CLEMSON — Mengmeng Zhao, a graduate research assistant and Ph.D. candidate in Clemson’s food technology department, received the 2016 Student Package of the Year Award from the Association for Dressings and Sauces (ADS).

The above spaghetti & sauce 2 in 1 packaging is made of 18 points paperboard, which is 100% recyclable.

The Spaghetti & Sauce 2-in-1 Package is made of paperboard, which is 100 percent recyclable.

Zhao won the award for her “Spaghetti & Sauce 2-in-1 Package.” Zhao’s award-winning design idea came to her when making spaghetti one night.

“I came up with a two-sided design made out of paperboard that is 100 percent recyclable. This design takes the extra time out of perusing the grocery store for a sauce and trying to decide which brand would go best with which type of noodle,” Zhao said.

The ADS Packaging of the Year Award for Students recognizes dressing, sauces and condiment-related packaging by college and university students. The award is given to either an undergraduate or graduate student majoring in any packaging discipline with a new and unique packaging design concept. The student winner and the college or university will be recognized by the ADS with awards and receive $1,500.

Originally from Tianjin, China, Zhao moved to the United States in July 2014 to pursue her Ph.D. at Clemson in food technology. She completed her bachelor’s in packaging engineering and her master’s in cereals, oils and vegetable protein engineering from Tianjin University of Science and Technology.

“The idea to package sauce together with spaghetti would be convenient for customers shopping to get a single product for their meal quickly. The packaging size is designed for one or two meals, which will, in turn, avoid food waste,” Zhao said.

Zhao and her advisor professor Andrew Hurley, with Clemson’s Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Science.

Zhao stands with her adviser, professor Andrew Hurley of food, nutrition and packaging sciences.

Zhao worked with her adviser, professor Andrew Hurley of Clemson’s food, nutrition and packaging sciences department, to help finalize the idea of the spaghetti sauce and noodle design.

“Dr. Hurley helped out a lot. He was the one who suggested I enter the competition. Our lab is doing a lot of great work with eye-tracking and simulation of consumer experience. It helped me get a better understanding of how this product would look if implemented in the real market,” Zhao said.

“Mengmeng Zhao worked diligently on this project. She leveraged the Sonoco Institute’s state-of-the-art facilities to bring her creativity to life for the winning design,” Hurley said.

Zhao hopes to continue her research and development of new and unique packaging design concepts and plans on working for food packaging product development upon completion of her dissertation.

The Association for Dressing and Sauces is a trade association for manufacturers of salad dressing, mayonnaise and condiment sauces.