Marilyn Magaram Center

Director's Message

December 19, 2018

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

Keeping student success as our priority, it has been exciting to see a culture of innovation instilled at the Marilyn Magaram Center over the last several years, with the mission of making MMC the global leader in the field of food science, nutrition and dietetics. The MMC continues to serve the needs of diverse communities and encourages the public to draw on the special talents of its students, faculty, and staff through a variety of innovative programs and services, and I am proud to say that the MMC has truly become an “Innovation Hub” for Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics in our mission to promote good health and well-being and provide exceptional products and services to the CSUN community and beyond!

From developing at least five business plans, to submitting more than six I-Corps grants, to participating in the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics entrepreneurship ventures, our semesters have been busy and productive with many research, education, leadership, and community outreach opportunities. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual and Augmented Reality (VAR) projects that our teams have developed such as “GSTAR” and “Helia Nutrition and Health” will change the landscape of nutrition education and are innovative tools which nutrition and food science professionals can use to help reduce chronic disease and obesity. Currently in the works is a research project to incorporate evidence-based nutrition education with everyone’s favorite virtual assistant, Alexa. We are grateful to our generous donors and sponsors whose mission is aligned with the MMC’s, as these funds are making it possible for our students to turn ground-breaking ideas into reality!

Encouraging students to use their culinary, nutrition, and food science skills through various experiences and workshops, we were excited to host culinary camps for middle school children in collaboration with the Michael D. Eisner College of Education’s SAEP program. We were thankful for the leadership of our very own dietetic student and chef and a local high school chef, in addition to having Sally and Phil Magaram and Dr. Tom and Yolanda Chen attend, observe, and judge the student cooking and activities. In September, the MMC was also honored to host a pie-baking event in the Thieriot Lab for the Los Angeles chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization.

Our many innovative educational and outreach opportunities for students, faculty, and the community include workshops for Weight Management, Diabetes Prevention, Diabetes Management, Sports Nutrition (Athletics) and Gardening Education, just to name a few. We also hosted a series of “Whole Body, Whole Health” workshops in collaboration with the Jennifer Diamond Cancer Foundation to support cancer patients and their families, and through the Center’s efforts there is a newly developing Nutrition and Wellness Clinic in progress. There have been numerous volunteer, internship, and leadership opportunities for students in Family and Consumer Sciences, as well as other academic departments such as Business, Engineering, Sustainability, Journalism, Art, Computer Science, Kinesiology, Nursing, and Psychology through many of our innovative projects such as Helia (AI-Jam), GSTAR (VAR-Jam), Spicy Matador and FitJam, and agricultural systems such as hydroponics and aquaponics. We have also been conducting research for the CSU-5 Sodium Reduction Initiative and “Eat Your Best” campaign with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. As a means to further enhance student success, we conducted several trainings during the summer and early fall and are currently working on developing the MMC Research Lab manual and website.

In an effort to create healthy and innovative recipes and videos, we are delighted to announce that the second edition of our Wellness Kitchen Cookbook has been released! This cookbook is filled with unique recipes inspired by CSUN’s very own orange groves and our student-developed Matador Marmalade, which is entirely student-produced from recipe trials to label design and born out of the idea that a product made by the students, for the students, could generate school spirit and add to the university’s great legacy. By sourcing directly from the orange groves on campus, our product also supports CSUN’s sustainability efforts. We are excited to have a few of Marilyn Magaram’s recipes in this cookbook and look forward to our next edition, which will include most of her recipes.

Our students have continued to create a “buzz” around campus through our collaboration with the Biology Department and the “Bee a Matador” honey project. During a second honey harvest in July, Dr. Rachel Mackelprang’s team of students and our MMC interns centrifuged, filtered, and bottled the honey in jars with labels they designed, extracting almost 100 pounds of honey! We are also proud to announce that “Bee a Matador” won the People’s Choice Award in The Valley Hive 3rd Annual Honey and Recipe Competition in Chatsworth.

The MMC has collaborated with multiple entrepreneurial groups on campus such as LACI@CSUN, CSUN Innovates! and the I-Corps Customer Discovery Program, with several projects and business plans currently in development. We are working on expanding the honey project to create beeswax lotions and lip balms, and we continue growing our Matador Marmalade and Spicy Matador product lines with the addition of jams, sauces, and protein bars. We are proud to announce that our team recently won 2nd place and the Audience Choice awards for their “Matador Sol Sauce” at CSUN’s Fast Pitch event in November!

We were pleased to be a sponsor for the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C- CAP) 4 Chef 4 Kids Harvest Dinner in October. C-CAP is a national non-profit organization that educates and guides underserved students toward a bright future through their holistic approach to culinary training and career exploration. We look forward to partnering with C-CAP at MMC events in the future to provide students with unique opportunities for training and growth.

As the recipient of the Southern California Institute of Food Technologists (SCIFTS) Educational Research Grant, the MMC recently purchased a fluorescence microplate reader to be used in the food chemistry laboratory for antioxidant research. We look forward to utilizing this cutting-edge research and technology as we continue to provide valuable opportunities for students and faculty alike.

Above all else, we seek to provide culturally-sensitive and diverse programs to prepare nutrition professionals and registered dietitians to serve the needs of our community and empower others to become their own agents of change, and such programs have led to national recognition by the University Economic Development Association (UEDA), the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the CSU Chancellor's office. As always, I am extremely grateful to our students, faculty, staff, and donors for their commitment and continued support. I would also like to extend a special thank you to Sally and Phil Magaram and all those whose generous contributions make it possible for us to achieve our mission and vision. We hope you will be able to join us at our upcoming events in the spring as we celebrate our accomplishments, unveil the donor wall, and showcase many of our innovative projects and products!

We look forward to all that the New Year has in store and wish you all a healthy and prosperous holiday season!

Annette Besnilian
Executive Director

“We need innovation in education and dedication to the task before us.” – Alan Autry