(This article was re-published from the IFT Phi Tau Sigma April 2012 Newsletter)
Ms. Emily Steinberg, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences at Clemson University was selected to receive Phi Tau Sigma Student Achievement Award. Since 2009, Ms. Steinberg has been working on her Ph.D. in Food Technology with a focus on comparing the production, consumption and compositional differences between organic and conventional produce. Her research is unique because few studies have made direct comparisons of organic and conventional produce and none of the existing work has been conducted on varieties indigenous to the Southeastern portion of the U.S. In addition, Ms. Steinberg’s graduate project fills critical knowledge gaps because of increased consumption of fresh produce and organically produced foods and because of the expansion of organic farming in the Southeast (SE). In the U.S. and specifically in S.C., nearly all of the farms are classified as small family farms (< 99 acres; USDA, 2009). To remain competitive with larger farms, many of the small farms have targeted specialty products such as organic produce because it provides higher economic returns from lower farming-inputs. U.S. produce farmers, consumers/general public, scientists, students, industry publication editors, regulatory agencies (FDA, USDA-AMS) and other agricultural industries will benefit from Emily’s graduate research project.
Ms. Steinberg is an worthy of this award because she has excelled at all three of the traditional university emphasis areas: Research, Teaching and Extension. Her graduate work has involved technology transfer of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and food safety strategies directly to end-users – farmers and consumers. Through three hands-on Extension workshops, Ms. Steinberg has provided information to nearly 100 farmers on on-farm food safety, basic microbiology, irrigation water microbiology, basic water chemistry and self-auditing practices. This training has been critical as produce farmers are now required to become GAPs certified (FDA’s Federal Food Safety Modernization Act- 2010). GAPscertification is expensive, time-consuming and difficult for small farm that do not have the same resources as the larger operations but it will ensure that they remain competitive with larger operations. Ms. Steinberg has not only excelled at non-traditional Extension teaching, but she is also one of the most sought-after teaching assistants (TA) within the department. She has consistently received the highest undergraduate student scores for positive interaction with undergraduate students and they actually change sections to have her as their Teaching Assistant.
On her own initiative, Ms. Steinberg established the Phi Tau Sigma Chapter at Clemson University, in the Spring of 2011, and serves as the first president of this Chapter. This involved contacting the national Phi Tau Sigma leadership, preparing the Chapter By-Laws, identifying individuals to be nominated for membership and forwarding their nominations to the Membership Qualifications Committee, all culminating in obtaining a Charter from the national Phi Tau Sigma leadership for establishment of the Chapter at Clemson University. The response by undergraduates and graduate students in the program has been excellent.
It is for all the reasons mentioned above that the Clemson University Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences supports and nominated Ms. Emily Steinberg for the Phi Tau Sigma Student Award.