Petfood Forum 2024 Student Program names research winners

Group of students posing at Petfood Forum Student Program
Petfood Forum 2024 Student Program participants stand with Program Coordinator and Petfood Industry Editor Lindsay Beaton. Back (L to R): Gerardo Abascal-Ponciano (Auburn University), Lindsay Beaton, Jorge Sandoval (Auburn University). Front (L to R): Larissa Koulicoff (Kansas State University), Vanessa De La Guardia-Hidrogo (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Elaheh Rabiee (Kansas State University), Hilary Carrera (Auburn University), Katelyn Bailey (Kansas State University), Youhan Chen (Kansas State University)

Written by Lindsay Beaton, editor, Petfood Industry magazine and host of Trending: Pet Food

Petfood Forum 2024 (held April 29–May 1 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA) was an unmitigated success, with the highest attendance ever (more than 3,900 pet professionals from 48 countries) and a rich lineup of keynotes, educational sessions, networking opportunities, Tech Talks and, of course, the Student Program.

Held annually as part of Petfood Forum’s schedule of events, the Student Program offers students the opportunity to attend Petfood Forum at a discounted rate with access to all the conference has to offer. Students are able to attend all events, from sessions to networking, and walk the show floor where they have the chance to meet pet food industry professionals and learn more about the industry they might one day (hopefully) join. Additionally, there are several events uniquely catered to the student experience: The largest of these is the Research Competition, which gives students participating the chance to present their current research related to the pet food space.

View the 2024 student abstracts here

Research competition winners announced

This year, graduate and Ph.D. students from four different schools (Auburn University, Cardiff University, Kansas State University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) presented on topics ranging from plant-based ingredients and aroma profiles to invasive species and sorghum.

With the audience serving as industry judges, three student winners were chosen over two days of presentations to receive cash prizes for their work:

  • US$1,000: Hilary Carrera, graduate research assistant at Auburn University, for her PowerPoint presentation on “Effect of dehydration on textural, chemical and color properties of jerky treats using swine pluck”
  • US$500: Katelyn Bailey, graduate research assistant at Kansas State University, for her poster presentation on “Situational analysis for use of sorghum in North American pet food”
  • US$500: Youhan Chen, Ph.D. candidate at Kansas State University, for her poster presentation on “Performance of Aspergillus oryzae fermented soybean meal in processing and expansion of extruded dog foods”

“I’m so proud of all the students who presented this year,” said Lindsay Beaton, editor of Petfood Industry magazine and coordinator of the Program. “The Student Program has been a passion project of mine since I took it on, and seeing new students present each year as well as watching returning students progress through their research may be my favorite part of the whole event. The Program expands a bit each year, and I’m looking forward to continuing that trend in 2025. In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s research competition winners — and thank you to the audience members (both student and industry) who judged the presentations and provided such great feedback for the presenters.”

Petfood Forum 2025

Petfood Forum 2025 will take place April 28-30, once again in Kansas City, Missouri. The Student Program research competition will return, with the call for abstracts launching in the fourth quarter of 2024. Student attendees can also expect special networking opportunities and a student-centric education session as part of the Forum schedule of events.