Having an interest in food at a young age and a love for science and math, Marsh was thrilled to discover Utah State University offers a degree in food science, something that would combine her passions. The Utah native earned her bachelor’s in food science and a minor in chemistry at USU and was valedictorian of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences’ class of 2020.
Marsh works with faculty mentor Professor Silvana Martini, conducting research on the oil binding capacity of fats, focusing on understanding the relationship between oil binding capacity and the physical properties of fats to help improve the quality and shelf life of fat-based foods.
“Melissa was an outstanding undergraduate student,” Martini said. “As an undergraduate researcher, she worked in several laboratories in the department and conducted her own, independent research on threshold quantification of linoleic acid in lipids. She not only excelled at her undergraduate research activities but also maintained a 4.0 GPA and participated in several product development competitions. As a new doctoral student, Melissa already shows outstanding potential in her research activities. In less than a year she presented results from her research at an international conference, and she is working on her first manuscript as the first author. I am excited that she has been recognized with this well-deserved fellowship.”
As Martini noted, Marsh participated in product development competitions as an undergraduate and was on two USU student teams that won first place honors. In 2019, Marsh was among the four students who won top honors in the annual Idaho Cheese Processors Association competition with “Moogets” a paneer cheese-based, chicken-flavored nugget. In 2020, she was on a three-student team that won the Institute of Food Technologist’s Smart Snacks for Kids competition. Their product was “Moonola,” granola with color-changing instant milk that requires only the addition of a little water.
Because of her research and academic excellence, Marsh was eligible to apply for the AOCS fellowship which includes a $10,000 honorarium, $5,000 in research and travel allowance, and the opportunity to present a lecture at the AOCS Annual Meeting. The fellowship’s namesake, Thomas H. Smouse, was a noted industrial researcher who studied the flavor chemistry of fats and oils and served as president of the society in 1983.
“I feel honored to be recognized by AOCS,” Marsh said. “I’d like to thank Dr. Martini for all of her support as well as the Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences department head, Dr. Heidi Wengreen, and professors who helped me with the application process. I would also like to thank all of my scholarship donors who have made it possible for me to continue my education. I’d like to thank AOCS for the recognition, it truly is an honor.”
College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences
Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences, Aggie Chocolate Factory