The Oklahoma State University Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Centered honored two graduate students with the Stanley E. Gilliland Memorial Fellowship in Food Science, providing $1,000 toward each recipient’s education efforts.
Caitlin Karolenko and Conner McDaniel, food science Ph.D. students, were notified as recipients of the prestigious award during a Zoom session in April and were publicly recognized during a live video premiere on OStateTV and FAPC’s Facebook page June 24, which was Gilliland’s birthday.
William McGlynn, FAPC horticultural products processing specialist and food science graduate program coordinator, said there is no doubt Gilliland would be both delighted and proud to see his legacy being honored and carried on in the form of these two fellowship recipients.
“Those of us who were lucky enough to know Stan Gilliland remember him as a man who believed in the value and power of scientific inquiry,” McGlynn said. “He was instrumental in helping to establish and grow the food science program here at Oklahoma State University, and he instilled and demanded intellectual rigor and excellence from those with whom he worked.”
Gilliland was a 1962 graduate of OSU. He joined the OSU Department of Animal Science in 1976 and served as the interim director of FAPC, a part of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, during the construction of the center. During his 34-year career, he impacted the lives of hundreds of OSU students and served as an adviser to 65 master’s and doctoral students and served on numerous candidate committees.
To continue to make an impact, Gilliland’s family supported the creation of the Stanley E. Gilliland Memorial Fellowship in Food Science to provide scholarships for students in food science.
“Dr. Gilliland was an accomplished and well-respected food microbiologist, as well as a leader at FAPC, so as a future food microbiologist, it is an honor to be awarded this fellowship in his name,” Karolenko said.
Karolenko, a native of Forest Hill, Maryland, plans to graduate with her doctorate in spring 2022 with a specialization in food microbiology. Her research focuses on biltong, a South African beef jerky that is manufactured with low heat and low humidity. Karolenko is validating and investigating different manufacturing processes to achieve a 5-log reduction of salmonella as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to attain a microbial safe product for consumers.
Following graduation, Karolenko plans to pursue a career in industry, specifically food safety.
Peter Muriana, FAPC food microbiologist and Karolenko’s adviser, said Karolenko is one of the best students he has ever had.
“From the first day, she had the go get’em attitude, which is just infectious,” Muriana said. “The other students look up to her, and she commandeers and recruits them to do tasks, like the chemical inventory, which is not an enjoyable task to do in the lab. Why is she also deserving? Well, she has a 4.0 GPA; that kind of helps. It’s those types of things that makes her deserving of this award.”
McDaniel, a native of Ardmore, Oklahoma, will graduate with her doctorate degree in 2021 with a specialization in food safety. Her research focuses on working with different types of antimicrobials to reduce pathogens from fresh produce.
“I feel so honored to be selected for this fellowship; it’s a great accomplishment, and I’m very proud of it,” McDaniel said. “It feels great knowing a group of people here at FAPC chose me for the scholarship.”
McDaniel currently is keeping her options open following graduation and plans to either pursue a career in the food industry or become a professor at an academic institution.
Ravi Jadeja, FAPC food safety specialist and McDaniel’s adviser, said McDaniel is a critical part of his research and extension group and takes on the responsibility of working independently with the local food industry by providing food safety assistance.
“Conner is one of the most hardworking students I have ever had the opportunity to work with, and I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving of this prestigious award than Conner,” he said. “I have no doubt Conner has a very bright future.”
The OSU Graduate Food Science Program is a multi-faceted discipline focused on providing safe, nutritious, high-quality foods to the people of the world. Food science combines elements of business, biochemistry, chemistry, economics, engineering, microbiology and physiology within its scope. The interdisciplinary OSU food science graduate program gives students the opportunity to earn both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in food science.
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