Interview Series: Women in Food Science

Sowing seeds for more abundant rice crops

Sowing seeds for more abundant rice crops

Genetic engineering and ecologically responsible growing practices needn’t be strange bedfellows, says plant geneticist Pamela Ronald.

Stretching the food safety net

Consumer activist Caroline Smith DeWaal mixes science, politics and advocacy to find foodborne illness solutions.

A universe of longer shelf life for foods

NASA’s Michele Perchonok oversees food science research designed to boost shelf stability to infinity and beyond.

The brave new world of meat alternatives

Biotechnologist Isha Datar envisions menus and meat cases stocked with tasty lab-made options.

Interview Series: Women in Food Science

Women in science is the focus of the latest round of interviews from FutureFood 2050, a new initiative supported by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) that addresses how to feed the world’s expected population of 9 billion by 2050.

Each woman profiled offers a unique approach to feeding the world sustainably, from female-driven agriculture in Africa to vegetables grown in space. These five women are at the forefront of some of today’s most complex and controversial scientific issues including genetic engineering and lab-grown meat. In addition to highlighting their work, these interviews explore the influence of gender in food and science.

“Finding solutions to feeding the world’s growing population requires creativity, collaboration and diversity, and women are increasingly leading that charge,” said Pamela Ronald, world-renowned plant geneticist and University of California at Davis professor who is included in FutureFood 2050’s latest round of interviews. “I think science is more interesting, exciting and fun when women are involved.”

The second round of interviews is available on, an expansion of IFT’s publishing platform. Included are the following:

  • Michele Perchonok: From food with a five-year shelf life to vegetables in space, this ambitious researcher is bringing food science to NASA astronauts.
  • Isha Datar: 26-year-old nonprofit executive director and meat alternative visionary moving consumers, scientists and food companies toward the supermarket of the future—aisles of lab-made meat and eco-friendly protein solutions.
  • Pam Ronald: Pioneer in engineered crops for the developing world who explains why genetic engineering and organic farming are fighting the exact same battle to feed 9+ billion people by 2050.
  • Marie Wright: Chief flavor guru at one of the world’s leading flavor companies who is finding the right balance in both food formulations and food industry gender relations.
  • Caroline Smith DeWaal: Food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on why it’s important to work with everyone from parents to politicians when it comes to eliminating food contamination.