Alumni Story: Dr. Ashley Blilie

May. 23, 2024

If you had asked Animal Sciences alumna Dr. Ashley Blilie where she would be in ten years when she was a freshman at The Ohio State University, she probably would have told you: practicing veterinary medicine.  

Ashley had always had a passion for animals and the agriculture industry, which were influential factors in her academic and career choices. However, her time in the Department of Animal Sciences helped her fully explore the many animal sciences career paths through hands-on experiences. Ashley knew very little about the field of meat science before entering her summer research internship with Dr. Henry Zerby. 

“Turns out, that internship is what set me down my career path.” Ashley quickly found an interest in working in food and meat science, working closely with department faculty and staff in the meat lab for her own research projects as an undergraduate student. Following her time at Ohio State, Ashley pursued a PhD in Animal Sciences with a Meat Science focus at North Dakota State University. While in North Dakota, Ashley interned with Hormel Foods before completing her PhD program and returning to the company as a scientist in product development. 

 Ashley Blilie has turned her passion for food science into a successful career in research and development for refrigerated and frozen food service items as an Associate Research Scientist, a path very different from veterinary medicine and one she is happy she discovered during her time in Animal Sciences. In her nearly eleven years at Hormel, Ashley has launched over forty items for the company. 

“The natural flank ham is my favorite product launch to date, because it was my first big product launch and required great attention to detail. It was the first product I started with from the very beginning, working on getting the perfect Pecanwood smoke and color.” That product launched for food service customers in 2017 and is still on the market today.

“The great thing about being a Product Developer is every day is different,” Ashley shares. Through her work, Ashley communicates with the marketing and customer response teams, develops products that meet consumer demands, and researches new ingredients that work as natural preservatives and optimize cook cycles for current products. 

Reflecting on her time on campus, Ashley credits her Department of Animal Sciences classes and research internship, along with time spent in the meat lab, with providing her the relevant experiences to set her down a career path that keeps every day exciting. 

Ashley served on the CFAES Ambassador Team and participated in Alpha Zeta Partners, Buckeye Dairy Club and Saddle and Sirloin during her time on campus. She also participated in the Study Abroad programs available through the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, spending time in Brazil and Australia. “There were so many options, and I wish I could’ve gone on all of them. The study abroad programs within the college are wonderful.”

Ashley, her husband and two children now live in Minnesota, but they enjoy traveling back to Ohio often. “It’s on our list to take our son to his first Ohio State football game, so we’ll be back soon. I never missed a home football game when I was in college.” 

“To current students and those thinking about attending Ohio State, keep an open mind, try new things, get involved, and ask lots of questions.” Outside of her role at Hormel, Ashley serves on the Food Science Career Development committee for National FFA, which works to facilitate the Food Science Career Development Event for FFA youth nationwide.