officers, faculty, outside companies, etc. has been one of the highlights of my time here. I cannot pinpoint just one moment to call my favorite because every opportunity I got to serve our students was impactful. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity and the memories that came along with it.
What advice would you give high school students interested in majoring in food science and technology?
Find what you love. Food science is such a broad major that you can easily find your specific niche or passion. Once you do, run with it.
What do you plan to do after you graduate?
After I graduate, I plan to go to graduate school. I hope to get a doctorate in food science with a concentration in food chemistry. I want to work in the food science industry as a product developer before transitioning into a career in academia as a professor.
What is your favorite food?
Pepper soup. It’s one of my favorite things to eat and make. It reminds me of my grandmother.