It is the great honor of the scholarship committee to be able to announce the 2020 Student Scholarship recipients, made possible by the support of our NEIFT members, Corporate Sponsors and Expo participants.  We look forward to seeing each applicant's on-going success and appreciate all of your current contributions! 

Brianna Hughes, Ph.D.
Chair, NEIFT Scholarship Committee


Melvin Darack Award for the Outstanding Undergraduate Applicant 

Holly Leung, University of Maine

  • Holly is a senior at UMaine graduating this spring with her BS in Food Science and a minor in Innovation Engineering.  She has been accepted into the accelerated 4+2 Masters thesis program at UMaine, and she intends to begin a career in product development after completing her MS.  Holly was a USDA Summer Scholar as well as a recipient of the Virginia Dare Award.  Her undergraduate research focused on microbial analysis of hydroponic systems as well as assisting on research projects for seaweed, scallops, and lobster. Holly demonstrates exemplary leadership through her role as IFTSA North Atlantic Chair and President of the Food Science Club.

2020 Undergraduate Awardees

Ben Chont, Framingham State

  • Ben is a senior at Framingham State pursuing a BS in Applied Food Science with a minor in Nutrition.  Ben also has a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and has previously worked in a Michelin 3-star restaurant. Ben is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, has been on the Dean's and President's Lists, and participates in NEIFT and IFT networking opportunities.  He took advantage of a study abroad opportunity in South Africa where he learned about the economic, environmental, and societal factors affecting the wine industry and from that experience now plans to earn his Masters in Oenology and Viticulture.

Louisa Cook Bachman, University of Massachusetts

  • Louisa is a junior at UMass pursuing a BS in Food Science with a track in renewable energy.  Her undergraduate research has included anaerobic digestion as well as elution of norovirus from different foods. Louisa is very involved in the university and has significant leadership experience, including as an undergraduate TA, serving on the executive boards of the Food Science Club and Alpine Ski Team, and competing on the College Bowl Team all while maintaining Dean's List and Commonwealth Honors College standing.  

Christina Wormald, University of Massachusetts

  • Christina is a senior at UMass and in the fall will begin a research MS with a focus on Food Microbiology.  She is the VP of the Food Science Club and active in the IFT Food Microbiology Division.  Her undergraduate research focused on the effect of essential oils on norovirus and she will continue norovirus work for her MS thesis.  She is an intern at a microbrewery, and after graduate school, Christina intends to focus on food safety to promote health and wellness of consumers. 

Winnie Yu, University of Massachusetts

  • Winnie is working on her BS Food Science at UMass and has participated in research converting dietary supplements to food.  She has also been a research associate in the William Lee Science Impact program assessing antimicrobial and antioxidant effects of natural compounds. Her future plans are to work in R&D on functional foods and, as an avid gardener, to increase food security in low-income areas through urban agriculture.

Suppliers Award for the Outstanding Graduate Applicant

Hualu Zhou, University of Massachusetts

  • Hualu is a 3rd year PhD student at UMass with 6 publications under her authorship or co-authorship.  Hualu is involved in IFT and the IFT Food Toxicology and Safety Division.  Her doctoral research is on the effect of nanoparticles on the GI tract.  Hualu exemplifies leadership through her service as the Chair of the UMass Life Sciences Graduate Research Council, her role on the AOCS Student Common Interest Group, and College of Natural Science Teaching Fellow. Her career goals include post-doctoral research and a faculty position to focus on health and nutrition.

Robert Kluter Award for Volunteerism

Amadeus Ahnan, University of Massachusetts

  • Amadeus is a PhD candidate at UMass researching the anti-cancer effects of soy non-extractable polyphenols from tempeh fermentation. He is the founder of the non-profit Tempeh Movement and the co-founder of the start-up Better Nature, Ltd., which he plans to work at as CTO following his graduation. Amadeus exemplifies service to community and the industry on a global scale, leading multiple tempeh workshops in the US and internationally this past year, speaking globally on his research and its connection to colon cancer prevention, and engaging in many aspects of IFT and NEIFT.

2020 Graduate Awardees

Samuel Akomea-Frempong, University of Maine

  • Samuel is a PhD student at UMaine whose research is focused on post-harvest and value-added practices for seaweed.  He is involved in the IFT Aquatic Foods Division, IFTSA, International Student Association, Food Science Club, and is a Graduate Representative to the African Students Association. His post-graduate career goals are focused on developing a safe food supply through development of nutrient-dense new products or line extensions.

Jorge Muriel Mundo, University of Massachusetts

  • Jorge is a PhD student at UMass researching food biopolymers with food emulsion protection potention.  He is also a National Science Foundation fellow and has been recently accepted into the Soft Materials for Life Sciences National Research Traineeship.  He is active in IFT and NEIFT, and his future career goals include joining academia in Puerto Rico to teach and train future students. 

Cassie Suther, University of Massachusetts

  • Cassie is a PhD candidate at UMass focusing on Microbiome and Allergic Disease. Cassie splits her research time between UMass and the UConn Health Center.  She is involved in College Bowl as well as being a Soft Materials for Life Sciences National Research Traineeship Fellow. Her future career goals include to continue studying nutritional genetics while advancing novel food products that benefit human health.