Ice cream, a sweet treat ideal for the summertime, but in addition to its deliciousness it is an entity filled with scientific properties. For food scientist Maya Warren and season 25 winner of the CBS reality show The Amazing Race, ice cream serves as the basis of her research. Warren studies the microstructure of ice cream and other frozen desserts.
“Six years ago I loved ice cream because I loved eating it, but ask me now I love ice cream because I love the science of it” said Warren. She loves how relatable ice cream can be, but furthermore how difficult it is to understand.
Warren discovered her love for science at a very young age. She was always intrigued by scientific experiments and robotics, but it was not until high school that she realized her passion for chemistry. Warren decided to seek a degree in Chemistry, but was unsure of the path she wanted to eventually pursue with the degree. It was not until her senior year in college while watching the Food Network channel, that she discovered food science as an area of interest.
“From there I asked myself, Maya what do you love and I was like you know what I love ice cream and I was like well maybe I should go research ice cream.”
Warren is currently completing her dissertation on the microstructure and behavior of ice cream at the Univeristy of Wisconsin-Madison. Through her research she is observing the relationship between the microstructure, sensorial properties and behavioral or melting properties of ice cream. From there she analyzes the factors that govern melt and the partial coalescence of fat globules to determine how and why certain effects occur in a specific manner. As a contestant on The Amazing Race, Warren has learned that she can do and accomplish whatever she desires in life. The experience has also heightened her ambition and aspiration to reach beyond the stars.
Beyond the stars for Warren is to host her own television show that emphasizes science education within her area of expertise, ice cream. The show will encompass characteristics from Food Network favorites such as Good Eats, Unwrapped and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Throughout the duration of the show Warren will travel around the world highlighting mom-and-pop shops that have the best-frozen desserts, but also honing in on the scientific aspect of ice cream and emphasizing the science behind the product. With the show she wants her audience to gain an insight about the science within food and why certain elements are put in food, but furthermore she wants to ignite a food conversation amongst the science community.
Warren said, “I think we are ready for the conversation. We are ready to have someone in the sciences to step up and have food conversations.” Her goal for the show is to place food science under a positive light and change the negative connotation associated with food industries.
Through her journey she hopes to continue to be inspired and inspire those around her, more specifically she wants to serve as a role model for both young African American women and women of color in general. She advises young women of color who aspire to be scientists to go out into the world and reach for their dreams and not to allow stereotypes serve as discouragement, but rather encouragement.
“If you have the dream and you have the desire the only thing that is holding you back is you.” Warren never fathomed where her ice cream journey would lead to, but so far it has taken her around the world one scoop at a time.
images courtesy Maya Warren
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