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Agriculture and Food Science Internship Hebei Province, China

Summer Agriculture and Food Science Internship
Hebei Province, China
July 19- August 12, 2016

Students will work with Hebei Qimei Agricultural Science and Technology Co., Ltd., an organic food company located in Hebei Province, 400 km south of Beijing.  Qimei is a fast growing company in China’s organic food sector, supplying domestic and international markets (South East Asia, Europe, and the US) with a wide range of organic foods. Qimei reflects the entrepreneurial effort of CEO and co-founder Mrs. Yuqi Zhao who established the company in 1999 and purchased 200 acres for the first Qimei production site.  A five-acre processing facility was built in 2006, and the company has since added two additional processing facilities. Today Qimei contracts with more than 3500 farmers in villages across Hebei Province who provide a wide range of crops for processing. Qimei products are certified organic by multiple third party sources including: USDA, Europe EC, Canada COR, Japan JAS, China OFDC, and COFCC.  Cornell has had an on-going relationship with Qimei beginning in January 2011 when a Smart Team addressed marketing issues for the company. Since then Cornell and Qimei have deepened their collaboration. A second Smart Team focused on agronomic issues in January 2012 and Qimei has hosted four consecutive summer internships (2012-2015) where Cornell students conducted field experiments related to soil health.  A third Smart Team worked with the company in January 2016   to develop an edamame snack food.

The team will be led by Dennis Miller (Food Science) and Jane Mt.Pleasant (Horticulture) and will also include students from a Chinese agricultural or technical university. The internship will have two components: 1) agricultural field research and 2) food product development and sensory evaluation. All students will work on both agricultural experiments and product development/sensory evaluations. First, students will conduct field trials designed to evaluate the agronomic characteristics of multiple varieties of two crops, edamame  (vegetable soybean) and sweet corn.  The crops will be planted in test plots on Qimei organic vegetable farms in Hebei Province. Students will gather agronomic data for each variety including germination, emergence, stand counts, plant height, biomass, leaf area, canopy area, time to flowering, and yields. Students will analyze the data statistically and interpret and summarize their results.   In the second component, students will design a new food product prepared from edamame or sweet corn and conduct sensory evaluation tests.  This will involve recruiting and training panelists from among Qimei staff members, designing questionnaires for the assessment of sensory characteristics of the products, running the sensory tests, and collecting the data.  After returning to Cornell, the students will analyze the data using software available in the Sensory Evaluation Center in the Department of Food Science, Stocking Hall.

Qualifications:  This will be a multidisciplinary team with expertise in agricultural science or food science.  Students with backgrounds (coursework and/or research experience) in soil science, international agriculture and rural development, plant science, horticulture, weed science, plant pathology, plant breeding, food science, sensory science, nutrition, and/or statistics will be given preference. Both undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to apply.

Logistics: Qimei will provide housing, meals, and in-country transportation. Students are responsible for airfare to and from Beijing.  Interns will be required to enroll in an independent study course  (2 credits) at Cornell in the Fall 2016 semester.  The requirements of this course will be to complete the analyses of data collected in China, write a final report, and make an oral presentation about the project.


Friday March 11: Applications due: send to Dennis   Miller ( and Jane Mt.Pleasant  (

Monday April 4: Selections announced.

Sunday July 17: Leave for Beijing

Friday August 12:  Internship ends

Download application.

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