Jasmine Hendrix grew up watching television cooking shows, which fueled her fascination with the science that’s behind the food. A passion for both food science and education, combined with a strong engineering background, led Hendrix to her current studies as an MSU doctoral student.
“My mom and dad grew up in the Delta and my dad played football for MSU in the early 1980s. We moved to Starkville when I was a year old,” she said.
Her father is an instructor in MSU’s kinesiology department, and her mother has been an elementary school teacher for years, so education has been a big part of family life. Hendrix is the youngest of five girls who all attended MSU and one of three siblings to pursue an engineering degree.
As she earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, she took food science courses along the way. She shifted her primary focus to food science for graduate school and now is working toward a food science Ph.D. with a human sciences minor.
During studies for her master’s degree, Hendrix worked on developing a product to protect dry cured ham. While she loved research, she also felt the tug of teaching. For her doctoral program, she switched gears to focus on supporting the development of a comprehensive curriculum that helps high school educators teach food science.
In conjunction with her professors, Hendrix is working on several one-hour lessons to introduce students to topics such as product development, food safety, chemistry, and microbiology and sensory evaluation.
The product development lesson incorporates a favorite treat—ice cream.
“The teacher walks the students through producing ice cream. They mix milk and cream together to understand how the components combine to create a final product,” Hendrix said.
The lessons are designed to increase awareness, interest and knowledge of food science among high school students while providing teachers with training and tools. A case study evaluating the effectiveness of the lesson plans will be part of Hendrix’s dissertation.
Hendrix said she hopes to ignite a passion for food science in young people and live out Philippians 2:3-4 which states, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit; rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
Hendrix added, “It’s exciting to see the spark in the students when they learn something new about the food they eat.”