Calling food science professionals
April 18, 2016 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Do you have a degree in food science or are you a non-degree professional in that field? I'd like to hear about your experience in the industry.

I'm close to completing my second year of preparation towards a second degree, this time in food science. In a month, I will begin applying to schools to do the real food science part of my degree - so far it's all the chemistry/microbiology and other science classes required by most programs.

I am interested in hearing any thoughts on food science programs from around the United States, or even abroad. I'd also love to hear from anyone who works in food processing, food product development, and in any of the many areas a degree in food science can take me. I'm leaning towards dairy, fermentation, and the microbiology of food science but I am open to anything. I don't have a culinary degree but I am skilled in the kitchen and I have really enjoyed my organic chemistry.

And I am not just interested in hearing from people with the degree or only from people who have had positive experiences. I want to better understand where I am headed before I totally commit.
posted by Foam Pants to Education (2 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I am not a food scientist, but I know several. One of my good friends married a food science grad student, and other grad students entered our social circle to the point where many of the people I hung out with for a long time were food scientists. As a result, I can't speak directly to it, but I can give general impressions.

-Of the ones whose careers I've kept up with, one Ph.D. went directly into academia, one Ph.D. went into academia after a stint at the USDA, one M.A. went into product development (he makes seasonal chocolates!), and one M.A. went into product marketing for Pepsi. (Two Ph.D. candidates are still in school; one I know plans to take a private sector research job.)

-Enjoying organic chemistry makes me think you'll do well, because this is what the vast majority of my friends spent their time doing. At Ohio State, at least, even the master's program is research-intensive. You'll be spending a bunch of time in labs.

-Most of their academic backgrounds were not in food science specifically, but in related scientific disciplines like chemistry or microbiology. They gravitated toward food science from a specific interest in their original majors.

-Cornell seems to be the most highly-respected program. Penn State and OSU (where all my friends went) also seem to be pretty well-respected. I knew a couple of undergrads from Nebraska, but I don't know anything about their grad program.

-As far as I'm aware, all of my friends liked grad school, like their careers, and would do it again. If they are unhappy, none have ever shared that with me.

-Being a good cook theoretically has nothing to do with a food science degree, but somehow all of my friends were incredible cooks. Food science tailgate parties were unbelievable.

If you don't get the responses you're looking for in this thread, I could probably put you in contact with some of my friends. MeMail me with your contact information and I'll pass it along.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:45 PM on April 18, 2016

I got a Food Science degree in Australia. My degree consisted of organic chemistry, microbiology, biology, properties of food, nutrition, sensory analysis, etc. The degree was geared towards people wanting to do Product Development, Quality Assurance in factories, Dietetics (with a Masters). It's a great degree to do because not a lot of people think of it and there is demand (in Australia) for people to do Food Science related jobs.
I myself followed my degree with a Graduate Diploma of Education and became a Food Technology Teacher in High School. (Previous to my Food Science degree I was a cook) I love my job (most of the time) and us Australian teachers get paid pretty well with good working conditions. I still do a lot of food sciency stuff at home and my friends are always impressed when I pull out an explanation for a cooking process and use big words like gelatinisation.
I say definitely go for it, even if you're not sure what kind of job you will end up with. Hopefully your uni lecturers will be able to guide you in the direction that appeals to you the most and if your course has a work practicum, definitely do that because it will give you an idea of work environments and job possibilities.
posted by lazy robot at 10:13 PM on April 18, 2016

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