Spotlight - MaryAnne Drake

Name: MaryAnne Drake
Title: William Neal Reynolds Professor; director of the Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center
Institution: North Carolina State University

Can you tell us a bit about your background, and what your current research is focused on?
I am from the Pacific Northwest originally but have lived and worked in the Southeast for more than 20 years. I did my graduate work (MS and PhD) at Washington State University and worked at the commercial creamery there while I was in graduate school. My research is focused on all aspects of flavor in dairy foods. My research labs include pilot plant processing, sensory testing, and analytical instrumentation. 

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry since you started? Do you have any predictions for the future? 
The dairy industry is experiencing generational and geopolitical shifts in which foods people focus on and consume. These are individually huge challenges that our industry must address through innovation, value-adds, and targeted educational messaging and positioning.

What has been your biggest challenge/greatest achievement in your career so far?
My graduate students are my greatest achievements—I love working with and training young people. I deeply appreciate their resilience and can-do attitude. Seeing them graduate and become leaders in the industry is truly rewarding.

Can you share a particularly memorable experience or breakthrough in your research?
More than 15 years ago, my program started down a research path of understanding the impact of specific processing unit operations on whey protein flavor and flavor stability. Whey protein products are more popular now than ever before, and I hope my research has had a positive effect.

What research areas within the field interest you most? Are there any particular trends of study that you are drawn to?
Practical problem-solving research with direct application to industry has always appealed to me.

What kind of papers would you like to attract more to JDS Communications? Do you have any advice for authors that would help them in deciding whether to submit?
Think small study with narrow focus. Keep in mind that experimental replication and repeated measures are still needed.

Why do we need a journal like JDS Communications today? Why should authors publish in JDS Communications?

Not all significant studies are large epic papers.

What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing the dairy industry, and how is JDS Communications part of the solution?
Today’s industry problems—and research too!—move fast. JDS Communications provides a platform to get proof of concept studies published quickly.