Intrigued by the science, health focus and ability to make a difference, Alisa Holst determined her major in food science and technology before she even stepped foot on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus.
“I’ve always really liked learning about science and chemistry, and I’ve also always been very health conscious,” Holst said. “There are all kinds of science in food science and my loves for nutrition and chemistry go together really nicely.”
Once on campus, the junior from Orion, Illinois, dove headfirst into learning as much as she could, and now holds multiple on-campus leadership positions and has secured internships with name-brand companies. Through her involvement, she’s preparing for her future as a food scientist, where she’ll embody one of the department’s mottos, “Impacting the world three times a day.”
This summer, Holst will be working as a product development intern in North Carolina with Campbell’s Snacks, the entity responsible for favorites like Goldfish and Snyder’s Pretzels.
Last summer, Holst was a quality assurance intern at Jackson Dairy in Hutchinson, Kan., a dairy plant owned by Kroger.
“In that internship, I was working in the lab right next to the production floor and ensuring that all the milk products that were produced were of the right quality and were produced safely,” Holst said. “Working at a dairy plant in quality assurance was a good experience applying technical food safety rules.”
Holst has also gained experience in other aspects of food processing as a student worker at the Food Processing Center on Innovation Campus: at the dairy plant, the pilot plant and the product development lab.
“The best part is seeing how food science is applied in the real world,” she said. “It’s interesting to make the ice cream and see all of the ingredients that go into it and how things are done in a specific order. Working in the product development lab, we do a lot of reverse engineering when a client has a product, but they want to make it with other ingredients while keeping the appearance and/or the taste of the product the same. So those experiences where I get to see how science is applied to food in real situations are really cool.”
Outside of the lab, Holst is busy recruiting new students and enriching the experiences of current students as a food science and technology department undergraduate student ambassador and president of the food science club. The food science club, a student chapter of the Institute of Food Technology, holds monthly meetings, brings in industry speakers and provides networking opportunities.
As an ambassador for the department, Holst channels her passion for food science and the department into recruiting opportunities for high school students and other undergraduates.
“I really think our department is something very special,” she said. “It provides unique opportunities to students, and I want to share that and my knowledge of our department and my passion for it, but also just teach people about food science.”
After graduation, Holst hopes to continue working in product development, where she’ll take raw materials and turn them into foods you find at the grocery store impacting the world three times a day. For now, she’s focused on making the most of her internship and continuing to spread the word about the food science and technology department.
“I love the opportunities that the department gives to its students,” Holst said. “I’m involved in so many things within, and the department makes it really easy to get involved in those things if you want to. I think that’s something unique, especially compared to other departments or other food science departments at other universities. We just have lots of opportunities available, so students can further develop themselves professionally or academically, and even personally.”