Thania Ortiz Santiago
Department of Food Science and Technology
Food Science and Technology
Toa Alta, PR
Throughout her undergraduate studies, Thania Ortiz Santiago made the most of research opportunities. As a member of the Food S.U.R.E. program, she worked closely with faculty to develop and implement a research proposal. Having transferred from the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey after two years, Thania was unsure how much time she would be able to devote to research while taking a full course load. As she became more involved in the Food S.U.R.E. program, she found an engaging and welcoming environment, and her desire to take part in research only grew. She took a position as a student research assistant in Dr. Rodriguez-Saona’s lab, later accepting a microbiology technician position. Thania expresses her gratitude for the opportunity to pursue her passion through research.
Thania is proud to be a part of a community of food scientists whose work examines the potentially harmful health effects of artificial colorants that have become ubiquitous in the food industry. She aspires to contribute to the industry’s efforts to transition away from these chemical colorants toward naturally sourced food pigments.
Her internship at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams saw Thania applying her food science background in a research and development role. She had the chance to develop new ice cream flavors from concept to prototype, landing on a perfect flavor formulation and having her flavor produced for market. The experience grew her confidence, taught her to be resourceful, and allowed her to make meaningful connections with her coworkers.
As mentors, Thania would like to recognize Dr. Monica Giusti and Dr. Gonzalo Miyagusuku Cruzado. She shared, “Both Dr. Giusti and Dr. Miyagusuku Cruzado have been very supportive, welcoming, and helpful in getting my research proposal and work started which has been very encouraging. Although I was skeptical of how much I could handle between work and classes, they have made my desire to engage in research grow even more. I’m very appreciative of the experience I’ve had so far.”
In order to balance her academic, internship, and research responsibilities, Thania abided by a few wise rules. She learned to always ask for help when needed; she learned to stay organized; she learned to always stay ahead. Reflecting on the tools that helped her succeed, she shared, “If there is no structure, you can easily find yourself overwhelmed at any moment.”
Thania calls herself a food scientist at heart. She understands how food connects people, tells our cultural stories, our history, and affects our futures. Reflecting on her passion, she shares, “I want to help people of all ages understand the greatness that every meal we put on our dinner table holds.” As a future food scientist and dietitian, she will seek to educate people about the foods they choose. While she is still considering options both at Ohio State and in Puerto Rico after graduation, Thania’s long-term goal remains clear—to work in the food industry as a food scientist and registered dietitian.
Service, involvement, and accolades: Food Science Club | Student Dietetic Association | Food S.U.R.E Program