Why did you choose the Food Science Program at Texas A&M?
The food science program at Texas A&M is recognized as one of the topmost in the country. Being a core agricultural institution, food science directly plays into the strengths that A&M has to offer. Firstly, the course curriculum offered spanned over a wide range of subjects such as food chemistry, microbiology, engineering to other specialized subjects such as nanotechnology, sensory, food carbohydrates, product development, molecular biology, statistics or even management subjects. Most importantly, the diverse yet detailed on going faculty research was an instant attraction, especially in relation to food components, chemistry, processing and health which I was very much interested in. I was also excited to see the wide breadth of research across other areas such as product development, sensory, nutrition and food safety and interdisciplinary research facilities with departments such as agronomy, breeding, horticulture, engineering which could offer several endless opportunities of learning and development, making it one of the most lucrative Food Science programs for students.
What is the subject of your dissertation research?
My dissertation research subject focuses on the interactive effects of cereal and pulse flavonoids on their bioavailability. Cereal grains and grain pulses are staple foods around the world, contributing a major proportion of human caloric intake. Their combination provides complementary amino acids that helps overcome protein deficiency. Interestingly cereals and pulses also contain structurally different classes of flavonoids, with previous studies indicating synergistic interaction in downregulation of inflammation. Understanding the mechanisms of such interactions is important as this could help design strategic combinations of cereals and pulses that provide optimal health benefits. Thus, my research delves into understanding the structural profile of different cereal and pulses and their bioavailability and metabolism in combination which is an important determinant of potential beneficial bioactivity.
Why would you recommend the Department of Nutrition and Food Science and how has it prepared you for your future career?
The department actively works towards the academic and professional success of each and every student. Every faculty and staff member are extremely approachable and willing to provide valuable mentorship and guidance whenever needed. My major professor Dr. Joseph Awika and my PhD advisory committee have been instrumental in providing me the skill set and knowledge to help me grow personally and professionally.
The departmental food science club meetings are a great place to stay in touch with fellow colleagues and be a part of the bigger family! I was extremely fortunate to be part of the club’s leadership team which helped me develop great interpersonal skills while obtaining valuable leadership experience. The club also facilitates connecting with larger professional organizations such as Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) which is important to further enhance networking opportunities and remain informed about latest food science trends in industry as well as academia.
The department is genuinely interested in holistic development of students and their learning beyond the books. There are internally organized symposiums and seminars to ignite our interest and make us think about the future of food science research. The department encourages students to attend conferences and competitions by providing financial support whenever necessary. This has not only helped me grow academically but also inculcated confidence in presenting my research to a larger audience.
One of the greatest strengths of Texas A & M is its reputation of being one of the leading research institutes in the country which opens the door for students to get excellent internship and other work opportunities. I say this from personal experience since I was able to secure a 6-months internship at Kellogg Company which has been an unparalleled experience in my professional growth.
Thus, the varied exposure and support I have obtained from the department has helped me grow into a well-rounded food scientist and researcher, both academically and professionally. My experience at Texas A & M has prepared me well for a future in Food Science R&D. Moreover, the friends I have made here and the relations I have built over the years have improved me as a person overall. Thus, I would definitely recommend the Department of Nutrition and Food Science.