NCFIL Intern Spotlight: Chloe Brubaker
January 12, 2022
Chloe Brubaker has been interning full time with the NC Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL) this fall semester as part of her desire to learn more about the food science industry. Currently a senior at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, she’s majoring in nutrition science with minors in Chemistry and Biology. While BGSU does not offer a food science program, her internship experience has solidified her passion for the field, and Chloe hopes to return to NCFIL after she graduates in April 2022.
I’ve Always Loved Science
Chloe’s passion for science started in high school when she thought she wanted to be a sports dietician: “I thought it was so cool how nutrition can affect athletic performance and health overall.” But very soon after starting her college career, she switched her major to nutrition science. “I wanted to be in a field where I could have more impact,” she adds.
With her background in nutrition, Chloe has been working on nutrition-oriented projects for NCFIL clients. She spends most of her time with product development in the test kitchen, specifically creating beverages, baked goods, and snack foods. One project is targeted for a specific age group with unique nutritional needs, and another is developing a keto product.
She’s also been in the lab working on an ingredient improvement project, which is more chemistry based. Chloe says it’s been “mindblowing” working with some of NCFIL’s devices from the lab for the first time. Her favorites include the rapid protein analyzer, which can measure a food’s protein content in under five minutes compared to the traditional method that takes over an hour, and the Vol Scan, which uses lasers to measure a food item and generate a 3D image that “looks like something from the Jetsons.”
Chloe comments, “The things in the lab are so precise, and that’s really impressive.”
A Win-Win Situation
Bill Aimutis, Executive Director, acknowledged Chloe’s passion for nutrition and immediately put her on projects that would allow her to use her expertise. “We really appreciate the knowledge, creativity and laboratory skills interns bring to NCFIL,” says Aimutis. “Chloe, and other interns we have had the past two years, bring unique perspectives that are fresh and innovative. Our ‘veteran’ team loves mentoring young people and seeing what they can do for our customers. I am a firm believer that internships should be part of all academic programs, so students can get a feel for the real world.”
Chloe appreciated the ability to activate her existing knowledge: “Applying my nutrition knowledge to the products that I’m developing has been really a cool experience. It’s been nice that NCFIL has recognized my own background and how that’s unique in how we can use it to benefit both of us,” she says.
Her goal coming into the internship was to see a project through from start to fruition, and she has accomplished that with more than one project. A bonus was the level of autonomy she was given when working on her projects. She’s gained a tremendous amount of the technical knowledge she needs since she didn’t have much food science exposure prior to this internship, but she’s also realized what she still needs to learn.
Chloe’s experience has been overwhelmingly positive. She says, “My favorite part is how closely I am working with entrepreneurs and even large companies. I’ve gotten a big taste of what I will experience in the industry.”
Chloe’s future goals are to work full-time at NCFIL and earn a Master’s degree in Food Science. As far as long-term career aspirations, she plans to work in research and development: “I really love the R&D space, and I love the variety of projects that I’ve been able to work with.”
NCFIL Internship Fund
While NCFIL is not a teaching facility, opportunities exist for undergraduate and graduate level students to participate in internships during the academic year and summer. As Chloe’s experience demonstrates, an NCFIL internship allows students to gain valuable knowledge and skills to help them become adept employees or entrepreneurs upon graduation.
A gift of $12,000 per year supports one intern. For more information, contact Celeste Brogdon, Director of Development, NCFIL, at email@example.com.