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DEI Discussion: Navigating Careers as Women in the Science of Food

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As our profession grows and evolves, so does our responsibility to ensure that we foster a culture in which women in the science of food increase their impact as they advance in their career. Join us for this 60-minute webcast in which we discuss the challenges women in the science of food face in their careers and how we all can nurture, empower, inspire, and mentor women in our profession.

Christie Tarantino-Dean, FASAE, CAE - IFT CEO


  • Adela Acosta, Head of Food Science and Technology Department, Zamorano University
  • Arti Arora, Vice President, Global Scientific and Regulatory Affairs
  • Emefa Monu, Food Scientist in the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Canada
  • Luan Blancher, Associate Category Marketing Manager, Givaudan
Christie Tarantino-Dean has worked in association management for over 20 years. She came to IFT from the Association Forum of Chicagoland, which boasts 46,000 association professionals as their members. This work gave her great exposure to the challenges and successes of the more than 1,000 professional societies and trade associations located in Chicago. Prior to that, Christie served as the Executive Director of the Academy of General Dentistry, which has 35,000 members and 62 chapters. While working as the Associate Vice President of Member Relations at the Professional Convention Management Association, she gained extensive experience in convention management. Christie began her association career as Membership Services Director with the Alabama State Bar Association.

Adela Acosta, PhD is the director of the Food Science and Technology Department of the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana, Inc. (ZAMORANO), which is based in Honduras, Central America. She has more than 20 years’ experience in education and development. She accompanies her teaching with outreach and consulting programs for the food industry and other development sectors in the region. Her teaching and research have focused on Meat Processing, Industrial Space Design, and Food Engineering and Unit Operations education. As the Head of the Food Science and Technology Department, she focuses on the active learning process, rooted in science and industry, provides academic leadership, coordination and implements and promotes the strategy for the department to enhance its relationship with Latin America’s food industry.

Adela Acosta has a Doctorate in Food Science and Technology from the University of Córdoba, Spain with her dissertation entitled "Use of FT-MIR spectroscopy in the quality control of homogenized baby foods"; and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University. She is a certified food scientist, a member of IFT, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Tau Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, and Gamma Sigma Delta.

She lives on the Zamorano campus, with her husband and their son and daughter.

Arti Arora, PhD is The Coca-Cola Company’s Vice President for Global Scientific and Regulatory Affairs. She provides leadership for the Company’s regulatory science strategies and research to evaluate and substantiate safety and efficacy of ingredients, products and packaging. Her team is also responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance of the company’s products.

Dr. Arora serves as a Treasurer for Institute of Food Technologist’s Feeding Tomorrow Foundation. She is a member of the National Academy of Science and Medicine’s Food Forum and served twice as a member of the USDA National Research Initiative grant review panel. She has held leadership positions at several organizations including AOAC International, International Life Sciences Institute, American Chemical Society and American Oil Chemists' Society. Prior to joining Coca-Cola, she worked at Kellogg’s in Research and Development.

Dr. Arora holds a PhD in Food Science from Michigan State University, a MS in Food Science from the University of Maine and BSc (Honors) in Food and Nutrition from Delhi University. She conducted her post-doctoral training in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Arizona.

Emefa Monu, PhD is a Food Scientist in the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Canada. She obtained both a BSc and an MSc in Food Science at the University of Manitoba and a PhD from the University of Alberta. After obtaining her PhD, she took on a Postdoctoral Research position at the University of Tennessee Department of Food Science. Dr. Monu continued this research into microbial intervention methods in her next role as an Assistant Professor in Food Microbiology at Auburn University in Alabama. Her research there focused on natural antimicrobials and other novel intervention techniques to increase food safety and shelf-life. She was also a food science educator involved in teaching and training graduate students, undergraduate students and international interns.

In her current role at OMAFRA, Dr. Monu uses her food safety expertise to conduct research and provide technical and scientific support to the agri-food industry of Ontario. In addition, to ensure that the most recent and relevant science is used to support the food safety inspection of food industry businesses in the province.
Dr. Monu has been a member of IFT since 2010, and a volunteer since 2012. While in Alabama, she was actively involved in the Southeastern Section and served as a Director-at-Large from 2017 - 2020. She was a member of the New Professionals Working Group from 2016 - 2019 and served as the Co-Chair from 2017 – 2018. Dr. Monu is also an alumnus of the Emerging Leaders Network Program and served as a Peer Mentor in the program in 2017. Currently, she serves on the Feeding Tomorrow Board of Trustees.

Dr. Monu believes deeply in supporting other women in careers in agriculture. During her time at Auburn University, she supported the AU Women in Agriculture Program, which promotes professional networking, among members in academia, industry and government as well as with women enrolled in agriculture-related majors at Auburn University. She also served as a Panelist at the 2019 Women in Agriculture Leadership Luncheon.

Luan Blancher has been with Givaudan Flavors Corporation for over 10 years. She is currently a marketing manager where she has to understand customers’ strategies and deliver innovative solutions to meet their needs. While at Givaudan, Luan had various positions such as leading the descriptive program, managing sensory research projects and working closely with cross-functional teams to provide creative insights to Food and Beverage customers. She has been involved in IFT from her collegiate days. Luan is the past co-chair of the IFT New Professionals Workgroup. She is also an alumnus of the IFT Emerging Leaders Network. Luan is a member of the and Network of Executive Women (NEW). She recently completed her MBA from Xavier University in Cincinnati. She also holds a M.S in Food Science with an emphasis in Sensory Science from Washington State University, and a BS in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from Missouri State University. Luan enjoys traveling which allows her to enjoy exploring different cultures through their food and music. As a past collegiate track and field athlete she loves to watch sports whenever possible.