Student leaders create bold new pathways for alt proteins

Learn how students are putting alt proteins on the map in this GFI impact piece.
Alt protein student group locations around the world

“There’s a future here if I want to dig into it,”

said Ang Jin excitedly, looking ahead to the next steps in his education, career, and life.

Jin participated in Southeast Asia’s first-ever graduate-level course on alternative proteins launched by GFI Asia Pacific in January 2022. The course, offered by the National University of Singapore, was fully enrolled, with a waitlist.

For Jin, the most inspiring part of the course was discovering the future that alternative proteins make possible.

“Many of the students came from a science background like me, but we didn’t have a chance to explore alternative proteins yet,” he says. “More than anything else, the idea of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting the environment, and helping to feed the world’s population influenced my decision to pursue a PhD in this area.”

Later this year, Jin is starting a doctoral program at the University of Canterbury focused on alternative proteins. His goal is two-fold:

“One is to continue to study in this area and become an expert in cultivated meat. The other is to develop techniques that are good enough to commercialize a product, and if I find investors, I’ll start a company.” He adds: “If we could make a steak from animal cells, without the animal, that could change everything.”

Ang jin at the national university of singapore – jin was a
student in southeast asia’s first-ever graduate-level course
on alternative proteins launched by gfi asia pacific.
Ang Jin at the National University of Singapore – Jin was a
student in Southeast Asia’s first-ever graduate-level course
on alternative proteins launched by GFI Asia Pacific.
A photo of students tabling and product tasting with the chapel hill alt protein project
Sophia Retchin (left), founder of the UNC-Chapel Hill Alt Protein Project – Sophia helped launch a new alternative protein course called “The Cellular Agriculture Revolution” at her alma mater

Empowering the next generation of innovators

Thanks to donor support, GFI’s global teams are inspiring students like Jin to enter the alternative protein sector and accelerate the pace of technological progress. GFI’s Alt Protein Project (APP) empowers students around the world to turn their universities into engines that generate alternative protein education, research, innovation, and talent. GFI has established APP groups from Singapore to Waterloo, including a brand new chapter at Jin’s alma mater. 

The Stanford APP’s “Rethinking Meat” introductory course is just one example of a high-impact class launched by APP students that skyrocketed in enrollment in just its second year. More than 300 students joined for the spring 2022 semester, and the course feedback revealed lightbulb moments for students as they realized their power to lead the transition to a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient food system. In the words of one student: “This [week’s] lecture made me excited about how vast the opportunities are in the alternative meat industry. From investing more in this under-appreciated area to getting involved in everything from science to politics, I learned that anyone can play a role in this issue.” 

Another new course sparked interest in alternative proteins this year, thanks to the grit and perseverance of Sophia Retchin, founder of UNC-Chapel Hill’s APP chapter. After months of deliberate outreach to faculty members, Sophia found two in the School of Medicine to teach “The Cellular Agriculture Revolution.” The course filled to capacity within 24 hours of registration going live. For Sophia, launching UNC’s first-ever alternative protein course was not enough. Upon graduation, she channeled her energy into a plant-based startup of her own, driven by a sense of urgency to create the better food future she knows is possible.

“Every year counts. Every month counts,” says Retchin.

Alt protein student groups around the world
Alt protein project mobile landing page hero image

Widening the path for new leadership

The Alt Protein Project has more than doubled in size this year as we welcomed twenty new groups into this student-powered movement. Our global community now spans 36 universities across 17 countries and 5 continents. 

Thanks to GFI’s generous supporters around the world, the APP is paving the way for more students like Jin and Sophia to change the future of food for good.

Https://gfi. Org/wp content/uploads/2022/09/feature header cor22038 webinar graphics business of alt protein september

Stay in touch

Powered by donor support, GFI focuses on cultivating the alternative protein workforce of tomorrow and widening the path to enable more and more people to venture together toward a brighter food future. Sign up for GFI’s monthly highlights and our other newsletters to keep up with our activities and programs.


Dara homer


Dara Homer crafts materials and content that present the vision, impact, and need for GFI’s work. Areas of expertise: donor communications, leadership development, education