Name: Jessica Gavin, CFS
Job title: Senior Research Scientist, Nutrition Formulation, CFS, CCS
Company: Nutrilite, a Division of Amway
IFT Division(s) to which you belong: Nutrition
Highest Level of Education/Degree: M.S. Agriculture, Dairy Products Technology
What are your favorite quotes?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln
These quotes reminds me to take risks, to pursue my dreams, be open to challenges, and never be afraid to ask for what you want, because if you don’t you already have the answer. Don’t be afraid to allow yourself to grow personally and professionally!
What does your schedule look like today?
As a formulation scientist, I get to work cross functionally with other passionate team members each day. We develop innovative and unique global nutrition product solutions, to help people live better lives through nature and science. Depending on the stage of the development for my projects, you can find me in the food lab screening various ingredients, creating prototype formulas, giving presentations on innovation strategies or participating in collaboration sessions. My company encourages us to have work-life balance, and thankfully there is a great fitness facility onsite with wellness coaches who teach various fitness classes. I like to fit in a workout so I can to stay energized throughout the day!
How did you go about finding your current job?
I participated in my company’s college internship program as I pursued my bachelor’s degree Cal Poly. This gave me wonderful insight into Nutrilite’s culture and R&D organization. After my internship, I knew that it would be a great place to foster my career. As I was searching for job opportunities after graduation a few years later, there was a position available for a formulation scientist and I made sure to apply. My first opportunity formulating products was for the children, sports and weight management category. Internships are a great way to gain experience and gain valuable connections in the food industry and help you get an edge on future opportunities.
If you weren’t a Food Scientist, what would you be doing?
Chef! Food is my passion, and it would have been awesome to work in the best restaurants around the world. France and Italy would have been on the top of my list, however, I had a dream to work at The French Laundry in Napa, California!
Who do you think is the most innovative person in your field and why?
I love baking and really appreciate pioneers in our industry who create new products out of a need or personal passion. Lena Kwak, who heads up R&D at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry developed Cup4Cup, a gluten-free flour and is also expanding her line. Lena is someone I truly admire from an innovation standpoint. The science behind creating a flour blend that works for various savory and sweet applications is really fascinating. It’s great that people who have challenges with gluten have a viable option that doesn’t compromise quality and taste. I’ve made numerous recipes with her flour and it is extremely versatile in its application and the finished products are delicious! It’s amazing to see how the food industry has recognized the training in culinary arts and food science as two very important areas of study that can work together to create great products for consumers.
When are you most inspired?
When I’m in my home kitchen testing out a recipe or cooking for my family. Cooking allows me to trust my instincts, use all of my senses, problem solve, observe and learn during each step. I love how engaged you can be in the simple act of cooking and how much science is happening. It can turn a good day into a great one, especially if you discover a recipe that really works and you can share it with others to enjoy your creations.
Why should I join the Nutrition Division or any other IFT Division?
Nutrition related issues create impactful changes to our industry and how we create products. Exciting topics are constantly being highlighted like nutritional label updates, GMO’s, trans fats and other health related areas. Being part of the IFT Nutrition division allows you to be in a community of individuals who are passionate about Nutrition and can have discussions on hot topics early on. You can also find ways to be influential, no matter your position or experience in the industry. Nutrition is an impactful category that as food scientists find value keeping a pulse on, especially as consumers are becoming more educated and looking for us to provide healthy and safe food solutions.
Join IFT’s Nutrition Division! (Division membership is FREE for any IFT member.)
The most valuable thing I, as a student, can do to further my research/career as soon as I finish reading this interview is:
Be an active pursuer of your passions. Don’t be passive about your education and career, find ways to be involved, gain experience, and explore what makes you excited about food. If there are people in the food industry who intrigue you, learn more about their career to see how you can follow a similar path. Make sure to build your food science network, maintain good relationships with your fellow classmates, participate and learn about food science and technology as much as possible during school so you can discover what truly interests you. Think about where your passion and skills can add value to the food industry, and then go for it!
What is your favorite food?
Croissants! It takes a lot of time, skill, and technique to master the classic, crispy, flaky, tender pastry. I appreciate each bite and I’m always trying to find the best croissants in different bakeries around the world.
Have a question? Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.