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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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Science and Our Food Supply Careers: Christine M. Bruhn, Ph.D.

Careers in Food Science Main Page

"Follow your interests and get the skills you need to succeed."

Career title:
Director of the Center for Consumer Research/Food Marketing
Specialist in Cooperative Extension
University of California
Davis, California

Field of Expertise:
Consumer attitudes toward food safety and food quality

Academic Studies:
University of California
Davis, California
Bachelor of Science in Home Economics
Master of Science in Home Economics/Specialization in Food Science
Ph.D. in Consumer Behavior

Employment History:
Recreation Assistant
(while in high school)

(while in high school and college)

Dry Cleaning Clerk
(while in college)


"If I hadn't chosen my present career, I would have become . . . a home economics teacher."


Q: What do you do in your current job?
I conduct research on consumer attitudes toward food safety and food quality. I also work with health professionals to provide consumers with information in areas where they have limited knowledge.

Q: What twists and turns has your career taken to get you where you are today?
In post-graduate school, my university was not offering a degree in consumer behavior, so with the university's approval, I created my own Ph.D. degree. I took courses related to consumer behavior, such as consumer research and food law. In addition, I received my Ph.D. degree while having a family, which, at the time, was not the norm.

Q: What's the most interesting or exciting project you have worked on?
Right now, I'm conducting research on food irradiation. This process uses energy to kill pathogens and other harmful substances in foods. Through the media (radio, newspapers, and TV), I give the public information about the safety advantages of irradiation. Empowering people with knowledge and giving them information they can use to shape their lives is very rewarding.

Q: Have you made any new discoveries during your career?
Through my research, I've dispelled many myths, particularly the one that the public will never accept new technologies. In fact, I've discovered that the public will accept new technologies, as long as they're given enough information about the process. The benefits of the technology are also important to the public.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested in pursuing a career in science?
Don't get discouraged if it takes you an extra year to graduate. The important thing is to follow your interests and get the skills you need to succeed.



May 2001