How to Turn a Passion for Applied Food Science into a Career

Story by Melinda Law , on Jan 22, 2018 3:06 PM

A world without food science would mean empty shelves at your favorite grocery store. Food science has a hand in every food product we consume. Without it, food safety and nutrition would be a guessing game. For the first time, JWU Charlotte is combining creativity and the science of food.

In the fall of 2018, culinary students who are interested in chemistry and the science behind food can enroll in the new bachelor of science (BS) program in Applied Food Science.

This is a field that pays more and offers more opportunities for growth than a typical restaurant career. According to the US Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics (May 2016), the mean annual wage for food scientists and technologists was $71,270. This scarce breed of professional can offer the creativity of a chef with the disciplined mind of a scientist — a winning combination.

“We are training the next generation of leaders on the innovation + development part of food science.”

“Having a food scientist with a culinary background is very important,” Robert Lothrop, PhD, says. “They help meet the needs of the company. They know how to make products taste better. What you buy at the market will get even better with these types of degree programs. Our food choices will only get better.” 

Lothrop, who earned his doctorate in food science, created the degree program and says JWU will provide 9 courses unique to food science, including food chemistry, fermentation science and principles of food microbiology.

During the summer of 2018, two classrooms will be renovated and equipped as research labs; one will look just like a microbiology lab. Students will study the nature of foods, the principles underlying food processing, and the improvement of foods for the consuming public, among other topics.

Armed with this degree, JWU graduates can work in technical brewing, product testing, production management, and research and development — there are literally thousands of opportunities around the globe.

“We can do research in the labs, including shelf life testing, texture and color analysis, and food manufacturing. It’s endless. We expect that this program will impact enrollment and increase the conversion rate from culinary arts to the College of Hospitality Management,” notes Lothrop.

JWU Charlotte is the only campus offering this degree program. “It sets us apart. We are training the next generation of leaders on the innovation and development part of food science.”