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Fall 2009
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Outstanding Alumni Awards

Jonathan L. LickerJonathan L. Licker, MS ’98, PhD ’99 is a research & development manager at Frito-Lay, Inc. Dr. Licker has had a successful career as a food scientist product developer and now works on the team that develops the flavors and seasonings for the multi-billion dollar mega-brands including Lays, Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos and Tostitos. Some of his recent teamwork included snacks developed for the new brands ‘Flat Earth’ veggie crisps made with ½ serving of vegetables in every ounce and ‘True North’ 100% natural nut snacks.

In addition to his scientific work, Dr. Licker has played a major leadership role in creating and developing two important programs designed to attract students in the field of food science, obtaining significant professional and financial support from his business colleagues throughout the PepsiCo companies and from the PepsiCo Foundation. Since its inception in 2000, he has organized the PepsiCo-sponsored Institute of Food Technologists’ Student Association Mixer. The event provides a networking opportunity for students and their faculty to meet and mingle with industry professionals. This annual event has included over 500 students representing more than 17 universities.

Since 2003, Dr. Licker has worked with Dr. Martin Wiedmann, assistant professor of food microbiology, to secure funding from the PepsiCo Foundation in support of Cornell’s Summer Scholars Program, a 10-week summer undergraduate research and leadership program for students interested in food science. Dr. Licker also worked tirelessly to help raise funding from different food companies and foundations to provide additional and continued financial support for the Summer Scholars Program.

Dr. Licker has been a member of the Cornell Institute of Food Science Advisory Council since 2003. Since 2005, he has served as an IFT Ambassador visiting middle and high schools to teach students about food science. Dr. Licker has served as the Cornell recruiter for Frito-Lay, thus providing a critical link to employment opportunities for CALS students for new-hire food scientists and summer interns.

As a graduate student, Licker received the CALS Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in 1996 for his work in the course FS430: Understanding Wine. He was the first head teaching assistant for this course explaining wine from the scientific principles of microbiology, chemistry, and sensory science. He worked with former Associate Professor of Enology and Microbiology, Dr. Thomas Henick-Kling, and Dr. Terry Acree, professor of biochemistry, to unravel the chemical mysteries that produce the curious aroma found in fermented beverages such as wine and beer. He also served as program chairman of the Cornell Food Science Club, and a member of their IFT college bowl team.

Dr. Licker is a member of the Institute of Food Technologists and the American Chemical Society. He has been a guest lecturer, returning many times to speak to Cornell students. In 1996, he developed and presented the Flavors & Sensory Workshop for High School Seniors. He continues to guest lecture to high school students in the Dallas area and volunteers as a judge for the local middle school science fair. Since 2004, he has been a member of the Cornell Alumni Association of North Texas, where he co-organized their Cornell faculty speaker alumni event in 2007.

In addition to developing a successful career and raising a young family, Dr. Licker has been actively involved in his local community. He has worked with the local United Way in Collin County helping lead fundraising efforts. Each year, with his Frito-Lay colleagues, Licker takes two days from the office to work on refurbishing homes for individuals identified through Dallas County United Way. In 2004, Licker worked with the Samaritan Inn, a local homeless shelter in Collin County, to refurbish and supply their children’s quarters and build a toy storage unit.

Dr. Licker and his wife, Susan Connell Licker, MS ’96 (Food Science) both are R&D managers at Frito-Lay global headquarters in Plano, TX, and reside in McKinney, TX, with their two boys.

Outstanding Alumni Awards