By Jon Baugher
Hey there OFFICIAL FOOD GEEKS! This is Jon Baugher, your current IFTSA President. I am extremely honored and excited for this opportunity to lead our dynamic organization throughout the upcoming year. I wanted to start by telling you a little bit about myself, so you know who I am and where I came from. I am from New Bern, North Carolina (birthplace of Pepsi). I grew up loving everything about the outdoors and sports. I played baseball and soccer throughout high school but had to give up basketball because the tall genes went to somebody else. I am a second-generation food scientist, growing up admiring my dad, Dr. Bill Baugher, a savory flavor specialist that has been an IFT member for about 40 years, as he started his own company. I loved all fields of science as kid but I was always most attracted to the challenges of food science, being such a fascinating applied science that is vital for the health and well being of the world.
I received my BS degree at James Madison University in Biology, concentrating in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I worked a minimal amount as an undergraduate researcher, studying the antioxidant capacities of herbs and spices. It wasn’t until the summer before my senior year that I locked down a summer internship with the Stanford Research Institute that graduate school became a realistic option for me (I had the challenge of bringing up a sub-stellar GPA). After graduation, I was accepted into NC State Food Science department and was fortunate to work under Dr. Todd Klaenhammer studying functional genomics of probiotics. I completed my MS in Food Science in 2011, and I am currently a Ph.D. student in Food Science at NC State in the Dr. Lee-Ann Jaykus lab studying norovirus attachment to fresh produce such as raspberries and strawberries.
I have been an active member of IFT/IFTSA since 2009. After being NC State Food Science Club President and IFT Dogwood Section Student Representative in 2010, I ran for IFTSA President against Matt Cael, and I was soundly whooped. Apparently, Matt is a very popular guy! But the leadership of IFTSA was very supportive and encouraged me to accept the VP of IFT Relations position. Losing to Matt turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Before joining the IFTSA Board, I had no idea the amount of hard work and commitment required from our student members and volunteers to make this organization the powerhouse that it is today. After serving as VP of IFT Relations, I was elected as IFTSA President-Elect. Last year I was able to learn so much from our Past-President Jen Willig and our now immediate Past-President Matt Cael. They have been tremendous IFTSA members for years and we should all thank them for everything they have done for us. Thank you guys! That being said, I am ready to take on the challenges of IFTSA President and look forward to this year.
IFTSA is currently the fastest growing section of IFT. With the help of Middle Eastern Technical University located in Turkey, this year we are performing a pilot study on what an IFTSA international chapter will look like, how international chapters can benefit from IFTSA, and how they can contribute to IFTSA. I ask that if you know of other international schools that have the support of both faculty and students to potentially join IFTSA in the future, please contact us, and help facilitate our future expansion. In future posts, I will keep you updated on the status of this pilot program as well as many other exciting programs including video updates within IFTSA!
As the future of IFT and our profession, I challenge each and every one of you to become as active and engaged within IFTSA as possible. Aren’t you tired of food science being demonized by the mass media? Aren’t you concerned about the lack of understanding of basic food safety by the general public, and the serious health implications that this causes? Or how about the copious misconceptions and misinformation about food science that countless blogs and websites provide our consumers? If we don’t stand up for food science, our profession will suffer for many years to come. As IFTSA members, we have the knowledge, we have the numbers (closing in on 3,000 of us), and we have the power to make a difference. Each of us has talents and abilities that we can contribute to IFTSA to make a significant impact on our organization. Find out what you are passionate about, and get involved in IFTSA. Contact IFTSA (local or national) leaders to find out how you can make a difference. Lastly, take advantage of the many competitions, scholarships, networking opportunities, internships, jobs, the list goes on and on… that as an IFTSA member, you have at your disposal. We are going to have a great year, and it’s never too early to start thinking about the IFT Annual Meeting in New Orleans!