2022 Distinguished Graduate Student Mentor Award: Monica Giusti

2022 Distinguished Graduate Student Mentor Award: Monica Giusti

At The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Department of Food Science and Technology (FST), Monica Giusti wants her students to focus on what they love.

Monica Giusti and students “Mentoring students is really such a joy for me,” said the prominent expert in food coloring and nutrition. “I want the students to love what they do and to be passionate.”

Because of the love and passion she imparts to her students, Giusti was named the winner of the 2022 CFAES Distinguished Graduate Student Mentor Award.

Giusti, distinguished professor and graduate studies chair in FST, focuses on the chemistry of polyphenols.

“In more practical terms, we study compounds in fruits and vegetables that make them good for you,” she said. “Some of them happen to have beautiful colors, and we try to use the colors from plants to color other foods.”

Her polyphenol research led to the discovery of methods for inhibiting cancer cells, and her research on alternative food colorants enables the food industry to transition from synthetic dyes to the use of health-promoting, natural colorants.

She has been recognized many times for her research, including by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and previously by CFAES as the 2020 Distinguished Senior Researcher of the Year and as a distinguished professor for 2021–22. She said being recognized for her work with students is encouraging and motivating.

“I have had many success stories,” she said of her students. “Every student is a success story.”

Giusti came to food science through a love of math and science.

“Growing up, I always loved science. I loved math particularly. I started studying civil engineering. It was so fascinating—all the math, all the numbers.”

But something was missing.

“I liked life, I liked biology,” she said. “And then I discovered there was another field that was food engineering. So, I could combine my passion for numbers and science with something that I could connect so easily with, which is the food that we eat every day.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in food engineering from the National Agrarian University-La Molina, in Lima, Peru, and continued her studies in that field at Oregon State University. She came to Ohio State in 2006.

The Distinguished Graduate Student Mentor Award is given to a faculty member with a history of successfully mentoring graduate students.