While many children dreamed of becoming a firefighter, rockstar or professional football player, Aubri Baskin dreamed of becoming a chef. As she got older, her dreams evolved, and now she is graduating with a degree in food science from the University of Florida.
A Washington native, Baskin’s search for the right college considered her desire of a change of pace from her life at home.
“I knew I wanted to go out of state for school,” Baskin said. “I saw UF had a good food science program. And the weather didn’t hurt—it’s super sunny.”
Through the smaller food science classes at UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Baskin has made meaningful connections with her professors and classmates.
“I’ve gotten to know fellow food science students because I’ve had the same classes with them multiple times,” Baskin said. “I feel like we’re like a good unit and we all help each other out.”
Baskin’s educational experience reached farther than the classroom. She got involved with the Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) Sensory Laboratory, a teaching and research facility that provides sensory analysis for industry companies and collaborates with other academic partners at the University of Florida and other universities across the country. The skills she developed also helped her land an internship at Hormel Foods.
As a quality assurance intern, Baskin worked on the plant floor in a food manufacturing facility. She learned the different processes and day-to-day aspects for making sausage and ham on a large scale. Baskin was able to apply the skills and concepts she had learned in her food engineering, food processing and food microbiology courses.
“Some of the machines and techniques that were used on the manufacturing floor, I had learned about in class,” Baskin said. She also realized when her colleagues would talk about food microbiology and harmful pathogens, she could join in the conversation based on the material she recalled from her classroom experiences.
Baskin’s work in testing, calculating and evaluating food products in the sensory lab has also been invaluable to her student experience. Companies will have the FSHN sensory lab test products to see how consumers react and feel about different foods.
“This is another side to the food industry, how people care about their products,” Baskin said. “It’s the more statistical side and it’s fun because we get to eat food.”
In the future, Baskin hopes to apply the skills she’s gained in the sensory lab to work in product research and development. Baskin is drawn to the technical aspects of using chemistry and physics while also being creative to develop new and better products for consumers.
“As a product developer you have the opportunity to make a big impact,” Baskin said.
Making an impact is something that Baskin considers in everything she does. While studying food science, Baskin has also been involved in Alpha Phi Omega (APO), a service fraternity. Through APO, Baskin has volunteered with the Alachua County Humane Society, Wilmot Botanical Gardens and the Field & Fork Farm and Gardens.
Baskin came a long way from her home in Washington to study food science, and she now considers herself a member of Gator Nation. “There’s nothing like the atmosphere on campus and the school spirit,” Baskin said.