Jessica Green: Is that food label really true?

Jessica Green
Above: Jessica Green

When you pick up a product in the grocery store that has been certified as gluten free, non-GMO or true source, you may be looking at the work Jessica Green has contributed to.
Jessica is a registered and licensed dietician and food-safety auditor working for NSF International, a company that independently tests and certifies food-label claims.

Bridging a gap in her knowledge base

Auditing food and employee safety led her a master’s in public health. Her food safety analysis often requires an environmental perspective—when she analyzes water systems, for example.

“I needed a broader knowledge base that could bridge the gap between dietetics and environmental science,” she says. Her search for the right program led to UIS’ master’s in public health which has a strong focus on environmental science.

The online flexibility appealed to Jessica, who travels three out of four weeks of the month. Jessica says UIS’ greatest distinctive, however, is that it doesn’t “feel” like an online program:
I felt very connected to the instructors, and I feel they know me. It was very cool that that I could phone in for class—so if the class were Monday at 6, you could dial in on Monday at 6 to attend. I did not feel distant.

“Some of my classmates may kick me in the shins….”

This was Jessica’s comment before making this big admission: she actually found group projects valuable. So many people work remotely, she says—including Jessica herself.

One thing I have found lacking when we hire individuals, especially coming out of school, is the ability to interact with colleagues successfully when working remotely—to produce a quality product with individuals in different time zones and different schedules. For anyone facing that situation, group projects have an invaluable real-world application.

What’s ahead for Jessica

In the future, Jessica hopes to shift more into research in new food claims and program planning, and the MPH program has definitely taken her in that direction.

Ironically, the element of her program that gave her the most trouble—lining up an internship—may actually end up being the most beneficial for her future. In Texas, where she has been living, the UIS online program is not immediately recognized among companies that had the internship she wanted—including her own company, where she eventually arranged her internship.

In spite of difficulties, however, because the internship she found is research based, the work has been very valuable.

I am working with the NSF Applied Research Center. We are doing data analysis and at the end we will have a poster to present and maybe some journals. Research is the direction I want to go, and I’m very excited it.