FoodGrads Podcast Episode 64: Insights into Academic Food Science Research with Abigail Theil (Ph.D.), Postdoctoral Researcher at Wageningen University and Science Communicator

On episode 64 of the FoodGrads Podcast we interviewed Abigail Thiel (Ph.D.) Researcher at Wageningen University & Research. She is also a Food Science Communicator as Abbey the Food Scientist she shares fun tidbits about food, explains the science behind some of your most beloved dishes, and dives into what a food scientist does.

In episode Abbey and Veronica talked food science and the academic world. They started by covering what exactly is a post-doctorate researcher and why Abbey decided to pursue this path after completing her PhD and why she decided to pursue a PhD in the first place. They talked about the graduate experience and all the questions that comes with it such as working academic supervisors was, how she dealt with the struggles of experiments which don’t go as planned and how your PhD isn’t your entire life. They also rounded the episode by talking about her new book – Careers in Food Science: From Undergraduate to Professional.

It’s obvious that Abbey loves food science and it really comes through in this episode. If your a student looking to learn more about the academia side of the food science then this is the episode for you!

Show Notes

[2:45] Abbey’s role as a postdoc in the food industry

[7:11] How Abbey decided on her PhD and her chosen topic

[12:36] Details about Abbey’s PhD program and area of focus

[14:11] Abbey’s early months in her PhD program and project selection

[19:13] Overcoming experimental failures during Abbey’s PhD

[23:12] Abbey’s journey as a food scientist and her motivation for starting

[27:00] What sparked Abbey’s passion for the food industry

[28:51] Abbey’s love for teaching and how she started as a PhD student

[34:03] Abbey’s new book: “Careers in Food Science: From Undergraduate to Professional”

[44:41] Why food science is a promising career path for students, according to Abbey


Abigail Thiel, Ph.D.

Wageningen University

Questions you don’t ask a Phd

Abbey the Food Scientist Website

Abbey the Food Scientist Youtube Channel

Chemistry of Ice-Cream

Careers in Food Science: From Undergraduate to Professional.

Abbey Thiel quotes from the interview

I think when students see me,  when I’m teaching and I’m very passionate about what I do, and they’ll ask me, “How did you know this is what you’re supposed to do? How did you get here?”  But I did not have a plan, especially when I accepted to graduate school and itwas like, well, I’m really good at school and I’ve done school like since I was five until now, so I don’t really know what to do if I don’t do school.

Abbey Thiel

I would just like to make an announcement. Never ask a PhD student when they’re going to graduate. That is the worst question to ask a PhD student. And so many people ask it, everyone, and it’s just like a slap in the face because you’re working so hard, but you’re like, I don’t know.

Abbey Thiel

By the end of my PhD, I realized the best thing to do was just to like walk away, stop thinking about it. And then later a good idea would come to me. Like when I was on a walk, I’d be like, oh that’s the next thing I’m gonna try but when you are just like panicked, you can’t think it through, so you, you really should walk away.

Abbey Thiel

I would argue food science is the most interesting science. It’s like chemistry, biology, microbiology, but it’s all applied to such interesting products.

Abbey Thiel

If I could go back, I would tell myself, “Think about what you want to do maybe 10 years from now. Like what job is your ideal job to hold and then see if that job requires a Master’s or PhD”, because otherwise a bachelor’s degree in food science is super useful and opens up so many opportunities.

Abbey Thiel

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