Kristen Kurtz, a senior at the College of Saint Elizabeth, attended a ten week summer internship at Cornell University. Kristen is an double major completing her BS in General Studies in Foods and Nutrition and Chemistry.
At Cornell University, Kristen attended the Food Science Summer Scholar Program. There she conducted and completed an independent research project, Characterization of a Standard Set of Dairy Spoilage Organisms. The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) ,the largest non-profit international professional organization for the advancement of technology and food science, publicized the application process. Through the sponsorship of David Michael & Company, Kristen was able to finance her research.
Labs had previously determined which spoilage organisms were found in milk, but their characteristics remained unknown. The focus of Kristen’s research was to characterize these organisms by helping to determine if and how certain organisms break down milk, and at what temperatures these organisms grow best. Results revealed that “spoilage is due to the fat (lipolysis) and/or protein (proteolysis) breakdown of the milk by microbial enzymes. Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to a minimum of 72°C for at least 15 seconds to eradicate harmful bacteria and reduce the amount of spoilage organisms present, thereby increasing shelf life” (abstract of project). “The research was a lot of hard work but was definitely worth the time and effort,” stated Kristen.
Kristen knew attending would allow her to learn more about the field of food science from one of the top Food Science schools in the United States. She has always been interest-ed in Food Science, and this was an opportunity to expand her horizons. Kristen noted that “the program offered experiential learning through an academic research project and field trips related to Food Science.” In addition to conducting her research, Kristen also had the chance to perform research work on spoilage for the Milk Quality Improvement Program Laboratory. While at Cornell she traveled to a conference in Las Vegas, and visited Kraft and Pepsi Co to further her knowledge of food science.
Kristen stated, “The professors and staff of Cornell's Food Science Program taught us how best to prepare for graduate school and an occupation in the food science field. Workshops such as Ethics in Food Science, Applying for Graduate School, Product Development, and Learning from Research were valuable components of this pro-gram.