Julia Conchas, Cal Poly Pomona

Julia recently graduated from Cal Poly, Pomona with her bachelor’s degree in food science and technology with a minor in microbiology. Currently she is working for a large food manufacturing company located in southern California as a research and development technician focusing on developing new products for the industry.

Julia has always had some involvement in the food industry and has a strong family background in the industry. Throughout her life she has been exposed to many aspects of food science that helped her decide that the scientific part of the industry is where her strongest interests were. Through coursework in biology and microbiology she concluded that obtaining a minor in microbiology would nicely compliment her major.

As an undergraduate, Julia was heavily involved in clubs and various programs on campus that enabled her to develop strong interpersonal and networking skills. These networking opportunities led to Julia’s introduction to Dr. Olive Li, an associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition and Food Sciences at Cal Poly Pomona. Dr. Li gave Julia a tour of the lab and as she was explaining her research and listening to questions from Julia, it was apparent that Julia’s interest in microbiology and Dr. Li’s interest in developing new uses from California crops would be beneficial to both. Dr. Li offered Julia an opportunity to become involved in an ARI-funded research project whose purpose was to assess the antimicrobial effects of orange pomace. Oranges are either sold to the fresh market or squeezed for juice. Juice processing leaves substantial fiber and phytochemical- rich byproducts that are usually disposed of by the industry but which have the potential to be formulated into a wide variety of products.

Julia conducted experiments designed to determine if extracts from orange pomace would inhibit or kill bacteria that can cause diseases in humans. Although orange peels have known antimicrobial properties, little is known about the potential of orange pomace. Throughout the project Dr. Li allowed Julia to exercise a fair amount of independence in conducting the research and during the process, Julia developed skills during each step of the process. Dr. Li encouraged Julia to read the literature and help design experiments that would allow them to evaluate the effectiveness of the orange pomace extracts. This freedom to operate and the learn-by-doing approach provided Julia the valuable experience of learning from mistakes.

Julia is now working in the food science industry to gain additional experience which will bring into focus her longterm goals and help her decide if pursuing a graduate degree is something she would like.