Meet the team

Jon Poole
Chief Executive

Jon’s prime role is to provide the leadership and direction for the executive team. He works closely with the Board to develop our overall strategic direction, translating this into actual delivery.

Jon is responsible for external relations with many of our key supporters and collaborators. In addition, he oversees our publications, especially the International Journal of Food Science & Technology.  

Whilst not a food scientist himself, Jon’s role involves him in most aspects of the food sector. Jon’s background is in organisational and leadership development having run his own consultancy for more than ten years before joining IFST. Jon also Chairs SALSA, the supplier assurance scheme for small and micro food businesses. He has written and had published three books on leadership and coaching.

Jon is a keen road cyclist and guitarist in a funk/soul band. In the winter it’s all about the skiing. 

Andrew Gardner
Operations Director

Andrew is responsible for helping the business run smoothly, from supporting the Finance Committee to overseeing our finances, premises, office facilities, services, and IT.  He manages our education and careers and our professional development team members and related activities.

Andrew also coordinates the education and careers and professional development Forums, which run twice a year.

Andrew has worked in publishing, local government, and with charter, statutory and professional bodies.  Immediately before joining IFST he helped launch a healthcare web platform. He has a degree in social and political science from Cambridge University and he is a member of the Chartered Management Institute.

Off duty, Andrew runs to keep fit and likes to practice yoga.

Rachel Ward
Scientific Policy Director

Rachel is responsible for the development of our scientific policy priorities and positions and communication of these to stakeholders including membership and government.

She is also responsible for the coordination, submission and communication of IFST consultation responses, in conjunction with our committees and the wider membership. In addition, she represents the Institute in a range of different academic, government and industry scientific and policy fora.

Rachel has more than 25 years’ experience in international strategy, standards and risk management for the food chain. With a BSc (Hons) in Applied Biochemistry and a PhD on in vitro skin toxicology models, Rachel has worked in various roles across the food industry including analytical laboratory management, supply chain quality assurance, regulatory compliance, scientific affairs and risk management. As an IFST Fellow, Rachel is actively involved in her local Midlands Branch, and several IFST special interest groups.

Rachel has a strong interest in food allergen risk management and is always interested in trying new gluten free and lactose free food products and recipes. She enjoys walking and exploring new places and loves singing in her local community gospel choir.

Natasha Medhurst
Scientific Affairs Manager

Natasha’s principle focus is on scientific activities and affairs, contributing to the communication of our scientific voice. She is responsible for writing new scientific materials for our members and other interested parties as well as in response to specific external enquiries.

In addition, Natasha supports the Scientific Committee, coordinates the relationship with our Special Interest Groups and acts as an external scientific representative for collaborations with other relevant organisations.  

Since graduating from University of Reading with a BSc (Hons) in Food Technology, Natasha has taught Food Science in China and worked in product development, quality, project management, factory technical and regulatory roles in the food industry. As an IFST Fellow herself, she is fully aware of the importance of supporting and uniting food professionals for the advancement of the sector.   

Natasha enjoys travel, cooking and yoga.

Delia Mertoiu
Marketing and Business Development Manager

Delia is responsible for the coordination of our marketing activities. She develops promotional support materials and tools to enhance the awareness of our events and activities and works with external promotional support contractors on IFST marketing projects.

In her role, Delia manages the end-to-end delivery of our key conferences, lectures and launchpads to ensure they are creative and engaging. She also coordinates and actively manages approaches to food-industry employers to promote and progress our group membership scheme, CPD and professional registration schemes.

Delia has worked in HR, finance and business analysis and has a master’s degree in marketing. She appreciates the relationship management side of her job and enjoys building strong relationships with members, stakeholders, suppliers and corporate partners by fully understanding their professional needs, strategies and objectives.

Delia is a book lover and enjoys dancing, travelling and cultural diversity.

Kelly Ah Chin Kow
Membership and Events Coordinator

Kelly joined the team at the beginning of August 2018. She is the main point of contact for our Branches across the UK, liaising with the regional committees to coordinate and support branch activities and events as well as our launchpads. She also has a focus on implementing activities to monitor and uphold IFST’s commitments to diversity.

Having worked in events across the charity, arts and culture sector, Kelly has a diverse range of experience from organising workshops, conferences, fundraising challenge events, evening award receptions, to healthy eating cooking demonstrations and presentations for her local community.

She is passionate about discovering different cultures, travel, food, sports, arts and culture and languages. Being fluent in French, she relishes learning new languages, so is currently learning Spanish.

Kiu Sum
Education and Careers Coordinator

Kiu joined the IFST team in October 2018 and is responsible for all of the Institute’s affairs relating to the teaching of food science and early careers (e.g. school initiatives on Love Food Love Science, university courses, apprenticeships and T-levels). She also supports the Student Group and New Professionals Group and is responsible for liaising with university contacts and representatives as well as student ambassadors. Kiu also coordinates awards and competitions, and resource generation for schools and early careers.

With a MRes Clinical Research (Human Nutrition) and experiences with a diverse range of skills in mixed methods research, Kiu is also a Registered Associate Nutritionist with AfN. She has also been heavily involved with student engagement within higher education and pedagogy research and continues to do so in her spare time.

Kiu now turns her attention away from journals and into books and enjoys hitting a badminton shuttle!

Ruth Ashaye
Registration and Assessment Officer

A recent addition to the IFST team, Ruth is responsible for coordinating and actively managing the flow of applications for the Institute’s wide range of membership and other registration assessment processes via its network of trained assessors. In her role she is responsible for monitoring and overseeing to ensure consistently high standards of assessment are maintained for the integrity of registers and their associated CPD standards.

Ruth is an Associate Registered Nutritionist, with experience of working in nutrition science in academia and in the Food for Special Medical Purposes industry.

A keen cook and baker, Ruth also enjoys reading food memoirs and researching all things food.

Anjlee Patel
Membership and Finance Administrator

Having joined IFST this year, Anjlee looks after our members by dealing with general enquiries and maintaining and updating member records including welcoming new members. Other key areas of her work include dealing with queries related to renewals or joining, ensuring invoices and receipts are issued, and processing member related financial transactions.

Anjlee graduated in 2017 with a BSc Biological Sciences and has a natural interest in all things science, along with a strength in handling data. She enjoys working with numbers, having previously worked in handling accounts. Having volunteered across the charity sector has resulted in her working with a range of people and building relationships.

Anjlee enjoys reading, travelling and trying different foods.

Robin Leaper
Digital Marketeer
Mariam Zaki
Communications Coordinator

A new member of the IFST team, Mariam is responsible for the coordination of our overall communication activities including e-comms, website content and social media. She is the first point of contact for media enquiries, promotes IFST’s key events and activities.

In addition, Mariam acts as a Digital Editor of our quarterly magazine, Food Science & Technology. She commissions new articles for the magazine website and ensures that the paper-based magazine content is available in the online version.

Mariam also has a background in Medicinal Chemistry and has a master’s degree in Science, Technology & Society.

In her spare time, Mariam enjoys science blogging, finding out about latest social media tactics, reading and baking.