A 10-Year Review of the Food Science Summer Scholars Program: A Model for Research Training and for Recruiting Undergraduate Students into Graduate Programs and Careers in Food Science

Authors

  • Angela J. Roberts,

    1. Author Roberts is with Dept. of Biology, Texas Wesleyan Univ., Fort Worth, TX 76105, U.S.A. Authors Roberts, Robbins, and Wiedmann are with Dept. of Food Science, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853, U.S.A. Author McLandsborough is with Dept. of Food Science, Univ. of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, U.S.A. Direct inquiries to author Wiedmann (E-mail: mw16@cornell.edu).
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  • Janette Robbins,

    1. Author Roberts is with Dept. of Biology, Texas Wesleyan Univ., Fort Worth, TX 76105, U.S.A. Authors Roberts, Robbins, and Wiedmann are with Dept. of Food Science, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853, U.S.A. Author McLandsborough is with Dept. of Food Science, Univ. of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, U.S.A. Direct inquiries to author Wiedmann (E-mail: mw16@cornell.edu).
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  • Lynne McLandsborough,

    1. Author Roberts is with Dept. of Biology, Texas Wesleyan Univ., Fort Worth, TX 76105, U.S.A. Authors Roberts, Robbins, and Wiedmann are with Dept. of Food Science, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853, U.S.A. Author McLandsborough is with Dept. of Food Science, Univ. of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, U.S.A. Direct inquiries to author Wiedmann (E-mail: mw16@cornell.edu).
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  • Martin Wiedmann

    1. Author Roberts is with Dept. of Biology, Texas Wesleyan Univ., Fort Worth, TX 76105, U.S.A. Authors Roberts, Robbins, and Wiedmann are with Dept. of Food Science, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853, U.S.A. Author McLandsborough is with Dept. of Food Science, Univ. of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, U.S.A. Direct inquiries to author Wiedmann (E-mail: mw16@cornell.edu).
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Abstract

Abstract:  A pressing problem facing regulatory agencies, academia, and the food industry is a shortage of qualified food science graduates, particularly those with advanced degrees (that is, M.S. or Ph.D.). In 2000, the Cornell Institute of Food Science established the annual Food Science Summer Scholars Program as an experiential summer research program for undergraduate students with the goal of increasing the number of individuals enrolling in graduate programs in Food Science and entering careers in food science. In 2008, to explore expansion to other food science programs, the program also included 5 students placed at the Univ. of Massachusetts. Between 2000 and 2009, a total of 147 undergraduate students, representing a nationally and internationally diverse student body, have participated in the program. Sixty program participants have been recruited from nonfood science majors and 25 have been U.S. citizens representing traditionally underrepresented minorities. Forty-five program alumni have completed graduate degrees with a food science or related major, and 56 alumni are currently pursuing graduate degrees in food science or related disciplines. Thirty program alumni are working in the food industry. The Food Science Summer Scholars Program at Cornell and the Univ. of Massachusetts has proved to be an effective program for recruiting students into graduate programs and careers in food science. Furthermore, the Summer Scholars Program at Cornell and the Univ. of Massachusetts serves as a model for the development of a cooperative multi-institutional food science summer research program for undergraduates to further increase the supply of students for graduate study and careers in food science.

Introduction

A serious challenge facing food science today is that the number of qualified graduates from undergraduate and graduate food science programs is currently not sufficient to fill all positions in the food industry, government, and academia (Fletcher 2006; Chikthimmah and Floros 2007). Undergraduate and especially graduate programs in food science in both the United States and abroad are experiencing declining enrollments, and some reports have estimated that, as a result, approximately 2700 U.S. positions in food science and closely related disciplines each year remain vacant (Gilmore and others 2006). Factors contributing to the shortage of food science undergraduates include that food science as a discipline is not well recognized among high school teachers and guidance counselors or among high school students and their parents. Furthermore, declining enrollments in food science undergraduate programs translates into an intense competition among food companies for highly qualified individuals with B.S. degrees in food science. As a result, well-qualified undergraduate students are often offered multiple summer internship opportunities in industry that pay competitive stipends and that often lead to lucrative job offers in industry. Consequently, relatively few U.S. food science undergraduate students pursue advanced (M.S. and particularly Ph.D.) degrees in foods science.

Only limited numbers of qualified Ph.D. level scientists are thus available for careers in academia, federal agencies (for example, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture), and industry. In addition, very few qualified food science undergraduates pursue advanced training in food science-related disciplines, such as genomics and bioinformatics, veterinary medicine, chemistry, and nutrition, even though there is a considerable need for food scientists with interdisciplinary training to solve many of the emerging issues in food science. Hence, there is a clear need to recruit and retain additional students in the area of food science and to introduce food science to students in other fields.

While there have been recent efforts to increase the visibility of food science as a discipline and career choice among high school students (McEntire and Rollins 2007), less has been done to market food science at the undergraduate level. There remains a need to develop effective strategies for attracting current undergraduate students majoring in disciplines related to food science to food science graduate programs and careers, as well as a need for programs designed to expose existing food science undergraduates to the advantages and opportunities available to them through graduate study in food science. In addition, there is a need for innovative strategies to retain undergraduates already enrolled in food science in this major. Undergraduate research experiences have been shown repeatedly to be a successful mechanism for increasing student interest in advanced degrees in various scientific fields (Kremmer and Bringle 1990; Foertsch and others 1997; Russell and others 2007; Korkeala and Lindström 2009). Furthermore, undergraduate research experiences have been shown to make positive impacts on students’ self-reported intellectual development, improve their perceptions of science, and increase student retention (Nagda and others 1998; Ryder and others 1999; Seymour and others 2004; Jones and others 2010). In an effort to help meet the need for more students pursuing advanced degree programs and interested in food science careers, the Cornell Institute of Food Science established the annual Food Science Summer Scholars Program in 2000 as an experiential summer research program for undergraduate students. The goals of the Food Science Summer Scholars Program are (1) to recruit students from related academic disciplines into food science to increase the supply of qualified food science graduates, (2) to recruit students into advanced degree programs in food science to increase the supply of qualified food science graduates with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, (3) to recruit students from underrepresented minorities into food science, and (4) to develop a model for joint, multi-institutional, minority, and undergraduate recruitment that can be expanded to other institutions. The purpose of this paper is to report on the format, recruitment methods, funding, and success of the Food Science Summer Scholars Program as a model for meeting these goals.

Methods

Program format

The Food Science Summer Scholars Program consists of several components, the foundation of which is a 10 wk independent research project conducted under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Students are selected for participation in the program through a competitive application process and faculty mentors are assigned to students by matching interested mentors with the students’ expressed research interests. Following a 2-d program orientation that includes a team-building activity and training in laboratory safety, students engage in at least 40 h a week of independent research in the mentor's laboratory and meet regularly with their faculty mentors for assistance in defining learning objectives and for addressing questions arising from their research projects. At the end of the 10 wk, students are required to write an abstract and give an oral presentation on their research projects to an audience of their mentors and peers.

In addition to their independent research in the laboratory, program participants also attend regular mandatory group meetings, workshops, and field trips (see Figure 1 for a schedule from the 2009 program). The group meetings serve as an opportunity for all program participants to formally and informally discuss their research or relevant published papers and other topics with the guidance of a faculty facilitator. In the 1st group meeting, for example, students introduce their proposed research project and research ideas. In addition, all program participants attend, approximately semiweekly, various presentations and workshops on such topics as applying to graduate school, ethics in food science, reconciling professional and personal responsibilities, effective strategies for oral presentations, and the use of library and Internet resources. A Careers in Food Science and Agriculture Panel Discussion with presentations by professionals in industry, government, and academia is another workshop that exposes students to various career tracks in food science. Finally, another important component of the program consists of field trips to food companies and their research and development laboratories as well as to laboratories of federal and state agencies to give students 1st hand exposure to those work environments. While field trip destinations have changed from year to year, past trips have included visits to Hershey's (Hershey, Pa., U.S.A.), PepsiCo (Valhalla, N.Y., U.S.A.), Kraft (Tarrytown, N.Y., U.S.A.), Intl. Food Network (Ithaca, N.Y., U.S.A.), Unilever (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., U.S.A.), TIC Gums (White Marsh, M.D., U.S.A.), Rich Products (Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.A.), Bison Foods (Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.A.), USDA-ARS Easter Reginla Research Center (ERRC), DuPont-Qualicon (Wilmington, Del., U.S.A.), and Anheuser-Busch (Baldwinsville, N.Y., U.S.A.).

Figure 1–.

Schedule of events for 2009 Cornell Summer Scholars Program.

Recruitment and selection

Recruitment for the Food Science Summer Scholars Program has been achieved through a program website (http://foodscience.cornell.edu/cals/foodsci/academics/fsscholars/fssspdescription.cfm), personal faculty connections, alumni word-of-mouth, recruitment visits to 2 universities, and recruitment materials that are sent to select universities. The website contains a general description of the Summer Scholars Program as well as descriptions of research areas available to program participants, a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section, a page-listing publications and presentations co-authored by former Scholars, information about program sponsors and stipends, and a program application. Paper recruitment materials included color posters and 3-fold brochures that were sent annually to the career offices of 54 agricultural universities and to the chairs’ offices of 40 Food Science Dept. identified using the Institute of Food Technologists website. To attract minority students, paper recruitment materials were also mailed annually to the career offices of 39 United Negro College Fund (UNCF) colleges/universities, to math and sciences departments of 12 American Indian College Fund (AICF) colleges/universities, and to the career offices of 25 other minority-serving colleges/universities not a part of the UNCF or AICF. Four institutions that received annual mailings are designated as Hispanic-serving according to the Hispanic Assn. of Colleges and Univ.; these include 2 universities in the United States (Univ. of California Riverside and Univ. of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio) and 2 universities in Puerto Rico (Univ. Metropolitana Cupey and Univ. of Puerto Rico Mayagüez). Personal recruitment visits were made to Alabama A&M in Huntsville, Ala., U.S.A. in 2007 and to Florida State Univ. in Gainesville, Fla., U.S.A. in 2005 where a presentation about the Summer Scholar Program was delivered to student members of the Minority Assn. of Prehealth Students. Finally, each year, e-mail announcements with a link to the program website and brochure and poster attachments were sent to up to 26 personal faculty and staff contacts at different institutions, and to all Food Science Summer Scholar Program alumni with a request that they help spread the word about the program to potentially interested students.

Summer Scholars were chosen each year by a selection committee, which considered students’ academic qualities and experiences (including the applicant's grade point average, grades in science courses, participation in honors or independent study courses, presentations and publications, and work and research experience), letters of recommendations, and the applicant's personal statement (with a particular focus on identifying students with a well articulated interest in food science). For the first few years, the selection committee consisted of 2 to 3 faculty members associated with the Cornell Institute of Food Science; an additional 1 to 2 industry representatives were added to the committee later on. Each member of the selection committee evaluated each application packet, which consisted of an application form, a 1-page personal statement, academic transcripts, 2 to 4 letters of recommendation, and a curriculum vitae. The application form contained students’ personal information (for example, mailing and e-mail addresses); education information including year in school, colleges/universities attended, and cumulative GPA; and students’ top 3 choices for food science research concentration. In the personal statement, students were asked to describe their education and career goals, as well as relevant experience. While the applicant evaluation was performed without a formal evaluation form in the first years, we have recently implemented a standardized Applicant Evaluation Form (available from the corresponding author) that assigns point values to various criteria and sums to a maximum of 100 points. On the evaluation form, the applicant's academic qualities are weighted most heavily and worth up to 60 points. The letters of recommendation are worth up to 20 points and the statement of purpose is worth up to 10 points. The final 10 points on the evaluation form are considered discretionary points to be awarded to applicants based on prizes and awards received, teaching experience, and/or participation in relevant extracurricular activities. In the years the Applicant Evaluation Form was used, the scores from each member of the selection committee were used to generate a ranked list of applicants, and a final ranked list was generated by averaging the ranks of each applicant from each of the selection committee members. Invitations were extended to the top-ranking applicants based on the number of spots available, assuring a match between student and faculty member research interests.

Oversight and funding

The Food Science Summer Scholars Program is overseen by both university faculty and industry representatives. Immediate oversight is provided by an internal steering and selection committee initially composed of Cornell faculty members with 2 industry representatives added in 2006. For 2008, when the program also included 5 students at the Dept. of Food Science at the Univ. of Massachusetts, 1 faculty from this institution was added to the program steering and selection committee. Broader oversight is provided by the existing advisory board of the Cornell Institute of Food Science, which meets twice a year and includes 15 to 30 members; these members largely represent food industry, but also include representatives of state and federal agencies (for example, USDA, New York State Dept. of Agriculture and Markets) and food industry groups (for example, Grocery Manufacturers of America).

Financial support for the Food Science Summer Scholars Program has been obtained through a combination of internal and external funding sources. In the first year of the program (2000), support was predominantly provided through faculty laboratory operating budgets and departmental funds. In subsequent years, additional financial support was obtained from industry donations (for example, from Kraft Foods, Gorton's, E. & J. Gallo Winery, Hershey's, the Intl. Food Network, General Mills, and Heinz). Beginning in 2001 and continuing through 2007, the program was partially supported through 2 USDA Higher Education Challenge Grants (Improved Food Science Undergraduate Education through Experiential Learning, 2001 to 2004 and Natl. Multidisciplinary Food Science Summer Research Program, 2004 to 2007). In 2005, the PepsiCo Foundation became a major financial contributor to the program with a gift paid over 2 y for enhancement of the Summer Scholars Program. In 2008, the PepsiCo Foundation also provided a financial gift for expansion of the Summer Scholars Program to the Univ. of Massachusetts. In 2008, the Heinz Foundation agreed to provide funding for 1 or 2 summer scholars per year, for a period of 4 to 5 y and General Mills agreed to provide funding for 2 summer scholars per year, for a period of 3 to 4 y. The student stipend for the 10-wk summer program period was $3000 for the years 2000 to 2005, which was increased to $4000 for the years 2006 to 2009. In addition, we have been able to offer a total of 7 travel grants to students whose financial situation might not otherwise allow them to attend.

Program evaluation

We have developed a questionnaire-based evaluation system that allows us to continually evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the program and implement changes from year to year. At the end of the program each year, Scholars complete evaluation questionnaires that solicit feedback on such issues as student perception of program organization and the usefulness of the different program components (for example field trips, workshops, and group meetings). In addition, faculty mentors completed questionnaires in years 2005 to 2009 of the program asking them to rank program organization as well as to evaluate the performance of their student scholars. Copies of the evaluation forms can be found on the program website (http://foodscience.cornell.edu/cals/foodsci/academics/fsscholars/fssspdescription.cfm). Program progress and evaluations are presented annually to the external advisory board (the Cornell Institute of Food Science Advisory Council) to obtain feedback from this group on program changes and improvements that should be implemented. Finally, program graduates are contacted approximately twice a year to gather information on their career paths.

Results and Discussion

The Summer Scholars Program has been highly and increasingly successful over the 10 y of its existence. In addition to having been financially supported by industry and U.S. federal sources for a 10-y period and having expanded to include other universities, indicators of the program's success include (1) a large and diverse applicant pool and program enrollment, (2) high levels of student and faculty satisfaction with the program, and (3) a significant number of program participants pursuing graduate study in food science or related fields and/or entering careers in food science.

The program applicant pool and enrollment are growing and increasingly diverse

Since 2000, a total of 147 undergraduate students, representing a nationally and internationally diverse student body, have participated in the Food Science Summer Scholars Program. Participants have included 25 U.S. citizens representing traditionally underrepresented minorities (that is, African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans), 15 U.S. citizens representing Asian Indian/Middle Eastern and Asian Pacific ethnicities, and 35 non-U.S. citizens representing several countries including Canada, China, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Rwanda, Trinidad, Uganda, and Ukraine. As summarized in Table 1, the total number and the diversity of program applicants, as well as the number and diversity of students accepted and enrolling in the program increased overall from 2000 to 2008. In 2000, for example, 24 applications were received, while, in 2008, the number of applicants had increased approximately 270% to 65. Similarly, the number of students accepted and enrolling in the program increased from 13 and 13, respectively, in 2000 to 24 and 21, respectively, in 2008; this represents an approximately 185% increase in the number of students admitted and an approximately 162% increase in the number of students enrolling into the program.

Table 1–.  Profiles of the Summer Scholar's Program applicant pool, students admitted, and students enrolled.
YearAppliedAdmittedEnrolled
Total applicantsUniv./collegesNr of majorsU.S. citizenMinorityaTotal acceptedUniv./collegesNr of majorsU.S. citizenMinorityTotal enrolledUniv./collegesNr of majorsU.S. citizenMinority
  1. aMinority students are those who describe themselves as African American, Hispanic, or Native American.

20002415716213851221385122
20012115662128381118371
200217126112119481119481
2003412373241912617217115152
20043921930718951551895155
2005442811266181361451495105
20064630122562316816418148111
20076240143472116816517158134
200865431533112423918521198143
20094922142399778186671
Totals4071473524555167561813230147671911125

The diversity of applicants to the program also increased as indicated by increasing numbers of minority candidates applying, increasing numbers of colleges and universities represented among the applicants, as well as increasing numbers of majors represented. While a number of summer research programs are exclusively targeting traditionally underrepresented African American, Hispanic, and Native American minorities (for example, the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program) (Parker 2003; U.S. Department of Education 2010) the strategy for our program, similar to some other programs (for example, NSF sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduate programs; Howard Hughes Medical Institute sponsored programs) (Nelson 1994; National Science Foundation 2009) is to recruit an annual cohort of students that represent a mix of underrepresented minority and nonminority students from a wide variety of universities and science disciplines. In the 1st 3 y of the program (2000 to 2002), we received applications from only 2 minority candidates each year, while in the years from 2003 to 2008, we received between 4 and 11 minority candidate applications per year. The number of colleges and universities represented among the applicants has also increased from 15 in 2000 to 43 in 2008 and the number of majors represented has more than doubled from 7 in 2000 to 15 in 2008 (Table 1). The year 2009 represented a departure from the previous trend of increasing numbers of applicants, admissions, and enrollment as both the number of applicants to the program and the number of students admitted fell. The decline in admission and enrollment that year can be partially explained by the fact that the Univ. of Massachusetts did not participate in 2009 for financial reasons. However, other explanations for the decline in the number of applicants in 2009 remain unclear as recruitment mechanisms remained unchanged. Overall, over 10 y, only 20 applicants did not accept our offer of admission, indicating an outstanding yield (88%) and further supporting the demand for this type of program.

Student scholars and faculty report high levels of satisfaction with program

Students consistently evaluate the program and their experience highly. On a standard 5-point scale where 1 equals extremely poor and 5 equals extremely good, students from 2000 to 2009 consistently ranked the program organization, the overall quality of their research and laboratory experience, the quality of their mentoring, and the quality of the program activities and workshops above 3.5 (Table 2). Importantly, the scores for most questions showed a general upward trend from 2000 to 2009, indicating ongoing improvement and refinement by program organizers and faculty mentors with regard to the execution of the different program components. In addition, since 2005, when faculty mentors were first asked to evaluate program organization as well as their individual student scholars, faculty have rated program organization between 4.4 and 5. Faculty have also consistently rated their summer scholars above 4 in areas such as potential of research capabilities, ability to grasp techniques and literature, and overall ranking for graduate admission. These consistently strong average rankings of summer scholars by their faculty mentors indicate that the program is attracting and enrolling highly qualified students with strong potential for success in graduate school or in food science careers.

Table 2–.  Student evaluation averages of program.
Event description2000200120022003200420052006200720082009Average
  1. Ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is a low rating, while 5 is the highest rating.

  2. *For “Lab time” and “Professors expectations of you,” the scale is 1 = much less than appropriate; 5 = much more than appropriate.

Overall organization3.843.804.504.384.064.504.654.884.734.674.40
Overall quality3.844.634.904.754.334.144.414.814.504.894.52
Lab time*3.383.543.904.193.003.503.293.133.503.783.52
Mentoring4.303.904.304.724.284.074.354.564.334.674.35
Professors expectations of you*       2.943.132.672.91
Did professor meet your expectations       3.934.334.334.20
Recommend program to friends/other students  4.804.884.444.364.654.884.934.894.73
Considering grad school - CU food science4.003.544.003.602.503.543.534.274.643.783.74
Overall rating of program4.694.364.674.824.224.214.474.754.775.004.60
Ratings for specific activities
Learning from Research I & II     2.643.183.934.294.384.20
Ethics in food science3.723.444.004.193.223.692.924.064.304.503.80
Preparing a resume         3.633.63
Applying for graduate school4.004.104.004.814.174.234.294.814.674.674.38
Scientific method  3.603.503.183.153.06   3.30
Writing an abstract/giving a presentation         4.144.14
Ratings for different field trips
Pepsi  4.404.793.824.364.194.794.534.564.43
Kraft  4.404.934.124.144.064.574.134.444.35
Unilever        4.533.674.10
Hershey4.00  3.604.403.863.93 4.204.894.13
Career night4.184.003.604.383.533.854.004.635.004.444.16
Geneva Technology Park       4.14  4.14
TIC Gums         4.004.00
Anheuser-Busch       4.20  4.20
International Food Network (IFN)       4.27  4.27
Qualicon/USDA 4.11        4.11
Rich Foods, Bison, Niagara4.304.00        4.15

Large numbers of scholars pursue graduate study and careers in food science

It has repeatedly been reported that participants in undergraduate summer research programs go on to pursue advanced degrees more frequently than their peers lacking such research experience (Foertsch and others 1997; Alexander and others 1998; Schowen 1998). Similarly, a large percentage of the graduates of the Food Science Summer Scholars Program have gone on to pursue either graduate study (M.S. or Ph.D. degree programs) in food science or food science-related fields, or enter careers in food science industry or research. Specifically, 45 program alumni have completed graduate degrees with a food science or food science-related major, and 56 are currently pursuing graduate degrees in food science or food science-related disciplines. Thirty-five program alumni are working in the food industry and 11 are working in food science research. More specifically, and as summarized in Table 3 and 4, of the 147 summer scholars, 34 (approximately 24%) have completed or are currently enrolled in master's degree programs in food science, 9 (approximately 6%) students have completed or are currently enrolled in Ph.D. programs in food science, and 11 (approximately 8%) have completed an M.S. degree and are currently enrolled in Ph.D. programs in food science. When disciplines related to food science (for example, microbiology, chemistry, biology, horticulture, bioengineering, animal science, and plant science) are included, the numbers of program graduates pursuing masters and Ph.D. degrees are even greater; specifically, 43 (30%) students entered into food science or food science-related master's degree programs, 31 (21%) students entered into food science or food science-related Ph.D. programs, and 11 students entered into food science or food science-related M.S./Ph.D. programs. Furthermore, 35 (24%) of program participants are known to have accepted positions working in industry or food science-related research. Several program graduates (7%) have enrolled in medical, veterinary, or other advanced degree programs (for example, MBA), while 17 program graduates (12%) entered nonfood science-related jobs, were not able to be contacted for follow-up, or are still completing their undergraduate degrees. Of the 25 minority students who have completed the Summer Scholars Program, 16 (64%) enrolled in food science or food science-related master's or Ph.D. degree programs, while 5 (20%) entered food science industry, and 2 (8%) entered other advanced degree programs. This percentage of minority Food Science Summer Scholars entering Master's and Ph.D. programs is similar to or greater than the percentages reported or anticipated from other summer undergraduate research programs (Russell and others 2007; Lewis and others 2008; Villarejo and others 2008). While it is difficult to quantitatively evaluate the impact of the Food Science Summer Scholars Program on students’ decisions to pursue advanced study in food science or to enter food science careers without data from an equally matched cohort, our follow-up conversations with program graduates convincingly indicate that students’ decisions to pursue a food science advanced degree or career were influenced positively by their experience in the program.

Table 3–.  Academic paths of Summer Scholar Program 2000 to 2009 graduates.
 Nr of FS undergraduates degrees in progress (minoritya)Nr of FS undergraduates degrees completed (minority)Nr of Non-FS undergraduates degrees in progress (minority)Nr of Non-F S undergraduates degrees completed (minority)
  1. aMinority students are those who describe themselves as African American, Hispanic, or Native American.

  2. bPrograms considered related to food science include microbiology, chemistry, biology, horticulture, bioengineering, animal science, and plant science.

  3. cNonfood science and nonfood science-related advanced degree programs include MD, DVM, MBA, and JD programs.

  4. FS = food science.

Only BS       5 (1)      22 (3)      13 (3)      11 (1)
BS-MS (MS in FS)      14 (1)      15 (3)       5       0
BS-PhD (PhD in FS)       2 (1)       2       5 (4)       0
BS-MS-PhD (FS)       8       3 (1)       0       0
BS-MS (MS in related fieldb)       2       1 (1)       1       5 (1)
BS-PhD (PhD in related field)       3       4      13 (3)       2
BS and advanced degree in nonfood science fieldc       0       0       3 (1)       3
Total students with degrees      34 (3)      47 (8)      40 (11)      21 (2)
Total students with FS degrees      29 (3)      42 (7)      10 (4)       0
Table 4–.  Careers of Summer Scholar Program 2000 to 2009 graduates.
 Nr of FS undergraduates (minoritya)Nr of non-FS undergraduates (minority)
  1. aMinority students are those who describe themselves as African American, Hispanic, or Native American. FS = food science.

FS Industry BS only        15 (3)        1
FS Industry BS-MS        10 (2)        2 (2)
FS Industry BS-MS-PhD         2 (1)        0
FS Industry BS-PhD         5        0
Research/government         7        4 (2)
Total students in food industry        32        3
Total students in food scientist or related positions in research or government        39 (6)        7 (4)

Program expansion

In the summer of 2008, the Food Science Summer Scholars Program expanded to include the Univ. of Massachusetts. Students submitted a single application and were accepted into a research lab at either Cornell Univ. or the Univ. of Massachusetts. A long-term goal is to further expand this program into a joint food science summer undergraduate program, with a single application procedure, that includes a number of leading food science programs in the United States besides Cornell and the Univ. of Massachusetts. Cooperation between institutions in such a manner will prevent competition between schools for summer applicants and will greatly expand the pool of potential applicants for food science graduate programs at all participating institutions. To this end, departments interested in participating in a joint summer scholars program are encouraged to contact Dr. Martin Wiedmann at Cornell.

Conclusions

Through the Food Science Summer Scholars Program at Cornell Univ. and the Univ. of Massachusetts, we have engaged 147 undergraduate students in hands-on food science research, provided them with unique experiential learning opportunities to develop their critical thinking, learning, and communication skills, and have directly exposed them to career possibilities available in food science. With regard to our specific goals for the program, which was designed to increase the supply and diversity of students pursuing advanced study and careers in food science, we have (1) introduced 60 nonfood science majors to food science, (2) mentored 54 students who enrolled in M.S. or Ph.D. programs in food science and an additional 31 students who enrolled in M.S. or Ph.D. programs in food science-related fields, (3) exposed 25 students from underrepresented minorities to food science, and (4) have successfully, through our expansion to include the Univ. of Massachusetts, developed a model for a joint, multi-institutional, experiential summer research program in food science for undergraduates. It is our hope that the Food Science Summer Scholars Program will continue to expand in a cooperative manner to other colleges and universities beyond the Univ. of Massachusetts as an effective mechanism to combat the current shortage of food scientists as well as to increase the level of training and preparedness future food scientists have to effectively address the new and emerging challenges in food science.

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the United States Dept. of Agriculture Higher Education Challenge Grants, numbers 01-38411-10765 and 2004-38411-14735. Financial support for this program was also provided by the PepsiCo Foundation, Kraft Foods, General Mills, Heinz Foundation, TIC Gums, Silliker, E&J Gallo Winery, Intl. Food Network, Gorton's, The Hershey Company, Western New York division of the Institute of Food Technologists, Cornell Associates Program, Louis Pasteur Lectureship Fund, Cornell Institute of Food Science, and The New England Grain and Feed Council. We also thank the past and current members of the Cornell Institute of Food Science Advisory Council for their continued support of the program.

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