IFTSA Leadership Nominations

The nomination period for the 2020–2021 year closed on January 31, 2020. If you are interested in applying for a position in the future, review position descriptions and Q&A below.

For full position descriptions, review the IFTSA Governance Documents (IFTSA Bylaws and Operations Manual).


IFTSA Leadership Nominations (2020–2021)

The IFTSA Nominating Committee is pleased to announce the slate of candidates identified for the IFTSA 2020–2021 President-elect and the IFTSA Board of Directors.

Our 10 talented candidates offer a diverse volunteer and educational background, passion for the science of food profession, and an unwavering commitment to each of you.

Candidate for IFTSA President-Elect

  • Michael Diehl, Texas A&M University

Candidates for the IFTSA Board of Directors

  • VP of Chapter Engagement
    Viral Shukla, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  • VP of Competitions
    Julia Schmidt, Purdue University
  • VP of Digital and Social Media
    Cierra Castillo, Texas A&M University
  • VP of Membership Engagement
    Zaquavis Willis, Alabama A&M University
  • VP of Volunteer Development
    Cameron Wicks, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Members-at-Large
    Morgan Kandrac, Rutgers University
    Rachel Mawn, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    Maria (Laura) Rolon, The Pennsylvania State University
    Emily Steen, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The nomination process is outlined in the IFT Student Association Bylaws. Candidates submitting their applications by January 31, 2020 were vetted by the Nominating Committee over the last two weeks. This email serves as the official notification of the slate. Review each candidate’s profile below.

Voting members now have 15 days to submit additional nominations to the Nominating Committee. Such nominations must be supported by a written petition signed by at least 2 percent, or 48 students, of IFTSA’s eligible voting members. Of those members, not more than 33 percent, or 16 students, may be identified with any one university. Petitions should be submitted to Nominating Committee Chair Elizabeth Clark (iftsa@ift.org). Petitions must be received by 11:59 p.m. (CT) on March 15, 2020.

If there are no additional nominations, the IFTSA Board of Directors shall elect the above slate on behalf of the membership, with terms beginning September 1, 2020.

Please forward any questions about the slate, petition process, or the online election to Amy Clarke Sievers (aclarkesievers@ift.org), staff liaison to IFTSA.


IFTSA Leadership Candidate Profiles


IFTSA President-Elect

Michael Diehl is a senior food science and technology major at Texas A&M University. He is currently serving as the IFTSA Vice President of Membership Engagement. He has had internships at Kellogg’s and the Spoezl Brewery. He loves long walks on the beach and baking cookies. He drinks his coffee black to save precious calories.


VP of Chapter Engagement

A student, researcher, and food scientist. Viral Shukla received his bachelors in food science and technology from Cal Poly Pomona. He has served at his local IFTSA and ΦΤΣ chapters in roles from peer mentor to President and as the Chair of the Pacific Southwest Area and Chapter of Year Competition of IFTSA. As part of the Board of Directors, he hopes to connect students with new opportunities, develop meaningful programming, and support students as they transition into their careers.


VP of Competitions

Julia Schmidt is a junior studying food science at Purdue University. She is especially passionate about food chemistry and nutrition, as well as the impact of food science on public health and education. She plans to continue to graduate school before pursuing a career in product development. She enjoys baking and painting in her spare time, and hopes to write and illustrate a cookbook as soon as she has her own kitchen.


VP of Digital and Social Media

Ciera Castillo is a graduate student working on her master’s degree in animal science with a concentration in meat science and sensory science at Texas A&M University. She graduated in May 2019 with her bachelor’s in food science and technology from Texas A&M University. She has had numerous internships in the industry and held numerous leadership positions throughout her time at Texas A&M. Upon graduation, her goal is to work in product development in the snack food or beverage industry. Her dream is to one day run a successful food blog.


VP of Membership Engagement

Hailing from Manchester, GA, Zaquavis Willis is a budding food scientist, currently pursuing a BS degree in food science. With research experiences in the areas of nutritional biochemistry, product development, and meat science, Zaquavis has co-authored two peer-reviewed publications. Zaquavis has a true passion for the field and for spreading the word about food science to everyone around him. Having experiences with IFT at the local, regional and national levels, Zaquavis has a heart for leadership and for IFT and wishes to continue enhancing his leadership skills.


VP of Volunteer Development

Cameron Wicks is pursuing a PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researching ice cream microstructure. She began participating in IFT through College Bowl at Purdue University. Cameron is from Dallas, Texas and enjoys using her food science knowledge to fuel her love of baking.



Morgan Kandrac is currently a PhD student in the graduate food science program at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on studying lipid oxidation mechanisms. She has had the opportunity to develop leadership skills through participation in the Rutgers Predoctoral Leadership Development Academy as a fellow. Morgan is also active in the Rutgers Food Science department and IFTSA; serving as treasurer of the Food Science Graduate Student Association and Captain of the Rutgers College Bowl Team. After finishing her PhD, Morgan plans to work in the food industry as a research and development scientist as well as return to academia to teach and build stronger relationships between industry and academia.

Rachel Mawn is a third-year undergraduate student at Virginia Tech, pursing a double major (biology, food science and technology). She is interested in complexity of the human gut microbiome as well as the field mycology and the extraordinary capabilities of fungi. Rachel is currently the chapter president of Virginia Tech’s Food Science Club, where student members are in the process of creating and marketing a hot sauce as a skills development activity and fundraiser. Rachel is also an active student athlete. As a member of the Clay Target Team, she enjoys spending her time competing across the eastern United States.

Laura Rolon received her BS in food science and technology in 2011 from University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and obtained her MS in food science in 2016 from Penn State. Her thesis work focused on the physical properties and consumer acceptability of reduced-fat vanilla ice cream. She has worked in her home country for the National Dairy Research Institute for seven years as a product developer, creating new dairy products for the Argentinian dairy industry, including whey-based beverages, lactose-free cheeses and reduced fat ice cream formulations. She held a faculty position at the Technological University in Uruguay, where she taught courses related to dairy processing. Laura is currently a PhD student at Penn State pursuing a dual-degree in Food Science and International Agriculture and Development. Her work involves the study of microbial ecology of food processing facilities using microbiome analyses and the application of biological methods to improve food safety within these environments.

Emily Steen is from Worcester, MA. A junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Emily is studying food science and technology while pursuing a certificate in public policy. She contributes to the UMass Food Science Club as the logistics coordinator; responsible for orchestrating events and fundraisers. Additionally, Emily is a member of the Commonwealth Honors College, Brown Paper Studio, and intramural soccer team.


IFTSA Volunteer Leadership Roles


IFTSA President-Elect

Student members serving in this role make a three-year commitment to lead IFTSA through the Office of the President in the roles of President-Elect, IFTSA President, and Past President, as well as serve on the IFT Board of Directors. Additionally, the IFTSA Past President serves as an ex-officio member of the Feeding Tomorrow Board of Trustees.

IFTSA Board of Directors

The IFTSA Board of Directors works to create and execute all IFTSA programming each year. Serving one-year terms, these student members have direct responsibility for competitions, chapters, membership experience, volunteer development, as well as IFTSA’s blog Science Meets Food and our Facebook and Instagram channels.

IFTSA-Appointed Positions

Annually, the IFTSA Office of the President appoints a number of volunteers to IFTSA roles and recommends students to other arms of the organization. The IFTSA roles include Competition Chairs, Area Meeting Chairs, the Science Meets Food Blog Editor, and Social Media Manager.

What is a nomination? Does someone have to nominate me for an IFTSA leadership position?
Nomination refers to a self-nomination, so if you are excited about leadership positions in IFTSA, you should submit your name and application materials!

How does the nominations process work in IFTSA?
Each year, the Nominating Committee selects a slate of students to fill each position on the IFTSA Board of Directors as well as Competition Chairs. The Nominating Committee will interview applicants to understand how their interests and skill sets best fit within IFTSA. From there, the Nominating Committee will determine the slate (the selection of students it recommends for each board position). This slate is then advertised to the IFTSA membership. Members have two weeks to petition the slate if they do not agree with the nominees.

IFTSA recently moved to a slate process in order to ensure diversity on the Board of Directors. It is also critical that each position on the board remains strategic and that a well-rounded, diverse group of students is selected that have the ability to accomplish all of the tasks they’re assigned.

What is the timeline for applying for and being selected for an IFTSA volunteer position?
Self-nominations open on December 16, 2019 and close on January 31, 2020. Candidates will then be interviewed by the Nominating Committee in February 2020, and the final slate will be presented to IFTSA members on March 1, 2020.

How do I submit a nomination to be an Area Meeting Chair?
Selection of Area Meeting (AM) location and Area Meeting Chair (AMC):
The host chapter and chair of the next AM will be determined by the following process:

  1. Chapters interested in hosting will submit a bid

    • What? Bids must include, at a minimum, the name of the proposed AMC and the host chapter.

    • How? Bids will be submitted via e-mail to the current AMC.

    • When? Bids should be submitted at least one week prior to the AM, unless exceptions are granted by current AMC.

    • What if? If an area has an established rotation system, the next chapter in the rotation will submit a bid.

    • What if? If no bids are submitted by the end of the AM, the VP of Chapter Engagement will work with area leaders to implement a rotation system.

  2. The current AMC will compile and send all bids to the VP of Chapter Engagement and the IFTSA Executive Office

  3. At the AM, the AMC will facilitate a discussion about the next AM, and chapters that have submitted a bid can make a pitch for their bid

  4. Following the AM, chapters will vote on which bid to select for the next AM

    • How? Each chapter president will receive a link from the IFTSA Executive Office to an online survey and will cast one vote on behalf of their chapter. Chapters do not have to send representatives to the AM in order to vote.

    • When? The survey will open at or immediately after the AM and close 2 weeks later. All votes must be finalized by May 1, 2020.

    • What if? If an area with a rotation system receives multiple bids, a challenger bid which receives more votes can trump the bid of the next chapter in the rotation.

  5. The IFT Executive Office and VP of Chapter Engagement will tally the votes and announce the next Area Meeting host chapters and AMCs

How much time do IFTSA leaders spend on their positions?
The time spend on work related to IFTSA leadership positions varies week to week and by position. Vice Presidents and Members at Large may spend an average of 3-5 hours per week on their roles. Competition Chairs and Appointed Volunteers may spend approximately 1-3 hours per week on their roles, with higher time commitment closer to the IFT Annual Event. The President-Elect, President, and Immediate Past President roles can be rather time-intensive, thus candidates for these roles must have superior ability to balance schoolwork with volunteer activities.

What do Vice Presidents and Members-at-Large do?
Vice Presidents (VPs) and Members-at-Large execute key programming initiatives and work with the IFTSA Office of the President to set goals related to the strategic direction of the organization. For VPs, these goals are within the scope of their positions as described in the operations manual. Members at Large typically work on emerging initiatives, and they also provide additional perspective on the Board of Directors. In all, the Board of Directors is responsible for coming up with creative ways to continue to serve the IFTSA membership.

What do Competition Chairs do?
Competition chairs work with the VP of Competitions to manage each of the IFTSA competitions. They are responsible for answering questions from participants, selecting and working with competition judges, and managing all aspects of the competitions at the IFT Annual Event.

Do you have questions or comments you'd like to share about the changes to IFT Student Association Board of Directors structure and nominating process? Email IFTSA’s staff liaison Amy Clarke Sievers or Nominating Committee Chair Elizabeth Clark.

The online nominations form will be available beginning December 16, 2019. The nominating period will end January 31, 2020. Get a head start on your nomination by previewing the questions below! In addition to answering these questions, the Nominations Committee also requires a short resume from each Nominee.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and why you are interested in a volunteer leadership position with IFTSA through the following questions:

General Information

  • Name
  • IFT member number
  • Current university/institution
  • University/institution you will be attending in 2020–2021
  • Degree you are currently seeking
  • Program of study
  • Country
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • What is your expected graduation date?
  • What are your plans after graduation?

Board Positions

  • Please select the Board of Directors positions that you are most interested in and explain why.

Appointed Positions

  • Please select the Appointed positions that you are most interested in and explain why.
  • What unique perspectives will you bring to IFTSA leadership if you are selected?
  • Would you like more information on task force and work group involvement as they become available?

Related Experiences

  • Please describe any activity or leadership experience that you think will support you in your role.

Resume, Headshot, and Bio

  • Please upload a brief resume for review by the nominations committee.
  • Please upload your most recent headshot. This will only be utilized if you are part of the nominated slate.
  • Please provide a short bio of yourself that will be posted with the slate if you are nominated.