Name: Fatemeh Malekian, Ph.D.
Job title: Professor, Nutrition & Food Science Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center (SUAREC)
Highest Level of Education/Degree: Ph.D. in Food Science, Louisiana State University (LSU)
What does your schedule look like today? Very busy as usual. I like to have a list of the tasks that I need to finish every day. So I am almost done with my list and it is 4:00 pm!
How did you go about finding your current job? I was Director of Food composition laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC). At the same time I was going to school to earn my Ph.D. I received my degree and was checking around and found out (through one of my good friends) that this faculty position was available. I applied and SUAREC offered me a position as Associate Professor. I was hired as 60 % research and 40% extension. I have been enjoying this combination because after conducting research I share the information through journal articles, web site and presentations to people in a language that is not too scientific.
If you weren’t a Food Scientist, what would you be doing? I would have been a medical doctor
Who do you think is the most influential person in your field and why? One of my professors at the Department of Food Science at LSU, Dr. Joe Liuzzo. He was not only my professor but also he was like my father. He always pushed me to reach high, never give up, and was very proud of my accomplishments. When I decided to go back to school to get my Ph.D., I was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and was working full time at PBRC. There were a lot of times that I wanted to give up but I did not want to disappoint Dr. Liuzzo. Therefore, I did my best and worked very hard to get to where I am now in the area of food science.
When are you most inspired? After my extension presentations about food, nutrition and health, people come to me and tell me I saved their lives by the provided information that they did not know before. I feel if I can change one life I have accomplished a lot and that keeps me going and doing better in my job.
Why should I join one of IFT Divisions? IFT is an organization of thousands of members. If you do not find your specific area of interest (a division), IFT could get overwhelming. By joining a division you meet people that are in your specific areas and possibly have the same interests as you do. You start knowing the IFT organization closely and get more involved in volunteering for IFT. I have been a member of IFT for the past 23 years. I have served IFT in different capacities which has helped me in my career advancement.
The most valuable thing I, as a student, can do to further my research/career as soon as I finish reading this interview is: If you are planning to go to the Food Science and nutrition area, you need to get in touch with a university and go visit the department of food science. Ask questions and shadow one of the professors for a day and get hands on experience. Do not be shy and make your decision wisely.
What is your favorite food? Iranian foods!
Thank you, Fatemeh, for serving as the Education, Extension & Outreach Division Undergraduate Student Technical Writing Competition Chair!
Reach out to Fatemeh at firstname.lastname@example.org!