Imagine winning an internationally renowned competition just six weeks after graduation — the excitement and the happiness. For 22-year-old Chicago native Samantha VanWees’16, this was what happened. VanWees’s research, entitled, “Inactivation of Bacillus Licheniformis Vegetative Cells and Spores in Milk Using Pulsed Light Treatment,” considered how pulsed light — a technique used for food decontamination using short, intense pulses of a broad spectrum of light — is able to reduce bacteria during milk processing. Her achievement won her top honors for her poster and presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists’ undergraduate research competition in Chicago. During her time as an undergraduate student at Cornell University, VanWees majored in food science, saying it was her love of cooking and her mother’s influence that sparked her interest in food not only nutritionally but also chemically.