Kendall Howie ’19 comes from a family that likes to call them ‘professional students’ and knew from an early age that pursuing an advanced degree was likely to be his life’s path. .
Like many students in high school, the Dallas native toured many colleges trying to find one that was right for him. After several schools where tours and visits were routine and rehearsals, Howie enrolled at Texas A&M University.
“I didn’t have the same conversations that I had on other visits, but I felt like the people I met really cared about my future success,” Howie said. “At the end of the day, Texas A&M was the only college that made me feel more than just the numbers and names on the admissions list.”
Working full-time in the aerospace industry and striving to complete her PhD in December, those in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences continue to make a difference for her.
Why did you choose food science and technology?
When I first came to college, I was pursuing a degree in microbiology, but my interest in the field quickly faded. Late in my freshman year, I found myself struggling to find a passion for a subject that had once been so strong.
So I started enrolling in some life science electives. One of which he happened to be an introduction to food science. My interest quickly grew, and this was reinforced when I learned that shifting my focus to food microbiology and safety would allow me to pursue and possibly revive my passion for microbiology.
Did your upbringing influence your decision to pursue a career in food science?
I was raised by some people I would call professional students, including my grandfather with a PhD in chemistry, my aunt with a PhD in toxicology, and my father with a PhD in law. I was also lucky to grow up with a mother who is a designer, artist and creator.
My upbringing has contributed to the development of traits that have led me not only to pursue a degree in food science and technology, or an advanced degree in the same field, but also to balance my research. This means a balance between being analytical and being creative. Be orderly but flexible. Pursue my goals purposefully and fiercely. I also give myself time to dream and find creative outlets.
What is your favorite food science and technology class?
Preventive Control of Human Food, Lectured by Dr. Gary Acuff, Professor Emeritus and Texas A&M AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow.
This class focuses on the procedures involved in performing an analysis of hazards that may exist within food manufacturing facilities and production lines, using real-world applications, and how these identified hazards can be mitigated. I guessed In my career, I find myself using this knowledge every day. The course also enabled students to earn the Preventive Controls Certified Individual Qualification. This has made me stand out within the industry.
What do you plan to do after graduation?
I am currently working as a food scientist at Axiom Space, a privately funded space infrastructure development company. After graduation, he plans to continue his career in the aerospace industry. My current role is incredibly rewarding and I look forward to expanding it even further.
I had the opportunity to lead an effort to provide in-flight catering services to civilian astronaut missions and help advance progress towards sustainable deep space exploration.My dream job is to make every day different. I have always said that it is something that can make a meaningful impact on our world and that it is unique compared to other roles in the food science industry. It almost accurately represents your dream job.
What about completing a PhD while working full-time?
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in December 2019 and immediately completed my PhD in January 2020. In June 2022 he joined Axiom as a consultant and was offered a full-time position three months later. Their headquarters are in Houston and I live in Dallas. I will travel to College Station as needed for presentations and research activities, but will work remotely from home when possible.
It is very difficult to work full-time and earn an advanced degree at the same time. I recently completed my preliminary exams and my biggest struggle has been finding a balance between study and work hours. Unfortunately, this meant I had to sacrifice weekends for a few months, and not be able to support the typical “study months” that other PhD students often do. It meant I couldn’t.
But the challenge also comes with great excitement. Being a “space food scientist” is exciting in itself, but having the opportunity to grow as a scholar and as a professional at the same time is one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done to him. .
Working while attending school gave me the opportunity to apply the knowledge I gained for my degree in a dynamic environment. I was also able to use the confidence and experience I gained as a result of this environment in my studies.
What is your research focus?
My graduate research focuses on fully cooked meals and how they respond to electron beams, eBeams and treatments.
The purpose of this study is to understand how exposure of diets to eBeam ionizing energy affects shelf life and long-term quality, and to precisely identify the upper dose limit to which diets are exposed. This will facilitate the development of shelf-stable meals for use by airlines and the commercial space travel catering industry.
The scope of this study is applicable to disaster rations, hospital meals, and meal delivery kits. It also functions to address the high level of food waste that occurs within these industries due to the relatively short shelf life of these foods.
How do you think your time as a food science and technology student shaped your career path?
My time as a student has almost completely shaped my career path, especially considering my research focus and time spent working at the National Electron Beam Research Center (NCEBR), a world leader in electron beam technology. Did.
Working at NCEBR, my current employer was interested in space food, so I was able to make my first connections. And the knowledge I gained in pursuing my dissertation enabled me to succeed in the role offered for this connection.
Do you have a fondest memory from your time as a food science student?
I will always miss my last semester as an undergraduate. Luckily, the course load was not heavy and as a result he was able to spend most of his time in two food science and technology laboratories.
In the summer of 2019, I worked at the Grain Quality Institute, managed by Professor and Head of Department Dr. Joseph Awika, and had my first experience with laboratory research. This experience sparked my interest in research and prompted me to look for another opportunity in the Fall 2019 semester.
There I was first connected to Dr. Suresh Pillai, Chair, Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department, where I was able to pursue my love of food microbiology in a hands-on way in his laboratory. Overall, this time was not only incredibly enjoyable, but it helped my decision to get my graduate degree and do my own research.
What are the characteristics of the Department of Food Science and Technology?
people. During my time here, I have been blessed with some wonderful mentors. I was lucky enough to connect with her teaching assistant, Dr. Rebecca Creasy, during my first semester as a food science and technology student in 2016. she was my instructor. Since then she has guided me in both my personal and academic struggles.
In the spring of 2018, I met Professor Steve Talcott when I took his Food Chemistry course.
Finally, there are no words to describe exactly how my chairman, Dr. Pillai, has helped me succeed as a graduate student and as a professional. It’s really special that he has three faculty instead of one.
Virtually every faculty member within the department has had a significant impact on me at some point, either as a student, as a researcher, or as an individual. Only at Texas A&M can you easily find a friendly mentor who is completely dedicated to your student’s success. That’s why I think the Department of Food Engineering is a really special department.