Master Culinologist Mark Traynor to Lead Auburn’s New Culinary Science Program

Charlotte Tuggle | Communications Editor

Mark Traynor standing in a gray sport coat.

Master culinologist Mark Traynor will lead the new Culinary Science program at Auburn University.

During a pivotal time for Auburn University’s Hospitality Management program, master culinologist Mark Traynor will lead the growth and development of the new Culinary Science curriculum.

The new Culinary Science undergraduate degree option blends the art, science and business of food to prepare graduates for a wide array of employment in the food production and service industry. Traynor was chosen to lead the program because of his extensive experience in the industry and in culinary education.

Traynor holds a Ph.D. in Culinary Arts and Science; Molecular Gastronomy, Sensory Evaluation and Food Product Development and a B.A. in Culinary Arts and Related Services from the Dublin Institute of Technology. Prior to taking the position at Auburn, he was an assistant professor at Florida International University, teaching courses on restaurants, culinary arts and science, hospitality management and dietetics. He also served as the chair and interim director for Southwest Minnesota State University’s Department of Culinology and Hospitality Management.

As the first Culinary Science program coordinator at Auburn, Traynor said he’s excited to help students unlock their potential.

“I feel that the students have fantastic ideas about food innovation already somewhere in their head, and my job is to get them in the right direction or help them realize how they can achieve that idea,” Traynor said. “That’s what I’m really looking forward to – these ideational sessions, experimenting with foods and seeing the end product from our students as they progress through that process.”

Traynor is also responsible for curriculum development, recruitment of students and engagement with the community. With the hospitality industry growing and changing, Traynor is focused on ensuring all graduates are prepared to excel in their chosen careers. He said the key to this is producing relevant research, developing competency-based courses and maintaining contact with industry leaders to remain aware of real-world trends and challenges.

“With the advancements in technology, the industry is changing so fast that you have to be aware of those trends on an almost continuous basis,” Traynor said. “For instance, sustainability is something that’s huge at the moment, so we want our students to have a good understanding, knowledge and exposure to food sustainability – so that’s something we try to incorporate into the curriculum.”

Another important facet of the program will be the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, a first-of-its-kind learning environment that will shape the next generation of top-tier culinary professionals by providing immersive, hands-on learning opportunities in its teaching labs and guest-oriented features. Traynor said that kind of real-world experience is invaluable to a cutting-edge education.

In addition to his work experience in the field and in the classroom, Traynor has published research on food production, molecular gastronomy and chemical reactions of food pairings, among other topics. He is also a member of the Institute of Food Technologists, International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education, National Restaurants Association, Research Chefs Association and Institute of Food Science and Technology.

Hospitality Management Department Head Martin O’Neill said Traynor’s background makes him the perfect fit to lead the Culinary Science program.

“Dr. Traynor is a uniquely qualified and much sought after culinary academic,” O’Neill said. “He arrives at a critical time for Auburn’s Hospitality Management program, given the launch of our new Culinary Science study option this fall and the soon-to-be-built Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center. He will bring a wealth of industrial and academic experience to our program.”

For more information about the Culinary Science option, visit here.