The College of Applied Science and Technology welcomed a fantastic group of new faculty at the start of this academic school year! Some of CAST’s newest faculty members took the time to answer a series of questions designed to help students and colleagues get to know them better. In this series of new faculty profiles, members of different departments share their background, research interests, hobbies, and more.

This week’s edition of the series features a profile on Dr. Erol Sozen, an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? How did you originally become interested in your area of study?

I am originally from Turkey. After finishing my Bachelor’s program there, I worked for a while in the hospitality industry. I decided to come to the U.S. to pursue my Master’s and Ph.D. at Auburn University in Alabama. I have been always enthusiastic about the hospitality industry. Starting at an early age, I knew I would do something specifically in the food and beverage side of the industry. I wanted to expand my knowledge and pursued my Ph.D. focusing on food and beverage.

What about your research interests? Are there any items on the agenda you’d like to share?

My primary research area has been food and beverage management and owner and consumer behavior with an emphasis on environmental management. My dissertation sought to understand environmental best practices across U.S. Craft Breweries, along with the owners’ motivations to practice these eco-friendly activities. I also seek to analyze the values and attitudes that influence craft beer consumers’ green product purchase intention, willingness to pay a premium, and willingness to sacrifice for environmentally friendly products. My secondary research area has been restaurant employees’ and consumers’ knowledge of food allergies and its effect on US consumers.

Are there any courses you’re particularly excited to teach?

I love all of them, but FCS 113 (Food Preparation) has a lab component. The students of this course learn many new concepts and they are getting a hands-on experience. Most of the students have very limited culinary skills and knowledge so they are coming to the class to learn new skills enthusiastically.

What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of academia?

I have a newborn baby, so I don’t have free time right now. When I do, I would like to do outdoor activities like biking, hiking, etc. I also like to play Backgammon. I am an intermediate level Backgammon player under the U.S. Backgammon Federation. I am a soccer fan and I like to watch my team playing on TV during weekends. Other than those I like to spend time with family and friends.

What is one thing you want colleagues and students to know about you?

I am from Istanbul, Turkey. I love to talk about my city, my country, our food, our culture, etc. If you want to know more about Turkey, if you are planning to visit, or simply want to talk about it please stop by!

If you weren’t a professor, what would you be doing?

I would definitely be cooking. I love to cook, and I think I would be a chef. As a matter of fact, I worked as a chef during and after college. When I have enough time, I try to cook different/fancy food and I absolutely enjoy it. I respect and envy chefs a lot. They work hard and they are all artists.

Do you have a favorite movie or book?

My favorite book is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. For movies, I like World War II-era movies such as Schindler’s List and The Pianist. I also like Tom Hanks’ movies and if I need to pick only one movie, I would say Forrest Gump.

Tell us about your goals for the upcoming year.

I want my students to succeed. It is not easy to teach online, but it is not easy to switch to online learning either. If my students succeed, I will feel successful as well. I have several projects that I am working on right now. I would like to finalize them.

Does coursework or research in food and beverage sound interesting to you? Check out the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences for more information.