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Spring 2004 - Food science

Destination Purdue > Spring 2004 - Food science

Food science professor tantalizes students' tastebuds

By Lauren Guy

Kirby Hayes is a Purdue University assistant professor of food science whose love for food science is evident after spending just a few moments with him.

Students and Hayes

Photo by Lauren Guy

Students in Kirby Hayes' food science class learn how to make bologna. Hayes (background) and John Forrest help Tracy Szefe as Nasser Ligutam looks on.

This professor teaches something he loves in several classes that introduce students to the multiple facets of food science. However, despite Hayes' current enthusiasm for food science, food is not where he began. Hayes chose food science as a profession when he transferred from Vincennes University to Purdue as an undergraduate student. Hayes received his associate degree in pharmacy from Vincennes and intended on transferring into Purdue's School of Pharmacy – until he spoke to someone in food science and was instantly hooked.

Hayes was intrigued with the profession of food science, which combines the "hard sciences" like microbiology and chemistry with food and problem solving. Food science applies sciences, such as microbiology and biochemistry, to discover ways to improve the taste, nutrition and value of the world's food supply. "I like the directy application of science to a probelm," Hayes said.

Hayes enjoys motivating students, but the ability to motivate students to learn is much more imporant to Hayes than turning every student that walks to his laboratory into a food scientist.

Hayes admits that it does require some creativity to inspire students who have no interest in thef ield to get excited about food science. So Hayes captures his student's attention with hands-on experiments that allow them to see what food science is all about.

Hayes' students enjoy doing classwork while enhancing talents that will help them in the real world, such as creativity and forethought. Students like Katie Heinzman, a freshman in food science, learned that screw ups can make good food products. She and group members created a new baked cracker puff snack while experimenting with the best way to make conventional crackers. Heinzman and her FS 491: "Introduction to Food Processing" classmates made a variety of products including crackers, bologna, cottage cheese and apple juice.

Hayes wants students to realize that a food science degree can lead to awesome and unlimited job opportunities that are available because of the program's combination of problem-solving science and food.