Newswise — CHICAGO – Today, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is proud to announce the 2017 Class of IFT Fellows, an elite recognition that honors professionals and scientists with extraordinary achievements within the science of food and technology community. This year, eight individuals have been named IFT Fellows for their contributions to IFT and to the field of the science of food.

 Since 1970, the IFT Fellow distinction has recognized individuals with exemplary accomplishments such as successfully introducing new food products, spearheading scholarly advancements, and improving the human condition through the science of food. IFT Fellows are nominated by their peers and evaluated on their professional, academic or regulatory influence. Nominees are required to hold IFT membership for at least 15 years and must receive a reference from a current IFT Fellow for consideration. The IFT Fellows Jury evaluates the credentials of each proposed new Fellow and votes annually. This year, just 0.3 percent of IFT members were eligible for nomination.

“On behalf of IFT, we want to extend our congratulations to each member named to the 2017 Class of IFT Fellows,” said IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean, FASAE, CAE. “IFT is committed to addressing the challenges around the science of food through collaboration and research, and IFT Fellows represent individuals who have made the largest contributions to this mission. This lifelong designation represents outstanding leadership in the science of food and we are proud to award the newest Fellows with this distinction.”

Recipients of this year’s IFT Fellows designation will be honored at the Fellows Recognition Forum and at the Awards Celebration at IFT17 on June 25, 2017 in Las Vegas.

The 2017 IFT Fellows include:

  • Rotimi Emmanuel Aluko, PhD, CFS, Professor, University of Manitoba, Canada
  • MaryAnne Drake, PhD, Professor, North Carolina State University
  • Bo Jiang, PhD, Professor, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China
  • Tara McHugh, PhD, Research Leaders, USDA, ARS, Western Regional Research Center, Albany, California
  • Claire Koelsch Sand, PhD, President, Packaging Technology & Research, Stillwater, Minnesota; Adjunct Professor, Michigan State University
  • Gordon Smith, PhD, Professor & Head, Kansas State University
  • Geoffrey Smithers, PhD, CFS, GWS Food Industry Consulting Services, Inc.
  • Beverly Tepper, PhD, Professor, Rutgers University, New Jersey

Rotimi Emmanuel Aluko, PhD, CFS Professor, University of Manitoba, Canada

As a full professor at the University of Manitoba, Rotimi Emmanuel Aluko continues to make exemplary contributions to food science and technology through his globally recognized research program in protein chemistry and especially bioactive peptides. Aluko uses statistical modeling in combination with in vitro and in vivo analytical methods to establish the relationships between peptide structure (especially amino acid sequence) and function. His work has enabled significant advances in the use of plant proteins as high-quality food ingredients. Likewise, his scientific innovations have made significant contributions in the production, refining, composition, and therapeutic utilization of food protein–derived bioactive peptides.

MaryAnne Drake, PhD Professor, North Carolina State University

MaryAnne is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Dept. of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences at North Carolina State University, where she has conducted research on the flavor and flavor chemistry of foods for more than 15 years. Her research is focused on understanding how processing steps influence flavor and consumer perception of foods. Drake has published more than 230 peer-reviewed manuscripts and given more than 300 invited industry presentations. She is the past president of the American Dairy Science Assoc. and the director of the Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center.

Bo Jiang, PhD Professor, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

Bo Jiang, a professor at Jiangnan University in China, is a distinguished researcher and prominent international scholar in the field of food science and technology. His career contributions to the profession include 30 years of innovative research and stellar leadership in the field of food enzymes for functional ingredients. He has successfully integrated the highly selective molecular construction of food grade enzymes and enzymology resulting in the industrialization of functional ingredients, including rare sugars, prebiotics, and bioactive amino acids. Jiang has played a pivotal role in transforming the global stature of Chinese food science higher education and helping establish the first-ever IFT Higher Education Review Board–approved food science undergraduate program in China.

Tara McHugh, PhD Research Leader, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Western Regional Research Center

Tara McHugh is an exemplary research leader for the Healthy Processed Foods Research Unit of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. She is an internationally recognized expert in innovative food processing, edible films, and nanoscience and a leader in high-impact technology transfer. Her cutting-edge science and that of her team have positively impacted the food industry and rural economies, adding value to specialty crops and coproducts, while creating jobs and improving human health. The novel food products she and her team have developed, including 100% fruit bars, edible fruit and vegetable films, and vitamin D–enhanced mushrooms, are increasing specialty crop consumption while benefiting human nutrition. 

Claire Koelsch Sand, PhD President, Packaging Technology and Research; Adjunct Professor, Michigan State University

Claire Sand is a dynamic industry leader and educator focused on decreasing food waste by connecting packaging, food engineering, and food science. Sand’s experience working simultaneously in industry and in academia grant her a unique perspective that has fueled food packaging research. Sand’s industry experience encompasses basic research, research and development, market research, and marketing. She integrates material science, active and intelligent packaging, ingredient innovations, and food processing strategies to launch new products, extend shelf life, and develop strategic technology platforms. In academia, Sand’s focus on critical thinking extends into her classrooms—physical and virtual.


Gordon Smith, PhD Professor & Department Head, Kansas State University

Gordon Smith currently leads a talented group of professors in the unique department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University. Prior to his transition to academia in 2015, Smith acquired more than 20 years of industry experience working for the Sara Lee Corp. and ConAgra Foods. Smith has been a leader at Kansas State in bridging the industry-academic gap through engaged research, teaching, and outreach. In the private sector, he has been recognized for business critical patents, consumer and business impact, product development, and innovation and leadership excellence. 

Geoffrey Smithers, PhD, CFS GWS Food Industry Consulting Services

Geoffrey Smithers is a recognized world leader in dairy and food processing and ingredients. He is a food scientist with vision, drive, and enthusiasm and adds an entrepreneurial flair to successfully translate his research outcomes into marketplace realities. Smithers’s innovations in food and dairy processing and ingredients have transformed and modernized the global food landscape. Notable contributions include his market-driven research into novel food ingredients and their applications, commercialization of this research, highlighted by new functional dairy ingredients, and development of novel food processing technologies, highlighted by clever adaptation of continuous chromatography for isolation of ingredients from food by-product streams.


Beverly Tepper, PhD Professor, Rutgers University

As an accomplished professor at Rutgers University, Beverly Tepper has made important and sustained contributions to the field of sensory science. Her cross-cutting work uses techniques in sensory science, taste genetics, psychology, and nutrition to better understand the role of taste in food choice, health, and wellness. Her innovative research linking taste genetics with eating behavior transformed the concept of personalized nutrition. She shows exemplary leadership in promoting the understanding of sensory science through her various roles as a researcher, educator, and mentor. She is deeply committed to professional service and educating the next generation of sensory professionals.

About IFT

Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government, and industry. For more information, please visit