Posts Tagged ‘ Cornell University ’

The Greek Yogurt Whey

In early October, Chobani partnered with Cornell’s Food Science Department, donating $1.5 million to the school to help with food quality and safety, as well as training programs for those planning to work with yogurt. Part of the department’s research deals with managing acid whey, or the liquid found at the top of traditional yogurt.

Even before this partnership, Cornell already had a number of projects underway related to Greek yogurt and acid whey, including efforts to develop new products that use acid whey as an ingredient,” Dr. Martin Wiedmann, food science professor at Cornell, said.

The by-product from creating this high protein yogurt has been seen as detrimental to the environment. When released into the environment, acid whey can exhaust the oxygen from water, which fish need to survive. This is why dumping the waste is illegal. Instead, Greek yogurt companies have partnered with farmers to recycle the whey, as it is as acidic as orange juice, according to Justin Elliott of Modern Farmer.

However, Tristan Zuber, yogurt and cultured dairy products specialist at Cornell University’s Food Science Department, says acid whey is not toxic, unless it is mishandled.

“Right now, [farmers are] feeding it to cows, and cows like it because there’s a lot of energy content and lactose in it,” said Zuber. “Some of that whey is going into anaerobic digesters to create energy, in some cases it’s dried and used as a food ingredient.”

According to a Chobani spokesperson, other farmers use it as a fertilizer, but only at farms with nutrient management plans in place.

No longer a niche product, Greek yogurt is now mainstream, with several companies competing to have the highest selling yogurt product in the United States, according to Euromonitor’s 2012 report. In only five years since their opening in New Berlin, New York, Chobani rose to the challenge and became the No. 1 selling Greek yogurt in America.

Because of its higher protein content, Greek yogurt is healthier than traditional yogurt, or yogurt that has not been strained. The straining process eliminates the excess acid whey, which helps to concentrate the proteins in Greek yogurt.

“High protein is definitely a trend right now among consumers,” said Zuber.

After Chobani’s rise in the industry, the company began to face intense competition. According to Business Insider, Chobani used to dominate half of the market, but as other brands, such as Danone, starting producing their own Greek yogurt, Chobani’s share has fallen to 39 percent.

While Chobani faces competition, other similar businesses are taking advantage of the popular treat.

“We use Chobani for a number of reasons, the main reason why we use it is because it’s local and because the quality,” Matt Poole, owner of Smart Yogurt, said. “They have such a high standard for their yogurt.”


Alexandra Leslie and Kristen Tomkowid are senior Journalism majors at Ithaca College. You can reach them at and


Students praise Ithaca’s college prep, question ‘Smartest City’ results

Previously published on Ithaca Week, a weekly magazine about life and culture in Ithaca, NY. 

Ithaca, N.Y. is the Smartest City in the United States, according to a study conducted by earlier this year.

 The neuroscientist-designed website offers a series of brain-training exercises. It collected online test results from more than 3 million users, defining ‘smartest’ within five areas of cognitive performance: speed, memory, attention, flexibility and problem-solving.

 Daniel Sternberg, the Lumosity Data Scientist who initiated the study, said that the presence of higher education institutions such as Cornell University and Ithaca College is one factor that contributed to the impressive results.

 “Our findings show that most of the top metro areas on the list do contain major research universities, including Ithaca,” said Sternberg. “This suggests that education is an important predictor of cognitive performance.”

Cornell University, on Ithaca’s East Hill, hosts about 21,000 students in pursuit of undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Cornell University, on Ithaca’s East Hill, hosts about 21,000 students in pursuit of undergraduate and graduate degrees.

 Stanford, Calif. — home to Stanford University — has also been declared ‘Smartest City’ under the same study. It was ranked No. 1 for the list ranking City and State. Ithaca, however, came in first for Overall Score Ranking for Core-Based Statistical Areas, taking the No. 1 spot in three out of five performance areas. Memory and Attention ranked it No. 5 and No. 16, respectively.

Lumosity used recorded IP addresses to estimate participants’ geolocations. Sternberg said at least 1,800 users were located in the Ithaca metropolitan area. He noted this could only be an estimate, and may include tourists and temporary visitors.

“How do we know this group of people is representative of the community as a whole?” asked Michael Guidi, an Ithaca resident. “Technicalities aside, we don’t really need a study to tell us that we live in a highly educated community.”

Janina Gunderson is a Tompkins Cortland Community College freshman. An Ithaca resident all her life, she has observed that a large portion of her peers have grown up here because of their parents’ presence in higher education throughout the city.

“People who teach at such institutions will obviously stress the importance of higher education and succeeding in school, wanting their children to find the same kind of success,” said Gunderson.

 And while some choose to leave Ithaca after graduating high school, the city’s population swells to nearly double its summer size when outside students arrive for the academic year.

“Though the populations of these areas are constantly changing, they generally share consistent demographics. Some proportion of the users in these cities were almost certainly students, but we considered them to be part of the local community,” said Sternberg.

The study did not officially define what constitutes a resident; a portion of the participants may be students who are only in Ithaca to earn their degree.

“Though the order of the cities does change some in the rankings for the older age groups, the ‘college town’ effect persists,” added Sternberg.

In addition, younger residents are gaining exposure to higher education as early as their primary education. Carolyn Belle-Abbott, a teacher at South Hill Elementary School, claims this has enriched the curriculum of the Ithaca City School District.

“Both colleges have community outreach programs that bring professors, students and resources into our classrooms. I have taken students on field trips to both campuses,” said Belle-Abbott.

The Omni program at Cornell’s Johnson Art Museum allows her students to see and handle Pre-Columbian artifacts. Ithaca College also invites students into its science laboratories for hands-on activities.

“These are things I just couldn’t provide in my classroom,” said Belle-Abbott.

Once students are closer to the end of their primary education, more programs are available to prepare them for college.

“Having a wide array of AP [advanced placement] courses and very qualified teachers to teach them, prepared students well for college courses,” said Michael Guidi, a 2010 IHS graduate. “The structure of the classes were often similar to college courses [with] individual responsibility.”

“I think they also did a great job teaching us how to think critically and question the sources we read and their motivations,” added David Kaminsky, a 2010 IHS graduate.

Ithaca High School and other ICSD schools partner with neighboring institutions Ithaca College and Cornell University to give students a glimpse of what could be in store after graduation.

Ithaca High School and other ICSD schools partner with neighboring institutions Ithaca College and Cornell University to give students a glimpse of what could be in store after graduation.

Ithaca High School offers a variety of college preparatory programs. Project Lead the Way serves as a program for students interested in engineering as a college major or career. Cornell cooperates with its Life Sciences program and allows students to “explore their interest in biological and social perspectives of the world.”

Though the programs are available to students, none are mandatory.

“Certain students grow up in the public school system knowing that college comes after high school,” said David Barken, a 2010 graduate of IHS. “But…higher education is still very much a luxury in this town.”

According to data published this summer, about half the city’s residents over age 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree.

“We found that the proportion of residents with bachelor’s degrees and doctorate degrees, as well as the proportion of residents seeking those degrees were strongly correlated with the area’s performance on our metric,” said Sternberg.

With two ‘smartest cities’ studies now under his belt, Sternberg indicated that cities like Ithaca will continue to top the list in the future.

Referring to the Lumosity study: “It’s just another link to share on Facebook,” said Barken.


Alexandra Leslie and John Vogan are senior Journalism students at Ithaca College. Email them at or