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STEM Teens Field Trip: Discover the Science of Pet Nutrition at Nestlé Purina

Friday, June 10 @ 11:00 AM-2:00 PM



Exact location and important information on Purina-provided lunch, parking and student drop off sent with registration confirmation.

SPACE is LIMITED. First-come first-serve! TEENS ONLY! REGISTRATION (scroll down for registration form) and separate LIABILITY WAIVER (Orange Waiver Button Below) REQUIRED. Registration deadline is 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 7. FREE and OPEN to Junior Academy of Science members, STEM Teens Leadership Council, and all middle and high school students in grades 6-12 from throughout the region. (Students who have completed 5th grade may attend.) PRE-REGISTRATION for Junior Academy members and STEM Teens ONLY thru Saturday, June 4. General registration opens Sunday, June 5.

To join the Junior Academy of Science, or to find out more about the benefits of membership in the Junior Academy, click here.

Academy of Science – St. Louis COVID-19 FIELD TRIP POLICY: N95 or KN95 masks are required for all attending teens regardless of vaccination status, and must be worn at all times while participating in Academy of Science field trip opportunities. Masks must completely cover the nose and mouth. This policy is subject to change as circumstances arise keeping safety in mind for everyone.

Welcome! to the Purina Institute, the global voice of Purina’s science where top scientists and STEM professionals advance the science of nutrition, making industry-defining discoveries in pet nutrition and promoting global collaboration with the veterinary community and the world’s scientific thought leaders to help pets live better, longer lives.

You’ll tour the Institute and meet and talk with Purina scientists, including Academy Fellow and Nestle Purina Research’s Director of Molecular Nutrition, Ebenezer Satyaraj, and Academy Trustee and Purina Senior Director of Nutrition Science in Research, Pascal Steiner. Purina’s scientists work in STEM career areas such as Neuroscience, Molecular Immunology, Companion Animal Nutrition, Animal Behavior and Neuropsychology, and Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology. You’ll learn about “the big science,” happening at Purina, hear about the insights that fuel the imagination behind the most innovative products Purina makes, find out about the science and innovation that’s driving current research into future products, and tour Purina’s Retail Innovation Center.

If you’re a teen in grades 6 – 12, join us for this insider look at understanding the scientific power of nutrition and its positive impact on pet health and longevity.


Check-In and Welcome
10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (Tour departs promptly at 11:00 a.m. Please plan to arrive a few minutes early to allow time for parking, student drop off, and check-in.)

Tour of Institute and Meet the Scientists
11:00 a.m. – Noon

Lunch (provided by Purina)
12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Tour of Retail Innovation Center
1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

Depart Purina
2:00 p.m.

Learn About the Purina Scientists You’ll Meet and Come with Your Questions!

Pascal Steiner, PhD
Senior Director, Nutrition Science in Research, Nestle Purina Research;
Officer and Trustee, The Academy of Science – St. Louis

Pascal received his BSc from the University of Lausanne, a PhD in Neuroscience from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 2004, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School, Boston, in 2008. He then served as Director of Operations at Tilocor International, a biotech consortium, where he supervised the transfer process of drug candidate products from research towards clinical development. From 2010 to 2015, Pascal worked in the Neuroscience Department at Genentech in South San Francisco, leading an interdisciplinary team to discover and develop new drug targets in neurological diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and pain. In 2015, Pascal joined the Nestlé Institute of Health Science in Lausanne, Switzerland and was then appointed Head of the Department of Brain Health. In 2020, he joined Purina PetCare R&D Center in St. Louis as the senior director of the Nestle Purina Nutrition Science Team.

Ebenezer Satyaraj, Ph.D.
Director, Molecular Nutrition, Nestle Purina Research;
Fellow, The Academy of Science – St. Louis

Dr. Satyaraj earned his PhD in Immunology from the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, India and completed a Fellowship in Molecular Immunology at the University of Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Satyaraj established a nutritional immunology research program, implemented models for evaluating nutritional impact on the immune system and pioneered the development of the first multiplex assay panels capable of measuring canine & feline cytokines. He currently serves as Director of Molecular Nutrition at Nestlé Research Center in St Louis. Dr. Satyaraj has authored numerous scientific papers in the areas of cellular/molecular immunology and cytokine biology, including a recent publication in the journal Science that explains size variations in dogs and a book chapter describing the interplay of nutrition & immune system in infectious diseases. Dr. Satyaraj is a member of the American Association of Immunologists and the American Veterinary Immunology Association, and a reviewer for several journals including the British Journal of Nutrition, Arthritis & Rheumatism. Dr. Satyaraj is a Fellow of the Academy of Science – St. Louis.

Julie Spears, PhD
Senior Principal Scientist, Nestlé Purina Research

Dr. Spears earned a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Companion Animal Nutrition from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a Senior Principal Scientist in the Nestlé Purina PetCare Research Unit and serves as an affiliate faculty member at the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Natural Science and Mathematics and Department of Veterinary Medicine. She has been researching the impact of nutritional intervention on the oral and gastrointestinal microbiome of dogs and cats for more than twenty years. Her current research interests include oral health, gastrointestinal and immune health, renal health, and early development.

Vicky Tu, PhD
Senior Behavior Scientist, Nestlé Purina Research

Vicky received her B.S. in Physics and M.S. in Zoology from National Taiwan University and her PhD in Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park. She did her postdoctoral research at Emory University and Virginia Tech. Vicky has broad expertise in animal behavior and cognitive neuropsychology, as well as essential computational skills. Her research has been focused on pets’ eating styles and food preferences, aiming to determine the food design attributes that tailor to the behavioral needs of pets. In addition, she leverages her expertise in computer programming and data science to lead several long-term data mining projects. Besides research, Vicky oversees managing and monitoring of the palatability panels at NDC Saint Joseph, ensuring the integrity of our palatability data.

Miles Bensky, PhD
Behavior Scientist, Nestlé Purina Research

Miles received his B.S. in Psychology at the University of Washington. In 2010, after years of working with pets and assisting with zoo research, Miles joined Nestlé Purina as a Behavior Research Technician at NDC St. Joseph. He then went onto earn his MS in Psychology from the University of Texas-Austin and his PhD from the Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Miles joined the Behavior and Welfare Team at Nestlé Purina as a Behavior Scientist in 2021. He has expertise in animal behavior and cognition, as well as animal training skills. Since joining Nestlé Purina, Miles’ research has been focused on cat elimination behavior and the emotional well-being of pets.

Miles recently moved to St. Louis with his family including his cat Mia and Olde English Bulldog, Bento. In his free time, he is an avid board gamer and disc golfer, as well as a digital artist, designing logos for university science labs and creating art for games.

Discover the Science of Pet Nutrition at Nestlé Purina is a STEM Teens and Junior Academy Field Trip partnership of The Academy of Science – St. Louis, Nestlé Purina Petcare Company and the Purina Institute.



Friday, June 10
11:00 AM-2:00 PM
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Nestle Purina
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St. Louis, MO 63164 United States
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