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Partnerships & Learning

Cultivating Connections

In the Department of Food Science and Technology, we blend our rich land grant heritage with modern innovation to serve our community through meaningful partnerships and Virginia Cooperative Extension learning opportunities.

Industry partnerships collage

Pathways to Partnership and Learning

We are committed to translating our research and expertise into practical applications that benefit the food industry, educators, and students alike. Ready to plug into the resources and faculty of the Department of Food Science and Technology? There are a number of ways to connect with us.

In the Department of Food Science and Technology, we believe in collaborative research as the most effective way to address complex challenges and create meaningful scientific advancements. Whether you represent industry, academia, or government, we welcome the opportunity to explore mutually beneficial collaborations. To learn more about our research areas, go to our Research page and contact a faculty member within that discipline.

We place a high value on experiential learning in our programs and it's collaboration with partners in our field that makes that possible. Guest lecture on a specific topic, speak to the Food Science Club about your industry experience, or invite students to a production facility to give them a hands-on look into a new area of food science. To inquire about educational partnership opportunities, contact the main office. 

As a member of Virginia Tech's Bridge Experience Program, we require all students to do some level of experiential learning, including internships and co-ops. This requirement and our relationship with numerous food companies and government institutions allows us to have a 100% job placement rate within six months of graduation. Companies that commonly recruit our students are Tyson Foods, E&J Gallo Winery, the Sabra Dipping Company, Hershey, the USDA, the FDA, and more. To set up a recruiting visit, contact the main office or Assistant Professor of Practice for Undergraduate Education Herbert Bruce. 

Our commitment to our land grant mission drives us to share the wealth of knowledge generated through our research for the greater good of our communities. Explore our extension page to find publications, online courses, published research, trainings, and more on an array of food science topics. 

Our programs are designed to prepare students for success in positions across the spectrum of food science fields, and as a result, our alumni serve as an important bridge between academia and the professional world. Whether you own your own business, occupy a leadership position in the FDA, are an academic researcher, or work for an international food company, your experiences and insight are invaluable to our students. Guest lecture in a specific class, offer students an opportunity to visit your company, or make a monetary gift. There are a variety of ways you can give back, and all of them serve to reinforce our students' education. To explore partnership opportunities for alumni, contact the front office. To make a monetary donation, go to our Giving page. 


Brett Driver working in the Food Safety Pilot Plant

Food Processing Safety

Process Validation

Dr. Monica Ponder and Brett Driver partnered with a large international food processor to ensure their processing and handling procedures can kill bacteria that may cause human illnesses. Dr. Ponder has expertise in thermal and non-thermal process validations for a variety of refrigerated and low water activity foods. 

Melissa Wright in the lab

Nutrition Facts Panels

for Ice Cream

The Food Producer Technical Assistance Network worked with a popular regional ice creamery to redo all of their products' nutrition label content to abide by local and federal food regulations. Network Director Melissa Wright worked with the company directly to conduct the required product testing. The Network offers a variety of regulatory, safety, and stability services for food producers. 

A sensory evaluation panel

Sensory Analysis

of Fresh Strawberries

The Sensory Evaluation Lab partnered with a global produce company to evaluate how consumers experience the taste, texture, appearance, and aroma of a new variety of strawberries intended to have a specific taste. Drs. Jacob Lahne and Katherine Phetxumphou put together a panel of trained volunteers to test various sensory aspects of the berries and then compiled what they learned into a flavor profile for the company to use prior to the product launch.

By the Numbers

The food processing industry in Virginia is one of the commonwealth’s largest manufacturing sectors, with 14% of Virginia’s total manufacturing employment.


Workers employed in Virginia’s food processing industry (2016)


Direct economic output produced by food processing workers


Invested in the commonwealth by food processing companies


New jobs brought to Virginia by the food processing industry

Source:  Virginia Economic Development Partnership

Virginia Tech's Department of Food Science and Technology has an integral role through its undergraduate and graduate programs, research and extension programs. The department also offers access to packaging and processing pilot plants, among other resources ranging from financial support to food safety regulatory assistance.

Notable Collaborators

DuPont Logo
Tyson Foods Logo
Sabra Logo
US Food & Drug Administration logo
Driscoll's Berries logo