When I started my PhD program in Food Science at UC Davis in 2018, I felt pretty lost.
I knew I wanted to get into the alt protein space and make an impact somehow, but there was no clear path for me. I spent most of my first year rotating in and out unrelated labs with nothing piquing my interest; there was just no one doing research in cell ag.
The ongoing search for interesting work led me to Dr. David Block, a professor in the chemical engineering and oenology departments. I thought doing wine research might be cool, even though it wasn't alt protein-related. In my first meeting with him I shared that I was really interested in cultivated meat but couldn't find a place to work on it. I was honestly shocked when he said that he had heard about it a few weeks prior and wanted to get into this field of research himself!
The hurdle, though, was funding. Conventional research funding makes it very hard for even an established scientist like Dr. Block to explore new areas of science.
That's when another student, Zachary, and I decided to take a chance and apply for New Harvest fellowships together. To make a long story short we both became New Harvest Fellows in late 2019 and kicked off our work in cellular agriculture together. My work is focused on making media from agricultural waste products, and his is on optimizing media composition with artificial intelligence.
|Some highlights of my adventures in cellular agriculture so far. Aside from the research and training, I even won a contest to taste cultured meat on stage at the Cultured Meat Symposium!|
My university has made a name for itself in the cell ag space since then, forming an official Cultivated Meat Consortium. More support has been coming in from numerous other organizations and companies, including a $3.5M grantfrom the National Science Foundation (the first major U.S. federal funding in this area). Ted O'Neill
I truly believe that New Harvest was the main catalyst behind all the cell ag development at UC Davis. If it wasn’t for the New Harvest fellowships, I’m not sure that we would have built or sustained the same level of interest and activity here.
Speaking personally, the fellowship has been the opportunity and experience of a lifetime to become a leader in the cell ag space. It let me build my professional network to a level I never would’ve imagined while in graduate school, and it put me in the prime position to start and lead a student club—The Davis Alt Protein Project—that has inspired a whole new community of students interested in cell ag and alt protein.
As I plan to wrap up my PhD, I’m starting to put myself out there in the job search. Thanks to the New Harvest fellowship, I don’t think I’ll have to stress too much about that 😌.
I want to thank the entire New Harvest community for all the support along the way and for making experiences like mine possible.
You have helped me do my part to cultivate the future of cellular agriculture.
Thank you and all the best,
New Harvest Research Fellow, UC Davis
is...@new-harvest.org | +1-780-236-5507
P.S. Check out my publication on cell culture media in npj Science of Food!! It’s open access!
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