Do you remember that famous Bill Gates quote? Nope, not the inspirational one about success and leadership; I'm talking about the incredibly sad one where he points out that we’ve only explored a paltry eight percent of plant proteins as potential sources for meat alternatives.
Well, at The Good Food Institute, we’re working to address this problem ASAP, and we’ve assembled a team of kick-butt summer interns to jumpstart the process. Their mission is to uncover all the major sources of plant-based proteins that are currently being grown and researched and to prepare a database loaded with information on these proteins. With this knowledge, we can begin the next phase: researching how to optimize these proteins for use in plant-based meats, and looking to even more novel plant protein sources!
Prepare yourselves for a blessed break from soy.
Here’s the team making it possible:
“I will do what I believe is necessary to feed the world.”
-Professor Mark Post, creator of the world’s first clean meat burger and founder of Mosa Meats
Education: Master’s degree in agrofood chain studies, Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III; currently enrolled in a master’s program in food innovation
Location: Italy, by way of Caracas, Venezuela
Why GFI? Since my years in college, the field of food and environmental studies was the track that I wanted to explore. After I complete my current program on food innovation, my wish is to get a position as a junior researcher (or something similar) in order to strengthen my skills around innovation and food product development. After, I would like to start my own entrepreneurial journey.
This past January I got involved in the world of novel food working with protein concentrates from insects as a part of my thesis (Institute of Food Technology - Universität für Bodenkultur Wien). More recently and as part of the Food Innovation Program (FIP) I conducted a research project regarding plant-based diets. The main goals were mapping emerging products, services, and technologies (such as those from Impossible Food, Dirt Candy, and cellular agriculture companies) in a trip across the globe and to identify effective strategies to nudge consumers into more sustainable and healthier patterns and choices. I believe as part of GFI’s intern team, I can continue growing my knowledge around clean meat – a topic that completely captivates me.
“There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”
Education: Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and a certificate in Digital Arts & Media, University of Texas at Austin
Location: Austin, Texas
Why GFI? Ever since I discovered Impossible Foods, I’ve gone to bed every night with my mind racing over the novel concept of a plant-based hamburger that shares the same characteristics with its animal-based counterparts, but without any animal suffering. I’ve thought to myself, if we can analyze a hamburger in such a way to create a similar product without involving a single animal, what is stopping us from doing this for other comfort foods we have grown to love? I went into a frenzy looking into research opportunities about this emerging field of plant-based meats. I serendipitously stumbled upon an article about GFI fighting against the “DC barnyard” and its goals for a sustainable future. It was at that moment where I knew I wanted to spend my summer with GFI and help contribute to the cause.
As a vegetarian, this work is near and dear to my heart, and being surrounded with like-minded colleagues has been an absolute honor and privilege. I believe GFI will play an integral part in the plant-based and clean meat movement, and I look forward to the future where these products are the norm. It’s human nature to fantasize about what the future will hold; maybe there will be flying cars, life on mars, or a system to upload our memories in a cloud. But for me, my hope and belief is that one day mass animal farming will be a thing of the past and we will look back with astonishment.
Education: Pursuing a bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering within a biotechnology track, Georgia Tech
Location: Right outside of Nashville, Tennessee
Why GFI? I have an undying passion for microbiology and I hope to continue to gain experience in different fields of engineering biotechnology while furthering my education with a master's degree – and perhaps eventually a doctorate – after I complete my bachelor’s at Georgia Tech. I have taken an interest in the process behind developing and bioengineering pharmaceuticals and hope to secure an internship or co-op in this field in the upcoming semesters.
I stumbled upon a post on a social media website describing the Good Food Institute's progress as a nonprofit group promoting clean meat research and was immediately excited by an opportunity to work with a team that is making such an impact by supporting technology that will revolutionize the way humans produce and consume food throughout the world. Though I am not a vegetarian, the problems with mass production of animal products – including the constant cruelty animals and the impact on the environment – more than justify the exploration of alternative plant-based food sources. Moreover, I am excited to do research, learn cool new things, and get to know the diverse team of interns and researchers here at GFI.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies, University of Southern California
Location: Montara, California
Why GFI: Growing up in a beautiful, rural town on California's coast, I've always had a passion for preserving nature and protecting the environment. I pursued biological sciences and environmental studies in college in order to better understand the intersection of science and nature, as well as the threats our planet is currently facing. Now that I’ve finished my undergrad degree, I hope to apply my knowledge toward creating a more sustainable future, and will likely pursue higher education in the future with the same goal in mind. I'm particularly excited about the GFI plant protein and processing internship and the area of food sustainability generally because the meat and dairy industries are some of the biggest offenders to planetary health, and I think eating fewer animal products is one of the most impactful ways an individual can help our environment. As someone who became a vegetarian and still misses a good burger, I'm really excited to help get more plant-based meat alternatives out there!
“Choose your corner, pick away at it carefully, intensely, and to the best of your ability and that way you might change the world.” – Charles Eames
Education: Pursuing bachelor's degrees in Computer Science and Cognitive Science at the University of California, Berkeley
Location: Berkeley, California
Why GFI: In the future, I hope to get my PhD and work on research, perhaps pertaining to food science, but definitely contributing to technology and biology. Early my freshman year, I became part of the Effective Altruism movement, through which I was motivated to do more research into plant-based meat alternatives. I'm excited to contribute to GFI's mission: to change the world for the better.
Education: Bachelor’s in Biochemistry and pursuing a degree in Nutritional Science, University of California, Santa Barbara
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Why GFI: I’m stoked to be a part of this intern team for GFI. I am a graduate from UCSB with a degree in Biochemistry and am currently looking to further my education with a degree in Nutritional Science in the hopes of teaching others about the current food system and educating people about lifestyle changes that can be made to better the health of the planet, animals, and themselves. I am a plant-based athlete who is focused on the science behind nutrition and loves reading and learning about everything plants have to offer to human health and well-being. I am so excited to be researching plant protein, as sufficient protein intake is one of the most common concerns when a diet change is presented. I cannot wait to see what I can uncover about the large amount of plant protein available to us and how we can use these resources to help shift the paradigm away from animal-based meat and toward plant-based meat. I look forward to working with the GFI team this summer!
Education: Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Food Science at Cornell
Location: Ithaca, New York
Why GFI: As someone who is plant-based and studies food science, I couldn’t be more excited to be on this team. I believe that by working towards a more sustainable and humane food industry, we can simultaneously address many other issues in areas such as public health. At Cornell, I work as a research assistant in a food engineering lab seeking to make food systems more sustainable. After graduating next year, I’m hoping to work in R&D at an innovative company in the plant-based food industry, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with an organization that inspires me and enables me to apply food science to my passion of plant-based foods.
To learn more about GFI's work to replace factory-farmed animal products with healthy, humane, and sustainable alternatives, check out what we do!