To some, traveling the world making ice cream flavors may sound like a dream. For scientist, Dr. Maya Warren, it’s a reality.
At an early age, Dr. Warren recognized her love for science when she experimented with trying to make her own version of Nickelodeon’s Gak with food coloring and glue, according to Mental Floss. Later in life, she realized she particularly had a love for chemistry with plans to one day become a chemistry teacher.
Life always tends to take our plans and run with them and that’s exactly what happened for Dr. Warren when she stumbled across Food Network’s “Unwrapped,” a television show that described how food is manufactured.
It was one particular episode that captured Dr. Warren’s attention where they showed how to create flavored soda that tasted like a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Flavors included cranberry sauce soda, turkey and gravy soda, and green bean casserole soda.
Earning her Ph.D. in food science at UW Madison, Dr. Warren went on to focus solely on ice cream. Upon her completion of graduate school and taking time to enjoy life while also competing on CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” she landed her dream job as senior director for international research and development for Cold Stone Creamery.
“I didn’t actually apply for the job. Six years ago, I was running The Amazing Race, the television show on CBS. After I was on it, a lot of publications reached out wanting to interview me,” she told Mental Floss. “I did a couple of interviews and someone from Cold Stone found my interview. They noticed that I’m a scientist, and they were looking for someone with my background, so they reached out to me. I was actually writing my dissertation, and I was like, ‘”I’m not looking for a job right now. I just want to go home and sleep.”‘
Initially, her focus was mainly to “establish dairies and build ice cream mixes” for various Cold Stone locations across the world. Now Dr. Warren also helps pick out ice cream flavors according to popular foods in different countries. One of her favorite creations is a blackberry jam and cornbread ice cream.
“One of the most rewarding things is being able to produce a product and see people eat it,” said Dr. Warren. “The other part of it is being able to have a hand in helping people in different countries get on their feet. Ice cream isn’t a luxury for many people in America, but there are people in other countries that would look at it that way. Being able to introduce ice cream to these countries is fascinating to me. And being able to provide job opportunities for people, that sincerely touches my heart.”
Dr. Warren encourages young people interested in going into the field to follow their hearts and emphasizes to have fun.