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Featured Sessions

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IFT’s featured sessions are some the most highly attended activities at IFT’s annual event. Each year IFT selects an exciting line-up of inspirational presentations, engaging panel discussions, and lively debates designed to recharge your creativity and reinvigorate your passion for the science of food. This year is no exception!

Dennis Dimick

The Human Age: Confronting the Innovation Conundrum

Monday, July 16; 9:00 a.m. CT
Dennis Dimick, Co-founder Eyes on Earth:
An Educational Collaborative, USA

Dennis Dimick, Executive Editor of National Geographic magazine, presents his stunning photographs of the environment guaranteed to make you consider your place and purpose in the world. Beautifully considered, Mr. Dimick’s photos explore the impact of human ingenuity and the Earth’s ability to sustain it.

About Dennis Dimick
For the past 35 years, Dennis Dimick has served as executive environment editor at National Geographic magazine. He has guided creation of several major projects including an April 2010 issue on global freshwater, a 2011 series called “7 Billion” on global population, and the 2014 Future of Food series on global food security. In September 2004 he originated and orchestrated creation of a 74-page three-story project on climate change called “Global Warning: Bulletins from a Warmer World.”

Dimick co-organized the Aspen Environment Forum from 2008-2012, and regularly presents slide show lectures on global environmental issues. He holds degrees in agriculture and agricultural journalism from Oregon State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For 17 years he has been a faculty member of the Missouri Photo Workshop, and in 2013 received the Sprague Memorial Award from the National Press Photographers Association for outstanding service to photojournalism. He is a native of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where he grew up on a sheep and hay farm.

Tamar Headshot

Panel Discussion:
The Clash Between Consumer Demands and Responsible Food

Monday, July 16; 2:00 p.m. CT
Moderated by Tamar Haspel, Washington Post columnist

Consumer demand has never been more powerful and persuasive. Often rooted in trying to do what’s “right”or  “healthy,” these demands can result in unintended consequences like increased food waste, fossil fuel usage, or risks that threaten food safety. Panelists will explore the complexity and challenges food companies experience when well-intentioned consumer demands are in direct conflict with their eco-friendly, healthy, and sustainable intent.

About Tamar Haspel
Tamar Haspel is a journalist who’s been on the food and science beat for the best part of two decades. She writes the James Beard award-winning Washington Post column, Unearthed, which covers food supply issues, and contributes to National GeographicCooking Light, and Edible Cape Cod.  When she’s tired of the heavy lifting of journalism, she gets dirty. She and her husband, Kevin Flaherty, raise their own chickens, grow their own tomatoes, hunt their own venison, and generally try to stay connected to the idea that food has to come from somewhere. They also have an oyster farm, Barnstable Oyster, where they grow about 100,000 oysters a year in the beautiful waters off Cape Cod, destined for New York and Boston restaurants. Haspel revels in the idea that diners pay $3 a pop for their product, and she can eat as many as she wants.

Dr. Mehmood Khan

Dr. Mehmood Khan, M.D. - Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer, PepsiCo

Nadia Berenstein

Nadia Berenstein, PhD – Journalist, Historian, and Writer

Laura MacCleery

Laura MacCleery - Policy Director

John O Brien

John O’Brien PhD, FIFST, FRSC ¬– Professor, Former Chief Executive Officer of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland


IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM

Tuesday, July 17; 8:00 a.m. CT
Emcee: Renowned entrepreneur,
Daymond John of ABC’s Shark Tank

This exciting, new IFT competition will highlight and support the work of innovative, food-focused entrepreneurs. Designed as a fast-paced pitch event, the IFTNEXT Food Disruption ChallengeTM will feature six food start-ups competing for a $25,000 cash prize. Audience members will also be able to cast their vote to award a $5,000 People’s Choice award. Session includes a dynamic on-stage interview with Daymond John.

Six finalists have been chosen to share their innovations representing breakthrough solutions across food ingredient, packaging, agriculture, and processing applications.

Learn more about this year's finalists.

About Daymond John
From his wildly successful role on ABC’s smash hit, Shark Tank, to his distinguished status as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, Daymond John has become globally recognized for his relentless commitment to promoting and supporting entrepreneurs.

Daymond initially made his mark as the entrepreneur and branding expert behind the groundbreaking lifestyle brand, FUBU, which eclipsed more than $6 billion in global retail sales. From the streets of Hollis, Queens, Daymond started a global movement from the basement of his mother’s house by capitalizing on the then fledgling hip-hop culture. Today, the streetwear market that FUBU pioneered is a $20 billion dollar industry.


Fuel your passion for the science of food through thought-provoking IFTNEXT presentations, panel discussions, exhibitions and Start-Up Alley entrepreneurs

IFT’s Career Center Live is where you can get noticed and network with some of the top companies in food science and technology from around the globe.

The edge you need to succeed. IFT Pre-event Short Courses provide in-depth, intensive learning opportunities packed with valuable information to help you advance your knowledge and your career.

IFTNEXT sessions are about challenging, re-examining and inspiring original thought. They’re about engaging passionate, creative, forward thinking individuals like yourself in exciting conversations and activities to advance the science of the food.