De\'Airius Salibi, second from right, a senior in food science, has made an impact on the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition during his four years at Iowa State.
De\'Airius Salibi, second from right, a senior in food science, has made an impact on the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition during his four years at Iowa State.

Salibi has become ‘the face of food science at Iowa State’

With spring graduation quickly approaching, one Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) student took time to reflect on his adventure at Iowa State University.

De’Airius Salibi, a senior in food science and native of Iowa City, has made an impact on the FSHN Department at Iowa State since stepping foot on campus as a freshman four years ago.

Salibi said he became interested in food science as a result of early mornings spent with his high school football coach. His coach would have the team gather before the school day started to do nutritional tests. Salibi said his coach would tell the football players to treat their bodies as temples, telling them to make sure what they put in their bodies would benefit them, not harm them.

When it was time to look at colleges, Salibi wanted to find a place that was far enough away from his eastern Iowa home, yet close enough that he could visit whenever he wanted. When he found out Iowa State’s FSHN Department would allow him to study not only food, but the science behind it, he chose to start his adventure in Ames.

Prior to coming to Iowa State, Salibi was selected to serve as a Cyclone Scholar. This program, offered through the FSHN Department, provides USDA scholarships to undergraduate minority students. Cyclone Scholars are provided social and academic mentoring, community or research experience, training in foreign language, and funding for an international experience, among other benefits.

“It’s been good,” Salibi said of his experience as a Cyclone Scholar. “I owe a lot to the Cyclone Scholar program. It’s something I will hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life.”

Kate Gilbert, FSHN lecturer, said Salibi is a student who is driven, motivated to succeed and has “made himself the face of food science at Iowa State.”

“He knows what questions to ask and how to put in the work to get the results he desires,” Gilbert said. “During an Iowa Section [Institute of Food Technologists] meeting, we all answered the statement ‘I love food science because…’ As a freshman, I remember De’Airius confidently stating his answer, ‘It involves one of the most important aspects of maintaining life!’ It was well-put.”

While at Iowa State, Salibi has worked alongside several FSHN professors as an undergraduate researcher. He especially enjoyed working with Dr. Tong “Toni” Wang, learning how to extract oil from corn, and with Dr. Keith Vorst, learning about hydroponics and PVC pipes.

“De’Airius is self-sufficient and works with other research associates to pursue answers to research questions,” Vorst said.

Earlier this semester, Salibi was recognized as a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Emerging Leader during the Iowa State vs. Kansas State women’s basketball game. His peers and his academic advisor, Anne Oldham, nominated him for the award.

Following graduation from Iowa State in May, Salibi will return to US Foods, where he completed an internship, to work in product development.

“I know De’Airius will continue his success as he graduates and starts his career at US Foods,” Gilbert said.

When asked what advice he would offer to fellow FSHN students, he said networking is key.

“It’s not so much what you know, it’s who you know,” Salibi said.

He also encourages students to never give up and to not be afraid to be different and get out there.

CONTACTS:

De’Airius Salibi, senior in food science, desalibi@iastate.edu

Kate Gilbert, lecturer, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, 515-294-1673, kgilbert@iastate.edu

Keith Vorst, associate professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, 515-294-6957, kvorst@iastate.edu

Whitney Sager, communications coordinator, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, 515-294-9166, wjsager@iastate.edu

  • Video

    Check out this video featuring De'Airius Salibi as he helps promote the food science and culinary food science majors at Iowa State University.

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