Using food science as the vehicle to carry him to food celebrity status wasn’t always Allen’s plan. As a freshman at the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences in 1995, Allen resented being associated with what had become known as “the farm school.â€ But getting a grassroots, science-driven education in high school broadened his perspective. It taught him about the chemical processes that are naturally a part of cooking, baking, and fermenting, and encouraged him to pursue a bachelor’s in the field. While attending the University of Illinois, Judson teamed up with a classmate and developed a lactose-free, soy-based gourmet chocolate. They conducted a sensory analysis panel and even placed second in a national product development competition sponsored by Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, or MANRRS.
“Food science allowed me to understand food from a scientific perspective,â€ says Allen, who hopes to see his name and face on grocery store shelves one day. “With that knowledge you can play around with food, and the possibilities are endless.â€
Working in a project manager-business analyst capacity in the Vegetable Global Production area at agricultural product provider Monsanto, Markesha Jones is responsible for reviewing and providing key performance indicators for vegetables using current and historical forecast data, planning tools, and production figures and capacities. She spends about 15% of her time traveling to Monsanto’s production sites, which include greenhouses, production fields, and production plants. She has also traveled to production areas in Chile, France, and other places, primarily to conduct business analyses to review and improve Monsanto’s global production processes that are being conducted in these locales.
Jones’s father used skills he learned as an agronomist in his work in the U.S. Army. Growing up as the daughter of an Army service member, Jones saw agricultural practices in various parts of the world. “My father influenced my sister and me by saying that people are always going to need food, water, clothing, and shelter, which are vital for life,â€ says Jones. Her interest in agriculture may come naturally: Her family owned tobacco farms in Virginia; they sold winter wheat, soybeans, corn, and hay, and raised some livestock for market; they also owned a forestry business in Georgia.
(Continued on next page)